.. does that make sense - in terms of what both sides expect from TF*?
As I understand TF* between a photographer and a model - the photographer benefits from having a model/look/style for shooting (or perhaps having a chance to test some studio/light setup etc.) - and - the model benefits from getting some new images for her/his portfolio ..
But - what if the photographer only has little (or no at all) experience with shooting models, so far? Or - just needs testing? I mean - what if NO picture is ´good enough/worth/beneficial´ to model´s portfolio, after the photo-session, in the end (or - the model just expected something else, perhaps?) ?
Does this ever happen with professional photographers, perhaps, too? What is a reasonable compensation for model´s time, in that case - or - what are reasonable expectations, on both sides, while (TF*) testing?
How do you go about that, if so?
Just curious about how things work.
Thanks for your thoughts,
(Aspiring/hobbyist/amateur photographer myself - not completely new to photography, but never been working/shooting with models before, so far.)
Nov 05 12 10:14 am Link
Belmont, California, US
0. Learn how to reliably take good photos, by studying and/or attending classes.
1. Develop a port with your very best work--in the beginning you might need to shoot friends and family.
1a. If you can afford it, pay a professional model, put up a casting for pay.
2. Put up a well worded casting for TF.
If someone responds to your TF casting congrats, your port was good enough to attract some level of talent.
If they do not respond, your port was not good enough to attract talent, repeat steps zero and 1a above.
REGARDING REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS
I believe one can reasonably expect for a model or photographer to be at least as good as their most recent published work. I'm pretty sure models hoping for usable images would feel the same way, but hope some chime in here.
Nov 05 12 10:22 am Link
Dallas, Texas, US
Alena Hovorkova wrote:
pay and/or pre-test ideas on stuffed animals.
Nov 05 12 10:25 am Link
Salem, Oregon, US
TF is a crapshoot. i experiment with things that may or may not work out. if someone needs a guarantee they should pay someone who offers a money-back guarantee.
to me it's helpful if the model has something in mind that they could use for their portfolio. but there's always facebook. a lot of my images wind up there.
Nov 05 12 10:28 am Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Alena Hovorkova wrote:
Try a paid shoot with an experienced model. You may be surprised at how willing some are to negotiate rates. What you'll learn from working with them will be well worth whatever you may spend!
Nov 05 12 10:36 am Link
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
My whole port has been built through TF, been shooting for 13 months. I started with friends and with newer models, tried my best to improve with every shoot and be as critical on myself and my work as possible. Yesterday I did a TF shoot with a full time traveling nude model, I feel pretty lucky that she liked my work and was willing to spend 5 hours on a TF creative
If a novice photographer has a vision, and puts an effort into improving, TF can work
Nov 05 12 10:38 am Link
Seattle, Washington, US
you have to start somewhere.....
Nov 05 12 10:39 am Link
Richmond, Virginia, US
TF is a benefit to both parties (in my opinion). Everyone has to start somewhere! Start with models with little to no experience and are trying to build their port as well. That way, the expectations of what the shoot should be does not matter. But, you should still be thankful of the model's time and effort as they should be for you. It's a benefit to both of you to get what each other needs.
However, getting good pictures is a matter of focus. Make sure you know your camera. If you don't know how to get clear pictures, then maybe working with a model should wait unit you have practiced on a non-moving subject enough to know how to focus and get good pictures that way.
I don't think the process of getting a good picture with a model is that different that any other subject. Focus. Getting more from a model is another thing altogether and that will only come from taking pictures with models and learning how to work with them.
San Diego, California, US
This idea where every session has to produce photos that are portfolio worthy drives me nuts. Hell, if you did that, and you were shooting at all consistently, you'd be showing a ton of grade B work (as determined by your grade A work). Hell, I test ALL the time and RARELY do I put up new stuff because it's usually simply not good enough.
Think of it more like musicians getting together, jamming for fun and rolling tape. Sometimes it's magic, sometimes not. But you put your best foot forward and put your best efforts into it. Using the musician analogy, you will start with people of a similar experience level and try to continue and "test up", that is, try to work with people that are a little further along the path than yourself.
