Stop TFP’ing yourself out of a potential career. If a photographer is offering to work with you for free, or worse, is offering to pay you, be selective about who you work with. Shooting with photographers who don’t have the necessary skills to provide you with outstanding photos is not helping your career.
If a photographer doesn’t value the services he has to offer you, you should ask yourself why you should value what they have to offer?
Photographers who provide the majority of their services for free are not likely to hold themselves to the same standards as those who make a living from their services professionally. They don’t have to. It’s not how they make a living. And if they’re actually offering to pay you, what is their incentive to provide you with prompt and professional service?
I’ve heard countless stories from models about photographers whose behaviour was less than professional. I always have to ask, were you working with a professional photographer (someone whose soul source of income is from the photography services that they provide)? And they almost always exclusively say, “No”.
It’s worth noting, however, than even professional photographers will occasionally provide their services for free or at reduced rates. Often this is done for testing purposes or under special circumstances.
Making money from photographers who pay you out of their own pocket is not a career and is not professional modeling. While getting paid to model for photographers may seem like a nice source of income, unless you are working on real projects, for real clients, with resulting tear-sheets, this is not “professional modeling” and is an eventual path to obscurity.
If a photographer is offering you pay you, ask yourself why. What is the photographer’s intentions with the photographs? How will he ever offset the cost of paying you? Is he shooting photos for stock photography or for submissions to magazines that will pay him if the photos are published? Or is there simply no intention to recoup on his investment?
If his intention is to not make money from the photos, then is he simply paying you because you’re pretty? Is he paying you to see you wear lingerie or take your clothes off? What is he getting out of the opportunity? Experience?
It is true that some photographers’ only opportunity to work with experienced models is by paying them. And out of this opportunity a photographer can gain valuable experience and learn a lot about the process…but he can also learn a lot about the process by working with mannequins. However, if a photographer is consistently paying models to work with him, think about what that motivation might be.