Posts tagged ‘pay’

November 29, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be A TF* Whore

Photo by James Glendinning of SilverLight Esoterica Photography

When I started modeling, I worked with everyone who contacted me, and shot everything I was comfortable with. I even shot some stuff I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. I figured that any time in front of the camera was good–I would learn more–and that I would have a diverse, up-to-date portfolio. When I shot things I wasn’t 100% comfortable with, I figured I needed to learn how to be comfortable so I could open myself up to other (often paid) markets. I went to TF* group shoot events and shot with anyone who’d work with me. I justified it by telling myself it was good networking, another chance to learn, and a good opportunity to update my portfolio in just a few hours.

After a couple years of that, I realized I’d become one of those models that was in nearly everyone’s portfolio, and I had VERY little to show for it. A lot of what I had was the same, and in quite a few cases, the benefit was staggeringly skewed–the photographer had gotten stuff he could use, but I’d gotten more of what I had, stuff I couldn’t use, or no images at all.

You know how I came to that realization? Someone told me.  I was at a M&G and a photographer said to me, “we’ve got to shoot… you’re in every photographer’s portfolio in the Chicagoland area but mine”. I told him to drop me a line and we’d talk, but I realized right there that I’d over-extended myself and very likely hurt myself in terms of getting paid work.  I’d become a “rite of passage” model for the photographers in my area.  That was a bad thing.

That’s when I started charging. At that point, I had been modeling for about 2 1/2 years.  I knew my angles, understood how my body moved, knew how to work with light, and was booking shoots every weekend I had free, months in advance.

That photographer who wanted me in his book so bad? He never actually contacted me to shoot… it was likely more of a polite, conversational gesture on his part. But boy was it a wake up call for me!

I wasted almost 3 years trading way too much. Now sure, at some point within the first year, after I worked with a couple of photographers who delivered crap, or didn’t deliver at all, I became a little more selective, but mostly, I worked trade. I wasn’t confident enough in myself to offer rates, and I was couldn’t find it in me to tell people their work wouldn’t benefit my portfolio. That lack of confidence was the biggest blow though, and that’s what had me working TF* with whoever asked for it. Big mistake.

That doesn’t mean I should have thought I was hot shit, or that everyone I worked with the first 2+ years of modeling didn’t help me out. But I should have been more honest with myself based on the amount of shoot requests that were coming in, and the amount of work I was booking. I should have started trading up early on, instead of staying at the same level (or dipping below it to avoid hurting feelings). My book would have improved faster, and I could have started charging sooner.

When I started charging, I had a few photographers I hadn’t worked with hire me, which was great.  But the photographers I’d worked TF* with who wanted to work with me again, and couldn’t give me portfolio worthy work? Nope… the vast majority of them wouldn’t hire me, no matter how many times they told me how much they loved working with me, how I was the best model they’d worked with, or any of that other unicorn farty stuff.  I was expected to show up at group shoot events and shoot TF* with whoever, and photographers contacted me expecting to jump at every opportunity they offered, drive for hours to shoot, and do whatever was asked of me because, well, that’s what I’d done for nearly 3 years.

By not charging sooner, and not being selective with who I’d worked with those first couple years, I’d really hurt myself in terms of paying work.  If I’d suddenly had to rely on modeling for income, I’d have been fucked unless I started doing serious glamour, nudes, and fetish work.  And that kind of stuff was what I wasn’t comfortable doing, or didn’t want to do for personal reasons.

Now, I know I didn’t have to rely on modeling to pay my bills. However, it would have been nice to be able to get some of the money back I was spending on shoots–maybe even break even here and there. I spent thousands of dollars over the years on shoes, clothes and accessories for shoots… not to mention hiring hair/makeup (because I managed to learn early on how beneficial that was), and driving miles and miles to and from shoots.

It makes me sick knowing how much money I wasted on shoots.  For the first 2+ years, I spent money on shoots that did absolutely nothing for my book.  And I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is knowing I spent a ton of time away from family and friends, and missed quite a bit of stuff for shoots.  “Sorry, I can’t that weekend, I have something going on” wasn’t something I told photographers… it was what I told my husband, my parents, and my friends.

