Dallas Portrait Photographer: “Will You Shoot Me For Free?”

I’m writing this post to address a Frequently Asked Question; “will you shoot me for free?”  The answer is NO.  In fact it’s impossible for me to shoot you for free.  Every time I pick up my camera to capture anyone or anything, it’s costing me something. I want to shed some light on why many photographers won’t shoot without monetary compensation and what those that do expect from those they’ve chosen to exchange with.

I get requests to do what some people call FREE shoots, I don’t do free shoots!  Occasionally I do trade shoots with people for testing, personal projects and stock imagery.  By “trade” I mean we trade time and talent.

I chose those who fit the need for my testing, personal projects and stock images.  I’m selective with who I choose because I want to achieve the vision of the project.

Trade sessions are often called “Time For” or TF.  In a TF a person models in the photo session and may receive prints, digital negatives on CD, digital negatives via download or email etc. The session results in work the photographer can display in their portfolio, use to show test results or for other purposes as detailed in the contract between the parties.

If a photographer agrees to a TF session understand that they are making an investment in the session and are expecting you to do the same.  It’s not a FREE photo shoot!  Not for you and not for the photographer shooting it.

It’s NOT a FREE session, a few things a Photographer contributes:
Communicating with the model and communicating the vision for the session
Providing a Contract/Model Release etc.
Planning wardrobe, accessories and concept
Planning make-up and hair to coordinate with the concept
Planning lighting (whether all natural or flash included)
Having the best location for the concept
Transportation to the location for the shoot
Having the necessary equipment for the session
Knowing how to use the equipment
Having back-up equipment
Being ready to handle the unexpected things
Guiding the model through the shoot in full body expression
Proofing/Culling after the session
Editing/Retouching
Software and computers for editing/retouching
Delivery of the promised Images

It’s NOT a FREE session, a few things a Model contributes:
Communicating with the photographer
Coordinating wardrobe, accessories and concept
Coordinating make-up and hair
Transportation to the location for the shoot
Being ready to handle the unexpected things
Executing instructions through the shoot to achieve the concept
Preparing mentally and physically for the session.

As you can see, It’s not a FREE photo shoot!  Not for you and not for the photographer shooting it. Every time that photographer clicks the shutter he has just shortened the life of his camera body. The software used to edit your images; yes it will become outdated and have to be replaced. It’s not a FREE photo shoot!
This is one of the many reasons some Photographers won’t do TF shoots; they can’t pay their bills, feed their families, pay for insurance, pay taxes (yes Photographers pay taxes on their income), replace equipment and software and sustain their lives with TF shoots.

I’m not one that thinks only the photographer is making an investment; whether you model professionally or do it as a hobby you’re still investing your time and talent when you do a TF session. It’s only fair that what you bring to the session be given equal consideration.

Let’s set the record straight on my use of the word model. There is a big push now with this whole “I’m not a model thing”. The moment you become THE SUBJECT of someone’s artistic vision or creation you are a model and don’t let anyone (including you) tell you differently.
The distinction to be made is not that you aren’t a model but rather that you are not a ‘professional model’. I didn’t make that up… go ahead, mosey over to the dictionary and see how the word ”model” is defined.   That’s another topic for another post but I wanted to clarify what I mean when I say model.

It’s so important to understand It’s not a FREE photo shoot! Just because you didn’t give cash for the shoot doesn’t mean it was FREE to you. It cost you something to do it. Don’t treat it as something FREE and of little value when given the opportunity to TF with a photographer.

By | 2013-10-17T23:51:19+00:00 July 29th, 2012|Stuff and Things|0 Comments