What you Should Know Before Doing a TFP Photoshoot?

In the vibrant realm of creative collaboration, TFP (Trade for Portfolio) shoots stand as pillars of opportunity, offering a platform for photographers to enhance their portfolios and forge meaningful connections within the industry. As a photographer, doing a  TFP shoot allows you to refine your craft, expand your network, and build a case study for paid gigs. However, what to expect at a TFP shoot can take some finesse. Professionalism as a photographer requires more than your photography skills—it demands a strategic approach and a keen understanding of the preparation before you ever snap a photo.

Let’s explore the intricacies of TFP shoots, which provide expert tips and nuances to help you maximize the potential of every collaboration. From meticulous prep time during pre-production to delivering the final photos, we’ll cover every aspect of the TFP journey, equipping you with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive during your next TFP photoshoot.

What is a TFP Shoot? 

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of TFP shoots, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of this collaborative model. What is a TFP shoot? TFP stands for Trade for Portfolio. An agreement is made between the photographer and the model to do a photoshoot for no money exchange. These shoots are essential for creatives to build up their portfolios by fostering a collaborative environment in their community with their fellow creatives. It offers an excellent opportunity to expand your network of models you can work with on future projects but recommend based on your experience working with them. 

When approaching a model for a shoot, you should always look to find a way to benefit both parties. You must be at a certain skill level to work with specific models for TFP shoots. If you are still a beginner photographer, you shouldn’t expect to get a yes from a model who has done hundreds of paid photoshoots. You either have to be at their level or come to them with a photoshoot idea that piques their interest enough to want to do a free photoshoot. It’s all about mutually beneficial relationships.

Hash Out the Details

Now that you know what a TFP shoot is, let’s talk logistics. Before the shoot, discuss all the related details with the model to hash out all the details. This goes into all the shoot details, from finding the right location in a studio to finding one on location. This means going out and doing location scouting before the photoshoot is even set. Break down all the necessary accessories to create your vision for the photoshoot. This could include a new lighting setup to give you the look you need. 

In the preproduction phase, you need to be in contact with the model and communicate with them every step of the way. They need to be on board with what the shoot will be about and each party’s responsibilities. A conversation needs to be had about who is responsible for each photoshoot aspect. The easiest way to go about this is the photographer is responsible for photography gear, accessories, and location fees. At the same time, the model is responsible for the wardrobe, makeup, etc. While there is no right or wrong way to do this, the most significant thing you need to do is clarify all the details so no one has a question about who needs to do what. This groundwork sets expectations and shows your professionalism and commitment to a smooth shoot.

Time is of the Essence

Punctuality isn’t just a virtue; it’s a professional necessity. Like any other job, you must show professionalism by arriving on time or early. Whether it’s a TFP shoot or a high-paying gig, being on time sets the tone for professionalism and respect. It’s respecting everyone’s time and effort that goes into these photoshoots, even when no one is paid. This professionalism will set you up for future projects and make it a habit. 

To be punctual, you must prep beforehand so you do not rush out the door to make it on time. The day before the shoot, get all your photography gear cleaned and ready for your shoot. This is when you need to check everything to ensure it works. If you rent out gear, fully assemble it to know how it works and ensure it does work. You don’t want to go into a shoot, your model is ready to go, and then you realize some of your gear doesn’t work. Use your time wisely. It ensures you maximize your shooting window and keeps everyone happy and productive.

Treat Every Shoot Like a Paid Gig

While we would all like to be paid our rate, you should treat every shoot you do like you are. These are the investments into your craft and reputation. You have to be selective about your mindset in a TFP shoot. This means showing up early to the shoot to get everything. Respecting the model and holding yourself to a higher professional standard the moment you step on set. People like to work with people they want, and if you have a nasty attitude the entire time during the shoot, the model remembers that. And now you have the reputation that you are hard to work with, making it an uphill battle for your photography career. 

Treat every TFP shoot with the same dedication and professionalism as a paid assignment. Your portfolio is the currency here, and delivering top-notch work is non-negotiable. Whenever your work is associated, you must protect your reputation and how it is created. If you want to work with some of the biggest brands, you can’t have a chip on your shoulder because you’re not getting paid for a photoshoot. If you can’t do an excellent job with a TFP shoot, why would a company want to hire you for a paid one? Don’t just put in the bare minimum effort. This is the time to go all out and create quality photos with the opportunity. 

Plan Your Shots

It’s nice when a plan comes together. To do that, you need to spend the time and effort planning your shots for the shoot. A shot list should be used for paid gigs, and any photo shoot you are a part of. Putting together a shot list gives you a roadmap for the photoshoot. You don’t want to slow down the shoot by being lost on what shot to do next or how to set up a more complicated photo. When renting out a space, you don’t waste time trying to figure out shots when you can prep beforehand. 

To prepare, list all the different shots that you can capture. Think about the theme of the photoshoot and what ways you can capture it. Plan out the lighting setup if you are going for a more artificial look. Have a brainstorming session to anticipate different scenarios you would like to capture. Use sites like Pinterest, Shotdeck, or Instagram to find shot list ideas whenever you hit a creative block. This showcases your professionalism and ensures you don’t miss any crucial shots during the session. While it is great to have a shot list, don’t forget to collaborate with the model and develop new shot ideas mid-shoot.

Embrace Experimentation

TFP shoots are your playground for creativity. This is the time you need to go above and beyond with the experimentation of your shoots. If you have found a new technique, this is the time to try it out. TFP shoots allow you to find new styles and refine your skills. You rarely get the opportunity to experiment when you start getting paid clients, so take this opportunity to let your creativity run wild. 

Feel free to push boundaries, try new techniques, and explore different styles. Experimenting with new approaches that your favorite photographer has used or new photo trends is the best way to grow as a photographer. Experimentation keeps things exciting and helps you grow as an artist. So, unleash your creativity and see where it takes you.

Manage Editing Time Wisely

You’ve done all the planning and finished the shoot with the model, so now the fun begins. Editing is integral to the process, so don’t rush this just to get the photos back to the model. Be realistic with your editing timeline. Be transparent about your editing timeline and set realistic expectations with your model of how long editing will take. While being ambitious and stating you can have such a quick turnaround time is excellent, it can also damage your relationships if you can not meet those expectations. Things do happen, so keep good lines of communication whenever you run into a delay. 

There are many ways to speed up your editing process to adhere to a timeline. You can set up all the presets you want to use when researching your TFP shoot during preproduction. This way, when editing, you don’t have to waste time looking for resources you found even before the photoshoot. However, this is the time to focus on refining your editing process to streamline your photos from raw to final. If you have a new effect you are working on, find a way that the next time you need to do it, you can get it done in half the time. Whether a week or a month, communicate clearly and deliver your promise. Remember, quality over speed.

Deliver Quality Content

Finally, you’ve spent hours editing all the photos and are ready to send them out. When you send pictures to your model, aim to get them between 15 and 20 high-quality images. You can do more photos if you are feeling generous, but you should always aim for this amount whenever you do a TFP photoshoot.  

Crafting a collection that resonates requires careful curation. Each image should showcase your mastery of light, composition, and storytelling. Strive for variety, offering the model a wide variety of visuals. By delivering quality content, you solidify your reputation as a professional with an eye for excellence.

Ready to start doing TFP photoshoots? Remember these tips for your next shoot, and watch your portfolio grow.  And hey, if you want more insider tips and exclusive content, why not join our newsletter at Slevin Studio? Take advantage of the latest updates and exciting opportunities. Join us today!