TFP what is it – the ultimate guide

TFP what is it – the ultimate guide

TFP stands for Time for Prints (sometimes also referred to as Trade for Prints or Time for portfolio). In the world of photography, TFP represents a collaborative arrangement between a photographer and a model. Here’s what it entails:


TFP involves a mutual exchange where the photographer agrees to provide the model with a specified number of selected photographs from a photoshoot. In return, the model contributes their time and participation. Essentially, it’s a trade of skills and services without any monetary payment.

How It Works:

Photographer’s Role: The photographer first should have a refined, well edited, and culled portfolio of work to demonstrate their technical ability.  Often photographers may use a TFP session as an opportunity to experiment with new photography techniques, explore different equipment, or diversify their portfolio. The photographer should know their gear, and be proficient in using it. If the photographer needs more practice, find a family member or friend who is willing to sit for you while you learn your gear.

Model’s Role: The model collaborates willingly, understanding that there won’t be any monetary compensation. Instead, they receive edited photos from the session. Models should be comfortable in front of the camera and have their go-to poses ready and practiced before the session. This can give the photographers a starting point.

Define the terms: Before agreeing to the session, both parties should understand the number and timeframe for deliverables (images). A number of images to be delivered should be determined before the shoot as well as the use case for the materials. Will the model have print rights? Will the photographer have print rights? If the images are shared on social media by either party, will there be attribution (photos by… modeling by…)? There should always be a model release signed before the shoot which should clearly lay out the usage for the images including whether the photographer will place watermarks on the photos. If you don’t have a model release, then you have no business shooting a model. A good model release can resolve potential litigation before it starts and is worth it’s weight in gold.

A analog clock with a sdollar sign on the hilt. money can be seen around the clock this represents time is money

Time is money

Understanding that both parties have investments in the TFP session is important. If either party has the “I’m better than you attitude” then walk away from the session. Remember that if the photographer has a solid portfolio and was being paid for their work, they usually would not need a TFP shoot. Likewise, if a model was established and had a portfolio and was consistently being paid for their time, they also would not be looking at TFP shoots – in general. There are always exceptions to this rule, where a model wants images from a photographer for their portfolio or the photographer wants the model to appear in their portfolio. TFP sessions can be beneficial at any level in your career.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is to give the other party your full attention during the shoot. Treat every shoot whether paid or not as professionally as possible, This means don’t sit around on your phone and don’t pause the shoot every couple of minutes to answer text messages or send emails. This usually ends up derailing the mood of the shoot.

The photographer is usually responsible for providing a model release, the equipment, and a location for the shoot. Unless the model has specific ideas, the photographer should always come with a shoot list (light setups, poses, or wardrobe changes) and should not be looking for things to shoot. They should have a plan in place well before the session. They should know their equipment well, and not spend the entire time fumbling with the lights or other gear. Photographers should also be well versed in editing their photos and be able to deliver professionally retouched images in a timely manner. Photographers should come with professional equipment, unless specifically agreed to, cell phones should be reserved for other uses regardless of how awesome they are. Lastly, photographers should be professional and never touch the models.

The model should understand that the photographer will have a monetary expense in the TFP shoot, meaning they are often renting a studio which will cost a per hour charge. Cancelling the day of the shoot is not professional. Models should come with a snack and water, depending on the agreed to time, and the photographer’s access to the shooting location, there can be time involved while the photographer sets up the equipment.

Escorts are recommended for models. If you haven’t done a lot of modeling, having someone there that you know can make things a lot more comfortable. This is also good for the photographer because having a third-party present means there is less of a chance of the model accusing you of inappropriate behavior. Most importantly, the escorts should not, unless otherwise agreed to be involved in the shoot. This means the escort should not sit behind the photographer commenting about the poses, or quality of the shots. Escorts should be expected to sit quietly and not be involved unless otherwise agreed to in advance.

Other Participants: While TFP shoots can involve makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and hairstylists, it’s common for only the photographer and model to participate due to the unpaid nature of the arrangement.


Clear communication about all aspects of the shoot is crucial. All involved parties should agree on expectations and offerings, just like in a paid shoot. All parties involved should understand how the photos will be used. Everyone’s effort deserves respect, ensuring a positive experience for all. Photographers should be able to clearly direct the model in front of the camera, and the model should be able to take directions but also be able to clearly let the photographer know when something makes them uncomfortable.


Remember, TFP sessions provides a valuable opportunity for skill-building, portfolio enhancement, and networking within the photography community for both the photographer and the model. All parties need to be clear about their expectations when setting up a TFP shoot, and everyone involved should have their skills to an appropriate level before agreeing to a shoot.


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About the author

Ted Tahquechi is a Denver Colorado based professional landscape and travel photographer, disability travel influencer and is almost completely blind. You can see more of Ted’s photography at: 

Ted operates Blind Travels, a travel blog designed specifically to empower blind and visually impaired travelers.

Ted’s body-positive Landscapes of the Body project has been shown all over the world, learn more about this intriguing collection of photographic work at:

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