Saturday, September 17, 2011

Photographer to Models Tips 10: Paying a Photographer vs. Trading (TF) w/ a Photographer... Does it matter to you as a Model?

For model portfolio shoots... Does it matter? Yes, BIG Time!

It really depends on what you want from the photographer, your goals as a model, and time frame you want those photos from the project you're trying to complete. For example, if you want a very specific look, concept, and time frame you want that in your portfolio as a model that can happen and you have two options: Pay a Photographer or get it on TF.

In this case from the example (and in general), a TF photographer won't be able to provide this because this may require cash investments from the photographer's point of view or ask you to make a cash investment for props, makeup artist/hair stylist, and possible wardrobe... again depends on the concept. And even if this was completed from a TF photographer, the post production/retouching phase would or should be a slow process due to lack of funds so the priority would be low than if it’s a paid photographer it would be higher because you are paying for a service.

Now as I've mentioned above it depends on your goals as a model, if you want to be in a modeling agency I would hire a photographer to get a more solid portfolio ready for viewing to potential agencies. But if you’re attempting this project with TF photographers, you would need to work with at least 5-12 different photographers to get the same amount of photos you could get from one paid photographer (and depending on your selective process). And yes, even if you're very selective, in most cases TF only photographers are very new, inexperienced, and not confident enough to charge any rates, unless it’s a specific project they're looking for models for experimental projects or portfolio building projects it’s more of a 50/50 chance in getting quality photos back from the photographer (depending on the area).

And in the case of the example I’ve mentioned on needing a specific concept and look, etc… you should be able to get it without a problem with a paid photographer. Just be careful when selecting a photographer especially if you’re paying them for anything. Be sure to study their portfolio or even other photos they have publically released (online or/and publication tear sheets) and the important part you must find is consistency. If you see they have strong consistency in their work and that consistency is quality work, and (for added bonus) has similar concepts/lighting/looks that you’re looking for that should be the photographer you should and want to hire.

Don't get me wrong, not all photographers who are paid photographers are great, good, or even decent, some are bad and over confident in their work. But in many cases if a person is charging any rates they would be confident of their work enough to charge than a TF only photographer.

When I say “TF Only,” I mean when they would take any model and give them TF over offering rates, like on MM if you see “Any/Time for Print” that pretty much means they would give TF to anyone. And not saying that’s a bad thing, but that’s a negative point when looking to hire a photographer because if you’re a paid photographer you have to be a bit more selective in doing TF shoots unless it’s for the photographers gaining it for portfolio building or/and experimental shoots.

If you’re not a serious model, it wouldn’t matter, take your time, have fun, go TF shoots, but for serious models who want to model as a 2nd job, part-time job, or full time job, and you’re starting out and have no portfolio, or you need to update your portfolio, or you need specific concepts/angles/lighting photos in your portfolio… hiring a photographer would be best route to go especially (and you should) if you have a small or specific time frame you need those photos completed.

Disagree or Agree to the above content? Make comments here with questions, comments, concerns, etc. or send them to my email at and I'll respond to them as soon as possible. Thank You and much appreciated!

Like this article? Did you learn anything, want more? Check out related articles in the following blog series articles... Photographer to Model Tips and Models and Photographers Tips


  1. Maybe I missed it, in which case I appologize; but what is TF?

  2. thanks for the comment and motivation to make a new jargon post - check it out here that explains my answer to your question. [HERE]