Does the Model Pay the Photographer?

Does the Model Pay the Photographer?

Should the Photographer Pay the Model?

In this post, you are going to learn how to deal with models that want to be paid, by you the photographer, and I'm going to show you a work around to that. Because that's just not going to be working out for any of us, right?

A viewer asked a question, and I wanted to answer that for everyone. He wanted to know if he should be paying models to take pictures for her portfolio?

The model is not even with an agency, she's an Instagram model. This is what a model is requesting from a photographer, and he wanted to know my opinion. I wanted to answer the question in a way that will assist more than just one photographer.

Models Pay Photographers?

When you go by tradition, models hire photographers to help build their books. Modeling agencies hire photographers to build up the books of their new models. The model that you photograph is going to benefit a whole lot from your pictures. He or she, in this case it was she, is going to get a lot of brand endorsements because of these beautiful pictures, and possibly even sign to a modeling agency.

You will just be getting a picture. You could potentially be getting some jobs too but it'll be far more effective for her career then it will be for yours. Models get paid from brand endorsements and modeling jobs. Photographers get paid from taking pictures.

Photographers Can Barter for Payment (Here’s How)

Photographers spend a whole lot of time working before they even pick up a camera, and then additional hours once the shoot is done. We don't pay people to take pictures of them, we get paid to build brands and what you are doing with the model is building their brand.

Now if she is a “big deal” model and she's very firm on this, and you absolutely want to photograph her, then I would suggest going by way of barter. By barter, it is not a, "Hey, I'm going to tag you." Do dollar for dollar, not just a tag.

A tag is the least they can do, it's a courteous little thing that you do. Tags don’t accomplish anything. A true tagging and endorsement post is different.

That would say, "Hey everybody, I just took some these beautiful pictures. Here's one of them right here. If anyone is looking for an awesome photographer, easy to deal with, super professional, super talented, I tagged so-and-so in the comments below. Be sure to follow him, check him out, DM him for his rates and tell him I sent you."

Walid-Azami-Photoshoot.jpg

We Work Hard

Payment is necessary.



That is true endorsement. Ask the model for her rate card. For example, if your fee was going to be $1,800.00 for that photo shoot, she owes you $1,800.00 of shootouts. Get her rate card and see what her prices are. I would go ahead and ask her for $1,800.00 worth of shootouts? If that's a little bit too much for her, and I would understand if it is too much, see if she is willing to split that and give a percentage of it cash and a percentage of it shoutouts. We are here to accommodate, and we are here to get paid. We are not here to be taken advantage of anymore!


What If the Model Does Not Want to Barter? Or Pay Money?


If she doesn't want to pay money, I would still give her one more opportunity to make it up to you. Say, "Okay, then let's have a certain number of shoutouts," where it is already pre-written by you, and approved by her. That is what her comment on the Instagram photograph will say. You have to write it, and she must approve it. Once both parties agree, you’re good to go!

What If the Model Does Not Want to Barter or Pay Money to the Photographer?

If that's not the case, then ask her for some referrals, so have a certain amount. She is going to introduce you to five other influencers or five other models, in an email, with you CC'd in that email. She is going to say the guidelines that you set for her. "Hey everybody, I just shot with John Smith. He's so awesome. If you're looking for someone that is the sweetest person, that is understanding, that is professional, that knows how to make you look like a beautiful, beautiful model, please ... I've CC'd him in this email, please say hi. He's willing to give all my friends a great rate."

Dealing with Model Who Does Not Want to Pay?

 Should the Model Pay the Photographer?

Should the Model Pay the Photographer?

That is how the model can pay you back. If the model does not want to refer you to their friends or work associates. She also does not want to pay you money. She also does not want to pay you through shout out referrals that promote your services then the model is saying, "You know, you're not worth a referral," - and she won’t use those words. The model will use their lack of actions. As a reminder I keep saying SHE because my request from a photographer handling a female model. No sexism here!

So lets break this down. The model does not think your work is worth monetary compensation. The model does not think your work is worth a shoutout on their social media. The model does not want to connect you to potential customers via email. The model has no interest in bartering with you.

Then... Let me get this very very clear for you…

For people like that, we just say, "Thank you so much for thinking of me. I don't think it's a right fit. I wish you luck." Understand that, that there are people like that, that will treat you like shit sometimes. You know what? We don't treat them like shit back.

What we do is ignore them. That hurts them the most because they're just ego maniacs in the first place. Ignore them and that is it, walk away. Be thankful that they showed you their true colors before you actually picked you a camera.

Definitely respect yourself. You had a good hunch about it. Always follow your gut feeling. We don't pay people to photograph them. What we do is we get paid to photograph people. 

When is it OK to shoot for free?

There are some exceptions. That is you want to do a trade, just for a tag and that's it, that's if Jennifer Lopez calls you, that's a Beyonce or Madonna calls you, that's if Kanye calls you, you do that. That's fantastic because that tag is going to be worth hundreds, if not thousands and thousands of tags. You know, that's worth it. So, I just want you guys to go ahead and understand that that's how you barter with somebody, is that it's always a dollar for dollar situation, and it's not just a tag. They have to understand the barter situation, that's how we do it.

How Else Can You Learn About Making Money from Photography?

Well...I'm so glad that you asked! 

I didn't have a lot when starting out. I did wish though there was a community to help me, encourage me and share ideas with me. That's why I created the following communities to help your photography gain momentum.

INSTAGRAM:  My Instagram is where it all started. Join me and the rest of us there! It's called @HowtoPhotograph and we post daily tips on photography, the business of photography, how to start your photography career and more. I also post IG Stories and now IGTV. 

PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP: This is my newest extension and I love it! My PRIVATE Facebook group is exactly that, private and filled with great people. Every day new people join and all of them go through a questioning process. You must promise that you will be respectful and not spam. Hang out with us, ask questions or post your questions. I am very involved in that and contribute also. Also on Thursdays, we do a really cool and free photography portfolio review. The whole community joins and gives notes to those that want to post images. I'm also usually involved in that. Join us! 

NEWSLETTER: Do you want to shadow me on set? I pick from my newsletter sometimes. Do you want to work for me, or one of my friends? I sometimes hire from my newsletter. Do you want freebies for workshops, tutorials or big discounts? It's from the Newsletter first! If you can handle 2-3 emails a month...this is for you and your email is always safe with me. Click here to join for free!

Article reprinted in Fstoppers

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