I know I only do limited *TF and 99% of photographers that I work with that I do these shoots with would never pay a model. I only accept paid work now, but I've always wondered about the workings behind a photographers mind on the subject... General discussion and whatnot.
Have you ever paid a model and what was your reasoning behind it?
Looking forward to all of your responses
Jun 11 12 11:54 pm Link
Upland, California, US
I do because it gives me a much wider selection on models to choose from and I have the say so in regards to the shoot.
Jun 11 12 11:57 pm Link
Rochester, New York, US
I don't really want to pay or be paid, I generally find I prefer to work together with people on things we're both interested in and have fun. Shooting people isn't my traditional or main thing either (nor do I really think of myself as a people-photographer), as such while I've spent some money on equipment over the years geared towards shooting models I don't really budget anything towards it otherwise.
Jun 11 12 11:58 pm Link
Phoenix, Arizona, US
I started paying models on my wishlist when I started shooting nudes or dealing with good traveling type models. I really just needed to build a better portfolio with more professional models. I feel like this is a typical arc:
1. photographer cuts his/ her teeth with whoever will trade with them
2. starts hiring professionals and rebuilds the port having worked out the bugs in the system
3. photographer gains a bigger name/ better port and now can either negotiate lower rates or do tf with a better grade of model, or maybe even get paid themselves by either a model or a client
...so now I actually hire less than I did 6 months ago. But there was a period where I was really jacking it up. I also learned the hard way that not every model one hires is actually professional, so word of mouth/ references/ spotting the red flags/ figuring out what kind of model works for one's photographic style has been helpful.
All depends on your goals though. As demonstrated time and again here, the "I'll never pay" crowd aren't going to go anywhere career wise but there are other reasons to shoot besides advancing some photographic career.
As said above, paying someone definitely means for me, I owe them nothing, so if I want to take my time on my photos and do whatever I want with them, that's really liberating.
Jun 12 12 12:07 am Link
David - your work has definitely has become very successful and I'm assuming always has been - that was what I assumed the correct way of going about it was for a very experienced photographer - great explanation and great portfolio!
Jun 12 12 02:52 am Link
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
It's about supply and demand. I have more models that want to shoot than I have time to shoot so no need to pay for certain types of shoots.
For nudes I might consider it ONLY if I can monetize it. For anything else I just go to the waiting list.
Jun 12 12 03:01 am Link
Nico Simon Princely wrote:
That is almost my system but the for being paid part for nudes haha
Jun 12 12 03:04 am Link
West Chester, Pennsylvania, US
For me it's just convenient. I work all week, so if I want to shoot on the weekend I like knowing there's a 99% chance the model will show up. If I pay I can pretty much work with anyone, which is also nice. Since I haven't had a camera too long some of the experienced models have been able to give me helpful tips
I do some TF, and I probably should have done more TF right at the beginning then I did. But I do think working with experienced models has helped me learn quicker then I would have otherwise.
Jun 12 12 03:46 am Link
I've heard that a lot as well. Little tips and tricks have taken me a looonnggg way.
Jun 12 12 05:15 am Link
Asheville, North Carolina, US
With the requirements for time and commitment it seems only fair for me to pay my long time collaborators as I tend to work many hours over months with certain people.
Single sessions I'm less inclined to offer cash.
Jun 12 12 05:18 am Link
Albany, New York, US
Usually it was a combination of they were on my to-work-with list for quite some time + they were open to doing content that I needed (tasteful nude work) + a physical look that appeals to me + good reputation + wanting to work together during the right time of year (for me, that's the warm weather) + hitting me up in a rare moment I actually had disposable income (no major car repairs, no major sickness, not when I'm behind in rent, etc).
Jun 12 12 05:21 am Link
Saint Petersburg, Florida, US
Jun 12 12 05:42 am Link
Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Never pay models. Now working with model agancy. They search models for my TFP projects. Maybe in future I will pay. I think all work must be paid...
Jun 12 12 05:49 am Link
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I like paying models / it make them feel better
& i really like paying with other peoples money !!!
sadly - it doesn't happen very often as there is little ($$) to go around ...
Jun 12 12 06:07 am Link
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Some pockets are deeper than others!
Jun 12 12 06:25 am Link
New York, New York, US
I pay if I do a commercial shoot or if it will benefit my portfolio tremendously. Otherwise no, I just offer TF.
Jun 12 12 06:32 am Link
Tempe, Arizona, US
I pay when a client is paying, I pay when I am teaching workshops.
Jun 12 12 06:35 am Link
Bath, England, United Kingdom
k h r i s t wrote:
Very short sighted.
Jun 12 12 06:41 am Link
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
David Miller Photoworks wrote:
This is perfect.
