TF stands for Trade For… These shoots can allow Models to get images for their portfolios that they wouldn’t have otherwise. These shoots allow new, beginner and Models doing this for fun or as a hobby to build up portfolios without having to pay Photographers to get them. It also provides them with 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 and do use TF shoots to fill gaps in their portfolios or as an opportunity to work with a Photographer or Designer whose work they admire. Sometimes TF shoots will also allow them to get into publications or have their images placed somewhere that they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
TF shoots can be beneficial to all parties involved but it isn’t a good business model for someone trying to be a full-time working Model. Yes, you can use TF shoots to build your initial portfolio but once you have worked with a dozen or so Photographers and have a portfolio of your best 10-12 images (one from each Photographer) you really shouldn’t need to be doing TF shoots on a regular basis.
But – don’t totally rule out TF shoots altogether. There may be a Photographer offering you something unique and special that can add a whole new dimension to your portfolio that you don’t have.
Whenever a TF shoot is offered to you, take a look at the Photographers work, consider what is being offered, and seriously weigh the options of whether this shoot could benefit you or your portfolio. There is nothing wrong turning down any offer, whether paid or TF.