In my blog post Avoid the TFP Trap I highlighted ways to maximise the effectiveness of TFP shoots.
In this post I'm going to go over examples of TF shoots to avoid.
It's common place for photographers and models to interact in many of the same circles and with many of the same creatives.
It's safe to say that motivations are typically aligned.
Aspiring models spend hours working on their appearance, from working on their bodies to practicing expression and emotion and posing and investing thousands in adornment that pulls it all together.
Photographers spend hours learning how to properly light a subject, select a background and color theme, how to direct a model to maximize impact and investing thousands of dollars in equipment. And all that's before a shoot begins.
This is still an equivalent exchange at this point, both parties stand to gain from collaboration.
When the balance is thrown off however, and the outcome favors one party over the other, is when troubles arise.
When Models with no experience and a small to nonexistent circle of influence demand all the photos from a session.
Or when photographers unskilled in the craft produce unusable snapshots.
Both these examples are amateur mistakes that, with practice and experience, can be overcome but there is another type of TFP that should be avoided.
It's when services are no longer an equal trade.
An engagement shoot is literally just that, an engagement shoot. It has limited marketability and rarely adds heft to a portfolio.
It is a paid service that requires hours more work and investment from one party than the other.
Here is one from the other end. A request for "pics" of plus size women for credit.
With no details about the project, compensation, or even use of the images.
What is to be gained by Model or Photographer?
Or my personal favorite. When an offer for trade is flown under the flag of good deeds.
Lets dissect this for a moment.
The request is for a 2-4 hour photo session with 2 human subjects covering portraits, nature, and landscape photography, as well as working with animals, marketing materials, and the copyright release for the images created so this non-profit can advertise whatever it is they do.
That's a very long list that obviously requires the skills of a seasoned professional, but the only compensation offered is "exposure" and "good PR"?
Unless this nonprofit has a sizeable following, and, all the marketing materials have your business plastered all over it, the liabilities of this shoot far outweigh any potential benefit.
To further illustrate the point.
The Movie Avatar made almost 3 billion dollars worldwide, it was viewed by millions and millions of people.
Without googling it, name the cinematographer on the film.
Not only was he credited, he received more exposure than many of his contemporaries. And despite his amazing record breaking work he's not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the film.
So it's simple, make sure you weigh every request for TFP to make sure that it is beneficial to all parties involved.
Hammer out all the detail prior to any commitment.
Come up with a list of criteria for TFP shoots and stick to it.
In my next post I'll go over some of my criteria for accepting trade requests, but in the meantime remember to always Create In Clarity.