How Much Do Models Get Paid Per Shoot: The Truth

  • Esther O'Leary

So how much do models get paid? Supermodel Linda Evangelista was famously quoted as saying ’We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day’. Whilst it’s true that the most successful high fashion models can command huge sums of money for putting in an appearance on the catwalk or working as the face of designer clothing, beauty or accessory brands. However, for the majority of models the reality is often much lower.

How Much Do Models Get Paid?

Rates of pay can be hourly, daily or per campaign or photo shoot. Hourly rates can start at around £40 per hour, with day rates ranging from the low hundreds up to £1,000 or maybe even a lot more especially in high fashion. An average models salary is approximately £40,000-£50,000 per year.

There is a vast difference in model wages depending on your status and the niche your working in; some will even end up working for free in order to gain exposure in certain magazines or with high profile designers. 

Child and teen models are likely to earn less than adults, largely due to legal restrictions on working hours. Parents will negotiate on their behalf. Child modelling does involve the parents consent and cooperation, which applies their wages and the costs required. 

There are a variety of factors that will determine your earning potential as a model, and some things will be out of your control. As a fashion model you may be ‘hot property’ one week and simply be ‘out of style’ the next. Fortunately, other kinds of modelling work such as commercial and catalogue modelling can offer more stability, but the most common reasons your earnings will rise or fall will depend on the following:

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How Often You Get Booked.

You may get booked for lower paying jobs on a regular basis, or strike lucky with a big pay cheque for one job and then not get booked again for several weeks or months. There is certainly no set formula or working pattern to the modelling industry. It demands a flexible character who can live with the unknown. 

Whether You Work Freelance or Are Signed to an Agency.

As a freelance model you can negotiate your own fees or agree to work to specific client budget. If you are signed with an agency you will need to hand over a percentage of your pay in commission. Ensure that you are aware of all costs before you sign the contract and accept the role. 

The Section of the Industry You Are Working In.

Some modelling jobs benefit from having fewer criteria and could offer increased chances of securing regular work. Catalogue and commercial models may find it easier to secure regular work whereas the high fashion industry is more fickle. 

Whether or Not You Are Professional and Easy to Work With.


Getting booked for a job is a good start, however successful models could be invited back to work with the same clients on a regular basis if they develop a reputation for being reliable and easy-going.

Male Model Discrimination.

Male models tend to earn less than their female counterparts, though there is increasing demand for men in the industry. Female models receive a huge 148% more than male models with women earning £40,ooo per year and men making £24,000; a shocking discovery that is completely unfair when carrying out the same role. 

Although the amount of male models is high their pay is considerably less than the opposite sex; a very different scenario than other industries where women are discriminated against due to their gender.

The reason behind the injustice is that the female clothing industry brings in such a higher revenue than male fashion. Yet, as gents become more style conscious the market is changing. Here’s to a future where equality is achieved and both genders are valued for their work. 

Elizabeth Rose who manages male models at Premier states: [ctt template=”3″ link=”87iR5″ via=”yes” ]“I think it’s the only industry where men get paid less than women. It’s unfair (and) I wouldn’t say it’s female empowerment at all.” @UKModelslondon[/ctt]

The Cost of Being a Model.


It is important to remember that your earnings will not only be defined by your rate of pay. Expenses such as travel, accommodation, food, agency fees and portfolio costs are just some of the things you will need to budget for and will be deducted from your pay cheque if you are signed to an agency. 

It has been reported that many models actual wage after the expenses have been subtracted end up with very little for their days work. The excitement, eagerness and large pound signs for the opportunity takes over and instinct immediately kicks in. Many agree to a role that in fact, is much less than minimum wage. 

A trip to New York, the model apartment, taxi’s to the location and food on set has to come out of someone’s pocket and usually it is the models. Ridiculous stories of clients Christmas presents and flowers for the actual models birthday have been deducted from their wage. It is essential that you remain in control of your own fate and ask questions before you naively board the plane. 

Prior to signing a contract with an agency or client ensure that you read and understand every section especially the expenses information. If unsure ask to truly gauge what you are paying for as £1000 could minimise to £200 or zero if you are not careful. 

Freelance Models.

