Model Rates: Advice for Freelance Models

Ever since I started modeling, the question of “model rates” has been popping up just about every day in the modeling forum. I’ve finally decided to write a post with my personal take on setting modeling rates.

This is just from my experience—honestly, there are as many unique experiences and opinions as there are models. Additionally, this post is geared towards freelance models making money by helping new photographers develop their portfolios, as opposed to agency models.

Model: Aviva; Photographer: IMS PHOTOGRAPHIC

Warning to New Models: Making a Living as a Model Takes Time

First, if you started modeling only for the money, then think very carefully about the reality of making money as a model, especially if you are freelance. It is very important to understand your limitations, because there is not a single model out there that is suitable for all kinds of work.

I know a few freelance models on Model Mayhem who make a living modeling (I’ll certainly try to get them to submit a guest post or two here, and maybe interview them). They travel for shoots and are able to sustain themselves. From reading many of their forum posts, I can see that it took them a long time to build a reputation that can allow them to charge enough for their modeling to make a living at it. Making a living as a full-time freelance model requires a lot of hard work, dedication, a look that people are willing to pay for, and sometimes the willingness to lower your limits when it comes to nudity and the types of shoots you are willing to accept.

Rather than having set rates, consider leaving them open for negotiation

I have seen freelance models charge upwards of $150/hour. As a non-nude model I have usually been paid between $25/hr-$60/hour for shoots, although sometimes I get more.

I choose not to set a specific rate because I always want to know what the person hiring me is offering before I tell them. That way, I can try to renegotiate on jobs that I think are offering me too little money, or accept jobs that offer me more than what I had expected to get.

6 Things to Consider When Setting Your Modeling Rates

So, how much do you charge for modeling? How do you know how much you should charge? Should you charge?

1. Your Portfolio

When you are starting, focus on building a good portfolio that focuses on the areas of modeling that are most suited for your look, and your interests. Understand that if you are 5’4″ and 140 lbs, you probably will not make money as a fashion or commercial model. Therefore, stick with genres that suit your body type.

And, unless you have a fairly strong portfolio, it may be unreasonable to expect getting paid at all. You might be better off doing some trade/collaboration (TF*) work or even hiring a photographer or two.  A really good photographer would likely provide valuable images that help you build a portfolio.

2. The Photographer’s Portfolio

When deciding upon an offer you received, assess the person’s portfolio and decide for yourself if the amount of money they are offering you is worth being associated with that photographer and their work. Yes, they are paying you, but understand that those pictures will be on the Internet forever. Look at the person’s worst picture, and realize that their next worst one could be of you. Are you okay with that? One bad picture can cost you money or your future career—especially if you want to be a public figure.

One way that I was able to avoid working with some photographers that I did not want to work with was by quoting them rates that I knew they would not pay, and it worked well for me. I was able to be selective of who I worked with, while still making some money at modeling.

3. Your Look

How you look is probably the most important factor when it comes to setting your rates. If your look is in demand, you can charge higher rates for your modeling because people would be willing to pay you more. To be able to make money as a model, realize that maintaining your looks is important, which means taking care of your skin, eating right and going to the gym, among other things.

4. The Competition

The number of models who can do what you do is also an important factor in whether or not you can charge, and how much. If you see that, in your area, there are many models that do amazing standard glamour shots, and you want to also be a glamour model, understand that you are up against some stiff competition. When supply is high, simple economics say that the price would therefore be low. If you have a unique skill (such as posing) that few of the models in your area possess, use it to your advantage. Anything that is rare is usually more valuable.

When deciding how much to charge, check out what the models in your area (that are similar to you in looks, body type and genre) are charging. Some of them post their rates right on their Model Mayhem profile, or on their website.

Because you are new, charge a little bit less than the average, when starting out. If you see that, at your current rate, you are getting more offers than you have time for, you then raise your rates a little bit. If you are not getting any offers, then lower your rates.

If, you are not getting any offers, even after you have lowered your rates, it is time to go back to square one and re-assess your own portfolio,  your look, the market and your goals.

5. Nude Modeling

Due to the supply and demand principle, models willing to pose nude will be able to charge more and will likely get more work. That is because there are many beautiful girls who are willing to pose clothed for free/little money, but it is more difficult to find good models who pose nude. With that being said, carefully consider the consequences of posing nude and whether or not the money is worth it for you. You are the only one to make that decision.

6. What Do You Offer That Is Worth Paying For?

Consider that you are also competing against many models that would do the same thing that you do but for free. Make a list of all the things that you can offer to the person “hiring” that those who model for free can’t or don’t do. In other words, what can you do/what do you have that makes you worth paying for?

Summary: Deciding on a good rate depends on many factors

If you are disappointed that I didn’t write down the exact dollar figure, then, I can explain to you why I didn’t.

Here are all the reasons why I didn’t write the exact dollar figure in this post:

  • Modeling rates are variable by city and country. Chances are if you are a model in Victoria, BC your rates are different than if you are a model in Los Angeles, CA.
  • I don’t know what you look like.
  • I don’t know your competition in the city where you live.
  • I am not familiar with modeling rates for every genre that you may be suited for, and different genres have different rates.
  • There are far too many variable factors to come up with a solid numeric figure.

How do you set your modeling rates?

I hope you found this helpful. If you disagree with something, please say so in the comments. If you like this post, feel free to comment too.



AvivaH has been a model for 2 years and track athlete for 6 years. She lives in Victoria, BC, and specializes in fitness, promotional, bikini, lingerie, and commercial modeling.

