What Kinds of Model Pay…

Posted on July 20, 2013


One of the things that I am seeing are pop up modeling agencies and websites that are there to protect the models under them. One of the key things that I am seeing in almost all of the different groups is that the models want to be paid. This blog will capture a snapshot of what you can find in ranges as pay for Indianapolis. I have excluded “promo” models. Please keep in mind that with agencies, they frequently will charge up to 20% of the hourly rate as a booking fee to the person doing the hiring and that this is on top of the agency’s commission taken out of the model’s rate they earn. These do not include mileage, room, or board fees. Finally, even if you want to only be shooting TF, seriously look at the work in the photographer’s portfolio – then ask yourself: “Will my work produce something in their portfolio they are proud, or are they just trying to be nice when they shoot with me?” If your answer is “I might” or “No”, then realize that the photographer should be charging you to work with them.

Keep in mind that most “pro” photographers have high expectations for their models. This means be on time, work as a collaborator to the shoot (there will be some who don’t, so beware), your skin should be almost flawless (can a photographer use the 3 min rule?), you don’t fib or say your measurements are something other than they are, you don’t beg to get paid more than you are worth, you don’t beg for photos (even on paid shoots where they shouldn’t be expected by the model), and you show up like you are expected to be (no hair changes or injuries other than those that were mentioned prior to the shoot; nails and toe nails looking stunning without nail polish). Bring the outfits and shoes that are expected and that you said you would bring. Also, don’t expect a photographer to talk to you every single day once a concept has been mentioned – especially about a lot of the personal things going on in your life. Finally, don’t take _anything_ that isn’t yours. Realize that experience does show.

First is high fashion models. Freelance fashion ranges from $0-$100 per day. Represented fashion ranges from $100-$1250 per day. Most people who pay will pay for a half or whole day. Less than one percent of the people who shoot or work earn anything. Magazine work doesn’t pay – even the bigger magazines only provide for a “room” rate when the shoots are expected to go over one day (they won’t pay for time, food, or travel). Most sessions are trade for (TF) or if you do a good job for a designer, a photographer will send you the images from a designer’s and shop’s show (keep in mind that most photographers aren’t paid for their work in these shows, either). The reason for this low amount of pay is that there are many people who are willing to accept not getting paid so if you want to be paid, there are plenty in line who don’t expect to get paid. The way to get paid is to establish a reputation that is good, have a look that people want, and produce good work with the photographers who you work. If you are lucky, you will find a good photographer who is willing to teach you to be a model at no charge to you anything but this is really unusual. Let me also note that here in Indianapolis, there are maybe  six jobs a year (I have only heard of one or two per year) that pay the $1250/day rate in fashion – it isn’t something you can make a living on. Even the models who I know who travel to New York for designers look for a part-time, flexible hours job so they can go to their shoots and shows because the amount they are paid isn’t enough to make a living.

Glamour and lingerie models are next. For freelance, the range is $0 to $100 per hour. For agency represented, the range is $250 to $500 per hour. The bulk of the freelance work is in the $0 to $30 per hour range for bathing suit, lingerie, and topless models. Keep in mind that the expectation from most photographers is that you will do Maxim type work and topless work if you are getting paid. Again, there are LOTS of people who want to be models – why should a photographer pay you over someone who is free? One thing to realize in this path is that you are a flavour of the month. This means that you will be popular quickly but after a short time, people will be disinterested because you are no longer new. Don’t let this fool you. Keep in mind that it is imperative on this path to create a solid fanbase of people who follow you and your work. This is one of the reasons that photographers will want to work with you – so their work will be seen by a solid group of people that YOU know. Do your best to create a provable fan base – have a fan page of some kind and engage the people who follow you. Keep in mind that this kind of work prior to being in a “real” agency will preclude you from getting into one (even if you didn’t do this work with someone who mostly does). Reputation is everything – who you are and your life becomes someone else’s when they start paying you. Most corporate clients don’t want someone with a reputation that will injure their brand for any reason.

Nudes are next. The models in this category often travel from place to place. You can be paid from $0-$3000 per day for nudes. Art nudes usually pay nothing up to $100 per hour. Most here in Indianapolis pay $25-50 per hour if they pay at all. Unlike the rest in this category, they pay hourly. The goals for art nudes are lines and form. It is not about being erotic or showing everything off (ie-no spread leg posing, no BDSM, etc.). As we get to the more erotic work, the amounts go up on the high pay (the low side still stays at $0/hr) and rates are paid in half day and full day amounts when they are. There are subforms that aren’t paid or poorly paid. If you are being paid hourly for one or two hours, you might be called a “call girl” because of the short work you do. Once you do this work, it is impossible to go back to normal modeling work. Background checks will reveal that you have done this. Often, the people who do this type of work are flashes — they are instantly recognized for a very short time and then people move on and stop working with them if there isn’t a following base of people. The best opportunities occur in the 18 to 21 years of age range, but it isn’t unusual for the work to be available well into a model’s 40’s. Again, even if you just work with a photographer who does this type of work, even if you don’t, it is enough to tarnish your reputation permanently.

This should give you a little bit on the rates paid for models in the Indianapolis area, and some things to keep in mind that go with those rates. Don’t fool yourself. Know where you are going and what you will do.

Update: All photographers will require at least one picture ID and a signed blanket release. If you are agency represented, then this is taken care of by your agency.

Posted in: Modeling