The main thing to do is to make sure all involved are on board the same train (i.e. don't be shooting loosely framed environmental stuff with an MUA that expects beauty.) and have a reasonable idea of what to expect.
Not every martini is a great one but it's still a martini.
Alena, I will say that you have a HUGE advantage in that you are in the virtual center of the universe for beautiful women so all you really need to do is take simple pictures of them and your book will kick ass.
Oakland Acres, Iowa, US
I did a TF shoot just yesterday with a brand new model. I even gave her gas money. Unproven talent is a risk, but I also enjoy helping new models get a start.
Just as with any transaction, you need to decide whether or not it's worth your while. There's nothing wrong with passing on newer photographers if you don't think it will benefit you.
Nov 05 12 11:00 am Link
Los Angeles, California, US
When I started in model photography - oh so long ago - the best thing I ever did was save my pennies and hire an honest-to-goodness real pro model. I probably learned more in that two hour session than dozens of TF shoots. It also helped me to start a respectable portfolio and attract new quality work.
It's as important as that fancy new piece of gear you've been drooling over to work with a good team. Probably moreso.
Nov 05 12 11:13 am Link
oh, wow, thanks all - for your valuable insights and advice, and support,
(And thanks ´ChiMo II´ for your kind/encouraging words, too, hopefully I got your point right - you were reffering to my retoucher´s profession, right? My limited English happens to ´play´ with me, sometimes, so I fail to even notice I completely missed the point, from time to time .. )
Thanks, great to see how different photographers do similar things .. in different ways ...
I definitelly can´t wait to try out myself, for the very first time.
Nov 05 12 11:53 am Link
New York, New York, US
Just be honest with the model.. tell her/him that you have very little experiance and want to experiment with your equipment and do expect some nice images regardless.
More than likely she/he will be inexperianced and willing to do some experimenting on you as well.
As long a both agree.. TF!
Nov 05 12 12:38 pm Link
Westminster, Maryland, US
DAN CRUIKSHANK wrote:
I was actually going to say pretty much this
Nov 05 12 12:59 pm Link
Basingstoke, England, United Kingdom
Steven A Thompson wrote:
Yep, I had a very similar experience - well worth the investment
Nov 05 12 01:09 pm Link
.. interesting/inspiring to read all your replies/experience,
and to browse through all your (and other photographers´) ports ..
Nov 05 12 10:35 pm Link
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
If one party is unable to provide something useable to the other, then they either dont work together at all, or the less valuable party pays the other one.
Its also bad form to use a TF session as a "Im gonna test this new idea that I have no clue if it will work or not, because youre here for free!". Models willing to TF with you are not signing up to be your guinnea pig. Theyre working with you because they believe you will deliver them something like what youre exhibiting in your portfolio, not for some yet-to-be-seen idea you cooked up the night before. So while yes, you can certainly try out a new lighting set up or new shooting style or new gear, or whatever... also be sure to make enough time to shoot something you KNOW will turn out well, so that your model doesnt walk away totally empty handed if your new bright idea didn't actually work out.
The only times I've ever been screwed on a TF shoot were when someone thought they could screw around with a new idea theyd never tested out before, and thats ALL we did, and I didnt know they didnt actually know what they were doing.
It also doesnt hurt to form friendships with other models (or just regular friends willing to step in when you need a model) so that you can shoot for fun without too much "I HAVE to make sure this is PERFECT" pressure on the shoot. And its a chance to try out that new ____ that may or may not work and you dont want to waste a models time on it. I frequently shoot just for the fun of it with a few friends of mine. If we get something portfolio-worthy out of it, fantastic, but if we just have a good time, thats good enough.
Nov 05 12 11:04 pm Link
yes, that is also what my concern was about, a bit, too - so as the model doesn´t walk away totally ´empty handed´ ..
I am planning to be as clear/honest as I can - about what my experience-level (and/or the idea of shooting) is .. I just was not quite sure, whether TF* might work (in case the photographer is not skilled enough) at all .. or perhaps - how to go about so as it could work, for both sides ..
(or - wondering wheather models might ever be interested in shooting with novice-photographer, at all .. )
Thanks for your insight, from the other/models´s side.
