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Everything you need to know about Trade Shoots or “TFPs” (Trade For Prints.)

So, you want to get into modeling? Awesome! At this point, you probably know that your first step is to build your modeling portfolio & social media presence. Building a competitive portfolio is a lot of work, especially for someone who is just starting out. You will need to obtain a variety of top quality images that showcase you in the most marketable ways, so that you (and your agent) can effectively market you for future bookings. Your portfolio should always be growing and changing.

Hey… guess who is in a very similar position as you?

…Many up and coming photographers, that’s who! Just as much as you want to take part in professional photo shoots, there are people who just as much want to take your photos.

How it works:

When a project is done as Trade, it means that there is no monetary compensation between the two parties. This is the perfect opportunity to trade services to increase portfolio content for both the model and photographer involved. The model walks away with a few photos to use for her portfolio and Instagram, and so does the photographer!

Details to consider…

Trade work can be a lot of fun, but there are a few things you need to consider. First, you need to understand that photos obtained though trade do not give you the rights to the photo. Which means:

You are NOT allowed to edit the photo in any way. To be even more specific:

ABSOLUTELY NO FILTERS, PRESETS, COLOR OR LIGHTING ADJUSTMENTS, BORDERS, RANDOM EMOJIS, ETC.

When you agree to a Trade Shoot, you are agreeing to keep the photos in their ORIGINAL STATE, to reflect the photographer’s authentic work. Not only is tweaking the photographer’s photo rude and disrespectful, some photographers have trade agreement contracts that include penalization fines for tampering with their work. Agency talent know and understand the importance of respecting the photographer’s work, and always credit the photographer each and every time they share the photo on social media or other web sources.

So…who should I trade with?

It is flattering when you are contacted to collaborate for a trade shoot. However, just because you are asked doesn’t mean you should agree to shoot. First, take a look at the artist’s work: Do you like their style? Will working with them help you generate more marketable content for yourself? Can they provide you with credible references? Can you see yourself having a successful shoot with them…Have you met them in person before? Do you jive with their personality?

If you are signed to an agency, your agent may have a list of awesome photographers or models they think you would be a good fit for. I always tell our talent…when in doubt–REACH OUT! We are here to help!🙌

If you are a freelance model, you must use extreme caution when working with new people or participating in collaborations.

You will want to discuss all kinds of other details prior to agreeing to shoot, so be sure to read The Pre-Photo Shoot Conversation all models & photographers need to have.

Find this article helpful? Give it a ❤️so I know it helped you out! Have a question? Leave it in the comments section below! I respond to all of them!🙌

Listen up all MODELS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, AMATEURS & PROFESSIONALS: We need to have a LIFE CHAT about photo shoot etiquette in today’s ever changing world of photography.

First thing’s first: We all know there are so many different types of models, bloggers, designers, musicians, artists, etc. That said, there is no difference when it comes to photographers. Each one has their own angle (literally!) But in all seriousness, this art requires a high level of collaborative spirit rooted in equality and creativity from both the model and photographer. So let’s get into it:

DO: Discuss details ahead of time

If you haven’t read, “The Pre-Shoot Conversation all Models & Photographers Need to Have”, READ IT. You will want to make sure that you understand the scope of the project in full detail, and know what questions to ask.

DON’T:

Assume that you will just discuss details “as you go”. Not being aware of the details pertaining to wardrobe, location, shoot duration, photo terms/releases or even compensation will add unnecessary stress, and may cause problems in the future.

DO: Prepare Accordingly

Carefully select an outfit that will compliment the venue. The photographer will have ideas in mind as to what stylistic goals they are trying to accomplish with the photo shoot. Make sure that you discuss all of this ahead of time so that you are fully prepared. Be sure to bring everything you will need to your photo shoot. Read: What’s in my modeling bag

Part of preparation is being on time…which means being EARLY. Should any difficulties arise, contact the model, photographer (or corresponding agent) immediately.

DON’T: Show up in your favorite club dress “just cuz”

Or any outfit that doesn’t flatter the shoot location or venue. Discuss all wardrobe and venue ideas ahead of time, and work together to determine the desired theme or aesthetic of the photo shoot. Not caring about the photographer’s vision and simply wearing whatever you feel like is not only disrespectful, it shows that you only care about your vision. This is a TEAM EFFORT.

DO: Communicate kindly

Sometimes an idea just doesn’t work, and that is OKAY. Whether you are the model or photographer, if something isn’t working, calmly and kindly explain that you need to modify what is being done, or simply change directions. Do not pretend to be comfortable doing something you are not. Chances are, it will show in your face, and ultimately…the photo.