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78 Responses to “Model Rates: Advice for Freelance Models”

  1. July 05, 2018 at 6:35 pm, Grace Art Events said:

    Can you tell me what is an average rate of pay for a Life Model for artists or art classes in the US? And what would a standard rate be for nude photography for an artist?


  2. October 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm, Thomas Delaney said:

    Great Article!!!! Rates have so many variables it’s incredible. It’s obvious that some models are more attractive than others. However, part of the Photographer’s job is seeing the best in any woman. I recently shot 140 pics for a European version of mild Playboy. I was lucky enough to end up with a thorough PROFESSIONAL who was in town for 2 weeks. Absolutely no coaching needed. Moreover, she could zoom through her best shots at a rate of about 6 poses per minute!!! She charged $75/hr straight time (no stopwatch for “time outs”. It cost me some time to photoshop out minor ink but at the end everyone was happy. I must (humbly) admit that she was a genuine rocket and made every second a pleasure. She even hinted at certain filters that worked well with her skin tone. Incredible.


  3. April 09, 2016 at 7:43 pm, Jon Edward said:

    Thank you for the article, Aviva. As an older model, who is new to
    modeling and having only done TF at this point, it offers good points to
    consider for my next steps. I also began browsing the comments and it
    appears that a good discussion has taken off. I’m enjoying reading the
    perspective from photographers as well. Much appreciated.


  4. April 04, 2016 at 1:00 pm, JOI said:

    Thank you very much for the pointers


  5. March 09, 2016 at 2:19 pm, I C I Models Events said:

    hi all good I had a look at article unfortunately in the in the industry if a model wants to go somewhere and make a name she cant decide this is what the rate is, if an editorial shoot pays x amount that is set rates by the magazine and they wont change and if the model wants to come with her own rates and has no name in the industry well she will never get work and also just remember everybody knows everybody in the industry


  6. May 05, 2015 at 11:23 pm, Manish said:

    Thankyou.. Very Much Dear..The Article was Actually Great


  7. June 23, 2014 at 12:16 am, Ty Pritchett said:

    Aviva–Delightful writing–sensible, practical, and insightful advice. Well done.


  8. March 06, 2013 at 5:41 am, Michael Abela Photography said:

    The article content can be applied to all across the spectrum, from models to photographers and make up artist to photo editors. Good advice.


  9. January 09, 2013 at 6:42 pm, Serious Amateur said:

    A word about working with serious amateur photographers. We are not charity cases. Quote us a fair price based on our portfolios. If we have outstanding work, you’ll want to work with us, modest-to-trade should apply. If our portfolio is a notch below your present portfolio, charge us. No reason not to do so. Cover all your expenses. If we are not bringing hair and MUA to the shoot, charge us more. You are the hair and MUA. Maybe not a great one, so that rate should match your hair and MUA talents. If someone will a much lesser portfolio refuses to pay your rates, no harm. Just move along to the next offer. You’ll be glad you did.

    Find out what they expect. What’s the theme? Does their portfolio show they can pull that idea into reality? Adjust your rates accordingly.


  10. January 07, 2013 at 2:59 am, Ashleigh Jane said:

    I am a semi experienced model and this article is just what I needed.
    I have never charged but have been offered pay and turned it down. If I think I’m not yet experienced enough to charge, I won’t.

    And as for the body mods, this has been my biggest selling point. If there’s one thing I can say draws the photographers in, its definately my hair and tattoos.
    I don’t see this as a setback aslong as you promote yourself in a market that is accepting of this.


  11. January 06, 2013 at 9:54 pm, Ashley M Levy Morales said:

    thank u, i found this to be a great tool for people starting off, and not knowing exactly how this works..


  12. January 04, 2013 at 5:06 pm, OUDAME said:

    I would like to emphasize how important it is to have a CLEAN POLAROID shot in their portfolio– no exceptions! A clean shot, no makeup, in underwear/swimsuit/or tight fitting clothes, 3/4 shot to full length photo. One cannot consider themselves a model, or even expect to shoot with any photographer of quality, without one. Period. If you’re not ready to show the “real you” then you haven’t earned the title of “model”. So do it.

    Nice article. It encompasses much of the general info which is seen in many other blogs and posts.


  13. January 04, 2013 at 12:43 pm, J. Christopher said:

    I have worked with models who got in front of my camera and seemed to be reading my mind. Before I could say do this, they did it. Those models, I would pay/request top dollar for any day because they clearly have put time into perfecting their craft. Making my job as a photographer totally enjoyable.

    Thennnnn there were those who just had no clue what-so-ever and unleash assaults on their photographer both knowing and unknowingly.

    1. I have had models walk in with their iPods, iPhones, Disks or whatever and ask that I change the music to whatever nonsense that they want to listen to. That is a no-no. It is not about you. I have had models bring tribal music, gang banging music, music with swearing and all sorts of distracting sounds. No, no, noooo. Just leave the music alone. You are here to model, not DJ.

    2. I have had models say “tell me what I should do”, “what should I do now”, “I can’t think of anything else to do” or even “I don’t know how to do that.” That is never a good sign for me. Those are not the words that a photographer wants to hear. I am tempted to wear a shirt that says “I am a photographer, not a modeling coach.” for shoots. I mean these are beautiful models, some “agency represented” models. I am just left feeling that the agencies are not worth much in their “model development” or that these models are lazy and undisciplined. Beauty alone does not make you a great model.