If I could go back and do it again, I would start out being selective with who I worked with. Granted I know a lot more now, and things have changed quite a bit over the past 6+ years, but I certainly just wouldn’t work with someone just for the experience. I’d make sure that what I was getting out of it was going to be worth my time and the money I was going to spend on hair/makeup and wardrobe. I’d evaluate photographers better, and charge sooner. I wouldn’t worry as much about hurting feelings if I said no or offered rates.  And I wouldn’t put my hobby–modeling–before my friends and family.

New models, think about the value of what you’re getting against what you’re investing, before you agree to a TF* shoot.  Don’t just think about the shoot in terms of your portfolio either.  Consider what you’ll be spending on hair and makeup, wardrobe, and gas to get to and from the shoot, and don’t forget to take all of the time you’ll be busy (traveling and shooting) into account.  Will the photos you get truly be worth what you’ll be spending?  If so, it’s a good investment.  If not, charge that photographer, or pass up the shoot altogether.  There’s absolutely no reason you should be shooting trade just to shoot.  You’ve got to be getting something you value out of the shoot.

The same could be said for new photographers.  I know there are quite a few of you out there who are grateful to have models willing to work with you, but if that model’s look isn’t one you want in your portfolio, she insists on bringing her boyfriend, her BFF, her kid and her mom with her, she expects 100 shots edited 2 days after the shoot, or she wants you to drive 3 hours to shoot for an hour with her… take a pass.  If the pictures you’ll be getting aren’t worth the time and money, the shoot has no value to you.  You can try out new things with other models–add it in when you’re shooting other things that will benefit you both, or you can hire an experienced model for a test shoot, just to try out new things (yes, you can do that!).

Bottom line?  Don’t waste your time and money just to shoot.  Seriously evaluate whether or not a shoot will benefit you, looking at the entire package in terms of value to you, before you just jump at the opportunity.  Don’t be afraid to say, “thank you, but I’m not interested in working TF*”.  Professionals won’t have hurt feelings, and those who do get pissy because you’ve bruised their ego… well… you’ve likely dodged a bullet in terms of other drama down the road.

Think before you trade.

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May 23, 2012

Some Great Info On Setting Rates

Fellow model Dekilah (an art nude model) wrote an excellent blog about rates, where she talks about working trade, setting rates, when to start charging, and much more.  It’s geared towards freelance models who aren’t agency represented, and is full of great information.  Here’s an excerpt:

IS THERE ANYTHING BESIDES LOCATION, STYLE, AND BUDGET THAT I SHOULD CONSIDER IN CHOOSING MY RATES?
Yes, and usage of the images is a big consideration. Will they be submitted to websites? Sold as prints? Sold to private sellers? The budget of the shoot will often reflect the usage. For example, if the photographer is going to sell prints or to a private buyer or website, they are likely to have a larger budget than if they are simply hiring you for artistic or portfolio purposes. This is not always true, of course, but often. Usage information will often be given in the release, but I recommend asking as you book the shoot and it never hurts to ask for specifics if they are not already given.

And another, which I agree 100% with:

SHOULD I KEEP DOING TF AFTER I START CHARGING RATES?
Most people agree that the answer to this is “yes, under the right circumstances.” The whole idea behind doing TF is usually to build your portfolio. And if/when you begin to charge rates, you will still want to update your portfolio, but generally when you are paid, you no longer receive images. There are exceptions to this, but in the general “rules” your payment is what you get out of the shoot. So when you want to update your portfolio you will either need to do TF or pay a photographer.

Click here to read the full post from Dekilah.

If you’re curious about my rates, go here, where I discuss them.

June 28, 2011

Rates, Travel Fees & Discounts

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of photographers are getting slammed with ridiculous travel fees.  Add that into the constant complaints about how models often say “my rates are reasonable” and the rates turn out to be just the opposite, as well as the complaints about models who say they’re negotiable and aren’t, and… yea  :/  Anyway, I figured I’d blog some thoughts on rates and explain how I do things.  I feel like my system is pretty professional and easy to work with.

When do you discuss rates?
I like to discuss rates and negotiate before even scheduling a shoot.  I work with the people interested in working with me to come up with a rate that suits their project and budget before we start figuring out the rest.  That way, there are no surprises for those folks I’m working with, and they don’t have to worry about suddenly not being able to afford me, or having a last-minute travel cost added on.