DON’T: BE RUDE OR CONDESCENDING

This really should go without saying, but showing patience and kindness in a moment of frustration is the only way to maintain professionalism and mutual respect. Do not make passive aggressive comments about the model’s look or photo movement. Models, don’t ask the photographer to see the photo in the preview screen every third shot. If there is something you do not understand, kindly ask the photographer to clarify, or even demonstrate.

DO: Freely create & explore

That said, when you establish a respectful, effective working dialogue, the creativity is limitless. Set a tone that is kind and open. Inspire the model to feel comfortable and explore new ways to showcase their personality (and fashion!!) When both the model and photographer take an equal role in creating, the final product will be much more vibrant and captivating!

DON’T: Feel like you are not “allowed” to do certain poses.

I’ve styled so many photo shoots, and often times the models will ask if they can raise their hands, jump, sit down, etc. You can do whatever comes to mind. Your photographer is open to capturing your on the spot creativity.

DO: Reflect and discuss

Did you love the way your photographer was able to catch you in mid air while you were doing a back flip? SAY SO! Compliment your photographer’s adaptability and expertise. Think you need to work together to develop a better way to communicate or plan? Also let them know. It is also helpful to mention anything that you feel that you did well with, in addition to mentioning things you could improve yourself.

DON’T: Pretend everything was perfect if it wasn’t.

If there was something that ;made you uncomfortable, tell your photographer. Many times, it may not have anything to do with the photographer. For example, letting your photographer know that you don’t feel comfortable shooting in front of strangers is something he or she should be aware of.

DO: Say Thank You!

Thank your photographer/model for their work on the project. It takes a TEAM to accomplish the vision, so be sure to extend your sincere gratitude. Take a selfie together and post it on Instagram! This is a great way to let your following audiences know that they can expect some awesome photos yet to come!

Don’t: Bolt out as soon as the last photo is taken.

Help clean up and load up the photographer’s supplies if needed. This is a kind gesture and shows that you care.

DO: Review Details

Discuss when the photos will be available, how you will receive them, and ask the photographer any questions you may have regarding their release form before you sign it. (Read this blog for more details)  Also, leave the photographer with a couple comp cards. This is a great way to leave a reference of yourself. The photographer may pass along your comp card to other awesome photographers. Click here to learn more about Composites, or, “Comp Cards”, along with other standard modeling materials.

DO NOT: Harass the photographer for photos the next day

Chances are, your photographer has a TON of other projects going on simultaneously. Do not expect to receive the photos that week! By this point, you should have already discussed an approximate timeframe of when you will receive the amount of photos that were previously agreed upon. At a very minimum, most photographers will not offer the photos prior to two weeks. Photographers usually take an average of 2-4 weeks for a single photo shoot, or 2+months for a wedding or large event.

DO: Follow up with your agent

Definitely let your agent know how the shoot went! Your agent will want to know the positives and negatives (if any) pertaining to your shoot. Was your photographer on time? Did he/she communicate effectively? Did they facilitate a comfortable environment? Any feedback you can provide your agent is always extremely helpful. Remember, your relationship with your agent is also a TEAM.

DO: Always Value Professionalism

Even after your shoot is over, always be professional no matter what. Chances are, you are going to have a few fantastic photos!! However, if for any reason you run into problems with your photographer (or model) you need to let the corresponding agent know right away.

Unfortunately, if you are not working with an agent, there is not much you can do when it comes to a photographer failing to deliver photos, or deliver photos that matched your expectations. The best thing you can do in this unfortunate situation is to remain calm and kind. Your reaction is always a reflection of your character. Do not turn to social media to verbally bash or lash out on anyone. (Doing so only makes you look immature and inexperienced.) A true professional knows how to endure unfortunate situations calmly and respectfully. If you really were not pleased with your collaborator’s work, simply do not shoot with them again. 

Photo shoots are a blast, but behind the scenes they are a lot of work! The best artists are the ones who are confident and collaborative.

Are you ready for your next photo shoot? Be sure to read, “What’s in my MODELING BAG” (available next week!!) to make sure you are ready to go the next time you hit the set!

Did you find this blog helpful, or have a follow up question? Definitely leave a comment! I respond to all of them 🙂

Photo shoots always look super fun because, well…they are!! Photography is an all-around beautiful art, as it allows people to work together to create a moment in time, captured in an image. Creativity is limitless, and memories are made forever. Chances are you are going to have a total blast once you’re on set, but it is very important that all of the details are cleaned up and taken care of even before the first flash. Before you agree to shoot, you should ask yourself:

1. Do I like their work?

If you are a model, look at the photographer’s previous work. Do you like their take on angles, color, lighting, style, and overall artistry? If you are a photographer, do you like the model’s style, and on-camera movement? Will the model’s look fit the vibe of your next project?

