By Dania Denese
Modeling 101 – A Models Diary

There is a lot to be said for how one measures “success” or defines “professional” when it comes to an industry like modeling. Most people automatically think about money.

Of course it makes sense that a professional model is one who gets paid for his/her services. Supermodels make tons of money so it’s easy to see why the every day person would consider the almighty dollar as a major factor.

However, while earning income for modeling is a big perk, it isn’t the only form of compensation female and male models receive for their efforts.

Sometimes models have to determine whether a gig is worth taking or not based on the form of compensation. Project type, budget, client and job duties all factor into what type of compensation will be provided to a model and as with much in the industry, the details almost always vary from project to project.

Below are a few of the most common forms of modeling compensation aside from money that models will want to be aware of when submitting to and getting booked for assignments:


Tearsheets are the best form of compensation (some believe it’s even better than money) for models because it serves as direct “proof” of publication. I’ve talked about tearsheest in the past but the important takeaway when it comes to this type of payment is that models should definitely seek as many opportunities to earn tearsheets as possible.

Whether it’s a hard copy tearsheet from a magazine/catalog or other printed form or a digital tearsheet printed off the Internet (or bookmarked), these are the types of images that are gold for portfolios.

What better way to show people what you’ve accomplished than a publication that has you in it?


Clients with smaller budgets or just starting out with their business don’t always have the deep pockets that their larger competitors do. Giving models free merchandise (clothes, accessories, product, etc.) counts as a form of modeling compensation, although getting freebies as payment is sometimes a hot button topic for those in the industry.

Some models don’t see getting free merchandise as acceptable and won’t accept or submit to jobs that list this as compensation. Other models love getting free stuff and see it as a perk so they don’t have any problem with it.

Free merchandise is a commonly used form of compensation when it comes to fashion shows. If you really love the designer’s clothes, getting a free outfit (or maybe a gift certificate to their store/site) may sound like a great deal. If you’d rather get paid, this may be a gig to pass on.

For photoshoots where the client is giving free merchandise in lieu of monetary compensation, it’s a good idea to find out beforehand if you’ll also be able to get copies of the photos. If the resulting images will be published that means tearsheets so in that instance, getting tearsheets and free merchandise is a pretty sweet combo meal. But if you’re not going to receive images, walking away with free clothes might not sound very appealing.


Tearsheets and regular modeling photos are not the same. Tearsheets describe “published” work, while photos from a shoot are just that–photos. Getting copies from a professional shoot is good for adding new images to a model’s portfolio and is considered a form of compensation although it is at the bottom of the ladder in terms of priority, at least for models with a lot of experience.

Newer models learning the ropes, however, can greatly benefit from getting copies from shoots they’ve done.


Some clients may combine any or all of the above to sweeten the deal for models if they don’t have a large budget to work with. A lower pay rate combined with free merchandise/product is a popular option, as well as a lower pay rate combined with copies of the resulting images.

Other clients might give models the option of choosing between monetary compensation and free merchandise or copies of images from the shoot (not talking about tearsheets here). Those aren’t the best situations to be in and while it doesn’t happen frequently, it happens enough that I felt it was worth mentioning.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation where you can only choose one or the other, it will be up to you to decide if you’d rather take the money or if the copies of the photos or free merchandise/product would benefit you more. In this case, it’s important to look at the client you’d be working with, what’s required of you as the model and where you are at in your career