It depends. If you do not know the difference between a guy with a camera and a real professional photographer then yes. It is better to skip the scams and amateurs. If you don't want to be an amateur model then you don't want to work with amateur photographers. So working with a professional and yes even paying for their time and work and craft of photography, can lead you to a better first experience especially for your first photo shoots.
Many legit and quality professional photographers do test with models, but these photographers are NOT on the web looking for models. So if you are only using the web to promote yourself and to mingle with photographers then you will be mingling with the wrong kind of people, people who are guys with cameras, not photographers at all.
I will admit I have had bad experiences, no one is perfect and it isn't easy doing it all on your own and trying to be a model on your own, it is a lonely business and for new models it can be a sting to get start. I had a very crappy experience of paying an agent at a scam agency for photos and ended up getting the images but not getting what was expected when I started modeling.
But I learned the difference between "what is a professional" and what is just a guy with a camera trying to get turned on off my ass?" The word photographer has changed just like the word model. There are plenty of amatuer models and plenty of amatuer guys with cameras who think they are photographers and there are plenty of models who think because they have their photo on the web they are models.
I would say if you are having a terrible time finding a photographer, and you can not find a good photographer to test with then paying for a photographer to take some headshots or commercial styled shots of you is a good idea.
If you do not have a budget that equals their rates then be honest with what you can afford, but most photographers if they are quality and like your look, energy and personality they will test with you for free. And give you some photos which you can use for your compcard and portfolio.
It helps if you have confidence, and you bring ideas to the table. A photographer will respond more likely with your energy and passion and creative ideas than you just saying "I need photos!"