    3. One model had the gall to say to me once “just keep snapping, just keep flowing with it.” What?! Really? Sooooo you want to tell me how to do my job now and you cannot do yours. I will “keep snapping” and “keep flowing” when you give me something to snap and flow about. If you keep being unrealistic about your body movement, “faces” and how to connect whatever is in your head with what is being displayed then I will not “keep snapping” anything. Of course, I do not tell them that. I just counted it as time wasted. Got the best shots for that I could for the client but their images never make it to my portfolio. They also landed themselves in my “do not shoot” file.

    I guess this turned into a venting post, but my advice to models is:

    1. Be realistic about your level of expertise in modeling.

    2. Your photog is not your modeling coach.

    3. Get coaching BEFORE you step in front of someone’s professional camera.

    4. Do not attempt to coach your photographer, you will coach yourself unto a black list.

    5. Build a positive rapport with photographers.

    6. Your beauty is not an excuse to be totally disagreeable.

    Most of all, professionals have no problems paying top dollar to work with you if you have the goods. If you are still fighting back and forth with the pricing, then keep working on your craft, you’re not quite there yet. There are some models that I have had the pleasure of working with, that if they told me they would work for $5000 for a day, I would relay that to the client with my recommendation that they pay. Why, because I KNOW that they are amazing at what they do and that when they step in front of my camera, I WILL get the shots that I want from them. Period.


    • January 08, 2013 at 12:56 pm, Petrichor Rain said:

      I am always shocked by these stories that photographers tell me about other models. Everyone has enjoyed working with me, many expressing extreme relief that I’m respectful and know what I’m doing. I don’t understand why the way I behave is not standard.

      I have two thoughts to share with you, after agreeing with everything you’ve said:

      1) I enjoy working with photographers who know exactly what they want, and communicate that with me. Having a photographer tell me to think of something else because they’ve run out of ideas… that’s a little frustrating. I have no end to ideas because I’m an artist and I’m always thinking about how to interact with the world around me and see it differently, but I have often given up ideas that I would have photographed myself (because I want my client the photographer to be happy), and I am not charging for being an artistic director. So I feel a tiny bit of sadness about giving someone else my art when the audience doesn’t always fully appreciate that I’ve thought about where the photog is standing and kept in mind where the light would hit me and what shadows are cast, etc. Ultimately it is fine, just not my preference. And I’m not talking about when we are both being creative and bouncing off of each other, just when the photog wants me to direct the shoot.

      2) My priority is the photographer’s feeling comfortable, creative, and happy, so s/he should decide whether there is music. However, music is very helpful in creating mood, and gives me another way to read their mind, and something additional to work off of.


    • November 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm, GwendolenMeiMeiWilliams said:

      From the other side of the camera again, there is a photographer I’ve worked with several times who is always on time, has loads of ideas and listens to my ideas. He doesn’t speak the same language as me and most of his ideas are communicated with a few words and facial expressions, but we are always on the same wavelength, he’s 100% respectful and fun to be around. I would do TF for him any time. We always get great shots, often completely different to what we had originally imagined because we just go with the flow.

      That’s one example- 90% of the photographers I’ve worked with would fall into the category of “fully recommended”, although if they are after a specific shot then I would expect them to pay

      Other photographers are arrogant and uninspired and the entire shoot is boring and I feel uncomfortable because they seem to have no clear idea of what they want out of the shot, and seem unwilling to take my ideas on board- or even worse they make vaguely insulting comments about my appearance which immediately makes me self conscious. Not only do neither of us get the shots we were hoping for, but I expect to be paid for my wasted time and will not work with them again.


    • October 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm, Mj said:

      I am a model. I don’t need music personally but I know for a fact that music helps models get into their zone. it’s important for the models performance to be top notch just as much as the photographer and if your music isn’t helping them maybe you should consider conforming more to your partner/model or as you said to just decide not to work with them. It’s a bit arrogant to say they aren’t there to DJ when you aren’t either. Unless their being paid. And even that is debatable.


  14. December 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm, Pure Rebel said:

    I am a full time freelance model from Seattle! I travel the country and shoot for different fetish sites, and work with photographers of all different skill levels. As long as the photographer treats me as a professional I will shoot with him, which makes SCREENING extremely important! When I travel and shoot, I ALWAYS get references from other models the photographer has worked with in the past!

    I started out when I was 18 as a hobby while working at fast food. I was 24 when I stopped working in the food industry (i made it to bartender!) and started modeling full time! My first few photoshoots were negative experiences but that didn’t stop me. I found some good photographers I trusted and built up a super strong portfolio over the years.

    I didn’t start charging until photographers started asking me what my rates were, which was when I was about 20. I still just did it for fun and extra cash. I wanted to be a petite fashion model, so I started going to casting calls but i was always too short.

    I flew to hawaii for fun and booked some shoots there to pay for my trip, then I realized what I was missing out on: I could do this ANYWHERE!!

    Reliability, looks, and attitude are my strengths along with creativity and enthusiasm!



  15. December 28, 2012 at 11:38 am, Yucel Yalim said:

    A key point in pricing and paying is considering what it means to the model and to the photographer to be working together.

    That is, who is being helped more or the most by the shoot?


  16. December 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm, Carl Michaels said:

    Sage advice.


  17. November 20, 2012 at 11:47 am, theresa said:

    i got an offer on modelmayhem about a shoot for gq magazine for a clothes line. emails sound legit and all but he said that hed send me $1650 and once i get it i send him back $500 and then the rest to the wardrobe people via western union. i dont know if this is a scam or not but i woul dlike help before getting into something im not sure about!