Nov 06 12 12:03 am Link
Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia
your being reasonably egoistic about the future TF session helps another party to come up with better images.
having preemptively high expectations during very first session could be stressful. it shows up. not to mention that some models look slightly/totally different of the images in their ports. you never saw them in real life. even when they do, you cannot put them into Procrustean bed of your initial impressions, their acting, skillset, psychological profile and the whole air around them. so, you should adjust your ideas on the fly and take some chances anyways.
the same with them. when you treat everything like the money you can afford to loose, you usually win because it opens up your real potential and you're not busy focusing on unnecessary things, fighting stress or showing off in vain.
shoot your boyfriend, parents first.
arrange instant micro-sessions with people in the streets. 1-2 minutes - 3-5 images. 2 hours, 25 persons (no flakes! ), 2-3 keepers.
don't care about people too much, they are not kids. they can stand for themselves. be egoistic. nobody knows everything for sure, nobody is absolute 110% expert in anything specific (never happens!). then again, what if you're the new genius? being shy will kill your future service to the whole mankind!
remember, being too kind is evil!
Nov 06 12 12:42 am Link
Jessheim, Akershus, Norway
Alena Hovorkova wrote:
I don't know about professionals, being an amateur myself, but the TFP/TFCD should guarantee the models some amount of pictures. That's the whole idea. Nomatter what the quality end up being, the model should have some outcome. If your work does not improve the quality of the models portfolio, that's a risc the model have to take. Most models will be able to tell you if they think your portfolio pictures are to a standard that they will accept for trade/TF*.
Nov 06 12 01:17 am Link
Franklin, Tennessee, US
be honest and open with your potential tf model. As long a they agree to do the tf shoot with you, you are fine. Some models don't mind occasionally helping out a new photographer. Make sure you have them sign a model release so you can use the images.
Nov 06 12 01:42 am Link
glad for every advice/thought of yours here ..
So, I have approached a few models (asking for their rates or wheather they are willing to work TF), explained what I plan to do/ what I can offer, and I´ll see.
(yes, I also have prepared model release .. still a lot of questions comming to my mind every minute, regarding this issue, actually, but I´ll probably have to consult that with someone - within my location, I guess. Thanks, Dana, for reminding me, though.)
Nov 06 12 08:53 pm Link
Stoke-on-Trent, England, United Kingdom
It is up to the parties concerned if they think TF will produce the goods. It depends on the starting point of the photographer. If an absolute beginner then paying a model isn't the answer, paying another photographer for some training is.
Nov 07 12 12:32 am Link
.. yes, consulting with some photographer will definitelly help, I plan doing that, too ..
I actually have - some/limited - experience, not a complete beginner - (been shooting for my personal projects for some time, already - I actually started to get into photography, a bit, for the reason I needed resources/material/assets for my own post-production work or for other different projects of mine .. )
just - no experience with shooting people/models, in studio, so far.
Meanwhile - I got some response back from two models ..
They were not interested, since they both - as explained - can´t see what I can do for them or what they can expect. (That is true, I have no ´photography´ profile/site/gallery of mine on-line, yet. Looks like I need one - at least some basic info - in case I want to approach/shoot with models. Another little lesson learned.)
edit: my English, sorry
Nov 07 12 01:16 am Link
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Sergei Rodionov wrote:
...so true...in leaner times, used a black and white soccer ball...
Nov 07 12 02:08 am Link
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
TF models, just like TF photographers, MUAs or stylists, come with varying degrees of experience and willingness to work with others. I think the most simple answer is that setting expectations up front is critical. If there is a possibility that none of the photos you take will be usable to the model, you must say so up front. That is critical to maintaining your integrity and reputation, which money cannot buy you later.
So how would one approach a model to shoot TF if they might not get any images out of it? I would sell them on the experience. Every aspiring model needs the experience of sitting in front of a camera, getting over their nerves and learning how to pose and emote.
But you should be willing to add value to the experience by offering constructive feedback, maybe even going over the photos with them and pointing out shots where they did something well. Even if they can't use these shots in their portfolios, maybe it would be useful for them to have copies of these shots to help them remember what poses and expressions work for them.
