OMGz! Paying a Model? WTF?!

I am tired of working trade.

I’m tired of being asked to work trade by photographers who’s work isn’t on the same level as what I have in my portfolio, and either not hearing back when I respond with rates, or being told off when I respond with rates.

The economy is bad and money is tight for everyone. I get it. Starving students can’t afford to pay models. Believe me, I get it.

I have a dayjob that pays my bills, so I don’t need the money. I’m not a “real” model, just a mere hobbyist. I’m too short to “go anywhere”. A new model will do the shoot “for free”. I get it. All of it.

But my time, efforts and energy are all worth something. The hard work I put into a shoot, before and during, is worth something. Doesn’t seem like many hobbyist photographers get it.

But there’s a big benefit when it comes to paying an experienced model. And it doesn’t seem like many hobbyist photographers get that either.

The biggest benefit you get when you hire a model with experience is that you get someone who is comfortable in front of the camera, knows how to move, how to work with various lighting scenarios, how to emote in front of the camera, and how to follow direction. You don’t have to deal with nerves, stiffness, “deer in headlights”, or inability to follow directions. And having someone in front of your camera who knows what she’s doing?

Some experienced models, like myself, make an extra effort to make sure they’re on the same page with the photographer. Before the shoot. I personally make sure that our ideas jive, that we are both in agreement about what kind of shoot it is, if it’s trade or paid, who is taking care of what expenses (studio, makeup artist, etc.), and whatever else. I also make sure that I know where I’m going, when I need to be there, and that the photographer and I have exchanged contact info (cell phone numbers, most importantly). Most experienced models can also provide you with a ton of references, lessening the likelihood of the dreaded “flake”.

Bottom line is, if you hire an experienced model, you’ll end up with better images the vast majority of the time. Of course, it should go without saying that hiring an experienced model won’t automatically improve your lighting, shot composition, and all the other things that make a shot great. But it will get you some better stuff for your portfolio. And better shots mean more people will want to work with you, which will give you more chances to learn and improve your craft.

So the next time you’re looking to work with someone, pause for a minute and consider the value of hiring an experienced model. There are many of us floating around the Internet. Some of us are even going-nowhere, day-job-having, not-agency-represented, not-real-models hobbyists 😉

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