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Trade-for-Photo Shoots - Part I

Trade-for-Photo Shoots Part 1 - What are TFPs and what do these shoots entail? By Angelita Gonzalez

TFP is an acronym that is commonly thrown around within the photography community, but what does this really mean? What logistical details should you be covering in preparation for these collaborations. What terms and boundaries need to be set beforehand?

I have been asking myself these questions this week in order to find a fair “standard process” for my own TFP shoots, or unpaid creative shoots. Formally, TFP in the photography field means “trade for prints”, “trade for photos” or “time for prints”. It is an arrangement between a model and photographer, where the photographer agrees to shoot and send a set of photos to the model, granting the model limited rights to use the best photos chosen from the shoot.

For example, the model can post the photos (with no watermarks) on his or her IG profile, but a photo credit must be mentioned (either via caption or via tag). Another example would be magazine submissions - no professional publication would accept any submissions from another party without the photographer’s written consent. They do this to probably avoid any copyright or intellectual property issues (a.k.a lawsuits).

While TFP agreements are typically unpaid, it is important to note the difference between paying for photography/retouching services, and renting the studio space or equipment. Renting the space for the shoot is a separate expense and the photographer is not profiting (earning money) from the shoot itself. With that said, things need to be paid for.

This is where TFPs can get tricky. 

Who is paying for the studio rental? Who is responsible for hair and makeup? Will a wardrobe stylist be involved or is the model using his or her own clothing? Wait — the photographer did not say anything about partial nudity! Why weren’t these details discussed before the photo shoot took place?! How did this become such a hot mess?!

Capital ‘SMH’ and unfollow.

Other photographers have inspired me to do more creative photo-shoots (both outdoor meets and in-studio), and practice lighting techniques in my free time (and on my dime!). I soon realized that you should have certain details thought out other than the model and location, as most of my experience has been in wedding photography. I discovered that this situation required different steps. I would like to share some information that I have gathered while organizing a few TFP shoots and reading articles about how to execute them. I hope the tips below can help you make TFP collaborations a good experience and beneficial to all artists involved, which is key!

Portfolio development is very important for both the model and the photographer (and other artists, too, such as makeup artists or wardrobe stylists). All parties should be getting something  out of the photo-shoot that they can use in the future; otherwise, later down the line, somebody is not getting their time’s worth, and time is money, so let’s work it out!

Photos Below: Thank you to Jesse Rinka Photography for a fun photo meet at Rockefeller State Park Preserve!

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