This argument crops up on a regular basis way too often and after a recent discussion with a make up artist that I value highly, I decided I'd write a blog post on my thoughts about it all. Before I start, let me make it very clear, this isn't aimed at anybody personally and I don't want to fall out with anyone. I just want to be open about MY opinion on this no win argument. I know I'm opening a can of worms though.
For those that don't know TFP or time for print, is a term to describe an arrangement between a model and a photographer whereby the photographer agrees to provide the model with an agreed number of images from the session, and a limited license to use those pictures in return for the model's time. A variant of this arrangement is time for CD or TFCD where the photographer provides the selection of images on a CD instead of prints. Similarly, with the ease and convenience of digital high resolution images, the generic term TF has evolved meaning images are supplied by download.
There should be benefits to both parties. The model can build their portfolio, while the photographer gets a model for a particular project. Tips for making the process run smoothly is to agree on how many images, turn around time and agreed levels well before the shoot.
Now strangely I often see people (from all professions) get really uptight and insulted if somebody has requested a TFP shoot, posting comments on social media like, 'Don't ask me for a shoot then expect it for free!'. I think this is such a crazy and aloof attitude to have. These kind of shoots have been happening forever in this industry and everybody has to start somewhere. There are a lot of very talented hobbyists on both sides of the camera that only work this way. If the transaction doesn't appeal to you, thats totally fine and understandable, everybody has to make a living and if this is your full time profession you have to stick to your rates and pay your bills, but just respectfully decline and move on, don't get all uptight and abusive. Likewise if someone turns you down when requesting a TF shoot, accept it politely and look elsewhere.
I think some of the confusion and resentment happens is when 'TFP' and 'collaborations' get mixed up.
In my opinion a 'collaboration' is where a team of creatives come together to create a project. This is where financial and job roles become a grey area. In my opinion everybody should be pro active in decision making, work for free and in a perfect world, perhaps pool money fairly in to cover all costs. However in my experience this never happens and most of the cost of the collaboration seems to fall onto the photographer (I know, I know, everybody has costs but the biggest outlay is usually the studio and refreshments which the 'host' covers). Often I'm asked to cover travel costs. I don't understand this? Nobody is paying my travel costs? Again, as I said before, I have no issue being asked, but if I reject the negotiation please don't be offended or rude. My costs (that nobody else covers for me) include the following: my travel, studio costs, equipment, refreshments, any props I've bought. Generally ANY 'free' shoot costs me anywhere between £35 - £75 and thats not including my time, just my material costs. This is an expensive hobby! Why is it expected for me to cover other peoples travel as well. I doubt if many models or MUA's are spending this kind of outlay on a shoot? Obviously if I REALLY want to work with a certain model who is willing to work for free but they just can't afford to get there then we could discuss this but usually I would just postpone until they can. This isn't me thinking I'm 'too good' for them. Its just a simple fact that I can't justify it either!!
My main point I'm trying to get across, is its all about respect and communication. Everyone is entitled to work by ANY terms they choose to. If those terms don't work for you, thats fine. Say so politely and continue with what you do. No creative, be it photographer, MUA, model, stylist is more valuable to the collaboration than any other. If you want great images it's a team effort and EVERYONE will benefit equally so think about that when negotiating or offering resources.