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Author Topic: How to Make a Profit Shooting Models?  (Read 7952 times)

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« on: July 02, 2009, 08:00 »
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   Having just watched some of Yuri Arcurs' amazing videos, I am struck how anybody can make a profit shooting models, for microstock. Doing the math, you pay a professional model around $200 an hour, and that doesn't include makeup and hair. And, a lot of shots include 4, 5, or 6 models. So say 6 x $200 = $1200, plus the cost of hair and makeup for 6 models. Plus , a lot of model agencies require at least a 2 hour minimum. So now, the cost doubles to $2400 for just the models. And then one photo only sells for $1? How many photos do you have to sell, from that 2 hour shoot, before you start showing a profit? 2400? It's not adding up!
   Can somebody, who shoots professional models for microstock, explain how they show a profit? Is my math completely off?


« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 08:25 »
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And then one photo only sells for $1?

You mean, after you sold your image once, it's lost forever? Sorry but there might be an error in your calculation. LOL

Seriously: Jonathan Ross stated that he aims for about 200 stock images from a day's worth of shooting when trying to produce microstock. I guess most of them will return far more than $10 or $20 in the long term.

Also I doubt your numbers are true for most model shoots. Many models are working at much lower prices. Yuri himself stated somewhere (if I remember correctly) that his models have to work for free for the first two or three shoots to get used to his style of work. And many of his key images picture his girl-friend... that's a way to save money from your calculation I'd say.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 08:27 by MichaelJay »

« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 08:29 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 09:04 »
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I usually shoot only myself as a model because I work so cheap, take direction well, and don't complain too much.
But when I took a Hollywood Lighting course at my local junior college the instructor put a notice on Craigs List for unpaid models. We got all kinds of applicants ranging from first-time models to experienced actors/actresses looking for better or free prints for their portfolios. And they were willing to show up on time. Amazing.

« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 09:17 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

Sean, are you saying that you have yet to turn a profit?  ;)

« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2009, 09:22 »
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I don't think most microstock photogs are using pro models.  Or if they are it is pros from ModelMayhem or somewhere willing to work free for shots to build their portfolios with.

Hasn't Yuri said that he is not making enough to justify his production costs?  I figure that's why he is doing other revenue streams like blogging,  offering keywording and mentoring services, etc. 

Sounds like Sean runs a much leaner operation and hits profitability a lot faster.

« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2009, 09:27 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

Sean, are you saying that you have yet to turn a profit?  ;)

I just do this for fun and support it with my Powerball winnings ;)

Just saying exhorbitant production costs and overhead may not be the way to go for every one.

« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2009, 09:32 »
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Have a look at http://www.modelmayhem.com/

You may find a local model that will work, "Time for Prints" or "Time for CD", or for a lower hourly rate, check if you should offer only to cover expenses if the model is underage.

If you agree to pay a model an hourly rate, check the local laws if the model is under the age of majority (a minor) to make sure it is legal to do so, as an example I can use family members and models for TFP and TFCD where no payment is made, but in the UK paid models are classed as actors and come under the child protection laws and the employment of children act, therefore permission is required from the local authority or the school for a shoot, a licence may be required and the time has to be logged as there are restrictions in the number of paid hours a child can work.

Also try to make sure the witness that signs the release attends the shoot, having a third party at the shoot will help make the model feel more comfortable, as well as protect the photographer.

David  
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 09:43 by Adeptris »

« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2009, 10:34 »
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Hi Rimglow,

 Good questions because it is more cost prohibitive to shoot models than most still life's or scenics but remember they do return well. I would start with tradeouts for everything. Discs to your models and locations of images they need for self promotion. There is street casting and the major agencies during this recession have lowered their prices here to $100 an hour with two hour minimum. We only use street cast and Craigslist for almost all our Micro shoots and I pay from 25-50 an hour depending on the talent and how long they have worked for us. I do think one trick is having your day really well choreographed so you get the most images in the quickest time for theleast money. try the trade out with neighbors and friends that is how we started shooting lifestyle stock. You can do it on a shoe string if you plan well.  Oh yea, they come make up ready and we keep some powder and basics with us, no make up artist, photoshop if necessary. Our per image price production is under 20 dollars a shot but it can be done for a lot less than that. I have made back my investment in 6 months of Micro sales so everything from this point is in my pocket. Now let's see how long the shelf life is. If you ever want to talk in more detail please feel welcome to send me a PM.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 17:53 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

Sean, are you saying that you have yet to turn a profit?  ;)

Some people use every chance they can get to put down others.

« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2009, 18:08 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

Sean, are you saying that you have yet to turn a profit?  ;)

Some people use every chance they can get to put down others.

Sounded more like a tongue-in-cheek, joking remark than a serious put down to me.   :-\

« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2009, 19:02 »
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No one said it was the smartest business model...

Sean, are you saying that you have yet to turn a profit?  ;)

Some people use every chance they can get to put down others.

Sounded more like a tongue-in-cheek, joking remark than a serious put down to me.   :-\

Of course it was.

Stockmania __ maybe you're not aware but Sean is undoubtedly the most helpful and generous 'Black Diamond' level contributor (or anything close to it) on the planet. As someone on another forum observed "I'm sure there must be three of him just to have the time to do what he does". Check out the IS 'Help' forum __ Sean doesn't go there to learn I can assure you!


« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 19:37 »
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We only shoot people and make money doing so. The trick is to not use model agencies who will take you for every penny you've got. The economic situation has hit models quite badly too and many are willing to freelance on the side since their agencies are just not getting work for them at the moment. The most we've ever paid a model is $200 for a whole day's work, our usual is around $20 per hour.

However, I've found this amount is well worth it over using non-professional models. Working with a trained model who can smile on demand, knows their best angles and how to use them to achieve the desired result is worth far more than what we pay them!!

« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2009, 11:08 »
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The most we've ever paid a model is $200 for a whole day's work, our usual is around $20 per hour.

However, I've found this amount is well worth it over using non-professional models. Working with a trained model who can smile on demand, knows their best angles and how to use them to achieve the desired result is worth far more than what we pay them!!

I should say so!  I pay my NON-professional models about what you are paying your professional ones.  Guess I should be looking into getting pros...!

« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2009, 12:56 »
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We only shoot people and make money doing so. The trick is to not use model agencies who will take you for every penny you've got. The economic situation has hit models quite badly too and many are willing to freelance on the side since their agencies are just not getting work for them at the moment. The most we've ever paid a model is $200 for a whole day's work, our usual is around $20 per hour.

However, I've found this amount is well worth it over using non-professional models. Working with a trained model who can smile on demand, knows their best angles and how to use them to achieve the desired result is worth far more than what we pay them!!

Is that in US or in Singaporean dollars?
I am wondering what the average rate is for a Singapore model.

Here in sunny California, the average semi
- pro will ask for $50-$75 per hr. But the really attractive and in demand type are asking $100 -$125 per hour with a two hour minimum.

I have no idea what an agency represented model would get.
I believe many of them would refuse stock work anyway.

« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2009, 19:54 »
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You can certainly pay a decent hourly rate and turn a profit off a model shoot in micro. The key to doing that is really understanding the market you are shooting for, and learning how to be highly efficient. Most micro shooters don't seem to really do market research, and that is one the biggest roots of their problems. I started out using TFP models with literally no pro photos. It was a good trade for them, and it let me learn all kinds of valuable information about casting, rate of return, etc... armed with that knowledge, I was able to feel much more confidant about hiring models. I should also add that my hourly rate varies depending on the type of shoot I'm doing. Some subjects just sell better than others, and my models understand that.

I really advocate having a core group of models you hire out. Life is just more annoying when you are constantly searching for the next freebie model. Why waste my time doing that when I just call one of my core models and hire them out for a day? Time is money. Less work for me, and I'll know the models sales history, ability to put out the desired emotions, etc...  You also get the bonus of the model being comfortable with you as you work more.

I highly suggest doing a test shoot with a model you like, TFP, and then spend a month tracking the gross sales, day be day. You'll gain valuable insight, even more if you have a few other models to compare against. Then use this data to come up with realistic hourly rates, present them to the model, and mention the need for bulk production (lots of hours). If they take it great, if not, theres other models out there, but now you have some real data to work with when finding a new model.

« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2009, 14:48 »
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   Having just watched some of Yuri Arcurs' amazing videos, I am struck how anybody can make a profit shooting models, for microstock. Doing the math, you pay a professional model around $200 an hour, and that doesn't include makeup and hair. And, a lot of shots include 4, 5, or 6 models. So say 6 x $200 = $1200, plus the cost of hair and makeup for 6 models. Plus , a lot of model agencies require at least a 2 hour minimum. So now, the cost doubles to $2400 for just the models. And then one photo only sells for $1? How many photos do you have to sell, from that 2 hour shoot, before you start showing a profit? 2400? It's not adding up!
   Can somebody, who shoots professional models for microstock, explain how they show a profit? Is my math completely off?


