Monday, November 22, 2010


Video provided by photographer: Tiran Winston

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. As you are sitting around giving thanks for this joyous and fattening occasion, I've decided to leave you with some thoughts on the world of TFing.

For those of you outside of the Industry the term TF means “trade for”. It can be TFP (trade for print) or TFCD (trade for CD-ROM). I was introduced to this phenom through a website called Model Mayhem ( It can be a useful tool when you are looking to build your portfolio, test out new creative ideas and to test out new talent. It goes a little something like this:

There may be a makeup artist that I may want to test out because I am building my beauty repertoire. The makeup artist will give their talent and time and I will shoot. Once the shoot is over I pay the makeup artist in photographs. I get the talent of a skilled artisan, and in turn they get photographs. It turns out to be a win-win situation for all.

This can be a good thing, because usually through this method, you build good solid business relationships as well as build a team. I would not be where I am today without the expert talent of some of the people that I’ve worked with. I have an incredible team behind my photography and every time I get a compliment or praise, my team gets complimented and praised as well because without them, there would be no me.

So as I embarked on this photographic journey, this is pretty much how I build my team, as I gotten better at photography, my team has gotten better because as you get better you begin to attract bigger and better talent, as you get bigger and better talent, you get bigger and better photographs. When I received paid gigs, my team is the first I call on for the job, because if I get paid THEY get paid. It is a very loyal and monogamous relationship.

However, this holds true with wardrobe stylists, designers, hair stylists and models. The magic of magic of the mythical TF is that it becomes a situation where all parties involved will walk away with something useful for themselves, hence the reason for this blog.

The above video clip illustrates the concept that TF means shoot for free and that really isn’t how it goes (at least in my world). I am constantly approached by models who wish for me to shoot them for free, because they think they will be a “welcoming addition to my portfolio.” Most often they are not. Understand models, there are two ways that a photographer will shoot you: (1) they love your look and you will be a great addition to their book, (2) you’re paying them. It’s just that simple. Most often than not, models who DO approach me would never make my hard book portfolio, nor will my team get anything out of it, so it becomes a waste of my time to do any work of that calibre. Models, be willing to pay for the photographer/photographs of your choice. There is a reason why you approached that photographer and want to work with them.

Most models don’t realize the time, talent and money spent to produce photographs. A simple TF shoot already puts me in the hole for $100.00 because of studio rental time alone. This does not include travel and gas time. I cannot speak on behalf of other photographers, but I cannot take a TF so lightly.

So the next time you think a photographer should shoot you TF, ask yourself. Is it worth it for them?


  1. Very well said. Thank you for the insight.

  2. Don't forget the years of experience, thousands of dollars worth of equipment and hours on hours of time you spend AFTER the shoot is over, editing those 'FREE' photos ;-)
    Another great blog Dallas!

  3. so very truth you get what you pay for

  4. Thank you Dallas! As always you speak the truth.

  5. Amen my brutha!!!! Amen!!!


  6. Took the perfect words out of my mind!

  7. Simpler rule to follow. If a photographer wants to shoot you, they'll find you. If you want to shoot with a specific photographer, prepare to pay them. It sounds harsh, but it's not meant to be mean at all. Just the way things work with costs.