It came to mind again, based on a brief litter interaction with a model today, but it’s been driving me bonkers since I joined model mayhem years ago.
There’s this subset of photographers who claim that they never pay “for” models - I take issue with the phrase “pay for”, because in my mind, it implies ownership over the model, when what you’re actually buying is their time.
Most of those photographers, as far as I have encountered them, are older men in their 40s and up. I don’t know if that’s relevant, but I will note that the majority of working models are at least 15-25 years younger than they are.
So, the first issue is one of disrespect. If modelling is someone’s primary source of income, and you use the model’s service, then you are fucking them over by refusing to pay them. If you don’t consider what a model does to be worth your money, then don’t approach models who live off of that job.
When photographers say they never pay models, I assume that these “models” they don’t pay are actually young, naive people who have just started out, and need to build a portfolio. That may not be the case, but I’ll address other options in a minute.
To try to persuade models that you shouldn’t have to pay them either assumes that you think your work is so good - or they are so bad - that it would benefit them more to be photographed by you than you would benefit by working with them. Or, it assumes that you believe it to be a collaborative thing, in which case, you are probably less likely to be bragging about how you never pay models, as opposed to whining about how you can’t afford them.
Issue two: photographers who make money from their work and models who make money from their work are serving two different markets, and the overlap is so minimal, but the line between them is apparently hard to see, ‘cause there’s a camera in the way.
Most freelance photographers who make money from photography are either shooting non-models by way of family portraits, grad photos, wedding photos - or shooting models by selling to or being hired by magazines or modelling agencies. In these scenarios, the money flows from client to photographer, and never the other way around.
Agency models, though, are paid by their agency, who is contracted to provide models for shoots, and paid by their contractors. There is no model-to-photographer flow of cash there.
Freelance models - the ones with whom I deal with, and the ones with whom probably most of my followers are by now familiar - are not under contract to an agency, and therefore do not get paid by an agency. They serve a different market than agency models (typically).
That market is with the creatives/hobbyists, whether it’s posing for art classes or (in a lot of cases) getting hired to pose in some lonely old guy’s basement studio. It’s a job that comes with a lot of risk (see also: creepy lonely old guys), and it’s a job fraught with challenges, particularly in terms of getting photographers to fucking pay up.
The opportunities to make money from your work as a photographer who doesn’t do weddings or magazine work are slim. (I can only think of one photographer making significant money from patreon, and the odds of selling 20 prints at $10 a pop to make back the money you spent on hiring the model in the first place are also slim). So, in essence, you pay the model for their time and talent - and to some extent the risks they take on - and of course, for the sake of creating something you will be proud of. If your interest is creating something you can sell, you still have to pay the model for that time, talent, and risk. That is the service they provide. If they don’t have time or talent, then they are not the model for you.
My point being that for photographers, paying models is a luxury expense (kind of like buying a camera in the first place was). If you want a model, you pay for one. For freelance models, though, most who have any kind of personal brand, rely on the money they are paid for their work to survive (although, self produced content through patreon is certainly a big help to some). Some models are willing to barter. Some will do trade with friends or photographers they admire.
You should have no expectation that you can barter, or that you are a friend,or admired. If a model quotes you rates, you either pay up, or respectfully back out.
There is no respect in a blanket “I don’t pay models” statement. It implies that you don’t respect their profession, their time, or their talent - that you don’t respect the risks involved in that profession.
I have been ecstatic, flattered, and sometimes relieved, to be asked to shoot with a freelance model on a trade or barter basis. But if I want to work with a model, and they need my money to eat, make rent, or even pay their wireless bill, then I’d be a garbage human if I tried to tell them I would only shoot with them for free instead of just bowing out or paying up.
tl;dr - if you can’t pay models, don’t ask them to shoot with you. If you don’t pay models, you are a piece of shit.
So I was thinking about making some cute choker/collars and have decided to create another tumblr for it for now. If you want one message @kittensbowedandcollared and I will see what I can do. Money will go to more supplies and to my best friend’s sex reassignment surgery. If you buy one I will thank you a lot. #Bows&Collars4Matt Feel free to reblog!