If you are a model or photographer and are hoping to make a living in the modeling industry, then it is important that you actually understand how it works - where the money is, and how you can ensure that it comes to you!
Many models and photographers are hobbyists - they do what they do because they enjoy it. They may enjoy the photoshoots or they may enjoy showing off the images to their friends and fans. They may hope to make a little money at the same time. That is all fine and good.
Many models and photographers do what is called TFP ( variably defined as "Time For Prints" or "Trade For Prints". This is where they collaborate to create images that both of them can use in their portfolios. No money is exchanged, but they both benefit.
But if you are a model and are hoping to make a lot of money being paid by photographers for the privilege of working with you - good luck!
At the same time, if you are a photographer and are hoping to make a lot of money being paid by models for the privilege of working with you - good luck!
This is very difficult and the reason why is because you basically have two groups of people with no money, hoping to make money off each other. You can't get money from someone who has no money.
Of course, there are some exceptions - there are photographers who make money being paid by models. But they are rare. And of course there are models who make money being paid by photographers. Also rare. Again, it comes down to the fact that both of these groups do not have money, and thus cannot spend what they don't have.
If you want to really MAKE MONEY, then you have to understand how the industry works. It's all about money. Who has the money?
If you are a model and they think that you would be perfect for their new clothing campaign, then great! If you are a photographer who creates captivating images that will propel their new clothing campaign off the charts, then great! They are looking for models and photographers who can create beautiful images for the campaigns, because that is how they convince the people of the world to buy their products. When people buy their products, they get money. It's all about money!
The problem for you is - how do they find you?
The conventional wisdom goes something like this - models and photographers work together to do photoshoots and create images for their portfolios. They normally do this TFP. Both of them develop stronger portfolios, with nice images, and they kind of blindly hope that they will somehow get noticed by the right people at the right time and then POOF! They are rich and famous.
Reality check. Not gonna happen. If that is your approach, prepare to be disappointed.
For models, it gets worse. While photographers can actively participate in the industry at virtually any age, that is not true at all for models. While it may seem cruel or unfair, the fact is that models have what the industry crassly refers to as a "shelf life". Yep. Just like food in the grocery store, a model has a shelf life. This shelf life varies within different types of modeling, but MOST of the opportunities exist for models age 14-24. Of course, there are models outside of that range and if a model is particularly popular, her career can go quite a few years beyond age 24. But, MOST of the work fits neatly into that age range. If you are no longer in that age range, don't be discouraged. You can still succeed. But it will be harder.
So, if you're a model and you are absolutely serious about making money - real money - then you need to be signed with an agency. This is because the agency is in this business for the same reason you are - to make money. How do they make money? They make money by getting you modeling gigs, and they take a cut of whatever you make. It is a symbiotic relationship - you both depend upon each other. This is how it works. It's that simple.
So shoot TFP if you want - build up that portfolio - make yourself look as good as you can. Keep your images up to date and only show your best work. You don't need fifty images to show how good you are, because you are only as good as your worst image. Show off 5 or 10 images that make anyone who sees them say, "WOW!" and you will be just fine. But go to the where the money is. Work hard. Find an agency. Get signed.