Getting started in photography is expensive. Sometimes frustratingly so. This expense tends to compound a bit if one has to pay professional models to build a portfolio. Fortunately, you don’t. Models also need to build a portfolio, so collaborating with photographers to create images becomes extremely valuable. TFP (time for print, or time for portfolio) has becomes a keystone of the beauty/fashion/glamor world.
It can, however, be very difficult for some photographers to find models willing to work with them. Just as us photographers tend to be picky about which models we work with, many models feel the same about photographers. TFP is not working for free. When a team works under a TFP agreement, the payment is the set of images. The model will want to make sure they are going to be paid with great images that lead to a better portfolio. Thus, it becomes critical that you take steps to help guarantee that the model will be happy with his or her chances to receive great images after the shoot.
1.) Have a Professional Website
Anyone can go buy a camera and pretend to be portrait photographer looking for models. However, it is usually only the serious ones who take the time to ensure that they have professional brand. Great looking websites aren’t difficult to find anymore. Gone are the days where the only way to create a professional looking website was to hire an expensive designer. Services such as Squarespace and The Grid offer very cheap ways to create fantastic websites quickly and cheaply.
2.) Show Relevant Work
The model wants to see examples of your work relevant to the sort of shoot you are requesting. If you are trying to convince a model to shoot with you by sending them a link to your website filled with landscapes, it simply not going to inspire confidence. Make sure that you have some sort of work samples to show the model that you are actually the type of photographer who shoots the sort of images they are looking for.
If your portfolio is completely empty, wrangle some of your friends to do a few baseline shoots before going off in search of models.
3.) Go Where The Models Are
The reality is the majority of serious, aspiring models tend to converge in certain cities. If you are living in a small town in the middle of the grain belt it is going to be very difficult to find models. If you are serious about becoming a photographer who regularly works with models you may have to face the fact the you might have to relocate.
4.) Try, Try, and Try Again
Marketing studies show that the odds of getting someone to agree affirmatively on the first solicitation are only about 2 percent, but by the eighth solicitation your odds go up to about 80 percent. Don’t forget to follow up courteously if your first attempt fails. Never get angry or frustrated if you don’t get many responses, this is natural and expected, especially to begin with.
5.) Don’t Be Creepy
This should probably go without saying but models are going to feel a lot more comfortable working with people they feel comfortable with. For the most part, not being creepy is fairly common sense, but for those who are looking for some specific steps they can take check out “6 Things Beauty Photographers Can Do to Avoid the ‘Creep’ Label.”
Working on a TFP basis can be incredibly rewarding, but finding great models to work with can often be a big challenge for inexperienced photographers. This is why making every effort possible to increase your chance of a response is critical. I would love to hear some of your tips in the comments below.