There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

When It's Okay to Work for Little to No Money

(This post will best serve freelance models that don't currently have agency representation.)

Getting paid for modeling is great. In fact, seeking paid assignments is something every model should strive for. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Add the following word to your arsenal of modeling lingo: compensation. This word includes more than just actual money for a project. Compensation involves receiving something in return for your services.

When you work for free, that means you walk away from the gig without getting anything. This should NEVER happen! Even inexperienced/new models should seek some form of compensation. Because everyone has to start somewhere, know up front that you won't be able to command the high-paying gigs right away.

You're going to have to do some test shoots and projects that pay within the lower range until you can build up a good portfolio and resume of past clients to showcase your credibility, which will allow you to demand a higher rate for future projects.

There will be times when you may come across a modeling gig that seems really great (for example a small shoot for a local magazine or a shot at doing some work that will appear on a company website) but they either aren't paying anything or aren't paying enough BUT they are offering tearsheets, copies of the images from the shoot and/or free merchandise.

These are all forms of compensation and as long as the compensation the client is offering is worth your time and you feel you can benefit from it, then by all means, submit yourself. Usually a client will offer either a pretty good hourly rate but won't allow you to get copies of the images or merchandise, or a lower hourly rate but also copies of your images. While getting paid more is good, missing out on having images from the shoot may not be. Many times I will agree to a lower hourly rate if I am also able to get copies of the images.

So what's the big deal about being able to offer models higher pay and copies of the images? For the most part, companies don't specialize in photoshoots, they run a business that is entirely independent of their work with you so oftentimes they won't have the time or resources to offer you both money and copies of photos. It takes extra time, effort and sometimes extra money to pay the photographer to not only put together the images for the company but get copies to the model(s) involved.

Try to understand where the company is coming from and don't ride them too hard about what compensation you want because this can backfire and make you come across as a model who is difficult to work with. There is a difference between negotiations and interrogations. Do what you can and work with what you have.

This advice is for both new and established freelance models. One of the first things I do when I'm seeking modeling castings is to check what form of compensation the client is offering. If that field is blank and there is no mention of money, merchandise, tearsheets or copies of pictures anywhere in the post/casting, I move on.

Because you are offering your time and energy, you definitely deserve to walk away with something. Freelance models who have considerably more experience and a strong portfolio to back it up with, can be pickier about working for little to no pay with some other form of compensation so it really all depends on what works best for where you are at in your modeling career.

Even now with my years of experience, there are some projects that I willingly offer my services to that don't pay the big bucks. I make these exceptions to the rule when the form of compensation is something that will directly benefit me--namely, tearsheets and copies of my photos.

Remember, it is up to the client to decide what they can or can't offer. Sometimes these things can be negotiated but if the client has set it in stone, it'll be decision time. Modeling isn't only about being paid for your services, it's also about jumping on opportunities that will allow you to network and receive the materials needed to expand your body of work and add another client to the list of happy customers you have worked with.


ki~ki said...

Hey Dania,

IT'S ME AGAIN!!!HOW WAS YOUR WEEK??? A lot has happended for me this week also. The last couple of post that you put up have been very informative. Coincidently, this week I met up with a STOCK photographer, who's fairly new and cannot afford to pay me but he will definately COMPENSATE me. This photographer put up a post a couple of days ago, saying that he is looking for models to do everyday shots. I sent him an email saying that I was interested and we set up a day to meet. I checked out his work before I met him though. When he met he told me that he just started doing stock photography and currently cannot afford to pay me but he will take free pictures for me and if I do a couple shots for him. Is this a good deal??

ki~ki said...

Just to add more details...(I was at work so I had to rush) When I met with the photographer he explained to me what stock photography was (thanks to your post I already knew)and that it was something new for him to do. He said he was interested in doing everyday shots, such as me running to walking. Then he would try to sell the pictures to companies, magazines, ect. He said that he only gets about 20% for the shots that he sells. Thus, he said that for now he can take pictures for me for my portfolio. He said that I could choose what type of theme I want and just email he to let him know. In exchange, for my portfolio I would have to do a few shots for him. Then latter on when things are better for him, he can pay me. Is this good compensation to you????????

Dania Denise said...

Hey, Ki-Ki! You'll find your info in "Answering a Reader Question #18." :)