In my list of models I work with regularly, there are a few inexperienced models who simply love to shoot. They are not great models, but they are enthusiastic and willing to learn something. If both you and they come with the right attitude, anything is possible!
I would definitely meet with these models in advance, both to set expectations for the shoot with them and to get a feel for their personality. That way you can weed out the "divas" and shoot with aspiring models who really care about improving their skills.
Nov 07 12 10:59 am Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
If you can't attract models for TF then you have no choice to try and shoot family/friends and/or pay models to develop your port and your photography chops.
When you get enough quality shots in your port, you will land some TF models eventually.
Nov 07 12 11:50 am Link
Los Angeles, California, US
Pay the first three and the shoots should run about two hours. Each model will probably bring 4 looks. Make sure they sign that model release.
Plan the shoot. Make sure that you have a theme, a concept, and that you have thoroughly researched poses and expressions. Once you have three good models in your portfolio with different looks you can easily move into TF.
TF is a place where you may experiment with a few shots but the purpose should be to improve and build up both of your portfolios. Building up the model's portfolio is crucial as she will tell others about you. One professional model that I TF'ed told a beautiful friend of hers, and so I got to shoot her.
If you plan well and have a strong vision models will notice this. Good luck!
Nov 07 12 12:15 pm Link
New Orleans, Louisiana, US
TF means trade for and that can be trade for anything--pictures, wardrobe, practice, experience, even just the fun of getting together with interesting people. The primary purpose need not be to improve anyone's portfolio. Indeed that need not be the purpose at all.
I've shot TF with totally inexperienced models who just wanted to get their first shoot, even their first nude shoot, out of the way. Once with a young woman that just wanted some boudoir pictures for her husband in Iraq. I just put up a casting call for someone who would help me practice shooting anonymous nudes and got a response from a model that is certainly at my level and arguably above it, who is also intrigued by the challenges presented by the style. There's an element of risk in every purchase you make. How many times have you gone to a movie and hated the show, or tried out a new restaurant and wished afterward that you'd had a hot dog instead?
So long as the parties involved are aware of each other's work and happy with the planned shoot, that's all that matters, so just be up front with your models, show them your earlier work and let them make up their own minds.
Nov 07 12 08:03 pm Link
Maitland, Florida, US
Try going to a local photo group shoot with models to get some images in your portfolio. It's difficult at first, when you don't have much to show. However, each time you do a TF shoot, you learn more and have more to show, which will make your offers to shoot TF more appealing to a larger group.
Browse for new models on MM in your area and offer to shoot TF with them.
Go to a glamour workshop and pay to shoot with professional models, and learn from a pro. That's what I did when I first started. It will get you some great images to use in your port.
If you go here:
and start at the bottom with the two workshops (the dungeon shoot was done later), you can see my progression from never having done studio work and knowing almost nothing about Photoshop in 2008, until today. I've been involved with photography for 47 years, but never in the studio before then. Every one of the shoots there was done TF, except for one, and the workshops, and almost all of the studio images were done in my living room.
Just do it. ;-)
Nov 08 12 09:13 am Link
Tulia, Texas, US
ChiMo II wrote:
Well said and good advice, IMO. I try to explain to everyone I work with that testing (TF) in part to try out new ideas and not all of them will work. However, I also try to arrange things so everyone gets at least a few nice photos, which means I include a few standard commercial pictures in the vast majority of my test sessions.
Nov 08 12 09:31 am Link
Portland, Oregon, US
Alena Hovorkova wrote:
Nov 08 12 09:46 am Link
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Rays Fine Art wrote:
Nov 08 12 10:05 am Link
Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom
I somehow don't think the likes of S.Meisel got published in Vogue the day he picked up a camera and photographed his first model.
It's all a learning curve and if you mess up...... so what ..... as long as you learn from it.
Paying clients is a bit different screw up and you loose that client.
Nov 08 12 04:31 pm Link
Jacksonville, Florida, US
Explain to the model who may show interest in helping, that you are just starting out so images may benefit his/ hers portfolio, and again may not as you are still learning, I would say pay a model, but in those cases the model may become frustrated. just find a newbie model and or one semi-pro who understands your conditions and limitations.
