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It’s incredibly common for women to approach me and want me to pay them hundreds, if not thousands (when we look at the time involved with any of my shoots) for a photography shoot. They are probably letting me know their rates if I have interest in the future, but most models that do this don’t have comp cards.


Why is this happening? Horny men with cameras. I fully believe that GWC’s who like taking pictures of sexy girls naked or implied has created a glut of what I call entertainment models. They don’t worry about 2 hours of hair and makeup, or styling, location, or any of that. So getting a sexy lady to dance naked for 2 hours sure makes for a cheap opportunity.


There is another reason this happens- new photographers who need to get trust from the local market. I’ve done this also, but generally I ask well known models who do runway. I’ll pay them for a simple shoot and aim for as reduced rates as best I can because having these in your portfolio helps bring trust from the community. Other models see the 26 year old who everyone knows getting these gigs, and say to themselves, “maybe I can also”.


Who actually pays the models? The money people pay the models. I’m a photographer, I’m a cog in the photography system. There are supposedly photogs who just get handed 10k and get told to get a shoot done but I’ve never met anyone like that in my life. Typically, a company needs a photographer and brings me on. They choose the models. I can’t choose the models- I can only cost models jobs by objecting to them I can never get models jobs. To a company, they are hiring a model as an investment in their brand. They are more likely to hire agency because renting a studio, hiring a photog, hiring HMUA, all cost a lot of money and they can’t risk a flakey model.


The other reason, is the same as the reason above. I’m using them for my own marketing. So, the entire model’s brand is what matters- and me being able to leverage that brand with a publication or my own online advertising. I very rarely do this in a vacuum- I have stylists and designers who influence the choice, and often people outside of the core group who have strong opinions. More than anything, people who have proven to get higher click through rates or reactions in the past are always preferred.


It’s also true, if I use certain models, I can get lots of other people to help for free. This tends to be the biggest reason I select a model- two designers, mua, and hair all will work at greatly reduced prices, or for free. Sometimes even locations become provided. Remember, some stylists won’t even talk to you unless you have certain other brands and models attached.


Paying for a model is an investment. For every penny I give a model, I want three pennies back. This typically occurs because pageant models see my work and are willing to pay for a shoot, though more and more it’s back to my roots of product photography. Getting into a publication or having amazingly nice mailer collateral is just for me to make sales taking photos of car parts. The glamour shots and all the fun studio stuff- it’s to sell things that are nothing like that. Most photoshoots are a steep marketing cost.


Most large photographers have taken to teaching classes to new photographers. There is more money from new photographers learning then there is money for actual photography projects.


Shouldn’t magazines be paying you? That’s old economy. Even when magazines pay, it never covers the cost of the shoot. Sometimes you get lucky and they request something you’ve already shot, but that’s just recovering lost money. I’ve never had a magazine murmur for more than 2k for a shoot, but the quality they require eats up almost the entire budget.

I imagine there are exceptions, to everything above, that’s just not the world I live in.

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