In February's blog, we discussed the importance of having a great model portfolio. We talked about what your modeling portfolio should contain, why you need one, and the level of quality it should exhibit.
We talked about working with photographers to build your portfolio. But how can you compel a professional-grade photographer to help with this without paying through the nose? This is a serious concern for new models just starting out. If you're like a lot of new models, you can barely scrape up the cash for a cab ride to your next big audition.
But there is a clever way that both aspiring models and inexperienced photographers can help each other out: Trade For Photo Shoot, (TFP). It's a fairly new concept to the fashion industry, but it is an elegant solution to your thin portfolio problem that is simple and elegant, and everybody wins. Such an arrangement is also sometimes called Trade for Print shoots. That's because it goes both ways. The model gets portfolio items and so does the photographer. It's a great solution to a problem that plagues photographers and models alike.
The details of the TFP will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of your photographer as well as your own. The thing to understand is that no money is exchanged. You don't get paid for your time and work. Neither does the photographer. What you do get is experience and photos that are as good as you and your photographer are able to produce. You will also begin to build a professional relationship with a photographer, and that can be a very valuable resource as you move forward in your career.
Now, let's look at the details of a TFP, and how you can set one up.
Why TFP Shoots are Great for Your Portfolio
For a start, the pressure on a shoot like this is going to be a lot less than on a professional gig. The reasons for this are simple. No one is getting paid in cash. There are no deadlines. You can take your time, get the best shots you can produce, and collect the prints or images.
This type of environment is especially beneficial if you're new and have never been on a model photoshoot. If you have no experience, you can practice on your TFP shoots and just focus on getting great images. When you finally do get your first gig, you will have higher confidence and a better idea of what to do.
If you ask any professional photographer, the most important part of the job is culling their images. Any good photographer knows that the best way to make a portfolio shine is to get rid of lower-quality images. After your TFP shoot, you will have more material with which to do the same for your own portfolio.
Perhaps most importantly, TFP shoots are casual and less intense. This will give you more time to produce more usable shots than you might do on a serious gig.
After you get your images, go through your old portfolio and get rid of images that don't pop. It's an automatic boost for your career.
Tips for Models on Setting Up TFP Shoots
Most of the time TFP shoots are initiated by photographers. But if you're a model in need of a beefier portfolio, this doesn't have to be the case.
As a model, you probably have acquaintances in other creative fields. Someone you know is bound to know a photographer. If there's a photographer in your family or your group of friends, ask them to do a TFP shoot. Even if they don't do a great job, at least it's free.
If you don't have photographer contacts, you might consider an online resource like Fiverr. You might even try Findaphotographer.com or Craigslist. Just make sure to meet in public and bring a group of friends with you if you choose to work with a stranger.
See you on the next blog!