What is a MUA kit fee?

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Kit fee is just an amateur makeup artist's way of charging you a fee because your work is not worth trading for. It's a way for them to try and lessen the blow by making it sound like you are getting a wholesale rate. Ignore what people label in front of the word fee. Just read it as a fee. It’s simple as that. What it means is that your work or project is not beneficial enough for them to do it without charging that fee. If it makes you feel better, consider it a discounted day rate. If you want it to make you feel worse, consider it a "I'm not good enough" surcharge.

Every collaborator in a TF shoot or test has cost but there is no such thing as a photographer kit fee to cover battery cost, electricity cost, or pro-rated depreciation cost on equipment. Models don't charge kit fees for gym memberships or pimple removal creme. The origin of kit fees come from film productions where MUA may have to use expensive disposables such as wigs and other special effects supplies. The cost for these supplies are reimbursements and not viewed as taxable income. There are valid kit fees in film production but it's not used in still photography testing. Professional MUA charge a fee.

  • mil

    While I understand that there are makeup artists out there that are rather inexperienced that charge a kit fee and do not do work that you feel is up to par, what you’ve said is incorrect.

    Professional Makeup Artists do charge a kit fee even when receiving a substantial day rate.A Kit Fee is ACTUALLY a fee to cover the costs of our very expensive supplies. Makeup isn’t free and yet so many individuals expect makeup artists to work for free. Just charging a kit fee alone IS in fact giving that person a deal because we are only covering costs and not making anything for our time.
    Your very misinformed and clearly had a bad experience with a makeup artist’s services, however you could have bad services from a pro who’s been in the industry forever as well.
    Generalizing about a whole industry of working professionals is pretty ignorant.

    • Yes I’m generalizing. Generally, professional mua don’t charge a kit fee for print. It’s done in TV and film. Everyone has cost. Charging a la carte is a an amateur move. Professional photographers cost far exceeds that of mua but you don’t see professional photographer charging for gas, dvd, lens cloth, batteries, or parking meter cost. Pros charge a day rate. Amateurs who think they are pros charge all kinds of “cost fees” because they lack the confidence in selling their skills as a whole and feel the need to justify their cost.

      Don’t believe me? Go find a real pro mua artist and ask them.

      • Mulberry Flat

        Professional MUAs also charge kit fees, because, as a separate fee for a RENTAL property, it is delineated differently on our income tax forms. Perhaps you should spend more time on your own business, and less time whining about whether charging a fee instantly defines someone as an amateur or a professional. Because clearly you have a lot to learn.

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry that you have had poor experiences in the past with makeup artist, I have worked in film and print for 5 years now and still will work the new photographers and models in the LARGE city’s industry I have had the privilege of being a photographers assistant and editing assistant.  I am a strong supporter of TFP as thats how I started, and even after gaining experience I have still found many of my photographers that I work with because we started as a TFP conjunction,  but I will reiterate what mil has stated the kit fee is a flat fee to cover the very disposable products. Your camera flashes lens and lighting rigs with the exception of bulb, and backdrops with the proper care and storage and transportation can last you years. As much as I would love to experience a never ending foundation such an item does not exist. We have to be extremely aware of lighting temperatures and flash points to insure that the make we are doing does not cause a white balance issue or flash back which means we do not have the opportunity to use a consumer grade cosmetic lines. It is because of this that I do have to charge my kit fee in which many people are very understanding of in my industry community as they are aware  that this is a disposable object. It saddens me that you have the same outlook that so many new photographers are which is the photographer is the most important part of our industry rather than seeing that it is just as equally important as the model the hairstylist the stylist mua’s etc.  I urge you to meet with your fellow makeup artist to talk with them about the expectations that are had on both sides in your community.

    • OK. I’ll pay your kit fee if you’ll pay for my studio rental and permit cost. All of those are disposable and cannot be reused. You’ll end up owning me money regardless of how much your kit cost. Everyone has cost. No one cares about your cost. Everyone in a TF team can either all trade or hire an accountant to nickel and dime each other to death. The shoot will never happen because it will take too long to calculate how much coolant and motor oil is consumed in a 25 mile drive by a Ford Expedition vs a Toyota Corolla.

      • Anonymous

        I am lost I don’t understand why you keep coming back to travel expenses when no one has brought up travel expenses. I will always pay a photographer if I am reaching out to them or a model since I am asking them, if I am approached for TFP then the expectation is set for my kit fee, but you seem really angry that people have that expectation of you. I have to ask have you ever sat down and looked at the cost of a basic hd make up kit? that can run from 375-550 with a pro discount if a newer artist is without their discount that increases 40%. Your studio is indispensable as you use that numerous times without the room disappearing as well as your equipment and editing programs they may have. No one is saying that you don’t have cost, but your dictation that a kit fee is saying you are not worth it is unfair and your hostility that your industry counterparts is very concerning as it doesn’t appear that you are open to the entire picture I truly hope that who ever does come to your fact pages will be able to take what your attempting to explain with a grain of salt since you sound scorned. I hope peace comes to you and you can find a good team in which you can collaborate with

        • LAphotogAdvice

          L. Voss- I may agree with you in regards to travel but Pat is right about the other costs a Photographer incurs. Permits, location fees, specific gear rental (if needed) ends up being HUNDREDS of dollars a lot of the time and yet we don’t charge for those or expect anyone to share in the costs with us when we do a TF. I’ve been a well established photographer for 10 years, I work with some of the top MUAs in LA and the whole country for that matter and not a single one of them has ever mentioned a kit fee to me when we are doing a collaboration project. It’s not a class move if you are working with a photographer who is worth their salt.

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