What are your modeling rates and what do they include?
My hourly rate is currently $50 per hour for modeling.  There’s no minimum to the amount of time I’m booked, but I do ask that folks interested in booking me take travel time into consideration.  I’m not likely going to like driving 2 hours each way for a 1-hour shoot.  My rate is flat for everything from commercial-lifestyle to fashion, and includes swimwear, lingerie, and limited implied nudity.  I do not shoot sheer lingerie or any nudes, so that’s a non-issue.  And don’t forget, the clock starts when I arrive on set, so I ask that photographers be conscious of that when planning.

How do you factor in travel costs?
My base rate includes up to 25 miles of travel, and past that I charge 51 cents per additional mile (which is the IRS mileage rate for 2011).  I work all this out on an individual basis before booking, so that the number quoted is as accurate as possible.  Quite often, I ask photographers for addresses or nearest intersections to their studios, so I can map things out in advance, and make sure that I’m not going to slap them in the face with a “oh, by the way, it’s an extra $60 for travel” the night before a shoot.  That’s just not cool, and I certainly wouldn’t appreciate it being done to me.

How did you set your modeling rates?
I initially set rates a couple years ago, when a combination of two things happened.  One, I started being asked for rates fairly regularly, and two, I was being offered more trade work than my schedule would allow.  I asked a few models in my area what their rates were, in an effort to be competitive.  I also started lower than my current rate, and built up based on both my experience level and how valuable my time is.  I do periodically review my rates and the marketplace, and look at what I’m offering compared to other models of my caliber, and adjust if necessary.

You offer discounts?  Do tell!
I offer discounts to students, because I remember what it was like to be eating Ramen for weeks to get a pair of shoes something I really wanted.  The student discount varies based on numerous things, so I can’t give an exact number.  But if you’re a student and are interested in hiring me, drop me a line and we’ll talk 😉

I also offer discounts when I’m booked by a single photographer in 4-hour blocks (half day) and 8-hour blocks (full day).  Typically, instead of charging $200 for a 4-hour shoot, I charge just $150, which is, essentially, like getting a free hour.  For 8-hour shoots, instead of charging $400, I charge $325, which is a $75 discount (it’s like a free hour and a half).

I have also offered discounts to photographers who are located less than 5 miles from me, or who hire me and then shoot at a location that’s that close.  I offer a 25% discount off my hourly rate for nearby shoots, which means it’s just $37.50 an hour if we’re shooting just 5 miles from my location.

Can multiple photographers split your rates?
I allow up to 4 photographers to book me as the sole model for a shoot for either a half day or full day.  I do not, however, offer the same discount for multiple-photographer bookings that I offer for single photographers.  Why no discount?  Because you’re splitting the $200 or $400 between up to 4 people, which makes it cheaper per person all around.

I ask that no more than 4 photographers book me at once because more than 4 photographers proves to be too many photographers, and means I can’t spend much time posing for each one.  I like to make sure that, when I’m hired, photographers are getting their money’s worth.

How willing to negotiate are you?
I’m pretty open to negotiating, or at the very least, discussing options.  I know things are tough and that many photographers are hobbyists.  The most common negotiation I do is working in exchange for wardrobe or wardrobe plus heavily discounted rates.  Sometimes, this is wardrobe purchased by the photographer and worn at the shoot, then given to me.  Other times, it’s wardrobe in the form of a giftcard, so that I can purchase stuff later on (not necessarily for use on that particular shoot or with that specific photographer).  I always tell photographers not to be afraid to ask models (or me in particular) about negotiating, because chances are, we’re open to it.  If you have something to offer, I won’t know unless you put it on the table!

Do you require deposits to book?
Typically, I don’t.  Though if I were traveling to your area specific to shoot, I would require a retainer, which would be applied to the final total.  I might also require a deposit or retainer to secure a date if a photographer had cancelled on me before.  This is, of course, something I look at on a case-by-case basis.

June 15, 2011

Paying a Model: When Does the Clock Start?

Quite often newer photographers and models ask when the clock starts when it comes to paying a model.  Some seem to think it starts once the model is out of hair and makeup, the lights are set up and tested, and the photographer is ready to start shoot.  However, that is not the case.

