....so, is it normal that photographers won't get paid for photo shoots? How does payment between photographers and models work? Do you ever pay models for working for you?
If you're Mario Testino, you never pay models. They pay you.
If you're Joe Blow, you'll probably pay models.
Simply put, your shoot is only worth as much as what someone else is willing to pay. Determining how much your shoots are worth is paramount to maximizing your returns.
Specifically I'm referring to paid tests.
Is it normal to not get paid for tests? Often with agencies if you're starting out, you're not going to get paid. And if you're not working with agencies, then you don't have the clout to demand payment from the average model.
But it depends. If you are established and you are a reputable photographer that has been shooting with agencies for a long time, you can even get agencies to send you paid work.
The question is: Is there a legitimately good reason for someone pay you? Do you offer a service that can't be rendered elsewhere and better and free?
For me, the models pay me. Sometimes I do unpaid testing for agencies. The only times I pay models are during my workshops where they render a service that is an overhead cost for paid work.
So if your model doesn't accept your shoot at $30, then he/she is simply saying "I don't think you're worth $30".