There is no such thing as a free lunch.
So goes the old adage …. But how does it apply to Photography? Or at least how does it apply to working in Photography?
In the photographic world there is something known as TFP, TF or more recently P4P. Now the photography world loves to baffle you with descriptions such as small numbers being larger, ISO and suchlike …
A lot of it seems designed to be some kind of magic elf language to baffle and confuse the uninitiated. Whenever I do a photography tutorial (which I pride myself on being easy to understand) I frequently find people getting annoyed at how easy it is to unravel this mumbo jumbo into bite size chucks rather than the usual technical jargon … I have yet to read a description of ISO that did not refer to back in the film days …. Tell me what it does and not a history lesson.
So …. Made simply TFP stands for Time for Print as back in the day if a model worked for free for the photographer they would get free prints for their time. Now it gets shortened to TF which means Time For … You swap time instead of money for working together .. And P4P? Well that stands for Portfolio for Portfolio.
Still with me?
Free collaborative shoots happen all the time in Photography and not just between model and photographer as it can be a company who the Photographer wants on their CV and a company who wants a particular photographer and can exchange the use of some of their wares for the Photographers time.
I see a lot of posts going around that state that artists (I suppose photographers can fall headlong into this category somewhat) deserve to be paid for their wares and this is incredibly true but it does ignore the need to use free exchange to both promote and learn by doing free shoots. When I first started I gained so much experience and exposure by doing free shoots and got good word of mouth. My first free shoot resulted in my client being asked who was doing their photography. This translates to what has become a very simple adage that I work to.
“If I knock on your door you have something I want but if you knock on my door I have something you want”
The first few years I did a LOT of free stuff … And I still do when chasing clients I want on my resume, models I want to shoot and products I wish to promote … I also do charity for free … And I have a deep distaste for those who charge for doing Charity shoots.
I know of photographers who bemoan doing anything for free …. And a couple that refuse to get out of bed for less than £60 per hour …. I know of some who never get work (mainly as they do not put in the man hours).
Much as I hate guns … May I remind of you of Samuel Colt who became the most famous gunsmith in the world by giving away a huge amount of his revolvers as gifts … Bert McHearth made good guns too .. But he sat at home waiting for someone to knock on his door and see how good he was.
I made up the name Bert McHearth but you did not know that … But there almost certainly was someone like him … And you would not have heard of them either … So I suppose it does not matter.
Don't be a Bert ... Get out there and show people what you are capable of and more people will come knocking on your door.
(Early image from a free Union Street shoot for Pie Eyed)