    • January 04, 2013 at 3:15 pm, Michael said:

      If at all you indeed would do a shoot for GQ, the magazine would pay you, not the photographer. Always the client hires the model. The photographer may help with the selection but the contract is between the client and the model. Did a photo editor from GQ contact you? Usually (especially for smaller jobs, front of the book etc.) the larger the magazine, the smaller the chances the model is getting paid. Which agency are you with? If you aren’t with an agency, then chances are even lower to be on a job for magazines like GQ. The only way would be if the photographer was shooting spec work to submit but then again there wouldn’t be money involved.



    • January 06, 2013 at 4:20 pm, Gabo said:

      Dont send any money with Western Union. Its a Scam, GQ Magazine and any other magazine will pay beforehand. The payments are always done afterwards


    • February 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm, garys said:

      Classic scam. The $1650 check will bounce, but you won’t know it until after you’ve sent the money out via Western Union. You should report this to law enforcement and hopefully save somebody else from being victimized.


  18. September 27, 2012 at 11:09 am, SabotImages said:

    Overall good article but I would have a few caveats.
    1. Body modifications will have a direct impact on the work people are willing to pay for. Make sure you understand the repercussions before you go into the tattoo shop.

    2. How you show up to the test or interview, it is a job, moisturize your skin, condition your hair. If you show up looking like you don’t care then your chance of being paid is lowered or the amount being paid will be reduced.

    3. If you don’t have a strong local reputation with your modeling skills or have agency representation don’t expect to be paid much or anything (with the exception of nudes). Yes, there are photographers who are willing to pay for you to model but not many will pay an unknown if they are being paid for an job since that would put the payer on the line. Do you want to make a living out of ads, magazines, or other media, expect a test shoot.

    4. Know how to model. There is nothing worse for the photographer or art director who has to tell you what to do all the time. If you don’t know how to find the light, simple modeling poses (there is an app for that) or are not professional at the shoot. If that is not you be happy if someone is willing to work with you for pay or without pay.

    5. Don’t believe the line “I will pay you for the next shoot.” That is a rarity ask any photographer.

    6. Value yourself and don’t cut your fees, this takes away your status. Once you have set fees don’t go down only up. If you don’t value your work don’t expect art directors, photographers or designers to value you.


    • January 08, 2013 at 1:00 pm, Petrichor Rain said:

      Agreed, especially on #6. This is true in any setting, not just modeling.


    • January 09, 2013 at 9:24 pm, Todd Brekke said:

      I srongly agree with #1 here by this individual. I will hire models and I am willing to pay a good rate considering how specialized I can get, and I have to say I have lost count of how many profiles I have disregarded due to the self mutilation of tatts and piercings. What are you thinking, scarring yourself when you want to be a model ??? Hello !!! I saw a survey on FB and 85% couldnt stand tatts. Think what that translates to in a professional career setting. I have suggestive nude and erotic work available sometimes, I do not hire very often, but almost every time I check a profile that matches this, nothing but tatts. I can go to the Mall of America and find an Abercrombie barbie. I can go to the grocery store or downtown, even a restaurant and find a beautiful girl that can do the shoot and take direction. It is not that difficult to get someone to take your money from you. Granted not just any girl is going to work for your standard professional shoot, but I sign up for this site where models are to be professional, and that is not what I see in that genre. Women are understandably obsessed about their skin, but how do permanent cartoons burned into your flesh, become a great idea over that perfect olive complexion you’re advertising in your port? This fad cannot end soon enough for me. There will always be individuals who are part of a culture and naturally attracted to modifications, but it is highly unlikely you are one of them, and most by a far majority, do what they do without thinking things through. If you are feeling that you have to scar yourself with cartoons on the outside to feel different or special, maybe what you really need is to find more love and respect for what is within. I have hired models at clothing stores and restaurants that have NO experience and still paid up to $1250 for a full day when appropriate. I am not willing to hire any model at any price with tatts. I do not want to plan my shoots, outfits and poses around your limitations.


  19. April 11, 2012 at 10:13 am, Chris Adval said:

    Great informative article as a photographer, but I would love to read an article about how to value a model’s worth I myself would base it off the area as well, but I also include the model’s fanbase big or small or at all existent. Also if the model has been published into a print publication in the last 6-12 months and how big of a print publication they were. I would easily pay a model more if she’s been published in the last 6months or less more than a model who has never been published. I also pay experience, but how do I measure experience? I measure based on number of photographers they have shot if that is public information and number of publications (print only), especially if they were recently published cause of the rub from that publication goes onto me which would increase more eye sight onto my brands. –


  20. April 07, 2012 at 4:12 am, S Axelle said:

    Thank you very much for this article, it is very helpful!


  21. February 08, 2012 at 11:30 pm, IMS FotoGrafix said:

    A VERY excellent article that is clear and easy to follow for models both new and the not so new.As a friend of this author,I know she knows how things work in so many different situations it’s amazing and also,knows the score from both sides of the camera,as she is a fairly accomplished photographer herself and has helped me in hiring models. New models: remember to check the credentials of any photographer before giving their advice any real weight,anyone can say anything on here but the good ones are always easy to check out 🙂


  22. February 08, 2012 at 7:13 pm, Jwa4909 said:

    Aviva ….. I liked your article and agree with some of the points you brought up. However being both in photography and in management, some of the other key factors to a model working their net worth up for paid work is to affiliate themselves with even smaller modeling agencies that cater to a strong client list that can help them not only make some money on certain castings, but allows them to build their resume’s up to where stronger photographers that freelance for corporate clients can justify the means of spending money on a model that truly comes with experience.