Jun 12 12 06:46 am Link
Atlanta, Georgia, US
I have hired/payed a model when I simply don't want to deal with a trade.
Jun 12 12 06:53 am Link
With regards to M/M:
I don't pay . . . nor do I charge.
But I only work with who I want to and
who wants to work with me.
Jun 12 12 06:59 am Link
These threads are always classic for the usual
M/M "I'm so fucking cool that I never pick up
a camera/get in front of a camera for free" chest thumping.
Jun 12 12 07:01 am Link
Miami, Florida, US
Even if I wanted to pay out of pocket for clothed shoots, I don't think I would be able to because there are a boatload of models available that want to do unpaid tests and I've never had even a small problem finding one. Nude shoots are more difficult, and that is when you have to sort of show patience to find a model willing to do an unpaid test.
Jun 12 12 07:02 am Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Yes, I prefer to pay models, in order to get the models I want to work with. Compared to the significant investment that I've already made in my gear, studio space, and most importantly my time, paying a model and hair stylist/MUA to get the best chances of producing high quality work is definitely worth it. I'm fortunate my real world job affords me this ability. Usage rights with the photos are also more clear if I hire a model. The times when a model asks to shoot TF, I'm actually usually pretty hesitant to accept.
Jun 12 12 07:14 am Link
Peoria, Illinois, US
If I'm getting paid because of our work then the model is getting paid also, whether that be client driven or workshops.
If I'm shooting for mine and their portfolios, then no money exchanges hands... only pictures.
If I'm shooting for their portfolio then they pay me.
Jun 12 12 07:17 am Link
Oakland Acres, Iowa, US
When I consider what compensation to offer or whether to even make an offer, I consider the following, all of which have to do with supply and demand:
How does increasing compensation, relate to the image value? - It makes no sense to pay models more, if the resulting images are not worth at least that much more. It makes no sense to pay a model more than the value I place on the shoot/images. It makes sense to pay $100 for a model If I value those images at a least $100 more than a TF shoot.
What's the reality of what model's will accept? - No reason to pay $100 if I can get the same for $50, regardless of image value. I live in the boonies, so I realize I may need to compensate more for travel reasons.
How does the cost of models relate to shooting other subject matter? It doesn't make sense to pay models or hire them at all if there's a larger profit (or value) margin shooting other subject matter. Here in MM land, it's easy to forget, models are just one of the many subjects a photographer can choose to shoot.
I paid models regularly when I started since I valued the experience and didn't have portfolio to show I could offer anything worth trading for. I pay models more when I think their look will produce photos I value more. I often pay a little, basically as travel compensation because I live a ways from model. More and more, I'm just as happy to shoot something else.
I should add, I don't see the jump from TF to paid as being the huge line many seem to think it is. To me, compensation is a never ending spectrum which relates to what I get back in return for that compensation. Giving 25 edited images may be more valued than some levels of monetary compensation. Providing $20 for gas, is more similar to TF than paying $200.
Note - Value isn't just what I can sell images for. Value is how much I appreciate the images and experience as well as any headaches involved.
Jun 12 12 07:18 am Link
New York, New York, US
If it's a commercial gig the model is obviously getting paid.
If it's a fine art series (as in a formal series that I'm producing for sale) then I'll also pay the model. It's not nearly as much as a commercial gig, but I tend to take a bit of time to do that work and want to compensate the model as best I can.
If it's just testing (which is something I normally do with friends) and we're just shooting to try out stuff, or experiment with different looks or films, or were just gnoshing on some food and drinking while we play, then I don't pay.
Jun 12 12 07:30 am Link
Cleveland, Ohio, US
B R U N E S C I wrote:
I agree!! The studio pays talent when its a paying assignment thou we always use agency gals because we know we'll get the shot. Working in a collaborative professional working environment with no drama is a beautiful thing. These gals want to be their best and show their "A" game because it means more work in the future. Your only as good as your last photograph.
Jun 12 12 07:31 am Link
Portland, Oregon, US
k h r i s t wrote:
I prefer to pay models for many reasons:
Jun 12 12 07:40 am Link
k h r i s t wrote:
BTW, how does that work? "I do limited TF" and "I only accept paid work" at the same time?
Jun 12 12 08:03 am Link
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I mostly pay models through workshops and group shoots. I have paid models for individual shoots before, but found the results to be hit and miss.
I pay models because I want to work with models I can not attract with quality of my work.
Jun 12 12 08:30 am Link
New York, New York, US
I don't pay because I'm retired, with sufficient income to live reasonably comfortably but nothing left over for luxuries unless I can find a way to earn extra money with which to pay for them. And believe me llamas are a luxury in that most are really not marketable. That's partially because the traditional markets, print outlets, advertisers, collectors, etc. are drying up or turning to other sources such as CGI and internet postings, and partly because so many llamas think of llamaing as a quick and easy to earn a few bucks just for standing around looking pretty rather than the skilled trade it actually is. Quite frankly, even if there were a robust market for llama photos, these girls would not be worth paying.