The clock starts the moment the model arrives at the shoot location.  Not when the hair and makeup is done.  Not when the photographer is finished setting up and testing his lights.  Not when the model finally gets in wardrobe and starts posing.  A model’s time starts the second she arrives at the location to start hair and makeup.

Why?  Because while the model is in hair and makeup, she’s technically working.  She certainly can’t be shooting with someone else, or working an event, or looking for gigs during that time.  She’s on the clock with that specific photographer and team, the moment she sets foot in the door.

Save some time.  While the model is in hair and makeup, the photographer should be setting up his backdrop or designing his set, getting his lights up, and making sure everything works.  Then, when the model is made up and in wardrobe, he can snap off a few tests, adjust if necessary, and then start shooting.  If, that is, he hasn’t done it before she arrived (though this can mean sitting and waiting on the photographer’s end… so maybe have a compy nearby you can edit on).  Having a model wait around while the photographer sets up a backdrop and lights is just a waste of time and money.

Save some money.  If you’re not working with a MUA and hair stylist, then ask that the model comes with basic makeup done (concealer, foundation, contouring) and that she bring the rest of her makeup kit with her so that she can adjust her look as necessary prior to shooting.  Have her come with her hair done too, and bring a few extra things so she can change it up if necessary.  This will save some significant time and means you can start shooting sooner instead of waiting for the model to do her whole face, style her hair entirely, etc.

Not sure how long to book a model for?  Many models will be willing to discuss hourly rates with you if you’re not sure how long your shoot will be.  Sometimes, it may be easier to book a set block of time and discuss an hourly rate for after that block, in case the shoot runs long.  Other times, it’s easier just to book a model on an hourly basis, and plan to not exceed X hours.  It all depends on the shoot, the prep time needed on set, and how many looks you’ll be doing.  So have that stuff worked out as best you can before discussing rates, if at all possible.

Hey, apparently, this was my 290th post! Neat!

November 13, 2009

Wish List Published!

It’s a bit out of charcter for me, but I know a lot of folks are having trouble scraping together cash for a full day (or even a half day) of rates.  So I’ve gone thru some of my favorite sites and pulled some of my favorites together for a holiday wish list (which I’ll probably be showing the hubby too, ’cause I know he’s always struggling for ideas).  I’ve made it a separate page so it’s easy to find, and if you’re interested in working with me, but can’t afford my rates, I’m very easily bribed with new shoes, a cute shirt, or any of the other various items. I’m still adding to it, so keep an eye out!

Here’s the link!

August 21, 2009

Today’s Public Service Annoucement

Models, if you’re struggling with posing and expressions, and can’t get through a shoot without “freezing up” because you’re so nervous, then chances are you shouldn’t be asking to get paid.  It might also be wise to

Typically*, photographers pay models that have something to offer them (when they’re hiring models for things like private projects and portfolio building–when it’s a client that pays, this may be a different story).  Chances are, if they hire a model who’s nervous and constantly gets stuck posing/emoting, and ultimately has one look and a handful of stiff poses, they’re going to feel a bit short-changed at the end of the day.

Just some food for thought.

*Note: I did say typically.  Some photographers do hire based on things like looks and measurements before they hire based on experience.  But many feel that a model needs to have something worth paying for in order to be, well, paid.

July 16, 2009

Honey = More Flies

You know that saying, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”?  Well it applies to models as well.

There’s a photographer about 25 miles away from me (at a rough estimate) who has a casting call up on one of the modeling sites.  It is, like many many others, a TF* casting.  Here’s what it says (not exact, so don’t go Googling it 😉 ):

I’d love to shoot sometime soon.  I’m not rich, so I can’t afford $150/hour right now, but I’d love to work with some local talent!  I see all these profiles of people who think they’re all that, but to me their profiles look terrible–like bad car show models.  I know I might not have the best models, but at least my work is classy!  If you want to work with me let me know… my contact information is on my profile.  I don’t have a big fancy camera or all that equipment, but I do good work, even in post production!

His profile goes on to say (again, not exact):

I just started working with models and am looking to work trade, for now.  You can contact me at [myspace] or [email].  Please only contact me if you’re serious, not if you’re just going to blow me off!  I’m sorry if I’m not responding right away–I just broke up with my girlfriend and I’m heartbroken!  For now, all shoots are canceled.  You can also contact me at [phone number]–call or text.  I’m also willing to edit your photos for you–check out my portfolio an don’t be afraid to ask!