    I see way too many models that are too impatient for this industry and if they don’t see the big $$$ immediately they get discouraged. You are absolutely correct when you mentioned that it’s a hard job, and the serious models are dedicated and willing to make sacrifices to build up their own self worth in this highly competitive market place by hiring some reputable photographers to help build stronger portfolios that appeal to the more serious commercial clients. Patience is a virtue that cannot be stressed enough!!


  23. February 08, 2012 at 10:34 am, Misstery Protea said:

    Great article! As a newbie model i found it useful…even though i don’t charge at the moment (concentrating on building portfolio through TF) and to be honest i may never charge. Its a hobby for me, i really do want to do it for the art…and i feel that if i were to accept payment for my shoots, i would in a way lose a lot of control over what i do.

    The comment about being careful who you work with (and how many clothes you take off!) i totally understand…. I have been careful so far to work with photographers that have a good portfolio, though i think it is difficult when you’re starting out to know what is ‘good’, what is ‘great’ and what you should avoid!


  24. January 19, 2012 at 8:59 am, Adain said:

    You ignored the most important consideration for “when/how much you should be paid”.

    7. Usage of the photos.

    Don’t be silly. I don’t care how good or bad you are, if there isn’t a monetary gain coming from my work with you, I will not be paying you. Anyone who does is just jerking off to your photos. Perhaps the gain isn’t right away, so paying a super talented model or someone well known in order to get more work counts as getting paid.

    But paying $50/hour to a girl just to do shots for fun? Yeah right. Jerk off time.


    • January 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm, A Decent Photographer! said:

      I don’t agree with that. When I started out shooting nudes I definitely hired models for my own portfolio work and projects. Sure, I can afford to do that as I don’t make my living from photography, but I got much more out of those first couple of shoots because I was working with experienced models who knew how to pose, knew their angles, etc. Now I can often do trades, but I still pay talented models, and charge it to the art supply budget.


    • February 07, 2012 at 10:08 pm, Anonymous said:

      Disagree with the “jerk off time” remark. I don’t have a lot of experience shooting models, and finding a friend who’s willing to spend 4 hours while I bang around trying lighting setups and adjusting the set is nearly impossible. By hiring an experienced model, I save time and frustration, while learning how to direct someone else. I end up with better photos while I build my portfolio to the stage where I can begin TF with confidence.


    • January 07, 2013 at 6:32 am, Essence of Imagery said:

      I’m rather offended by this remark. I’ve suffered a stroke over a year ago, and am just getting back to shooting models. I’m offering this for shooting portraits with a few nude photos thrown in (for lighting/composition/posing), and am not using them for my portfolio. Nor am I jerking off to them – I’m far too concerned about recovering my skills and re-learning to use them in such a manner.


      • January 08, 2013 at 1:18 pm, Petrichor Rain said:

        well done.


    • January 08, 2013 at 1:17 pm, Petrichor Rain said:

      I couldn’t care less if someone was only paying me so they could have some really nice pictures to jerk off to (I’m sure plenty of other people on the internet are jerking off to me). That’s their own business, but I don’t see why some incompetent new person wouldn’t be just as good for jerking off to later.

      If you are paying me, it’s because you value my time and skills, professionalism, and patience. I don’t care if you are getting paid for your photos; people make art for all reasons, but the medium (incl. me) still has a cost. You want to make the perfect picture, because you are compelled to, so you buy lights and a good camera, and then you hire someone who knows what they are doing. I don’t work unless I’m getting the equivalent of $50/hour, which could mean tfp.

      And there are the people that pay me mostly because they like my company, and realize I am busy and don’t need their work in my port. That’s their own business, as long as they are professional.

      So. Usage of the photos. It is relevant, in that I’ll charge more for erotic work with an extensive model release that in definitely getting displayed somewhere. And I’ll get what I ask for, because they are asking for something valuable.

      P.S. It makes you look very disrespectful of women, to have made that remark about jerking off.


    • January 09, 2013 at 11:18 pm, Todd Brekke said:

      I would disagree with this obviously, but it reminds me of what I see on occasion on the site. That is, a photographer stating on his site how GWC’s (guy with camera) are just old guys trying to get young women to take their clothes off.

      Hmmm, so then I go to his port thinking how impressed I will be by the respect he must have for women, and what do I see? A bunch of photos of young women with their clothes off. Whaaat?!? Why was their vision any less valid than his? It wasn’t. It’s misdirection.

      It is still your idea of what art is. Art is everything……and everything is art. Usage is not relevent. You can’t account for it or make accusations based on “your” perversions concerning the shoot. It is a paid modeling job. Do you want it not?

      You can look at an erotic photo on a jazz album for example, while listening to one of it’s songs, and if it is “right”, that image will make you feel the music, not just hear it. Again, the innuendo is not relevent, the intent was. If you are going to be a model, you will have a wide variety of opportunities and experiences, and innuendo and intent will be interchangable. The definition of a professional, is being paid for what you do, regardless of how customers utilize, appreciate or view your work.


  25. January 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm, D1vaStatus1981 said:

    I personally charge 250 for the first 3 hours and 75 per hour after. But i come with my own team of mua, hair styles and wardrobe. I also specialize in more than just modeling. For promo work i take nothing under 17 an hour.


  26. January 18, 2012 at 1:49 am, Carpe Symphony said:

    What is your advice in getting started as a model? How do you approach the industry in terms of getting gigs and putting yourself out there?


