Clarifying TF* Shoots

TF stands for Trade For…   Trade shoots can be very beneficial to both Photographers and Models.  These shoots can allow them to get or create images that they otherwise wouldn’t have in their portfolios.  These new looks and styles can be beneficial to each of them.

Models –

TF shoots are a great way for a new or hobbyist Model to build up their portfolio.  These shoots allow them to get images that they can share with friends and family, or use on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.  Full-time or working Models can also use TF shoots to fill gaps in their portfolios or as an opportunity to work with a Photographer whose work they admire.

Photographers –

Most of the time TF shoots will be with new, beginner, or hobby Photographers.  Most full-time or professional Photographers do not have the time or the need to do TF shoots but they will occasionally use TF shoots to fill holes in their portfolios or to a particular look that they didn’t have before.

Payment(s) –

There are many ways that TF shoots can be negotiated.  The most common form is TFP – Time For Prints / Images.  In these shoots neither the Photographer or the Model pays with anything except their time.  Afterwords they both share the images.

Models may have Wish Lists on sites like and Photographers can purchase items from those lists and shoot the models in them are just give them to the Models as payment for their modeling time instead of giving them images.  Allowing Models to keep outfits after shooting them is another similar form of TF payment.

There are also times where groups get together for a particular and they all provide their own unique parts to the shoot.  Example: A Model, Photographer. Make-up Artist and a clothing designer may get together and do a shoot featuring the clothing and/or the Make-up.  The final images are use by all four participants and nobody ‘pays’ any of the others.

Should Photographers provide images or prints to Models?

The quick answer to this is: Depends.

If the Photographer pays the model for the shoot –

Then all of the images belong to the Photographer.  The Model was paid for her modeling time.  She has no claim to the images.  If she should decide that she wants images for her portfolio, website, or other use, she can pay for the images just like anyone other client.

  • However, one thing that I personally do for Models I work with is If I end up with Tear Sheets from our shoot then I will usually give her a copy as a courtesy.  I am not obligated to do so though unless that is specifically spelled out in the original shoot agreement. 

If the Model pays the Photographer for the shoot –

Then the images are hers.  The Photographer still owns the Copyright but the Model has a full right to use any of the images from the shoot as spelled out in the Shooting Contract.

  • I personally do not require or need Tear Sheets or credit attached to the images.  I also do not watermark these images in any way.

** Editing these images: Unless our original Shooting Contract specifically spells out details about editing the images, they are the Models to do with as she sees fit.  Since my name (and reputation) is not being attached to these images I don’t have a concern about their editing.

Details –

When working with Models all shoots should be planned in advance and all of the details spelled out in some form of Contract or document and agreed upon by all parties involved, (not JUST a Model Release).  Who pays, or who doesn’t pay, TF*, $$, clothing (wish list) trades, or other options, all need to be spelled out and agreed upon in advance.  Contracts should also cover Copyrights, Watermarks, distribution and usage rights.  Also, delivery times for the images (if necessary) should be spelled out. 

These should all be spelled out and agreed upon in advance of the shoot.

Editing an Image!

I decided to try playing with an image the other night. I did some coloring, tinting, softening, mosaic, and other things. I did 8 different variations on this image:

Changed the background
Changed the background | Softened her edges
Blurred the rocks – background and foreground
Tinted the background
Random tinting on background | Tiled part of image
Tiled part of image | Twisted tiles | Left her untouched
Tiled portions of image and laid tiles at angles
My Personal Favorite! Tiled the image | Twisted and stacked the tiles


Learn to Say No!

As creatives (photographers, artists, graphic designers) we are in the business of creating ‘visual’ products. Yet somehow, we are always approached by both individuals and businesses asking us to work for them for free. In today’s economy – we need to learn how to say NO.

Family, friends and relatives will always ask us to do things for them for free. We just need to make it clear to them that this is our business. It is what we do for a living. There are costs involved in creating images. If I wanted to put together a package to shoot a wedding and were to start from scratch my costs would be roughly: $8693

  • $15 in gas to get to the shoot and then back
  • Camera – $2500
  • Back-up camera body – $1200
  • Lens – $1600
  • Back-up lens – $700
  • Strobe – $650
  • Tripod – $130
  • Memory card – $69
  • Camera bag – $129
  • Computer used for editing the image – $1200
  • Photoshop – $500
  • (And this isn’t counting the hours/days of shooting time, editing time, etc.)

For commercial (business) shoots there are additional fixed costs for additional lights, backdrops, stands, reflectors, cords, and lots of other incidentals. And all of this equipment will wear out over time and need to be replaced. There are also the hours involved in the shooting, the hours (or days) of time involved in the editing, etc.

Many businesses will try to get you to do things for them for free. They will try to hire you to shoot one thing then try to add things or make changes once you are there. They will make offers to “take care of it next time”. Or the absolute worst line: “We will give you a credit line in the final product.” A credit line in a brochure or annual report is only going to be seen by the insiders at that company or the clients of that business, not by people interested in hiring a photographer. Credit lines don’t work! Proof is on every motor vehicle on the road today. If ‘credit lines’ worked, the name of the manufacturer of your vehicle along with the name of the dealership where you bought the vehicle (both listed on the back of your car) would be enough to get you the car for free.

Take control of your business. Realize that you need to make a return on your investment in training and equipment. Giving away your time and your work is not profitable.

Saying ‘No” to a possible client can seem counter-intuitive but in the long-term will benefit your business. The time and effort you put into working with people or businesses that want something for nothing will only lead to additional clients that want the same thing. You have to set the bar for your business. Do you want to make a profit? If so then you have to say No to the “opportunities” that aren’t going to further your goals and profits.

Where are Your Photographs?

What do you do with your photos? Are you still shooting film or are you shooting digital? If you are shooting digital are you storing your images on your memory card or on your computer? Maybe burning them to CDs? These are all good ways to store your images for the short term but they aren’t easy to share with family and friends. And, if something happens to your storage medium (whether a disk, harddrive, or memory card) you could lose all these images forever.

Todays generation is probably going to be a lost generation. There aren’t going to be images of kids growing up today. These images are going to be lost to time. The digital revolution has taken over and people are shooting more pictures than ever before but they aren’t printing them. With cameras built into cellphones, photos being stored on Ipods, and all the photos that are E-Mailed there aren’t going to be any prints around in the next few years. As people E-Mail their images, or store them on their harddrives, these images don’t get printed. They aren’t going to be available for future generations to see.

Previous generations shot photos on film. When they got these processed they had prints. Sometimes the images just ended up in shoe boxes, but a lot of times they ended up in albums. Either way, there was a printed photo that created a permanent record. These albums and shoeboxes have been handed down from generation to generation. I don’t see how this can possibly happen with E-Mailed images and JPGs stored on harddrives.

Many people still shoot film today. These people will have prints of all their photos. These prints have the ability to be passed on to future generations. This holds true for the digital shooters that print their images and create albums or scrapbook.

Scrapbooking has grown a lot over the last few years. Scrapbooks, wedding albums and memory albums are all great ways to share images and save memories for the future. With the thousands of scrapbooking products available I see this as a great way to save and share images.

It seems to me that the ease of digital shooting has created its own problems. Without making prints you don’t have any permanence. Negatives from the 1800s can still be printed today, but will someone in the year 2100 be able to print from a CD or a SmartMedia card? I don’t think so.

Most labs now offer 4″ x 6″ prints for under twenty cents a piece. With digital you can pick and choose which prints you like and at twenty cents (or less) there really isn’t a reason to not be making prints. Don’t lose the memories, find your images no matter where they are and get some prints made. Years from now you will be glad you did.

The Photographer’s Eye