A few days ago I received a Facebook message from a male fitness talent who I’ve never worked with before nor have I even been in contact with or heard of. The conversations went like this…

Talent: James will you be shooting at the Olympia?
James: Hey [talent name here]. We will be in Las Vegas booking studio shoots during Olympia weekend.
Talent: so there is a cost?
James: Yes, pricing ranges depending on the number of outfit changes you’d be interested in doing. What we offer is [lists out different packages].
Talent: ok thanks
James: What were you looking to do?
Talent: shoot fitness with you..that would be it.
James: We have openings during [lists times] and [repeats packages].
Talent: I appreciate your point of view, but im at this point in my career where I don’t pay for shoots…ive never payed but have been payed. Also for even exchange. Thank you for the offer though! 🙂

(The typos were his, not mine – as was the smiley face)

Here is the response I typed out but never sent (out of realization that he probably wouldn’t actually understand what I meant).

Firstly, you did approach me to shoot not the other way around. Secondly, I apologize that I failed to recognize how important you are that I need to throw my professional business out the window and work with you for free. I can be sure to let the professional athletes and nationally published talents who hire me for my creative vision know your point of view. Lastly, a general rule of thumb I live by is that if you have to tell someone how important you are, chances are you’re not that important. Good luck!

This completely truthful representation mirrors another incident I had a few weeks ago with a separate male fitness talent…

Talent: would love to come do a shoot asap
James: Thanks for the message [talent name here]. Were you going to be in LV at the time?
Talent: No but I can go to Vegas if your willing to help me on travel
James: Help you on travel? What do you mean?
Talent: if you can help me on the flight to get their and hotel
James: Are you seriously contacting me out of the blue to request that I pay you to travel out for me to work with you to build your portfolio so you can use the images to get work? Just want to make sure I’m understanding what you’re honestly asking.

This time I did hit send on the response. I never got a reply back. Strange.

Neither of these talents had any portfolio work that illustrated much (if any) value or quality. Neither had a resume of work nor tear sheets that I could find.

My first thought on both situations was that of frustration and awe at the entitlement of these individuals who had no clout or experience.

My second thought was wondering if this “approach” they took has ever worked for them. Judging on the shots in their portfolio and their lack of resume – it doesn’t appear it has.

The sad reality is that I’m not sure that I can ever consider either of these talents for legitimate work moving forward. And if I was treated this way – you have to assume that others were as well. That is a lot of burned bridges.

I have no pithy solutions but instead an encouragement for talents to do research on the individuals they engaged and interact with.

Don’t run the risk of assuming you’re too “great” or important to have to deal with another party. You never know what table they sit at when it comes time to making decisions that impact you and your goals.

James Patrick
Instagram @jpatrickphoto
Twitter @jpphotography