    • January 18, 2012 at 6:51 pm, Beauty and strength said:

      The best way is to ask local photographers if they do trade for cd’s and need to update their portfolios. this way You get free shots and so does the photographer, win win.


  27. January 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm, Photographer said:

    This article should be required reading for new models on Modelmayhem.


    • January 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm, Brandi said:

      I completely agree! This article was extremely helpful to me, since I’m getting still trying to get started and build a strong portfolio.


  28. January 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm, Redwood Forest said:

    One part I disagree with is in #2, the Photographer’s portfolio.

    Maybe I should say that #2 is much more inconsequential. If I have an opportunity to see a bad photo of a model in a photographer’s album, and a good photo of the model in his, or her album, I will judge the potential by the best I see.

    The “willingness” to change limits, plus #5 were evident as I watched how fast or slow some new models advanced on MM. People could argue until they are blue in the face to defend art, but when models change their nudity limits because they feel obligated to, it’s disappointing to see them make a sacrifice they did not want initially.


  29. January 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm, Modelangelcareese said:

    good article, i think this could help out some of the newb models who are getting naked for free. Kudos!


  30. January 16, 2012 at 9:27 am, Cloudnine9 said:

    Very good read.
    as a photographer just starting out and very in exsperienced dealing with models and knowing rates.
    I found it very informitive.


  31. January 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm, Jojoavaris said:

    Thanks for this article, very informative!


  32. January 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm, Purcell Brandi said:

    Thanks so much for the information you posted, I found it very helpful.


  33. January 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm, Step Above Photography said:

    Thank you for writing this AvivaH. It would be so nice if more models out there read this and other helpful information about rates. BEING REALISTIC IS MOST IMPORTANT IN RATES. One thing that I would add is an add on to nude model rates. There is a difference between NUDE MODEL RATES and NAKED MODEL RATES. Models who work as art nude models or glamour nude models are different than models that work as naked models. What I mean by that is that what serious photographers are looking for is to create images from the look of a art nude or glamour nude model that knows how to pose, create looks, expressions, use her eyes, more than just lay there naked. These are photographers that are looking to add amazingt images to their port, are wanting to sell their work and even look at thier work as art itself. Photographers that just want to see a model naked and (excuse the frankness) see tits and ass don’t really care or are not serious letting the model loose to pose while they just shoot as many frames as they can. NUDE MODELS HAVE REALISTIC RATES AND ARE MORE THAN LIKELY WILLING TO NEGOTIATE. NAKED MODELS HAVE UNREALISTIC RATES AND ARE MORE THAN LIKELY FIRM ON THEIR RATES. Models who fall into the naked model venue are likely to find themselves inconsistent in getting paid work, even if they turn to porn. They are also the models that will find themselves being hit on more often and asked for other services if you know what I mean.


  34. January 13, 2012 at 11:05 am, Theworkshopstudio said:

    From the UK side of the pond and as a retired person. When I book a model for my studio I will offer a genre and the fee reflects what I personally can afford to pay. I can be flexible but that depends on what the model is offering by way of her images from past work, so we negotiate. But it must be a resonable two sided debate.

    To date I have only had one refusal on the subject of the fee offered and 100% feedback after the shoots, so I must have it about right !!



  35. January 13, 2012 at 4:02 am, Julian Wilde said:

    This kind of write-up is very helpful for models just getting into the biz. And in this day and age… Everyone is getting into The Biz! And it’s more competitive than ever. 😀 -JULIAN


  36. January 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm, Rosesnaturally said:

    It’s up you if you want to pose nude or even “edgier”, but just remember that you can’t go back, especially if the pics are posted somewhere. You are going to be known as, e.g. a “nude” model.


  37. January 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm, Fabfoto said:

    Absolutely accurate, this article should be mandatory reading for all beginning models. Photographers could do with a thought or two about this, too!


  38. January 12, 2012 at 4:42 am, Jenny said:

    I’m a full time model and sometimes it’s not easy to get what you think you are worth, or not, whatever the case might be I find a lot of photogs like to now work on a day rate rather than an hourly rate. A lesson I learned was not to be greedy. Take what comes along and the more notice you get then better you become and then you can pick and choose a little more. In China some models demand from 800-1000 yuan per hour, but some from 600 yuan. I heard in the UK that its much less, from 45-70 pounds per hour and the States is a little higher. Anyway that said, I think its a great job even if sometimes the job can be a little tiresome. Kisses from Jenny on Model Mayhem. 2093160
    Thanks for the advice you gave and I think all models should read this as its really useful.


    • January 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm, Milly ELVIS said:

      Hi Jenny, I think you should convert these amounts in dollars before making any assumptions.
      So according to your post, in China the rate range between $7 to 13 per hour and the UK would be $70 to 108 per hour… How is that lower than in the US???!!!


      • January 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm, Markerimages said:

        Wrong exchange rate. 600 yuan is about $95


  39. January 12, 2012 at 3:52 am, Rob said:

    I enjoyed this article. Prices do vary from area to area & with the purpose of the shoot. An art based photographer (Yeah, me) isn’t going to have the budget of a commercial shooter. My images will maybe hang on the wall of a local gallery. I don’t have a paying client or publication waitng with a check book. My budget is out of pocket & a smart business savy model who knows any paying shoot is solid work. (If you think models like that don’t exsist, there’s some images of them in my port.


