TFP shooting for the first time

I responded on a TFP modelling forum to a request for some guidance on a first TFP shoot: Any Advice – TFP Models

Try to look at things from the model’Fixes point of view.

They do not know you from Adam. So they will judge you on what you say on here. In due course, you will be judged on your work and track record of feedback.

Therefore, anything you can do to help them understand who you are and what you hope to get out of a session, how they will benefit and how you will work with them will be critical. I have made some suggestions below, but be careful not to intimidate or overwhelm a model by dumping this all at one time. You can include information in your profile, also put up a simple (free) website/blog with more information. Keep your communications clear, open and consistent.

Remember, safety first. No sensible young woman (or man for that matter) wants to meet an unknown individual in an insecure location (e.g. your home) on their own. Nor do you want to be put into a compromising position and be accused of doing things that are not true.

So, provide a good thumbnail sketch (description) of yourself, what your level of photographic experience is, and how you want to develop.

Explain how you will conduct a shoot generally – you can then discuss particular details of a shoot on a 1:1 basis.

Be insistent up front on a model being accompanied by a suitable adult (not usually a jealous boyfriend/partner on a model’s first outing – it will probably go badly) – someone to help and support the model. Arrange for a witness yourself.

Provide a landline number to contact you and your home address in your 1:1 communications. Such details inspire more confidence.

Give a clear outline of what a particular shoot will consist of, including what levels you will want the model to work to and guarantee that you will not seek to go over those levels. Be clear what the model will receive and when (e.g. 5 processed images printed a particular size in format x, images on CD, access to a website for selected edited images, etc.)

Advise the model what license to use the photos you will provide – better to be clear on this as whilst copyright is with the photographer there is an implied contract with TFP with regard to use of at least some images. Better to agree this up front and get it signed off. Take a look at my website for an example combined model release and license:

Ask if there is anything in particular the model would like to try, any particular poses, favourite clothes.

Be open and honest about your experience. TFP shoots are for mutual benefit. You both have to get something out of it.

Be professional at all times. This does not mean be corporate and distant. That said, try to keep communications on here rather than on external email addresses (avoid temporary and often problematic email addresses like hotmail et al) and avoid social networks (e.g. facebook) like the plague for arranging shoots.

Plan your shoot well in advance if you are just starting out. It will probably not survive your first contact, but if you have a plan to fall back on you will be more confident and more relaxed. Know where you are going to shoot, have an idea of how you will shoot (what reflectors/lights/etc. you will use), what poses you will ask the model to take. Many models working TFP are not that experienced. You will need to direct them (and you must know your camera and your lighting and your modifiers well enough so you can concentrate on communicating with the model), so you need to have a good idea of a posing sequence. If you are lucky and the model is a natural or experienced, you can relax otherwise you will have to work hard. There are lots of websites available and a good selection of books on posing. Also note that it is much easier to mirror (or rather show, crudely, a model what pose you want him/her to take) that explain a pose even if it makes you feel a bit daft (a photographer willing to make a bit of a fool of him/herself helps most models relax).

Have tea and biscuits to hand. Show the model where she will change, in privacy. Show him/her the tools you be using. Keep the banter up. Show the model results as you go along, it will be easier for him/her to understand what is and what is not working and why you are asking for certain things.

Get some photos into your profile, and possibly a self portrait. Use your family and friends if you do not have many model shots yet.

How’s that for a starter for 10?

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