If I were wealthier, I certainly would be happy to pay llamas, but sadly, I'm not.
If I have a paying job, I certainly will always budget in a reasonable fee for the llama, but frankly, at 75, I've earned the right to not chase around for jobs that just aren't there. Let the younger guys do that.
On the other hand, I do work with newbies, I do try to help them develop their portfolios, I do mentor them (and sometimes dissuade them from shooting stuff that is likely to harm them down the road), I do shoot what the llamas need as well as what I need, and I do share with them everything I get from the shoot, good or bad. All that has value, as witness the number of youngsters and even occasionally more experienced llamas that spend money they don't have for llamaing schools, managers, and, yes, even questionable photographers. So maybe I do pay my llamas. Just in a slightly different but no less valuable coin.
All IMHO, as always.
Jun 12 12 08:33 am Link
Phoenix, Arizona, US
you can never tell if it's because they think they're fucking cool or if it's a matter of real life where someone would have to miss work to do a shoot, or find a baby sitter, or have to explain to a spouse who never understands why the pictures one has aren't enough to book work, especially when one needs to fix a car or has medical bills through the roof.
Jun 12 12 08:53 am Link
I'm assuming as a few of you got confused about my posting "I only accept paid work" and then mentioned that I do TF.
I'll give you a short hand version. More than 75% of my work is paid. I appreciate all photographers that do pay models and I put every ounce of my talent into shoots - these also are priority over TF shoots. I shoot TF* only for publication, charity, or usually far distance travel expenses and lodging to book paid shoots around
The overwhelming response in here - which I guess I was expecting a bunch of douche bag GWCs to be like "Oh-em-gee I don't pay models and I only take spread shots" but I actually got some VERY informative interesting postings. I really appreciate the inside look!
Also, I completely agree about agency testing or paying an agency model - they actually will be getting paid (sometimes) 99% more than a freelance tattoo chick.
Thank you everyone! I can't wait to read more.
Jun 12 12 09:25 am Link
Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
I am here to learn, and know it will be a long process.
So I can't afford to always be paying models for my shoots, it would drive me bankrupt This is why I'll try to find less experienced models who are willing to trade and think I can offer images that will improve their portfolios.
If I'm testing new things that I'm not sure to control, I'll always let the model know, and offer to do something I do control for part of the shoot, so we make sure we have pictures worth her involvement in the shoot.
But every once in a while, I love paying a more experienced model, if I feel she can bring something of value to me, both in terms of pictures and experience.
Jun 12 12 09:29 am Link
Salem, Oregon, US
i find that when i pay (and i'm talking $75-$125/hour, not just gas money) they show up. simple as that. alas i can't afford to pay right now so i'm not actively looking for new llamas.
Jun 12 12 09:30 am Link
Olivet, Michigan, US
k h r i s t wrote:
I paid models because I had money, and I wanted to shoot nudes. I figured that models who would pose nude for someone who had nothing to show them wouldn't be likely to know what they were doing, and I didn't want a portfolio full of confused naked girls. That worked out pretty well, and I've been able to mostly get trade work with some fantastic models (and occasionally, some complicated trades with lodging, clothing, food, a few $, whatever).
Jun 12 12 09:57 am Link
Houston, Texas, US
Photography is not what I do for a living; it's something I do for enjoyment. I have photographed models on both cash and trade basis. When it comes to shooting models, I am only interested in art nude work. (Other than model work, I do a lot of nature photography, some street photography and some landscape photography.)
If I am going to pay a model, she must meet my particular requirements -- no tattoos that cannot be easily removed in post, no piercings or body mods that can't be removed, no shaved head, etc. I don't want anything in the photos that will distract the viewer from what I want him/her to see in the image.
My standards are looser for trade shoots. I would still prefer a clean canvas, but I can make images that will make both the model and me happy even with what I consider visual handicaps.
There is certainly something to be said for paying models. I get to do it entirely the way I want to do it, and I don't owe the model anything other than cash at the end of the shoot. I can work up the images I choose to, when I choose to do it. On the other hand, it takes money to shoot models to whom I pay cash, money that could be used for other things.
Jun 12 12 10:21 am Link
Amsterdam, New York, US
K E E L I N G wrote:
Jun 12 12 07:36 pm Link
Southaven, Mississippi, US
If I want to shoot with one bad enough I'll pay a model. I don't have a problem with it. I'm not so uppity to say I'll never pay someone.
Jun 12 12 07:48 pm Link