Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To trade ... or NOT to trade?

How do you get quality photos without paying an arm and a leg?

Well, "trade" may be the way to do it.

You'll probably see the abbreviation 'TFP' or 'TFCD' ... it means 'trade for prints' or 'trade for CD or DVD'.

The basic concept is that a photographer is trading his/her time behind the camera for a model's time in front of the camera.

To confuse things slightly, the terms TFP and "test shoot" are sometimes used interchangeably, and sometimes test shooting can also have the implied meaning that the model is paying a photographer to start the model's portfolio or that the model is being tested for possible use in an upcoming modeling assignment for the photographer's clients.

If in doubt as to the purpose of a particular photo shoot, be sure and ask the photographer.

TFP arrangements are intended to benefit both models and photographers.

The fact is, we all need new photos from time to time, and there are situations where both models and photographers might want new photos without having the expense of hiring somebody to get them.

There are a variety of reasons that a model might consider TFP.

* A new model may not have the funds to hire professional photographers to start his/her portfolio.

* A working model may want to update her existing portfolio because her appearance has changed since her last photos were taken.

* A model may want the experience of modeling with different photographers who would not ordinarily be in a position to hire him/her.

* A model may simply want to practice modeling at little expense.

In any of these cases, a model might offer to do a photo shoot with a photographer in exchange for a few prints or a set of digital photographs provided by the photographer for the model's use.

There are a variety of reasons that a photographer might consider TFP.

* A new photographer may not have the funds to hire professional models to start his portfolio.

* A working photographer may want to experiment with new equipment or unfamiliar photographic techniques without the added expense of hiring a model.

* A photographer may want to produce material on speculation of possible future sales without the added financial strain of paying models out of his own pocket.

* A photographer may want to test the abilities of an unknown model before agreeing to hire the model for future work.

* A photographer may want the experience of working with different types of models than he would normally encounter in his day to day work.

* A photographer may simply want to practice photography with little expense.

In any of these cases, a photographer may offer to do a photo shoot with a model in exchange for a few prints or a set of digital images given to the model.

So, not surprisingly, novice models and novice photographers tend to be the most willing to do TFP work on the most generous terms, so it's wise for both model and photographer to consider whether the other person's skill and experience is sufficient to get them the quality of photos they expect from the session.

Unless your motivation for a photo shoot is simply to get some experience, you are not doing yourself any favors by making poor quality photos that neither model or photographer can use.

Try to trade with people who have samples of past work to show you, particularly if you like the look or style of their work.

Perhaps, the most important thing that model and photographer contribute to the photo shoot is their skill and experience.

Before a TFP shoot, the photographer will most likely expect the model to sign a release form.

The terms of the release used for TFP may or may not be more restrictive than the general releases used on regular work, depending on what the model and photographer have agreed to for their TFP session.

Releases limiting the photographs to "promotional use only" are frequently used when beginners work together. However, in cases where a more experienced photographer is working with a less experienced model, it is fairly common to use a general release so the photographer can recoup some of the income lost (from shooting the model for free)by selling some of the photographs from the model's TFP session as stock photography or art prints.

TFP sessions can be a great way for anyone in the industry to practice their craft and get great new photographs, but since there is so much variation in the way that different individuals handle TFP arrangements, it's important to make sure both sides are on the same wavelength about their expectations when setting up a TFP session.

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