AVOID FREELOADING: HOW TO BOOK MORE TFP & COLLABS

Hello! My name is Shaun (Boston photographer) & I help Boston models book gigs, develop portfolios, & sign to agencies.

In this article, we’ll explore a photographer’s POV of…

  1. What qualifies TFP/collaboration vs. a commission

  2. What each phase of production requires

  3. How to create a mutually-beneficial partnership to avoid being a freeloader!

TLDR:
A photographer is more likely to collaborate with you when labor is distributed equitably. 

I've provided a cheat sheet on how to approach a collaboration. You will find etiquette guidelines, a production's labor breakdown, and ways you can contribute prior to reaching out to a photographer.

DEFINING TERMS:

Time-for-print (TFP): A photographer & model (plus stylist, designer, creative director, retoucher, make-up artist, hair stylist, producer, and production assistant(s)) exchange labor for a project publication. In modern terms, TFP is synonymous with collaborations & the end goal is usually social media content.


Commission: A client hires a photographer for their services & expertise.

 

BEFORE REQUESTING A TFP/COLLAB


Did You Adhere to Common Niceties?

  • Do you follow the photographer?

  • Did you like any of their posts?

  • Did you check out their website?

  • Did you include their work in your mood-board?

  • Can you bring a videographer to film behind-the-scenes (BTS)?

  • Can you articulate what you enjoy about their portfolio?

  • Can you suggest an idea congruent with their style?

Ask Yourself:

  • Can I pose nonstop for 1 hour without *needing* direction & suggestions (not including compositional positioning)?

  • If so, you essentially employ the director role

  • Can I organize a team?

  • Production Assistants

  • Creative Director

  • Location Scouter

  • Set Designer

  • Stylists

  • If so, you essentially employ the producer role

  • Is there a publication prompt that complements the photographer’s portfolio?

  • If so, you essentially employ the producer role

 

Let’s break down examples of labor for the three production phases:

  1. Pre-Production

  2. Production

  3. Post-Production

 

PRE-PRODUCTION:

Creative Direction

  1. Concept research

  2. Mood-board

  3. Target Audience identification

  4. Shot List etc.


Producing

  1. Sponsorship Outreach

  2. Project Management

  3. Communication

  4. Facilitation

  5. Coordination


Location Scouting

  1. Location Research

  2. Exploring

  3. Permit Acquisition

  4. Studio


Set Design

  1. Prop Sourcing

  2. Set Up

  3. Break Down


Styling

  1. Showroom Correspondence

  2. Archival Collection

  3. Thrifting

  4. Shopping

  5. Fitting

  6. Color Analysis


PRODUCTION:

Photography

  1. Technical Application

  2. Coordination

  3. Composition

  4. Coaching

  5. Positioning

  6. Directing

POST-PRODUCTION:

Edit

  1. File Management

  2. Culling

  3. Retouching

  4. Beauty Edits

  5. Wrinkle Removing

  6. Object Manipulation

  7. Light Adjustment

Color grading

  1. Color Theory

  2. HSL Adjustment

  3. Color Balance

Designing

  1. Graphic Design

  2. Typography

  3. Effects

Publishing

  1. Magazine Submissions

  2. Printing

  3. Social Media Uploading

  4. File Distribution

SEO

  1. Metadata

  2. Captioning

  3. Alt Text

  4. Hashtag Research

  5. Tailwind Strategy

PRODUCTION EXPENSES:

Equipment

  • Camera

  • Lenses

  • Lights

Operation

  • Digital Editing Softwares (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.)

  • Storage (iCloud, Google Drive, Hard Drive, etc.)

  • Marketing (Website, Ads, Collateral, etc.)

Production

  • Styling (Makeup, Hair, Apparel, Jewelry, etc.)

  • Set Design (Sourcing, Assembly, Breakdown, etc.)

  • Location Permits



 

COMMISSION VS COLLABORATION…

A photographer will more likely collaborate with you when you proactively divvy up the labor. So if you approach them with a plan, you increase their receptivity to your request.

Photography is an expensive craft to operate, so technically there's no such thing as free work. In reality, the photographer funds the project. Commission your photographer if you'd rather not deal with all the logistics of a production.