TF stands for Trade For… These shoots can allow Photographers to get images for their portfolios that they wouldn’t have otherwise. TF means that you trade something with your Model for her time, posing, etc. It may be just that you give her prints or digital files, she may have a Wish List on Amazon where you can buy her something she wants or needs to trade, you may purchase an outfit or jewelry for her to use in the images and let her keep them afterwords. This would all be something that you would need to discuss and agree upon in advance of the shoot.
These shoots are usually done by new, beginner and hobby Photographers working with new or beginner Models to build up their portfolios without having to lay out huge amounts of cash to professional Models to get them.
Full-time or working Photographers can and do use TF shoots to fill gaps in their portfolios or as an opportunity to work with a Model, Make-up Artist or Designer whose work they admire. However this is usually a rarity as a working Photographers time is usually taken up shooting for their clients and doesn’t allow a lot of room for personal work.
As a hobby, or advanced amateur photographer you will find that as your photography improves and you grow as a Photographer that you will want to start doing more. Shooting things that you haven’t shot before, like working with Models. Right at first you may shoot friends and family, but eventually you will want to do more (or your family will just get tired of being asked). This is when you need to start getting more creative with what you are offering to the Models or start paying them.
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 Photographer. Yes, you can use TF shoots to build your initial portfolio but once you have worked with a few Models and have some decent images in your portfolio you really shouldn’t expect Models to work for you for trade.
Also, make sure that you consider the Models point of view. Once she has her initial portfolio built you need to offer something to her besides just images. She already has those. You need to offer her something that she doesn’t yet and that she wants or needs. You also need to understand that there is a very good chance that she is going to say No, and she has that right and you should not take it personally or get offended or mad. It is just part of working in this industry.