I was talking with my mother about my upcoming New Year’s Day photo shoot with one of my favorite regular models, and she asked me, “So how much do these models pay you?” If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question…..
How much do these models pay? Zero to nothing. Really. Over the years of taking pictures of pretty women, I have only charged the models when the photos were going to be used for self-promotion beyond a standard portfolio on Facebook or on-line modeling websites. But 99.9% of my model shoots are pretty women who like to have their pictures taken. And I like to take pictures of pretty women. The mutual vanity benefits us both.
How much do I pay the models? Little to nothing. In the Real World Of Commercial Photography, the client pays. Photographers and models work for clients, not necessarily for each other. Are there times when I have paid a model? Yeah, a few times – usually when I need a very specific look for a very specific idea, and those shoots have never been fashion shoots. In those cases, I was the client. I needed a model with a specific skill set and comfort level that I don’t easily find with internet based models.
There are times when a new model needs to hire a photographer to develop a portfolio for agencies, but in the world of internet model photography that is the exception rather than the rule (I’m braced for the comments from photographers who do charge and who do get paid by models – to you I say, “Congratulations! You have shattered a ceiling other photographers can’t even reach!”).
I spent a year going the route of “pay me to take your picture” for models. I got zero work from that. I did, however, free up a lot of time to do more rescue dog photos and a few paid family portrait sessions. I don’t do pretty girl photography for a living. It is a hobby. I enjoy the process. I enjoy the result. I have been able to leverage this hobby into some publication opportunities and some [unfulfilled] commercial use requests.
Looking forward, I hope to continue balancing my pretty girl hobby with rescue dogs and those precious paid family portrait and wedding shoots.