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When Models Underbid

Hello fellow Models! After a short sabbatical from Plus Model Magazine, I am here to take on your questions, topics, and comments with regards to the Plus Model Fashion Industry.

One topic that recently affected me (and has hit some of my other model friends too) is the topic of “under bidding” or easier translation “undermining”. Here is what the Encarta Dictionary reads: weaken something gradually. To weaken, discredit, or destroy somebody or something by covert and malicious action.

I recently had a client that agreed to pay me a certain fee for my modeling services and we worked together for a year. When they stopped calling and booking appointments I did my research and found out that an inexperienced model had contacted them and offered her services for 85% lower than my price. First of all, ethically speaking it is wrong to under bid a price so low that the industry starts to think that all models are worth nothing. When you make a living being an independent contractor (i.e. model), there are certain standards one adheres to so you can actually make a decent living. When new eager models start offering their services for little pay or for free it undermines the whole industry. Now, that client will never pay the market standard for a model ever again.

Another model friend told me of a girl who booked her first print job and was going to be paid a decent amount…her first paid booked gig! Some other unethical model heard about it and contacted the company and said she was willing to do the same job for free. Guess what…they went with the free one! Do you think that company will ever offer another model a decent paycheck ever again?

I am not saying you are going to get paid for every job you book or that every job will pay you the big bucks. As a new model, you pay your dues…but not at the expense of destroying the foundation agents, and models before you, have fought hard for.

The difference of being paid vs. not being paid can be at your discretion, but the following examples should clear any confusion:

– When you want to work with an amazing photographer for TFP (time for prints) you do not charge the photographer. You both are donating your services for an end product you both benefit from.

– When shooting for a company, like Plus Model Magazine, where you can get tear sheets as payment, but no monetary funds are exchanged. These opportunities can further your career and that is payment enough.

– When you shoot for a catalog where the owner of that business will be making money off your image…this is when you should charge them a fee. They are using your image to make money and you should benefit from that. Again, do your research. If said company is tiny and operating out of someone’s home then you can charge a small fee to cover travel expenses and make sure to get a tear sheet or money for your time. If the company is big, like say Lane Bryant, then your agent will get you the highest possible amount of money.

Ask other models what the going rate is for certain types of jobs. I won’t shoot with a certain web company because they pay under $30 an hour for 2 hrs of work a week and expect me to provide my own transportation. This company is a leader in their industry and when I did my research, they make tens of millions of dollars. So, my question is “why would I lower my standards when there is a lack of respect to my industry?” Of course, someone else is doing the work, but this newbie model also works as a receptionist because she can’t afford to quit her job.

Remember, Karma will rear its ugly head if you do these kinds of actions. The day that you want to start making a living as a model, you will be known as the “cheap” model and never have the respect or money you are craving. Plus, word gets around. My agent black balled a model in the industry when he found out she was “under bidding” to clients who didn’t use her services. Now, she can never find representation and she hardly works anymore.

I know this month’s commentary sounds harsh, but this is the ugly side of business. As always, do research, follow your instincts, and honor yourself! This business has a way of weeding out the phonies.