Thoughts on TFP

Photo May 05, 3 07 31 PM

Mentally, it’s hard being a creative that makes a living off of their art and runs a business based around it. While I consider myself VERY fortunate to be able to create art through photography for a living, it does get difficult separating business and fun sometimes. It also makes it hard to gain inspiration when you’re exhausted from the “work side” of things.

For a creative outlet that has nothing to do with work, I like to shoot for fun to get out ideas that I have in my head, or just to create visuals for myself that I can experiment with. Luckily, most of my clients are on board with my creative direction but it’s not always like that; especially when you’re shooting corporate work or journalism work. You can get creative with these things, yes, and I do, but there’s always guidelines and rules to follow. At the end of the day you want to please your client!

When I shoot for fun there are NO guidelines and I can just do whatever I want to do. This is cathartic for me and really helps inspire me to work out ideas and color palettes in my head.

This is where TFP comes into play. TFP is short for Time for Print. It simply means that both the photographer and subject are giving their time and creative skills to collaborate together on a project. It benefits both parties – the photographer walks away with new portfolio images and gets to execute the idea in their head and the subject gets photos of themselves to share in their own portfolio or on social media. TFP isn’t a bad thing, but it can be when it’s not understood or made clear. 

Personally, as a photographer, I do not typically pay models just to sit in front of my camera for a shoot that I am doing for myself for fun. If a BRAND (store, place, event, etc) asks me to photograph a model then that brand compensates BOTH OF US to work together to create the imagery they’re seeking.

Would I ever pay a subject to model for me if I had a specific vision I wanted to execute for my portfolio purposes? Yes, I absolutely would. I know a handful of wonderful models who make a living charging photographers an hourly rate to create. However if I am paying a model an hourly rate to be able to photograph them, they aren’t getting the set of photos for free. I feel like this is misunderstood a lot. If I pay you, then you pay me. This is why if both parties are interested in the other’s work, then TFP is a great thing to explore. My idea on this is that if both parties are free and want to create some art, then it’s never a waste of time. 

When I photograph paying clients, I ALWAYS ask if it’s ok to use the images they paid for in my portfolio. If they say no, I don’t use them publicly. I typically go over that BEFORE I shoot. Sometimes people are more private than others and that’s ok.

TL;DR – I’m totally down with TFP shoots. They help me relax and have fun and to create art with like-minded people. I can’t schedule them all of time because of my work schedule – paying clients take priority. To have a successful TFP shoot, both parties should walk away with equal compensation; the photographer gets the time and leeway to create their vision and the subject gets amazing photos that they are allowed to share and use for themselves. If the shoot is NOT TFP, the the model being paid does not automatically get to use the images in their portfolio. If the shoot is NOT TFP, the photographer being paid does not automatically get to use the images in their portfolio.

These are just MY PERSONAL thoughts and opinions on this, I’m sure people do this differently than me. Ten years in the industry has taught me a lot, and TFP is a huge thing. Bottom line – if you’re doing TFP make sure everyone understands what that means to everyone else before you shoot. 🙂



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