Nov 08 12 04:40 pm Link
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
When I first started shooting, I used friends as models. I suggest the best way is to practice practice practice before you start approaching industry professionals, or even just models/creative teams on a TF basis.
THere's a lot to be said for shooting friends or people who aren't models, I think it's much less stressful (and you learn a lot under that environment) when you can practice, make mistakes etc. I picked up a camera two years ago, had fun with a friend in the park. And literally the next thing, a modelling agency rang me up and wanted me to test shoot (all paid). It was stressful as hell and I didn't know whether I would pull it off but there was no way I was going ot turn down the opportunity. And the contrast between those two episodes really drove home how important it is to be able to trial and error!
Long story short; find a friend, practice. Then start posting casting calls.
Nov 08 12 05:13 pm Link
.. interesting read,
The more I read/get into it, the more questions come up to my mind every minute ..
(That´s normal, I know. I won´t ask everything here )
Just an update -
meanwhile - I was finally successful in finding a (semi-pro, according to her words) model willing to shoot/test with me TF. We have already met, in advance, and - so far - she looks to be fine with what I can offer, which I am happy for. (She actually was the only one out of about 15 models that I have approached/asked if interested). The shooting is scheduled for the end of next week, in Prague (where I booked/rent a studio), so we´ll see.
And I also - as adviced - tried out to approach a few friends, too (I was surprised how many people/friends of mine would actually be happy for ´having some nice pictures´ ... Well, I did not promise anything ´amazing´, actually - but they still don´t mind, though - which is great, makes things a lot more easier )
We´ll try to find some spare time for our shooting before I shoot my first TF session with a model.
Hopefully my basic equippement/camera/lenses (Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 /1:4 L USM, Tamron 90 /2,8 MACRO) are suitable for what I plan to do /close-up portrait, half body portrait, full body .. in a 9 m long studio.
Interestingly (for me) - I also had a meeting with a photographer (that I mentioned before, regarding model release/legal issues/questions he promised to help with/answer .. it´s one of my clients - friends, actually, that I retouch for) - but - it turned out that the meeting did not seem to be very helpful for me, in the end. He actually didn´t tell me anything new I didn´t know before asking - since - in his own words - (which was quite a surprise for me) - he ´didnt´t bother´ with paper work/ these issues too much (just using general forms downloaded from internet). Don´t know why is that, perhaps that´s just ok .. and I don´t want to overcomplicate it, neither - but for me - I definitelly plan to ´bother´, a bit at least, regarding those legal issues, though ..
A lot to learn.
Nov 08 12 11:48 pm Link
Marceline, Missouri, US
I've done TF with models that say they are "experienced" that I wish I'd never expended the time and effort to photograph. On the other hand, I've worked TF with new models that haven't worked with anyone previously.
As someone has already said, it's all a crap shoot and everyone has to start somewhere. If a model has no luck getting a TF shoot with a seasoned shooter, she has to take what she can get. Likewise, the photographer. Hopefully, neither will mislead the other as to their present ability.
Despite what many today think, nobody starts at the top of any profession without some sort of learning and experience.
I'm sure if the person with a camera is a MM member, in a month or two he'll be telling us how much better his work is than the crap standing pros are doing.
Nov 10 12 02:01 pm Link
New York, New York, US
I would suggest hiring three semi professionals. Then you don't owe them anything. You get to practice, no hard feelings. Then try tf and use what you learned from the prior three shoots. That is how I started my little portfolio. The only difference is I have been shooting wildlife and landscapes for ten years prior. So working the camera was easy but working with strobes presents different challenges. I am still learning.....
Nov 10 12 02:37 pm Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
It is fair to say that the photographer has a greater responsibility when it comes to "time for print" shoots, than the model, because the photographer can help the model pose, but the model is less likely to setup the lights and photograph herself with the photographer's equipment.
On the other hand, an experienced photographer is likely to expect more from a model than a body that reflects light.
Trade should be commensurate with the skill and/or experience of the participants, but there is nothing wrong with feeling generous.
Nov 13 12 07:19 pm Link