How Patreon Is Shifting My Shoots

I know that some of you, especially photographers, probably get tired of hearing me talk about Patreon. And while thinking about this it occurred to me that, while I often talk about the benefits to me and my Patrons, I don’t often mention the potential benefits to photographers. So I wanted to talk about that.

Not too long ago I was really struggling with the financial aspect of my modeling (and honestly I still am, just not as much) and feeling pretty crummy about it. I live in Detroit which has a beautiful artistic community that, sadly, cannot support my career as a model. Specifically, there is not enough paid work here to sustain me, much less allow me to grow. What there is here is a wonderful abundance of is photographers who are willing to shoot trade with me.

Trade (aka TF or TFP) is a useful arrangement for building a portfolio, but given the lack of paid work available here it doesn’t directly contribute to my financial success in the sense of portfolio building. I could have the best portfolio ever and it still wouldn’t get me much more paid work because the gigs just aren’t here. And yes, I would love to be able to say that money doesn’t matter and I’ll just keep doing it for the love of it, but that’s not practical if I want to grow. I have to earn an income and if I can’t do that via modeling, then I have to cut way back on my shoots. I’ve done that and it was putting me in a sort of creative depression. So rather than cut down on shoots, I’d rather find a way to do more shoots.

So in order to maintain my creativity and to see it grow, I need to find a way that I can make this financially scarce, but collaboratively rich situation work for me. That is where Patreon and my fans come in. I call these shoots trade for content, though either of us would be able to use the photos for our portfolios/social media/etc as well.

Patreon is a way for me to earn an income without having to try to get money from photographers who simply can’t afford to pay me, but who can shoot beautiful photos. Many of these photographers are hobbyists with day jobs who aren’t worried about making money photographing models, but they also don’t want to or can’t spend money to hire models. Others are artists who would like to shoot content for their own projects, books, etc, and are also willing to shoot sets for a model like me as an exchange.

The income I earn from Patreon directly benefits photographers, too. First, as I’ve already stated, it allows me to shoot trade more openly. I don’t have to push to get my rates. But that income also goes to replenishing and upgrading my wardrobe which is quite an expense, especially as I’ve started moving towards more specialized and better fitting pieces. One example is the latex set I was finally able to purchase recently. Of course some of the income goes to my bills and some of it goes to maintaining my skincare. I hope that soon I will be able to start renting a space and hiring hair and makeup artists.

So if you’re a photographer who has been on the fence about allowing me to post our trade shoot photos to Patreon or you’ve just been wondering how it might be good for you, I hope this has clarified things a little bit. And if you’re still not comfortable with photos going on Patreon, that’s okay. I would never share photos there without the photographer’s permission.

If we’ve shot in the past and haven’t talked about posting the photos to Patreon and you’d be okay with it, it would make my day if you would let me know. You will be credited, of course.

Going forward, I will be focusing my trade shoots on those I will be able to share to Patreon. I’m not looking for any specific styles. My Patrons have told me over and over that they enjoy seeing different styles. And I enjoy shooting so many different styles. I will be selective in terms of quality, but otherwise, if you have an idea, let’s talk!

And although I’ve linked it already, here is the URL for my Patreon: www.patreon.com/dekilah

A couple of side notes:

  • I am still happy to consider paid shoots.
  • I won’t reject a quality trade shoot offer just because you’re not comfortable with me sharing the photos on Patreon.
  • I do still need a certain level of quality for trade for content shoots and the usual guidelines and such will apply (such as my travel radius). You can read more about that here on my trade shoot info page.

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