Money and model photography, some would say that’s an oxymoron, others would say they are rolling in the dough. Yet others would say the latter are liars.

A few weeks ago (OK, months. Forgive me!) I started to make a post about this, but ended up going into a rant because of my annoyance with people who are more worried about MY work and not their own. Today, I plan to finish that original thought and put my feelings out there. Money is a necessary evil. In my entire life, I’ve not known something that has turned so many good people, evil. Some would digress and say through out history women have been the cause (No, this isn’t a slam on women but if you’re a religious person, you use Adam and Eve. Sampson and Delilah, etc.) that the love of a woman can make men do crazy things. Today, it’s money. There isn’t as much of it floating around, so people feel the best way to get it is to lie, cheat, steal and sometimes kill for it. All of these have happened in the modeling industry and as of late.  We need money. We all have bills to pay, things we want. Need gas in the car and most of all, need food and security of a home. Money provides those things. In our profession, it also provides power and there lies the problem. In our industry, most people equate money with success. I lead an event where a photographer from a small town in PA said well over half of the attendees would never reach any sort of fame. Those in attendance were crush by this. No sooner than he said that, the other speakers ripped him apart and he looked to quickly change what he said and offer clarity. Art KetchumIvan Otis and David Hickey completely trashed the speaker and educated him that success and fame isn’t what his definition was, but what each and every person in the room thought it was.

For them, it was what the photographer in mind thought it to be. And I agree.

To get paid in the modeling industry it takes time, patience and a lot of luck. Sadly, the paying gigs will never come to you because you’re a good person, they come to you usually because of who

Maddison shot in 2014 for
Madison shot in 2014 for

you know, who you’ve worked with or what you’re willing to do to get it. Sadly for me, paying work has never come from the many popular online portfolio sites, but instead from places such as Myspace and Facebook. I gave up long ago on wanting or expecting paying gigs from the portfolio sites. Those sites are filled with many girls who were told they could be successful models, so they create profiles and expect to become rich and famous. The social media sites for me have been more profitable since they are filled with people who don’t know how to get started, so they are more receptive to paying for the work. We may just have to educate them.

Someone has to pay for the model photography. If this is the photographer or model or a third party client, someone is paying. Now the free shoot may not have money exchange hands, but all parties are giving their experience so they are “paying” in essence. Many times as a photographer, I have been met by models who want me to pay them to shoot. While I am not above paying a model, the model needs to have something more than boobs and butt to offer my portfolio. If all they have to offer is boobs and butt, then it should be a pretty famous pair or else no, I’m not interested in paying. Who pays? Who ever has more worth to the session. Who decides the worth? Up to the parties interested in working together.

Just because you get paid it doesn’t make you a professional. Just because you pay a known model doesn’t make you a professional. The trick to money and model photography is find the third party client that is interested in your wares. If it be a magazine or designer or agency or what have you, you have to find those that have the capital and please them. Today, with so many photographers out there, finding these paying clients are becoming more and more difficult, but they are out there. Stock photography is always available and creating your own brand is always key. Many photographers are starting their traveling freak shows and exploiting the lessor photographers, but even that well tends to dry up. The best way to make money in model photography is decide which you want to be? A person who goes after someone else that doesn’t have money (model/photographer) or the third party client? Either way, the struggle is real!


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