Modeling Pay-Rates

Being a successful model not only means being in publications and walking on runways, but it also means making money from the jobs that you book. If you do not have a modeling agency to set booking rates for you or you're doing freelance work outside of your agency, determining what you need to charge for your skills as a model can be complicated as there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

Fashion model in black jumpsuit with gold bag. Leawood Lifestyle Magazone.
Photo by Janie Jones

When coming up with what your rates should be, there are no exact rules to follow. You will work with many different types of clients, and different clients are going to have different budgets that they have to work within.. Not every client is going to pay what you have set for yourself, and there may be times when you will be passed over for a model that doesn't charge as much as you do, which is completely fine! Modeling is a business and decisions made aren't usually personal, especially when it comes to money. There may even be times where you are taken advantage of for charging too little simply because you don't know any better, and those are great learning opportunities. Once you set your rates, it's important to not deviate from them too much or pull too many favors for people, or they will begin to expect it from you and you could end up getting low-balled a lot.

When trying to figure out what amount you should charge, there are a few things to consider.

  • What is your experience as a model? What you can charge will vary depending on how many years you’ve been actively modeling and what other clients you’ve had.

  • What is the client's budget? Sometimes they will give you their budget for an hourly rate and other times they will give you a flat rate for ‘X’ number of hours. If that doesn't fall within your pricing, you can attempt to negotiate or turn down the booking.

  • If there's no budget, does this booking benefit you? If you're not getting paid, is it good exposure and would the images be good for your portfilio? Many publications don't pay much or at all, but sometimes doing them despite the lack of payment can boost your career!

  • What type of booking is it- fashion, commercial, swim, boudoir, runway? This is important to know because you can charge more for showing more skin. It also may not be something you're interested in even if it pays well, so it's important to know up front.

  • What are the images going to be used for? Publication, web or social media branding, internal marketing?

  • How long is the shoot? Is it within "standard" working hours or not?

  • Is it local or is travel involved? If you do have to travel, who covers those expenses?

  • Other than being the model, what else is expected of you? If you have to do your own wardrobe styling, hair, makeup, etc. you have a right to charge more.

The level of a model's experience is also a huge determining factor when it comes to pay rates. New models who don’t have much in their portfolio or on their resume shouldn’t expect to be able to charge as much as a more experienced model. Be realistic about this when making the transition from strictly doing test and/or trade shoots to doing paid bookings. It may take you some time to get to the rate that you feel you deserve, and that's ok!

When it comes to how you pay your clients there are different ways your payment process can be set up, and you can tweak how you charge depending on the type of booking. Rates can be charged per hour, or be a flat rate for a window of hours or a full-day. If the booking is short (under 3 hours), then an hourly rate makes sense. An example would be $50 - $75/hour for a standard shoot, $75 - $100/hour or higher for swim, lingerie, etc. (showing more skin = higher rates!).

For half-day bookings (4-6 hours) and full-day bookings (7+) it’s usually to charge a flat rate for that timeframe- i.e., $250 for 4 hours. If it is a multiple day booking, sometimes models will cut clients a deal and will charge a little less than their typical flat-rates. However, if the shoot has call-times at an extreme hour (3am) or is set to be an overnight shoot, you can add a little more to your rates. For runway shows, I usually do a flat-rate fee as you are there really long hours.

If a client isn’t able to pay your full rate, ask the client what pay range they feel would work for them and then decide if the opportunity is worth going lower than your standard rates. I've been booked for many jobs where the pay was low but they threw in perks like getting not only the published photos but some that weren't published, and I've also gotten to take home some of the products we were shooting (clothing, hair products, etc.) to help make up for the lower pay. Again though, don't make a habit of giving discounts or negotiating too much!

At the end of the day, what you charge for your skills as a model it is up to you to decide. As your experience grows, you can always reevaluate where you're at and adjust accordingly!


For additional modeling pay-rate insight, chack out this post from Dania Denise on Modeling 101- A Model's Diary!


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