Friday, 12 March 2010 06:30

Models Why Do You Work for Free? SPECIAL BLOG

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I received the extract below from Carmen Stunna Jones as a note on Facebook.


I just woke up this morning and thought that I would air my views on the whole TF* thing. Personally I think it's unfair on the models that everyone (or at least most people) involved in a project get paid but the model doesn't?

It's not to say that you can't work for free EVER but if you know your skilled at your craft and the designer/photographer or whoever must think so too, to cast you in the project then why can't they compensate you for your time and efforts.

People complain that models are unreliable because they don't turn up on time...sometimes not at all but understand that the whole "Exposure" thing doesn't pay bills. Many talented and under appreciated models have other responsibilities that they need to take care of. How unprofessional is it to hire someone to work for you and not pay them.

When you're new to modelling it's Ok, even beneficial to work with people for free.Sites like Model Mayhem and Star Now are great places to get started. It helps build confidence and also gives you the chance to learn more about what really goes into making a great Editorial or a Catwalk model. You get to meet talented individuals who you can build lasting working relationships with and will definitely help you in the long run. Working for friends is good too. If everyone's free and want to go crazy on a Test shoot then fine...Get Creative! Those are the shoots that really make your Portfolio pop! Charity shows are fantastic too. A great way to do what you love and do it for a good cause!

For designers I think that when you don't pay your models, you tend to only find new models trying to gain experience sometimes diamonds in the rough, sometimes just rough and it isn't good for your business either. If your garments retail for over £200 you should have a model or models representing you that truly reflect that. I understand that if you're not an established designer/ photographer/ Make up Artist it may be difficult for you to find the resources to compensate your models and that's fair enough but if you have to cover travel expenses/food for a model who will take your brand to another level then DO IT! You'll appreciate it in the long run...

And to the models, we must take our share of blame in this, You've been working within the industry for a long time, perfecting your walks, your poses and excelling then after a year or so someone emails you out of the blue for a TFP shoot or show and you take it, in full knowledge that it won't benefit you then that's your problem, Can't moan about that...Oh apart from "Exposure" or "Networking opportunities", which in itself is a bit hit and miss because at a show the models arrive hours before everyone else, spending hours before the show rehearsing and prep'ing until the actual show after which you are often too tired to go and "schmooze"...You just wanna rest..because tomorrow you're gonna do it all over again!

You get what you put into anything... Hard work pays off in the long run. For freelance models, You gotta work twice as hard to get half the recognition so it doesn't help when you can't do what you love because you've gotta work part time at Topshop to get enough money to travel to get to castings/shoots or shows. That in itself is a vicous cycle. You can't model full time so you have to work part time, there's no such thing as a part time Supermodel! you miss castings and opportunities to move ahead in your career and you never really realise your full potential, Just becoming another pretty face who "Could have been"...

I love what I do but honestly I feel almost exploited at times because I put in all this hard work at shoots and shows often without even getting pictures or maybe finding a few on Facebook somewhere. Models can get a raw deal sometimes you know.

Models Stand up and be counted let people budget for you too! =) You can never really call yourself a model until it pays the bills so for many modelling is just a hobby. But for the few who actually want a career and not just Facebook fame get serious. I'm not saying anyone should run around like a Diva demanding your daily rate for a 1 hour shoot, but just ask for what you deserve.

I'd like to get views from other people from within the industry on what they think so please feel free to add your comments!



Comment by me sola


carmen as someone who runs a modelling agency and who has been fighting for change for many years now, i agree with your note 100%. The sad thing is that the models do actually have the power to make change.

If you all decided to no longer work for free - what do you think would happen? I totally disagree with the principle that if you are new to modelling one should model for free to gain experience - are we saying that when you get your first ever job, lets say in a supermarket or in an accountants office, they say well as it is your first job we will not pay you so you can gain experience - NO. So why should it b like this in the modelling world. We tell all of our models that once they have gained some experience, to stop doing unpaid work but most don't listen.

To be fair though on the other hand like with our bridal show we do not pay models to do the show but we only tend to use new models and we do lots of rehearsals and training with them and it should be noted that a number of models out there got there first start after doing our bridal show - which is big show and has been going for over13 years.

so Carmen i am with you on this and i say to ALL models out there YOU HAVE THE POWER to initiate change.