  40. January 12, 2012 at 12:49 am, Greg said:

    I use Model Mayhem for Art Models, shooting Fine Art Nudes. For Commercial Fashion and Editorial work, my clients usually hire the talent directly, and always through Agencies (well, almost always 🙂 Likewise if/when I decide to update my book, and when one of the Agencies or clients I work with request, I will do a trade for Fashion Shoot. When I am shooting Nudes I do PAID shoots. I want to pay a reasonable fee and that varies based upon the models, what I’m shooting for, and the Useage. I require an Unconditional Release, and pay for that right. I require ID, and a Signed Release at the time of the shoot.

    Models should understand about the copyright laws and what they are asked to sign, and be willing to sign, when their criteria is met. Even Trade shoots, should be documented with an Agreement by both parties (model and photographer) prior to shooting.

    Trade shoots are a great way to update your work, work with new exciting and creative people that are your peers, and to network in the industry. When I have the opportunity for PAid jobs for models, I always look through my friend list, to see if any pf the models meet the criteria for a specific shoot. Hope that helps 🙂


  41. January 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm, Pro photographer said:

    One thing to remember is the fact that many new models think that they should be paid with no experience and no portfolio. First they must pay for quality training and quality headshots and comps. I, as a photographer of many years. Have had even experienced models give me “cheese cake” instead of commercial fashion. Even when they are well aware the shoot is for a web catalog. Pay is by experience. I have fired models that claim lots of experience and are lifeless, not photogenic, don’t know their angles or poses, and in-knowledgeable.


  42. January 11, 2012 at 11:59 am, BookingReneja said:

    Being a freelance model I totally agree & find this very helpful. I’m currently in the between stages of building my port & resume & getting paid, & I’ve been wondering how much I should start charging when that time comes. You pretty much pointed out the basic points. I needed this.


  43. January 11, 2012 at 10:43 am, Mychaelalchemy said:

    I found your article to be right on!
    As a struggling photographer it is not easy to pay some of the rates some models do quote.
    Negotiating with me as to price is also what gears me to pay a model as much as I can afford.
    I understand experienced models want to get paid quite alot, but, experienced or not, their enthusiasm to work with me is what makes me want to pay a reasonable fee.
    I have worked with many models and some say they like my work, then, I never see them posting any of it, or, if they post something without giving credit to the photographer makes me not want to hire them again. Was all of effort with them worth it?
    Respect for the model and the photographer should work all around.
    I think your quoted rates in the article are extremely reasonable.
    Also, many models set time restraints, that is also not very reasonable when a shoot can involve costume changes, make-up, short breaks, going to locations, etc. Trying to squeeze a session into one or two hours is not easy, especially regarding what they expect to be paid.
    I wish more “Models” would read your article.


  44. January 11, 2012 at 7:21 am, Blaqnmild said:

    Thanks so much for this info. I, too, am a freelance model and yes it takes time to get out there, so along with everything else you’ve stated, it also requires patience. As for the photographer’s port section, I agree with most of what you said, however, I have been hired by newbie photographers who I’ve met during workshops. As we all started out newbies, I try to give them just as much respect as I was given during my newbie days. Sure their work may appear on their ports, but as they continue learning, their work gets better. I love to think that I was a part of their progress.


  45. January 11, 2012 at 1:18 am, Dynastystarr said:



  46. January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm, Fmason91 said:

    thanks for the information i tend to take this knowledge when i do go out for modeling shoots. very well done


  47. January 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm, Gus said:

    There is usually one reason why people fail or do poorly at business and that is they have little experience in business and therefore they are a poor CEO of our own business.

    If you want to run a business well the best advise is to take a short small business course. Many are free from government agencies but trying to wing it and listening to advise form anyone is really the wrong way to go unless their aides follows years of exceptional successful experience and the demonstrated ability to stand out in the field.

    This statement “When supply is high, simple economics say that the price would therefore be low” is true only when your all the same like gold id gold or silver is silver. BUT your not all the same your are each unique and your price goes up as you differentiate yourself self clearly from the rest of the competition.

    One obvious way to differentiate yourself is being business like because most model are not in business conduction a hobbie while there real career is something very different. Be business like. Study what business is and what makes it tick. Communicate clearly honestly and fully with all clients and be decisive and follow through with your commitments and promises and you will be in demand. In other words be efficient to deal with and reliable and you will stand very high above all of the competition which will create higher demand.

    Part of being efficient is having a reasonable pricing policy and be ready to quote whenever your asked. For god sake have enough self respect to demand a reasonable and respectful rate and if your professional, and responsible you will get it almost no matter what you look like. 🙂


    • February 08, 2012 at 7:02 pm, Rae said:

      Another key to professionalism lies in communication abilities. Really, that’s key to just about anything. Proficiency in spelling and grammar is extremely important- not only do errors make you seem uneducated and lazy, but it also proves that you are not interested in expressing yourself clearly, and expect other people to put in the effort to decipher your garbled words for you.
      The relationship between a model and photographer is entirely reliant on clear communication. If a photographer can’t communicate properly in text form, how can I trust her/him to be able to properly direct me?


  48. January 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm, Glamour by Jim said:

    What a great article! These ideas express what I wish models, especially beginning models, knew. So many ‘models’ here on MM, have no idea that rate of pay is in proportion to experience and quality of images they are showing.


  49. January 10, 2012 at 9:14 am, Steve Lewis said:

    Very well done! Good common sense article, very well written. I think the basics of the article can be applied to models, photographers, make up artists, photoshop wizards etc etc etc. Good job!


