Last week I was doing a shoot with one of my most favorite models. The quick shoot ended up turning into a 10hour shoot and as a result, we got GREAT images! At the end of the shoot, she hung out and we talked a bit, catching up. We started talking about photography in Colorado and the lack of jobs for everyone. I explained to her that I’m personally trying to change that by bringing out models such as Playboy Model Carlotta Champagne, Penthouse Model SaraLiz and 5 Photography masters, as well as doing my work here to move the interest up. She then said she was contacted by a local photographer who told her he wanted to shoot her for a local calendar. She asked him what was the pay, and he told her that in this instance, he wouldn’t charge her. She then said “Model’s don’t pay photographers, either the photographers pay or it’s a trade job.” I didn’t give her the riot act, but I wanted to 😉

Since most of the world has gone digital, many people believe that there is no cost to photographers to do shoots. Since every photographer with a DSLR and basement is a professional, models are being tricked into thinking that they don’t have to pay for their photos. That photographers will do it free or pay them. This attitude is one that has bothered me for quite some time. Basically what people are saying, is that a photographers work is not appreciated. That the knowledge and time vested in to learning our craft, is nothing more than to appease the models. At this point in the game, I would go into my rant about equipment and how much it costs, and here’s where models say the one thing that I love hearing, but makes me cringe every time I hear it; “Models have expenses too you know! We have to buy clothes, gym memberships, pedicures and everything else to make ourselves look good for the shoots. My retort is usually; “Don’t you do that anyway?”

I love to explain to them that the stuff IN my studio costs me well over 15,000.00 not to mention the studio rental, insurance, alarm and all that other good stuff. That in order to get the photos they get, it has taken me years of attending workshops and various learning. Memberships to various groups, clubs and associations and hundreds of thousands of hours spent frustrated in Photoshop. That while I’d love to shoot for free, free shoots won’t keep the studio doors open. That I must get paid for shooting somehow, some way, i.e. selling limited edition of prints or using the images to further my book.

I hate to say the old “I only pay when I have a client paying me” thing, but it’s true. They should also know that a paying shoot only goes to models that I’ve worked with and can guarantee their dependability and work ethic. I love the mentality that photographers pay, I must admit! To think that a photographer’s work is so undervalued that they must pay the model for showing up is priceless. I wonder if the same people walk into Wal-Mart and demand free toilet paper because they’re beautiful. Or a free tune up because they brought their car to the mechanic? I know they are thinking that it’s mostly because of the guys with a camera who will pay them good money to get half or fully naked, but when you’re speaking to a professional photographer, who makes his or her living doing photography, that may not be the best way to approach a shoot.

The biggest problem with it all is that there is a sense of entitlement on both sides. The photographers feel the models are entitled to work with them because they have a camera. Models feel they are entitled to pay because without them, there would be no photos. No one is thinking about the larger picture, what is the ultimate end result of the shoot? Who requested the shoot? Who has more value? Does the photographer want to shoot with the model because the model presents a look that is unique to him/her? Does the model like the photos that are presented by the photographer and want his or her work in the models book?

These are all questions that need addressing before each and every reply or request contact is sent. If a trade or pay shoot can’t be worked out, it is unprofessional to get into a “I’m more valuable than you” type convo. When I get offers from models asking me to pay them, I politely turn them down by letting them know that while I’m not above paying a model, at this point in my career, I only pay models that have multiple national publications.

In closing, there IS a market for EVERYTHING, you have to learn the market, learn to sell to the market and have a product that warrants paying!


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