Let me ask you, dear readers, what’s wrong with the casting and the profile?

Well, let’s start with the profile. Now, when I re-wrote both things, I fixed grammatical errors like you wouldn’t believe.  Run on sentences, no capital letters, words that make no sense, and… yea.  Anyway, profiles (and casting calls) that are written so horrible are hard to read, hard to understand, and overall scream “this person sucks at communicating!”.  Not a great first impression.

Then there’s the random bit about the heart-breaking girlfriend and all shoots being canceled.  If all shoots are canceled, why are you posting casting calls?  If there’s personal-life BS in your profile, make sure you keep it up to date to lessen the confusion.

Also, it’s wise to keep all your contact info together.  I mean, if you’re going to share your cell phone number and email address with the entire Internet, you might as well make it all easy to find, right?

And now, the casting. That’s what spawned this whole blog anyway.  The casting.

It makes no sense–none–to post a casting looking for models and to then essentially say everyone looking to get paid has shitty work that looks like a cheap, bad import model.  Way to insult all of the professional models (and some of us mere hobbyists) who might have taken a chance on working with you.

That’s where that whole saying at the top of this blog comes in.

It’s also not a great idea to be so negative about yourself.  It’s one thing to be honest in a PM and say, “hey, just a forewarning I shoot with a disposable Kodak… but it has an onboard flash!”.  It’s another to sell yourself short by saying “I don’t have this or this or that”.  It makes you seem like you don’t have confidence in your ability… no matter how good you say your photoshopping skillz may be.

Which brings me to the work itself. It’s bad.  Really bad.  Laughable, in fact.  There’s a lot of bad post work, including over-use of Gaussian blur, badly done selective coloring, bad background replacement… and that’s not even looking at the photos themselves (for what they are before the bad photoshopping).

So when you’re looking to book a model, take in to consideration the following:

  • Being nice goes a lot farther than making broad generalizations and bashing everyone.
  • Being negative about yourself is bad.
  • Make your profile (and your casting) easy to read and easy to understand.  Take into account grammar, spelling, punctuation, and the general info you have there.
  • No one gives a crap about your girlfriend breaking up with you.  Modeling sites are not MySpace.  You want to get all Emo on MySpace, go for it… but keep your modeling site professional.

Oh, and since I’m sure you’re wondering, no, I didn’t contact him. I sent the casting to a few good friends and got one hell of a laugh out of it all.  But I didn’t contact him.  I have no desire to work with someone who equates me to a bad car model, who has shitty work, and won’t even remotely consider paying me.  That is the definition of not getting anything out of a shoot, and would just waste my time.

June 28, 2009

“Why Aren’t I Getting Paid?!”

Ten Reasons You’re Not Getting Paid

1. A lot of it has to do with your location. If your town is a small blip off the interstate in the middle of cornfields, chances are, it’s not a great market for regular, decent paying work.

2. If you live in the middle of a cornfield, it certainly isn’t very economical for you to travel to and from the nearest major market to go to castings, go-sees, or whatever else on a regular (possibly even last-minute) basis.  Provided, that is, that your major market is one that has modeling agencies and/or clients looking to hire models.

3.  Bigger cities often have events going on. Certainly if any photographers in a major city are going to hire someone, chances are, they’re going to look nearby first.

4. What kind of work are you looking for? Your portfolio needs to reflect the kind of work you’re looking to get.  Certainly photographers aren’t going to pay a model to stand in their studio, smile, and look pretty when they can find a bunch to do it trade.

5. Get a thicker skin. Someone suggesting you be a housepainter isn’t rude.  If you think that’s rude, find another “full time job”, because modeling is much more harsh than that (especially if you make the move to a larger market).

6. Go to college and get an education. Modeling is a career that typically doesn’t last forever.  An education is something you will always be able to fall back on.  At the very least, take some courses on business, marketing, and personal finance, as they will be very valuable in both the modeling business, and the housepainting one.

7. It’s “accepting” not “excepting”. Presenting yourself professionally will help you get treated like one, which might improve your chances of getting paid shoots.

