What does "TF" stand for?

"TF" stands for "Trade For" or "Time For." The model trades her time for a license to use the pictures in her portfolio. The photographer retains the copyright of the image (and because the photographer has the copyright, he can use the picture in his portfolio as well.) Because the model has a license (and not the copyright) she can NOT edit the photo (such as by removing the photographer's credit/watermark that most TF photographers put on these type of images.)

The model and photographer both get updated images to use and practice for when a big gig comes along. Also, when the model puts the picture online, her fans will see the photographer's work, which gets the photographer some publicity with all her model friends. And since photographers gossip as much as models (maybe even more) photographers learn about a model from her professionalism at TF shoots.

The good news is that TF shoots don't cost anyone actual cash. The bad news is that most photographers/models who do TF shoots are still learning (or are established but want to experiment with new techniques) so there's a lower chance of getting "commercially acceptable" results with TF shoots (but a higher chance of "risky/cool" shots.)


What are the different types of photography?

Photographs feature objects, people or miscellaneous.

"Object photography" includes landscapes (lakes, mountains, sunsets) or product photography.

Product photography features a product (furniture, food, or catalog fashion). There can be people in thing photography. A person strolling along a beach. A guy relaxing in a recliner. Or a pretty model showing how wearing this skirt will make you look if you just buy the skirt. If the pic is supposed to emphasise some thing, that is "object photography."

"People photography" includes portraits, glamour, and pinups.

"Portraits photography" creates pictures that "document" what a person looks like. Mom pays for her son to get his senior portraits done, so they can remember how handsome he looked at 17. The client for "portrait photography" is the subject (or the subject's family), so it's important to get a pic that is pleasing to the subject/client. You don't want to photoshop the subject to look so perfect, that it doesn't look like the subject anymore.

"Glamour photography" aims to make the model look "Glamourous" - an ideal, not reality. (So photoshopping to unrecognizable perfection is the goal.) The client is a 45 year old overweight male who will pay $25 for a calendar of impossibly beautiful women. (These pics aren't supposed to look good to the model, they are to make the model look good to someone else.)

"Pinup photography" means different things to different people. Literally, it means pictures that were intended to be "pinned to a wall (or locker or something.)" This is different than traditional "fine art" photography, which intended to be framed behind glass and "hung on the wall of a museum (or something.)" So pinup tends to imply "cheap and disposable" relying on quantity of sales, so it appeals to the masses.

Also, pinup tends to imply a larger form factor like a poster (although theoretically you could pin a postage stamp up....) The larger size tends to mean more of the body is shown (because a 3 foot wide eye pinned up to a wall probably won't have the mass appeal.) And while you could decorate your locker with a serene landscape, traditionally pinups were of flirty girls (especially during the World War II era.)

Some people swear "pinup" refers only to this "more innocent" time/concept. Others define pinup to include the earlier era mores, but also want to update the attraction for more modern sensibilities. (ie, more overtly sexualized.) So if someone wants to do pinup, the next question is "That's great. What kind of pinup?"

There's also "cheesecake" pinup, where the intent is to bemuse the viewer, so they chuckle, "Ha ha, that reminds me of those 1940 posters." They tend to exaggerate the feel of the original pinups, as an homage to that bygone era of art....

"Other photography" tends to illustrate a concept - such as "high fashion", "art photography", and "editorial photography."

"High fashion" photography doesn't feature the people (or the clothes) - it aims more to evoke a feeling of "eliteness" to the participants. High fashion tends to be what little girls dream a model's life is like - you get flown to Italy to drink champagne and get your pictures taken on a beach. This is also the highest paid and most prestigious modeling.

Unfortunately, if you're not 5' 9" (ie you were awkwardly tall in high school, so only basketball players would ask you to prom) you almost literally have zero percent chance of making it as a fashion model. You can have fun walking the runway at local "high fashion" shows, but elite/expensive designers want a tall person.

"Art photography" seeks to express an "artist's vision", which sometimes has the model looking attractive, sometimes not. Art photography can get pretty weird - "I want you to put your left boob in this glass vase while touching your toes to represent the inner struggle for a free Tanzania."

"Editorial photography" includes pics that appeal to an editor, that is pics that illustrate the concept of an accompanying (text) story. There might be a story about "Surviving summer internships" and so you pose at a desk, pretending you are swamped with paperwork.

Oddly, I find that most TF shoots tend to default to "portrait photography" - which doesn't help the model get paying fashion/glamour gigs. (It might help the photographer if he wants to shoot portraits at Sears though....)


Common model's question: "What should I put in my portfolio?"

Answer: You know that pic of yourself, that you absolutely love, that you think makes you look the most lovely you've ever looked in your entire life?

Don't put that pic in your portfolio.

The secret to being a pro model is not to look good to yourself, but that you need to look good to the client (or the client's end users, ie the people who will buy the clothes that are designed by the person who is paying you.) Most people don't have the aesthetic sensibilities of a 22 year old model. (Even pics showcasing clothes to be worn by 22 year olds don't make the buyer say "What a pretty model" instead "Those are cool clothes.")

That pic of yourself that you absolutely love? It makes a good portrait picture. It does not make a good portfolio picture.


I'm trying to make it as a model - do you think I should model nude?

Honestly? I think if you're asking this, the answer is "Keep your clothes on."

Don't do nudes unless you're sure you want to. And if you're asking some random webpage what to do, you're not sure you want to.

In truth, models do get paid more for nude work.

However, I will also say that models who are known to do nudes will keep getting asked to do more and more nudes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But if you're trying to "make it as a model" make sure you have a good portfolio of non-nude pics, or else you'll only be doing nude work (and missing out on paying fashion gigs...)


"I'm a model. I know 10 photographers and have had 3 paying gigs. How can I get more real paying gigs?"

Broaden your range of "looks"

Congrats on getting 3 gigs from 10 photographers. But why did you miss out on the other 7 gigs? It might be a "girl next door" type, and the photographer was looking for "alternative punk." If your portfolio is all "girl next door", you could do some TF shoots to get some experience/pics of you looking alternative-y. You'll get twice as much experience/gigs if you do fashion AND glamour photography than if you do fashion alone.

Get a higher percentage of gigs

So you've got a "girl next door" look, but sometimes, someone else will look more "girl next door"ier than you. Actually, modeling is an art. You can play the piano after practicing for a year, you'll be better if you practice for 3 years. Similarly, modeling takes practice - so do a LOT of TF shoots. I hear models say "I've done this for 3 years, I have enough experience so I don't do TF shoots anymore." Actually, most of these models could use more experience - when you can nail a wide variety of dramatically different poses with different expressions on command, and you are "doing your job" in every shot, then you can say that.

Broaden your network

If you got 3 gigs from 10 photographers, you could get 15 gigs from 50 photographers! Join Model Mayhem and friend random people. I get Facebook friend requests from models who are friends with models I've shot with. Just be sure as you build your network, you're not alienating people by posting "I really hated the makeup artists from today's shoot." Build a positive reputation TF shoots with many photographers - I mean you say you enjoy modeling, right?


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