  50. January 10, 2012 at 8:40 am, Anonymous said:

    Thank you for the article and the courage to write about this subject.


  51. January 10, 2012 at 3:27 am, Shl2466 said:

    I found your article very informative even without writing specific fees. I totally understand all the variables that need to be considered when setting fees but this article is great for the beginner, like me, just to get an idea. For example, one of my variables is the fact that I am 45 yrs old. Is there a market for women my age? What is the competition in my area for women my age? etc. I understand that. It is never too late to start modeling and I do not look like I am 45 yrs young but obviously I have to be honest about my age. I have done several tf shoots and I always end up doing lingerie shoots. That tells me that the photographers I am dealing with see me as having the body and the potential to model lingerie which can then carry over to swimwear as well. I now have one rule though. I will NOT do any nude modeling for tf. In the very beginning, I did offer that but then those were the only offers I received so I posted on my profile that I will no longer do nude shoots for tf and it didnt hurt me. I still get plenty of offers to shoot other genres but so far, they have all been tf. That is fine as I do need to build my port.

    Thank you for taking the time to write and post this article. I think newbies should definitely read this and they should all come away with some tips and more knowledge.

    Samantha L


    • February 08, 2012 at 3:50 pm, Bud Fox said:

      Absolutely there are needs for older models. I shoot for a web catalog and we have a difficult time finding the “woman” next door for shoots. To keep costs down and to avoid problems we have experienced in the past, we won’t use agencies so MM is a great source. Not all images need to be young 20 something models. Keep the faith…there is a need for ALL ages.


  52. January 10, 2012 at 1:28 am, Sweet Annie Marie said:

    This pretty much sums it up for any kind of service. Great article! You have identified the factors that a model should consider in setting rates (or if rates should be set at all).


  53. January 10, 2012 at 12:15 am, Dane Halo said:

    Hi Aviva! Great post! So many valuable and helpful points. I’m a full-time freelancing model and agree with all that has been said above, though I would definitely say that taking a lighting class or a workshop is beneficial – learning lighting and how to position the model will give you a good idea of how to pose favouring lighting and to be intuitive to what the photographer wants/needs (plus, being a model in a room full of photographers learning the trade is obviously an excellent networking opportunity). Can’t tell you how many times my knowledge of lighting has gotten me repeat gigs.

    I hope that I will get to meet you upon my move to your city this month! 🙂


  54. January 09, 2012 at 9:46 pm, Mark said:

    Some thoughts from the other side of the camera as someone who pays models. Unless all the people that book you are well established photographers working fir clients you need to be more than just a model, you need to fill in the gaps and be invested in making people’s shoots work. On top of this you are in business, you need to market yourself and worry about business things.

    Good ability with hair/makeup will enhance your marketability and the rate you can charge. Many photographers cannot afford to pay good a good hair stylist/MUA for their personal work and if they are paying you probably don’t have the portfolio to work trade with these people either. If the shoot doesn’t require extensive hair/makeup they may also be willing to pay more for you so these people do not have to be hired keeping costs down.

    Have a good and diverse wardrobe. Many photographers are not going to have a stylist who can pull clothes (and even than it’s hard without a big name client). If you can fill enough of this role to help make their idea a reality it could really help you book shoots, getting good clothes is hard.

    Negotiate rates with local studios. Doing this means you get the same rate but at the same time reduces the cost of the shoot for the photographer. Win-win.

    I understand this variable rate thing but it only puts more obstacles in the way; above all you should be easy to do business with. State what you will and won’t do, state what you expect if it’s rained off, state what you expect with travel expenses and how far you will travel all this instils confidence you know what you are doing and will show up. Replying “what is your budget” says to me you have no idea what you are worth and are not experienced or confident you are worth what you charge, keep this in mind. I have told you the scope of the job my budget has nothing to do with what you should charge for it because the job is the same (/rant ;))


  55. January 09, 2012 at 9:44 pm, Jarrellphotography said:

    Very good article. It can be pretty confusing for a novice photographer, too.
    Just for illustration, I got quotes for nude work in my area. Four quoted me the same hourly rate. For that rate, here’s what was covered.

    1 – Playboy nude &/or bondage
    2 – Playboy nude
    3 – Implied, 2 hour min + right of refusal on publication
    4 – Up to art nudes, 3 hr minimum

    The thing is, 1 & 2 were very attractive, experienced models, compared to 3 & 4 who were good looking but not very experienced. They were pricing themselves out of jobs.


  56. January 09, 2012 at 9:10 pm, L.C. said:

    Good article! i agree 100%


  57. January 09, 2012 at 8:31 pm, John said:

    I really liked the article. I found it to be both informative and down to earth!

    As a photographer I value models that pay attention to paragraph 1 & 3 in perticular.
    I also find it useful when models give me a rate. If it’s reasonable, I’m OK with it. The reason for that is the same reason mentioned in paragraph 4. If I work out of my area, how will I know what the local, going rates are? When one gets 3-4 quotes for an assignment, it’s pretty easy to get the feel of what the rates are, and also one can weed out the ones that expect too much. If I were to make an offer, I just may overpay, or the other way, insult someone. Not a great way to start a business relationship.

    Just my 2 cents.



    • January 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm, Rhuarc1954 said:

      Very good information. I would add to avoid tiered rates, meaning one rate for clothed, one for lingerie, one for implied, one for nudes. I may want to shoot all of those over the course of the shoot and it is an excercise in frustration to not know up front the cost or to try and figure out a fair payment at the end of such a shoot.


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