TFP – Who is it for?
As a photographer I see beginner photographers and models looking for TFP shoots to build their portfolio. Although this has become a standard in the industry there are many pitfalls to look out for which most people starting out in the industry are not aware of.
It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.
Let’s take a step back for a minute and consider why you need portfolio photos. Your portfolio is what will get you booked on paying jobs, so essentially you can think of these photos as your tools of the trade.
Every industry requires that you purchase your own tools of the trade. A chef won’t get hired without their own knives, a mechanic won’t get hired without their own spanners and tools, electricians need their own tool set with multi-meters and the likes. Even a dentist, whilst studying at university needs to purchase their own dental set. Every industry you look at, you need to purchase your tools of the trade in order to get hired.
In the world of photography and modelling, the attitude seems to be that your tools of the trade will be provided for free. Photographers at least need to purchase a camera at the very least so some level of investment is already made.
So what is the issue with TFP when all parties are happy to give their time? To start with, if you are new to modelling or photography, in general the only people that will agree to do TFP with you are also beginners like you. Having a beginner photographer shooting with a beginner model is like the blind leading the blind and at the end of the shoot, the photos will look very average at best. You might get lucky and get to shoot with an experienced model or photographer, but those instances are rare.
So who is TFP for? TFP is a great way for experienced models, MUA’s, photographers, stylists to creatively collaborate on an idea. This becomes a professional collaboration with most members of the team being experienced in their area. Reasons for this are numerous, but the important thing is that all parties are experienced.
If you are a model starting out and you want a great looking portfolio to get you paid jobs, pay an experienced photographer to take those photos for you. The photographer will know how to pose and light you for best results. Likewise if you are a beginner photographer, paying an experienced model will make your portfolio shine. While you are trying to figure out camera settings and lights, an experienced model will know how to move and pose in the scene to give you great images and leaves you with one less thing you need to worry about.
For anyone serious about working in this industry, an investment in your tools of the trade is an investment in you and it shows potential clients that you are taking your career choice seriously. The modeling and photographic industry is extremely competitive, so if you are presenting an average looking portfolio to a client, you will always lose the job to your competition. On the flip side, a quality portfolio will always get you shortlisted and get your foot in the door with potential clients.