Let's be as up front about this as possible.
There is a long-standing debate on "who should pay who" when it comes to models and photographers working together. Opinions vary quite a lot, and often it is not clear who has the "right" to ask for a fee, and who doesn't. To me, it's something I accept as being very fluid, very flexible. Allow me to explain...
Yes, I agree that if a new photographer approaches an experienced model, the model has the right to ask for payment. And, of course vice versa. If an experienced photographer is approached by a newer model, the photographer has the right to ask for payment. There is a lot of blurry area here, because how do you accurately gauge experience, skills, and overall professionalism between the two parties if it's not really obvious? That's why I believe the situation is flexible, and a case by case thing.
Others argue that if you are a full-time working professional, model or photographer, you should only work for payment. Makes sense, and this is sound business advice. But what happens when a full-time model wants to approach a full-time photographer to shoot – or the other way around? Exactly. Once again, it is as clear as mud most of the time.
But this is what I really want to address: the personal element. In our industry, people take things personally all too often, and these perceived transgressions turn into rants on social media about "those cheap models who think they are too high and mighty to pay" and the "rude photographers who think I am going to pay them", etc. Photographers get "offended" that a new model refuses to pay them, and experienced models get offended when photographers refuse their rates, as well, etc, ad infinitum.
As model photographers, we often find ourselves "trapped" when a model asks us to trade shoot, and we see no benefit or inspiration to trade with them. By declining the trade request, we can often be accused of being everything from rude to egotistical to "That photographer doesn't think I'm pretty enough to work with me", and lots more. We photographers feel trapped because any answer that isn't "Sounds good, when should we schedule?" can lead to an offended model, and all the fallout that comes from that. I've been at this nearly a decade, and have met some of the most amazing people in the world in our industry – I am grateful to every model, every client, and every associate I have come to know as a friend and peer. But I am also not going to continue this tired argument.
So I want to make it crystal clear: If you ask me for a trade shoot, I have every right to decline for any reason. This is business, not personal. I do not shoot models who I think are "hot" just because "I like hot chicks". There are many reasons why I consider trade shoots, and many reasons why I do not. Just like you, as a model, have a right to send me your rates if I ask you to shoot, I have a right as a photographer, as an artist, to decline a trade shoot without fear of retribution from an offended model. Some photographers have a reputation of being "jerks" (and many of them deserve that rep), but some are just wholly honest about things and are inaccurately accused of being terrible people when all they did was politely decline a trade shoot.
Now, all that aside, the thing is, if you want to work with me the fastest way possible, and in a way where I will go all out for you and your project, simply hire me. I go all out for my clients, and I actually take on very few new clients in any given quarter. I am super pumped to work with you, and I take care of my clients as best I can. My rates reflect that.
If you choose to approach me about a trade shoot, that is perfectly ok. But just like I have to deal with the industry truths, you have to accept if I politely decline. I am wide open to ideas, to proposals, and to amazing projects – but like so many other professionals, I cannot random accept everything everyone offers me (even when sometimes I'd like to.)
If you're good with all of this, let's talk! :)
The end result is you get the best images I can possibly provide and improve your portfolio instantly.