This is a big one, because you must realize that—just like all models are different—photographers are so different too! This is an art, and everyone creates differently. Make sure you are pleased with the other person’s work, and you could see yourself creating excellent work together!

2. What’s the project?

By now you’ve decided that you like their work and you have decided to collaborate. You will want to know what kind of project this is: creative/portfolio building (TFP), publishing (web or print) or, maybe it is for a special event. This is the time to get into as much detail as possible when it comes to what is expected. State your limits clearly. You should never feel obligated to do something you do not feel comfortable with. Whatever the case, you will want to know the full scope of the project, because that will also help you determine:

3. Compensation

If you don’t have an agent (or are not working with an agency), you’ll have to learn to be extremely mindful of the many factors that go into negotiating a compensation, whether you’re a model or a photographer. Depending on your skill level and experience, you may want to begin by building your portfolio by doing TFPs (Trade For Prints.) If you are a photographer hired to shoot images for a publication, you may want to hire an experienced model from an agency. If you are a beginner model looking to build your portfolio, your agent may know of some great local photographers who may be interested in doing some trade work with you.

Photographers: even if you are new and don’t have the budget to pay for a model, an agency may have new models who could benefit from more photos and would be interested in collaborating for a TFP. I match-make photographers with models for these kinds of projects all the time!

However—if you are a very experienced model—you may no longer need to do work for trade and may want to have your agent determine your rate for most future projects. If you are working as a freelance model, you will want to determine your rate for the project. You will also want to consider:

4. TIME

How long will the shoot take? Should you put a maximum cap on the shoot? Since you (or your agent) have already discussed the full scope of the project, you will be able to better determine the amount of time that is needed for prep, shooting, and travel.

5. Location Permission

THIS. IS. A. MUST. It’s one thing to discuss all of the plans for the shoot, but before you get too caught up in details, the photographer should always obtain permission from the venue. Chances are the business would welcome you to shoot, but you should always make it standard procedure to obtain permission first. You don’t want to be the photographer who didn’t ask permission and gets turned away…Now you’ll have to improvise with a model who may not be so happy with you.

Avoid this situation altogether by always asking for permission in advance. For example:

Hi, my name is ______ and I am a photographer with ______ agency. I am currently in the process of planning a shoot with one of our models. We are interested in shooting at [insert venue here] which will play well into the creative vibe we are looking to achieve. Ideally, we would like to shoot on [insert day] between the hours of __ and __ but we are flexible and would gladly work around any potential events or conflicts. We do not anticipate the shoot to exceed __ hour(s). As a gratitude to you, we plan to post our work on [insert digital platforms here] and tag [name of business/venue] to bring more exposure to [insert business/venue].

We genuinely look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

[Your name/Photography Business name & contact info]

6. Photographer Photo Release & Understanding the Terms of the Photo

Once again—if you are a model without an agent—you will need to make sure that you are aware of what terms you are agreeing to with the usage of the photos. Trade for Prints (TFPs) can have specific or varying degrees of what you are permitted to do with the photo(s) after receiving them from the photographer. If no monetary compensation is being exchanged and you do not own the photo, (i.e. TFP) make sure you understand what you can and cannot do with the photo.

For example, if you are a model that shoots for trade-only, then the photographer will not permit their art to be tweaked or messed with in any way:

That means no presets, no filters. (Yes, that also means on Instagram and other social media!!) When you agree to the trade shoot, make sure that you are also agreeing to the photographer’s terms of the photo to avoid getting fined for breaching terms of a contract.

Now let’s say you ARE getting paid to model…

Then guess what? YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO A SINGLE PHOTO FROM THE SHOOT. NONE. ZIP. NADA.

DO NOT go pester the photographer to send you the photos. You already got your compensation in cash, and at this point you are not owed anything else. This is known as a “Buy Out”. If the photographer chooses to give you some of the finished photos, it is at their own discretion, at their leisure.

BUT CYNTHIA, I WANT PHOTOS FOR MY BLOG OR SOCIAL MEDIA BUSINESS!!

Be sure to let the photographer know all of your intensions with what you choose to do with the photos. Many photographers are open to editing your photo to match your Instagram layout, but you need to make sure beforehand.

Did you find this article helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below. Be sure to read Photo Shoot Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts“.

⭐️Cynthia