If you are freelance you will need to meet these costs up front and may not be able to charge them on to your client. Again, get the full information before you agree to the opportunity. As a freelance model, it is essential to calculate your own tax declaring yourself self employed. Remember to save a portion of your earnings to pay the lump sum by the deadline or you may be fined heavily. 

Agencies Under Scrutiny.


Signing with the correct modelling agency is essential as unfortunately many agencies will exploit young models desperation and innocence. It is important that the modelling agency that you sign with our working with you and supporting your career ensuring that you get paid on time and only deduct the agreed amount. It is known that some unforeseen and weird charges can appear on the statement that were most likely in the small print of the contract. 

Also, if a model annoys the agency by asking for their money it can prevent the hopeful from securing more jobs. It is very bad practice and it is vital that you find an establishment that values your talent, pays you on time and has your best interests at heart. Modelling agencies that are set out just to make a profit may be distrustful and untruthful; delaying payments, adding expenses and lying to models is too common. There are friendly, reliable, kind agencies in the industry, it is up to you to seek them out and to not be taken advantage of no matter how much you yearn for a model career. 

Agencies that do not pay on time draw models in by offering advances. A service that results in debt as interest builds. It is not an advisable situation to be in yet many models have no other choice but to ask for the advance. Rather than using this service it may be more beneficial if you got a flexible part time job that can tide you over until the model work is available. 

Working For Free.

Many brands, designers and clients may expect you to work for free – even the top designers. Voluntary work can be great to gain exposure and experience to begin with yet there has to be a cut off point. If an opportunity benefits your career and may lead to paid work later down the line then go for it. However, if you feel as though the company is beginning to take advantage of your good nature politely walk away. 

Paid in Clothes.

It is also common for designers to pay models in clothes or a voucher to spend in store. To begin with the idea of wearing glamorous, expensive clothing is enticing yet when the electricity bill can’t be paid, it is not a laughing matter. This is called trade on your pay slip, which in some cases can be in edition to a payment; a much more desirable option. Again, if the opportunity will enhance your career then accept the offer initially. Yet you will have to rethink if this is repeated each time.  



Models are turning to the social media platform to boost their earnings and exposure as a model. Those who build a large following will be approached by brands to either appear in their campaign or to promote a product via the platform. Either way Instagram is a new way to earn more money. The fast moving, contemporary world heavily relies upon social media. A model has supposedly claimed that one selfie paid more than FOUR days of work; the industry is completely changing due to online sources. The internet allows for fans to gain a personal more instant view of a models life. 

However, creating a hugely, successful Instagram account takes dedication and commitment. Posting regularly with the relevant hashtags and interesting content will hopefully gain followers. Treat your profile as an online portfolio with a touch of personal content too. Include behind the scenes footage, selfies, travel etc so that fans can invest in your model lifestyle.  If you put in the work, you will see the reward in the form of more modelling jobs.

Catwalk Vs Photoshoots.

Surprisingly, there is a huge difference between the amount models get paid for catwalk shows at London Fashion Week to featuring in ad campaigns. The runway offers little money for emerging models who end up working extremely hard for not much cash. Hopefuls who get their big break gracing the catwalk for the top names do not earn very much at all. For 48 shows, Molly Blair earned just £1,700. However, the well known models that are in the public eye such as Gisele Bundchen will of course, receive a much, much higher amount. If hired for a designer campaign there is a lot more money available. With the brand benefiting from the investment the model will be paid a lot more. 


It is an eye opener to understand that such elaborate, elite events that are a focal point in the fashion diary do not have the funding to pay models appropriately. Fashion show costs are extremely high with every brand trying to outshine their rivals. Therefore, if they can get away with paying models menial amounts they will to use the money elsewhere. 

How Can UK Models Help?

UK Models can offer advice on which section of the industry could prove the most profitable for your look. The industry experts can help you build a professional portfolio to kick start your career. To make the best start on your model career a fantastic set of images is very important. These can be used for Instagram, your website, a printed portfolio and business cards. 

To earn a living as a model requires not only hard work but a hard skin. You need to learn how to stand up for yourself to avoid being taken advantage of. Our guide has outlined the possible scenarios that you need to avoid when navigating through the industry. Seek out trustworthy, reliable professionals that will support your dream rather than exploit you further. Ensure that your head rules your heart in those important decisions.

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