This is intended to be a guide for models and photographers. Other models can learn how I make the business of modeling work on the road, and photographers can learn how to entice me to come visit them. This may vary model to model, but this is the brass tacks for me.
I do three kinds of modeling related travel.
For Fun: You live in a cool place I’d like to visit OR you are going to a cool place I’d like to visit. You send me a ticket and possibly cover my lodging and we shoot for a half day or day depending on how much you spend on my expenses. I bring my boyfriend, mom, or friend because traveling alone for fun is stupid. This means I’m we definitely aren’t doing anything remotely non platonic. If you’re looking for a honey to come visit you/travel with you, I’m not that girl. We’ll shoot for the time I owe you, and I’ll spend the rest of the time running around ‘cool place’.
$ & ¢ I lose money. This is like vacation, except I’m bartering modeling for some of my expenses. I’m planning on spending money on food, entertainment, and circumstantially hotels, just like any other person on a vacation. I spend the majority of my time doing vacation type activities. This makes up a very small percentage of my travel.
For Pictures: You are a photographic deity whom I have been dying to work with and you happen to live somewhere other than Dallas. We shoot TF. I book several other paid jobs in your area to cover my costs.
$ & ¢ I make a little money or break even. This makes up a small percentage of my travel.
For Money: This is my most common type of trip, and probably the most informative part of this post.
How do I decide where I visit? By the number of requests I get for any given place and the relative cost of getting there. Before I commit to making any trip, I have to decide if I’m going to be able to make a profit. This means I have to weigh my expenses (airfare, hotel, rental car) against my potential bookings. Since I travel in short bursts, usually only 4 days at a time, I have to make sure I can line up enough work in the time frame.
Consider – I spend $300 on a plane ticket, plus $200 on hotels, and $100 on a rental car I’m already out $500. If I book $1000 in jobs, I only make $500 for four days of work and travel. These numbers mean I stay home. If you can cut into my expenses – loan me a car or a couch – the feasibility of my trip increases. I know there are people all over who are interested in shooting me, but in the above described scenario, I’d rather stay home, maybe book a job for $200 locally, and save myself 4 days of time. Maybe you (as a model) feel differently, but this structure works for me.
A word on plane tickets…since this keeps coming up. You are a photographer with lots of air miles or some other airline hookup. Its cheap for you to send me a ticket, and you don’t incur any out of pocket. Fantastic! Still – I have expenses like hotel and car, so I still have to book jobs. If you are offering to fly me somewhere I cannot book paid work, I will politely decline. Also, I’m not comfortable booking work in an area until I have my airfare arranged. Sending me a ticket the week before I’m scheduled to be in your area is worthless to me, since I won’t have made any other bookings. TF plane tickets must be purchased 6 weeks in advance of the dates we are discussing. Here’s the good news: I so appreciate a prepurchased plane ticket that I will usually trade double the cash value of the ticket. Example – if you send me a ticket I could have bought for $300, I will trade you $600 worth of work.
On an ideal trip I leave Dallas on the first flight out, arrive in my target city mid morning and shoot from 12PM to 8 or 10PM. The next two days I shoot 8AM – 8 or 10PM and the last day I shoot 8AM – Airport time, which is anywhere from 1PM – 7PM, depending on when the last flight out is. I usually leave an hour between shoots to allow for wrap up and travel from A to B. I spend zero time partying, seeing sights, dining, or hanging out, and I’m completely exhausted by the time I get home. I have gaps of unscheduled time on most trips, which makes me very angry!
To book up my trips, I contact everyone who has ever mentioned an interest in working with me in the target city. After that I respond to castings on MM and craigslist. I also post travel notices on MM and OMP. If my trip is approaching and I don’t have enough bookings still, I will send a form letter to photographers in the area offering my services.
Bottom line, I try to use my time efficiently with cash maximization in mind.
$ & ¢ I make money. Lots of it. This is my primary source of income.