TFP portrait shoots as a beginner: What are they and should you do them

tfp portrait shoots

One of the easiest ways to build your portrait photography portfolio is to take on TFP portrait shoots and projects. These are a fast and easy way for beginner photographers to create content and build a style.

Creative TFP portrait shoot
Creative TFP portrait shoot

What are TFP Photoshoots

TFP stands for “trade for photos”, “time for photos”, or “trade for prints”. This is a term in the photography industry to describe a trade shoot where the model and photographer and any other team members collaborate on a specific concept without exchanging money or getting any type of monetary compensation. All final photos are shared with all team members for the purpose of portfolio building. 

Should you do TFP shoots as a beginner

Trade for Portfolio photography or TFP shoots are a way to collaborate without money being exchanged. This is great beginner photographers with a limited budget. You should consider doing a few TFP shoots to help kickstart your portfolio.

You basically exchange time and talent with like minded creatives. These shoots are collaborations and can be fun to plan and execute. It’s also a great way to network with the photography community around you.

TFP shoots for portfolio building

I love the art of content creation, but I also love the act of collaboration. So TFP shoots are a perfect way for me to build my portfolio. Meeting new people and getting myself out of my comfort zone is a personal goal.

There is nothing wrong with this type of shooting and it is pretty popular term on Facebook and Instagram.

Are photography meetups TFP shoots

Many public photography meetups are based around TFP collaborations unless otherwise noted. Everyone including photographers, models, videographers all meet up and work together to create content.

No money is exchanged for time or services, and all the content is shared online for others to see. This is a way for beginners to meet and network with many people at once while sharing their skills.

Aren’t you losing out on money

Yes, I am, but my goal is not to make money from photography specifically on these shoots. There are more ways than one to make money with your content.

Ask your favorite YouTube personality. I’m sure they make nice amounts of cash from creating videos to share online.

Advertisers clamor to get their products introduced to large audiences and YouTube personalities are a great way to get messages across to targeted audiences.

TFP portrait shoot with dallas model
TFP portrait shoot with Dallas model

Finding inspiration to keep creating

My corporate background would sound boring if I explained the types of projects I work on during a normal day.

These projects are a great learning tool and have allowed me to gain tons of experience, but overall can be very blah.

When I got into TFP shoots and joined TFP photography communities online, my eyes were opened to a great new way to meet new just like myself.

Joining a TFP community

You might be from a small town or a large city. Either way, I am sure you can learn about TFP photography shoots online and connect with people in your area.

The most important thing is to build relationships with others that share the same passions and goals as you. This can go a long way toward helping you gain more experience and increase your knowledge in the creative industry.

The problem with TFP shoots

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of TFP collaborations and do not deliver based on expectations. Some photographers will not share final photos or change the terms last minute.

Before taking on a TFP shoot, make sure to set all expectations up front and be clear on what type of shoot you are doing and what is being delivered. Set a timeline for that delivery and make sure to stick to it.

Also, many photographers do not like doing TFP shoots because they don’t like the idea of shooting for free. Yes, you are trading your time for the collaboration but only you can decide if this type of shoot is right for you.

TFP portrait shoot with vanessa
Find models for TFP shoots

How to find TFP models

The easiest way to find TFP models is to search social networks for TFP groups. Use the keyword “TFP” or “Trade for prints” in your searches and depending on your area or city, you will find models that do this type of portrait shoot.

Check Facebook for TFP photography groups or beginner groups that allow for model calls. Make sure to let people know up front you are wanting to setup TFP shoots and you are looking for creatives to collaborate with.

Do models get paid for TFP shoots

Models do not get paid for TFP shoots unless otherwise agreed upon under your terms of the shoot. Photographers also do not get paid for TFP shoots.

Industry wide, TFP generally means no money or monetary exchanges happen for these portrait shoots. Time and expertise are exchanged for time spent on the collaboration.

Should you use a contract for TFP shoots

It would not be a bad idea to put together a small contract for TFP shoots. This way you and the other participants of the collaboration can set expectations and know exactly what type of shoot you are doing.

This also lets you agree upon how the photos will be used once they are given to all members of the collaboration. Spell out where the photos can be posted and how you would like to see your work credited online or on social media.

Sample TFP portrait shoot final image
Sample TFP portrait shoot final image

Sample TFP Portrait Shoots

Here are a list of TFP portrait shoots that I’ve done over the last few years. Each time I had a model come out to meet me on location to collaborate and shoot portraits.

I have many more TFP shoots I will be sharing as articles on this website so stay tuned.


TFP shoots are a great way to build your portfolio without having to have a large budget. Spend time doing your research and finding like minded individuals who would like to collaborate with you based on your skills and style.

Be smart about approaching a TFP shoot and develop your skills by including this type of shoot into your workflow.

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