My view is this.... Designers 9/10 don't get paid to showcase at we can't pay for the models...or the models that do request payment, their prices start at £100, now if my collection consists of 7 outfits, that £700, then I have to pay for a make-up artist, that is around £ we are on around £760..then if I have to source shoes, that's another cost, and accessories is another cost. The concept of a fashion show is showcase your work to buyers or people who are interested in purchasing your work. Not just pure entertainment value, and if you have spent nearly £700 for one show, you can't afford to showcase at more than one show. That is if you have been asked to provide your own models. If the event organiser has provided models, then it is up to them. In the case of photoshoots,if I can get a model for free I will, because I have to pay the cost of the hire of the studio, which is around £150 for the day, then the photographer who could be around £100 for the day, then a make-up artist, a hair stylist, a wardrobe stylist, an amounts up to a lot of money. Yes it should be about self-investment...but at the same time I work part time on the weekend to cover my bills, because it isn't that easy for me as a new designer to be selling out truly doesn't work like that. Plus the fashion industry is a networking industry, you have to know someone to get somewhere, so it is a good chance to meet people if you work for free, its like work experience. And a lot of models in the UK think they are top/supermodel standard when they truly aren't!! A lot of models need to work for free to practise and find out what modelling actually consists of, the international models are killing the UK models right now, and its time UK models start to study intertional magazines and look at what is selling...that's my 2cents worth..





I think that models should initiate the change! I think that often people take models for granted because nowadays everyone thinks they are a model.

But I also think that if a designer can budget for everything else you should budget for your models as well because if they don't show up for your show/ shoot you'll lose more money in the long run having to re arrange things with other model/photographers etc..

I think that in the beginning, Yes it is a bit like work experience. You learn about the industry and find your niche or what works well for you. But there is a time when that period ends and if you are serious about your career you need to take the steps to make sure that you're not going to have to hold back because every opportunity you get you have to be "flexible" and forgo your compensation. 

What I don't feel is fair is that a model will walk in a show be there morning till night learning the choreography, fitting, hair make up, waiting around, all those things, do the show and then you say Networking Time?!...As dedicated as I am I can only count a handful of times I've been able to come from backstage to talk to people in the audience since all I'm thinking about is how I'm gonna get home...I haven't been paid so I better catch that last train home!

I also agree that British models need to get up to par...A lot of models are claiming to be the best when their books don't really say much. I don't believe in al that Diva hype if you're great you're great, you don't have to tell anyone...They'll know it. But I still think the UK is bringing out some great girls.

I do work but I find that I miss out on a lot of opportunities because I can give my modelling career my full efforts. Unlike other professions, Modelling has an expiry date. younger models enter the industry and you get moved on without ever having the chance to really become one of the greats. Not everyone can be an Iman or Naomi Campbell but there are plenty of opportunities for black models to become successful.

I think we should all start to appreciate each others efforts and support new talent in anyway we can. it's hard enough being a model but to be a black model is even harder. Being paid isn't just about the money in your pocket, it means you can keep on doing what you love an reaching higher heights without having to worry about what you are going to do financially. You can fully focus on achieving your goals and actually achieve them..That just me...





I have alot of models say to me, "can you pay for my travel home"..and to be real I say "No"...if you are serious about modeling, you should be able to conpensate your own travel, sounds harsh, but its reality...I don't mind paying for somebodies travel if I'm doing a show that is hard to get to...but being real..I have to pay for my travel as a designer, and the event orgainser, doesn't pay for my travel..


Everyone in the fashion industry is trying to get somewhere..and relistically, models that are worthy of payment, should be signed to an agency, because the payment is worked out with them,but if you are freelance, you have to invest more in yourself, the same as a freelance designer. I have had sooooo many models not turn up to events and photoshoots, who have requested payment and it has left a bad taste in my mouth, which shouldn't be my way of thinking about models, but if it keeps happening, then it is more likely to be so..


There is sooooo much that a designer has to do to prepare for shows and events, and the last thing you want is a stroppy or rude model...alot of models act like getting their make-up done, doing fittings, going to castings, rehearsing is a chore...well if you don't enjoy it, why are you doing it??

I have worked with other designers and shared similar views. If models decide to work for free, then thats their option, but unless the designer gets paid to do the show, I don't know where the finance comes from to pay the models, esp at the beginning of showcasing a new collection...

With the use of facebook, model mayhem and such, it is really easy these days to advertise for models and such, and there is the chance of getting models to work for free..which is a bonus, but for me personally, if I can have a model work for free, why pay for one?? and I don't mean that to sound rude and harsh, and all that, but it all comes down to cost!! If you can get a pair of louboutins for 50% off, would you turn it down??

1 comment

  • Comment Link hostess a milano Saturday, 14 May 2011 10:22 posted by hostess a milano

    I like this blog so much. There is sooooo much that a designer has to do to prepare for shows and events, and the last thing you want is a stroppy or rude model...Thanks for the articles, have book marked them and will definitely be taking forward some of their advice. Thanks again! I’ll be back for more tips next week!

    hostess a milano


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