8. Number 6 also applies to the escort BS. You don’t need an escort on a shoot.  Especially if you’re modeling full time–certainly then the shoots you’re going to have full hair, makeup, wardrobe, and possibly even art directors on set…  but if you’re shooting with regular folks off MM or other modeling sites, doing your research on them first may help.  These articles are good to read: Safety & Due Diligence by SLE Photography and What is Due Diligence in a Model/Photographer Environment? by Curt Burgess

9. Stop using the word “edgy”. It’s meaningless.  Seriously.

10. Figure out what makes you worth paying. Once you’ve done that, market the hell out of yourself.  Here’s a hint: it’s not your height, your hair, how much you rock on the runway, or how much you love modeling… because there’s always going to be someone taller, with the same hair, who can rock the runway better, who loves modeling more.

November 24, 2008

“I’ve been modeling for a month, pay me!”

On one of the modeling sites, a new model posted up that she has been modeling for “about a month” and is looking for paid jobs. She asked for advice on getting paid jobs, wanted to know what she should do about her wardrobe (admitting to being a college student who owns nothing but jeans and flip-flops), and mentioned that she won’t do nudes. Here’s the advice I gave her.

Being ‘a model’ doesn’t automatically entitle you to getting paid lots of money. Just like spending 4+ years in college doesn’t entitle you to getting a decent paying job (let alone one in the field you studied) right out the door.

In fact, if you’re not signed (and especially if you’re just modeling as a hobby), chances are you’re going to end up spending more than you make on things for shoots (like wardrobe, shoes, traveling to shoots, stylists and MUAs, etc.). And let’s not forget the hours spent networking to make sure people know who you are and have a desire to hire you.

If you’re looking to make money, get a job at the grocery store close to your college campus. That’s a sure thing. Modeling for a month and then looking to get paid? Not so much.

Chances are, at your height and measurements, you’re going to have a hard time getting signed to an agency (unless you find a commercial one that can place someone with your look). And if you’re not signed, and not willing to do nudes, the market that will pay you (especially with only one month’s experience under your stilettos flip-flops) will be quite limited.

What will “guarantee” you money from modeling? Nudes and fetish work. There are fetishes that don’t require nudity, but you have to be comfortable with the idea of someone getting off to images of you. If you’re not comfortable with either of those things, chances are, you’re not going to make money modeling. Hell, you’ll be lucky to break even.

Now, as far as your current wardrobe goes, you’re 20 years old, and will soon be out in the professional world. You might as well start investing in some quality, classic pieces that will last you: black pumps, a dark suit, a couple modest dresses. The holidays are coming up. When people ask what you want as gifts, explain that you would like to start building your professional wardrobe, and ask for giftcards to places like The Limited, Ann Taylor, or Banana Republic. You don’t need to buy frumpy pieces, just make sure they’re not too tight or too trendy. Well-made pieces with classic lines will last you quite some time, and it’s worth spending the money on pieces like that.

For shoots, you can find a wardrobe stylist to hire, or you can try finding stuff at places like TJ Maxx, Goodwill, Nordstrom Rack, or even H&M. And always hit up the sale racks. Hell, borrow from your friends if you can’t go out and buy stuff. Figuring out where you want to go with modeling, as well as planning shoots with photographers in advance, will also help you find wardrobe pieces.

I built the basics of my professional wardrobe on holiday gifts. I use the holidays as a time to re-evaluate what I have and update it if necessary.

I rarely, if ever, buy something for a shoot that I can’t wear either to work, out, or just in general.

Oh, and I worked my ass off in college taking unpaid internships, freelancing for family friends at reduced rates, and taking on projects for my sorority and other groups I was involved in to get experience. All that hard work paid off, and I landed a job 2 weeks after graduating.

As a model (a hobbyist mind you), I worked purely on a trade basis for over a year before I felt comfortable quoting rates to photographers who asked. If I didn’t see a value in working with someone, I simply said no. I’ve worked my rear off to get people to recognize my name, my face, and want to work with me. It’s paid off, but it was a long, frustrating, tiring road, and one that needs constant maintenance.

My advice? Get a ‘real job’ if you need money, and model as a hobby if you find it enjoyable.

November 20, 2008

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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