Hey this is an interesting thread. I'm most likely in the camp of "many photographers arnt ready for commercial work" - sspellman. At this level is it wrong to work with relatively new models tfp to gain experience and network? I feel like I could charge models but it seems I would get less models wanting to work with me and it seems we both just want experience so what's the harm. This of course is at odds with the "free is a kiss of death".
No, it won't be a kiss of death like I said because you aren't building your professional reputation around being the free photographer guy. But what you'll find when you work with free models is that they're absolutely terrible models. They have no clue what they're doing and they are also quite flaky.
But you will get good practice out of how to properly light a person and how to do some brief development of your shots. For the high end stuff, I mostly use a professional retoucher because they're better and it's not working on my own time (the client pays for the retouching.)