#1720 What happens to the models once companies start using backstage images for campaigns?

Photo: WSJ

Despite all outward appearances, a model’s life isn’t necessarily the ridiculously good looking fairytale one might expect. Sure, those at the top of the game probably aren’t complaining, but what about their less successful counterparts? They’re constantly on the road away from friends and family; forced to stay in shared, often sub-par accommodations with numerous kids to a room; placed in the care of adults whose intentions aren’t always so pure as the driven snow; and to top it all off, they lose giant chunks of their income to tax and commission. And that’s not even mentioning all the free work they’re expected to undertake or the enormous mark-ups charged by their agencies for mundanities like photocopying or website maintenance. So what happens when their bread and butter money makers – campaigns and catalogues – are suddenly taken away?

In an interesting new trend, companies are choosing not to shoot original campaigns, instead using backstage photographs from their fashion shows as their advertising imagery. Models, as a general rule, are not paid for backstage shots. The assumption is that what’s taken backstage is for editorial purposes, and that the moneys paid for the models to walk in shows covers everything from the actual walking to the endlessly chronicled minutiae, shot by independently contracted photographers each step of the way.

Etro’s latest campaigns have featured models posing backstage at their shows, shot by Australian backstage extraordinaire Sonny Vandevelde. Likewise, department store Barneys’ upcoming Spring catalogue, features artful photographs taken of models backstage at various designers’ shows, shot by Nan Goldin and William Klein. (As seen above, taken backstage at Ann Demeulemeester and featuring Hannah Johnson and Olga Ovchynnikova.)

One can only assume that the models who appear in these backstage campaigns will be paid marginally for the extra usage. According to Sonny Vandevelde, “[The] question is, how much, and are both photographer and model paid enough, when you take into account what a budget would be like for a campaign shoot”.

Models have been getting a rough deal at fashion shows for quite some time – rates can be low (and often non-existent), and more often than not a designer will compile their runway imagery into a lookbook (quite intelligently saving themselves time and money in the process), while the models still just receive that one flat show fee.

So what happens now that companies are starting to use backstage images for campaigns?

Will somebody, please, think of the models (and probably the photographers too)!?


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  1. hedgehogsarecool says

    hey dude, ‘gypped’ is derived from ‘Gypsy’, which generally refers to the Roma people (as you probably know), and thus its usage to mean ‘ripped off’ et al. is kind of considered derogatory these days, in the same way that the various uses of ‘Jew’ to describe people who are overly sneaky or concerned with saving money in a negative way is. But KEEP UP THE OTHERWISE GOOD WORK!

  2. says

    For the Etro Campaign, the models do get an extra loading, because, as you say, they do not get extra for photos backstage as they are generally for Editorial purposes, but when it is advertising it is only normal they get more money
    question is, how much, and are both photographer and model paid enough, when you take into account what a budget would be like for a campaign shoot


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