Naw, nobody in Microstock is paying models $200 an hour. $200 a day maybe but not per hour. Those kind of pay rates are reserved for quality commercial work being shot on spec for an agency and with real clients not Microstock.

While I don't shoot specifically for Microstock anylonger I still add a couple thousand images a year to the protfolio just from overflow from my other work but when I was shooting Microstock almost exclusively I never paid a model more then $200 a day. Most less often times just photos and some wardrobe items from our extensive closet. Even at TFP plus wardrobe I had no problem finding quality working models from my local area to work with. It helps if you have a strong portfolio to show them. If your portfolio is weak you will attract weak models.


« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2009, 15:03 »
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That's what I always thought, Yuri and some other top microstockers are just professional fashion photographers who sell scraps from their other assignments at microstock or at least use equipment from other work to shoot micro. Micro stock is not main source of income for them.

« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2009, 16:14 »
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I've only shot 2 or 3 models (besides myself), and of those, I've paid only 1.

I started with a TFP shoot, as a test run.  If they sell well (as they did with one model), I hired her back for $50 + CD for maybe 2 hours with 2 wardrobes.  Got 30 usuable photos or so, and paid for itself in less than 2 months of royalties.

« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2009, 17:13 »
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Naw, nobody in Microstock is paying models $200 an hour. $200 a day maybe but not per hour. Those kind of pay rates are reserved for quality commercial work being shot on spec for an agency and with real clients not Microstock.

While I don't shoot specifically for Microstock anylonger I still add a couple thousand images a year to the protfolio just from overflow from my other work but when I was shooting Microstock almost exclusively I never paid a model more then $200 a day. Most less often times just photos and some wardrobe items from our extensive closet. Even at TFP plus wardrobe I had no problem finding quality working models from my local area to work with. It helps if you have a strong portfolio to show them. If your portfolio is weak you will attract weak models.

Thanks for weighing in, Bobby.  Your models are amazing and your shots are extremely professional.  Nice to know even when you did micro FT you weren't having to pay a fortune. 

Although most of us don't have your portfolio to show prospective models, granted, I am sure a carefully selected grouping of good people shots along with maybe some in-actions would persuade a fair number of prospective models to work for TFCD or $25 an hour or so.

« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2009, 17:45 »
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You know, I see nothing wrong at all with paying $25-$50 an hour for a model. I mean common, how many other part time jobs (and lets be honest, thats what modeling is for the vast majority of models) pay $25-$50 an hour!? I think the best I ever got at a part time job was $14 an hour, but my  hours were barely existent LOL. I DO understand why the rates are higher typically for "full time" glamor type models though (lower volume of work). You should always make sure that these models understand your market is literally pennies to dollars per sale of an image, and that you need them for far more hours than they usually work. Once you explain that a shoot could gross over a grand, but only after maybe 12 months of sales *with no guarantee* , they quickly take $200 up front for a 4-8 hour shoot and bury an ideas about asking for regular royalty payments from sales. They also get much more interested when you start talking $25 an hour for several 8 hour days... It adds up.

By the end of this summer, I'm hoping to have a solid team of dependable, well selling models to call on each month. From a marketing point, a core group of models makes sense. Having the same person in a very wide variety of situations is great for people trying to keep their photos congruent for a project. You also can't get that variety very easy from just one shoot either, it takes time, and even different locations, etc. It's basically branding. Now here's my point, it's hard to do this sorta thing if you only ever shoot TFP... You typically only get one TFP shoot with a model, and thats it. It's hard, probably not even possible, to try and rig 10 shoots for nothing but TFP with the same model, especially when they know your making money off them. It IS more realistic to get one TFP "test shoot" though, and if they sell, "hire away" :)
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 17:49 by cardmaverick »

« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2009, 17:54 »
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Generally speaking, I make more off the models I pay than those that work for free. The ones that work for free, far too often often, mess up a shoot with ideas of their own, and since they are working for free, it's harder to tell them what to do. The TFP types are less likely to participate in a multi person shoot and are harder to coordinate. Plus far too often, just plain don't show up. I rarely get no shows from paid models. All that said I still use both paid and unpaid, but am much pickier these days with the free models.

« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2009, 18:30 »
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Generally speaking, I make more off the models I pay than those that work for free. The ones that work for free, far too often often, mess up a shoot with ideas of their own, and since they are working for free, it's harder to tell them what to do. The TFP types are less likely to participate in a multi person shoot and are harder to coordinate. Plus far too often, just plain don't show up. I rarely get no shows from paid models. All that said I still use both paid and unpaid, but am much pickier these days with the free models.

I know exactly how you feel! It's one more set of reasons I went the paid model route as soon as I could do it.

« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2009, 14:01 »
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Models that flake on bookings are simply part of the game but I find that the stronger your portfolio the lees likely a model will flake on you. Today I have a very, very low flake percentage and also find that models are willing to work with me multiple times even for tfp.

« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2009, 15:48 »
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Hi everybody
I just want throw in a few thoughts on the subject.

My experience tells me that in order to make a shoot with pro models feasible it will be a good idea to note the following:

1. Do extensive research of what buyers want

2. Be very well prepared in terms of lighting, location, angles etc. before the day of shooting. Don't ever blame the location. You are in control. You are responsible for the outcome.

3. Be sure to brief your stylist (and yourself :) well in advance. You need to know exactly what props and styling you want. This requires expert shootplanning because you cannot have either a proplist nor a shotlist if you haven't planned it beforehand.

4. Remember that "a prop is a shot". If you have a newspaper, a glass of orange, a styrofoam cup, a book etc. you have at least 3-5 shots per prop. In this way you can easily produce more than 200 images in one day. And with the subject of the thread in mind we really have to ask ourselves "what the use of a "bad" model with 1000 props. If the face doesn't sell you are wasting your time in both pre-production, during shooting and what to speak of postproduction.

5. Stagger you models in continually overlapping intervals. Don't have them all show up simultaneously. For instance you have one model come early. You style and shoot that person for 1 hour. Then comes the next model and you do a "couple shoot" for one hour. Another one arrives and you have a small group to shoot for an hour. 2 more arrive and you have a large group for one hour. 3 leave and you have another couple to shoot for an hour. And finally you keep 1 for shooting on isolated white or whatever. Like that you can have multiple themes in one day, and if well propped you have almost unlimited variety. I often find that I lack time and not ideas on my shoots. I could go on and on and on, which I often do do. Eventually you collapse though ... but hey we're only human  ::)

6. Be well rested and in a good mood on the day of shooting and ALWAYS tell the models and people around you that it is going great. If you don't you may ruin the mood and you will not get a lot of spontaneity out of your staff or models. So always keep a positive attitude.

7. Move on to another angle or another lighting if something doesn't work for you. Remember that you CAN'T FORCE AN IMAGE. If its not there, it's not there. Move on. Try something different. Be on the move. On the other hand if the lighting and angle is perfect, milk it. Do a lot of different themes right then and there. If it works why fix it  ???

I hope that was helpful to someone  :)

Kind regards,
laflor

« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2009, 16:00 »
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Great advice Laflor!  I am sure it will be helpful to most who are considering shooting models, and even those who already do. :)

« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2009, 16:16 »
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Yes, thanks for that Laflor, great post. I think I made most of those elementary mistakes the first time I paid a model!


« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2009, 19:41 »
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Yes Laflor,

 I couldn't have put it better myself.

Jonathan

« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2009, 22:13 »
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Yes Laflor,

 I couldn't have put it better myself.

Jonathan

Then you're losing your edge!  ;)

« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2009, 11:25 »
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Sean,

I have been losing my edge since I was a kid. Maybe you could help me out.

Jonathan

« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2009, 02:29 »
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Thanks for the appreciation guys :)

« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2009, 03:39 »
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I only pay my models in chocolate coins. But then they don't take instructions at all.

« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2009, 03:48 »
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Yes, too much sugar creates havoc :)
Although I might try paying in chocolate coins myself ...

« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2009, 11:20 »
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I only pay my models in chocolate coins. But then they don't take instructions at all.

Consider switching to magical beans ;)

« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2009, 00:07 »
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Yeas, lets extend this sceme from Photographer slavery to Model slavery.

Illustrater will have to work now also for charity.

Cheers, lisa

« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2009, 03:41 »
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Yeas, lets extend this sceme from Photographer slavery to Model slavery.

Illustrater will have to work now also for charity.

Cheers, lisa


you are rediculous and childish
[/quote]

If anyone is being ridiculous and childish Lisa it is you. You need to do some research before wading into a subject of which you clearly know very little.


 

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