A fashion and portrait photographer is facing strong criticism after model agent Megan Mesveskas publicized his test shoot rates that reveal he charges extra to photograph plus-sized models.
Test Shoot Price Gap Based on Body Size
24-year old Mesveskas manages the body diverse Model Nexus agency and is a former model herself and worked as a plus-size model for eight years, according to Independent. In the hopes of having William Lords, a New York-based photographer, work with some of her models on test shoots to build their portfolios, she reached out to him, In The Know by Yahoo reports.
In response to her inquiry, an unnamed representative of Lord’s office came back with the photographer’s shoot rates — $950 for “standard” models and $1,050 for “plus/curve” models, which has sparked controversy and encouraged Mesveskas to share the surprising difference in rates on TikTok and Instagram.
“Yep, you’re reading that right,” says Mesveskas after sharing the email screenshot. “A curve or a plus-sized model is going to cost an extra hundred dollars.”
Dealing with injustice and disparity in the fashion industry is nothing new to Mesveskas.
“As a model who was told she was ‘curve’ or ‘plus-size’ for eight years, I’ve suffered all kinds of humiliations in this industry,” she tells In The Know.
Mesveskas did not respond to the email nor did anyone from Lord’s team reach out to her. However, Lords confirmed with In The Know that those model shoot rates are correct, and although he didn’t watch Mesveskas’s TikTok video, he had to disable comments on his Instagram account after the video went viral and other models and Model Nexus members shared their outrage.
Lack of Body Diversity Among Designer Clothing
To defend his way of running a business, Lords explains that he also works as a stylist for his shoots, meaning he sources outfits for models. To find “the coolest creative clothes” is not an easy feat because many designers don’t produce them in larger sizes which in turn presents a deeper issue.
“I go out there with my own card — my debit card — to purchase clothes,” he explains. “They cost almost thousands of dollars.[…]Because I have to work so much harder to get these clothes, I was going to charge a very low rate of $100.”
He also adds that he doesn’t discriminate based on body sizes and is proud of the work he creates, which has graced publications like Vogue and featured celebrities like Katie Holmes.
“This is not about discrimination, [about the] size of women or whatever it is,” he explains. “I love my job. I love shooting different people. I don’t even need to test. I do it because a lot of girls ask me.”
In response to this, Mesveskas confirms she wasn’t aware he also worked as a stylist on his test shoots, but his justification for adding a surcharge for curvy models still doesn’t hold up, in her opinion.
“If Lords wants to be a stylist as well as a photographer, that’s fine, but do the math on how you can charge a fair rate for everyone,” she says.
Mesveskas adds that she does not believe that Lords buys clothes for every model he does test shoots with and noted he should come up with a “fair pricing structure that doesn’t penalize women for their bodies.”
Photographer Strikes Back, Considers Legal Action
Body diversity in the fashion and modeling industry is still an ongoing discussion point and Mesveskas knows that Lords charging extra for plus-size models is not the primary issue on hand but highlighting incidents like these can contribute towards enacting a wider change.
“I don’t think focusing on Lords alone is helpful,” she says. “But if we can continue to shine a light on the way models deemed ‘not standard’ are treated, we can continue to chip away at the status quo.”
New York Post reports that Lords is considering legal action against Mesveskas and fellow model Sixtine Rouyre who also chimed in the discussion about the price gap.
“I’m a black man in America, and two white women tell me I’m discriminating them?” Lords states. “I’m so hurt by this. Nobody is telling the true story.”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.