For Print, or TFP
the business of modeling
Also known as
Time For CD, or TFCD, although there are differences, and that is why
we have a separate definition page. Please read both.
This is the main definition
page on Independent Modeling for TFP/ TFCD/ SFP/ SFCD. Expanded definitions
of these other terms are found on their dedicated definition pages, which
we link to from relevant pages like this one.
Time For Print, or TFP, is
the main term for professional collaboration between established professional
photographers and models for work with no direct commercial value, and
where neither directly made money from because it was not sold to any
party. This was in the time before digital photography, where photographers
invested in their portfolios and there was overhead into starting a career
as a photographer, the barrier to entry being an affective way to ensue
that most photographers were experienced professionals whom knew what
they were doing, and the market was not glutted with amateurs. Because
film and development was involved, and overhead on the part of the photographer,
the photographer would spend money on the film and the development, and
would pay the model in photographic prints for their time. Because the
photographer was a professional who had an established portfolio, and
was not in the market to invest in a portfolio, and the model was a professional
model, who was established and did not need a portfolio, and both were
usually paid for their work, there was not conflicts in their business,
and the mutual pay cancelled each other out. Time For Print was neither
a substitute for paying modeling work for a commercial client, nor was
it a way for an aspiring model who needed a modeling portfolio to obtain
one for free.
In later years, when digital cameras became plentiful and the overhead
of photography was gone, the market became saturated with amateurs who
tried to get into a business which they thought would be easy and low
cost, and also models who figured that photography was cheap and expendable,
and that they could get an effective modeling portfolio for free. This
is common now, and the TFP concept was hijacked and changed from collaboration
between established professionals to amateurs trying to get a portfolio
for free. More often that not, TFP work became dangerous for models because
it was done my amateur photographers who did not really know what they
were doing; a lot of TFP offers are by horny older men who use photography
as a way to shoot models in inappropriate poses and contexts for their
own sexual gratification. Sadly, those pictures are forever, and the model
finds out too late, after they are on the Internet, they those pictures,
which are often also technically flawed and amateur, crippled their marketability
as a model, and the damage cannot be undone. As a result, models who do
a lot of TFP work often cannot compete with models who do not make that
With the advent of digital photography, too, the “print” in
Time For Print was not longer digital, as most photographers gave the
models their pictures in image files on a CD ROM, which is how Time For
Print became Time For CD, and later, both terms described images being
delivered in a variety of ways, from being transferred on a USB jump drive
to being downloaded on a high speed Internet connection.
TFP should not be a common business practice for any professional photographer
or model. It needs to be the exception rather than a rule. If it is a
photography project with no financial backing, where no client is paying
the costs, and it is not directly generating profit, and the photographer
or model wants to experiment or try something new, then they should consider
collaborating with other professionals in Time For Print, and only then
when it does not conflict with their business, as time itself is often
more valuable than money, as it certainly cannot be replaced like money
can. Also, the time and energy spent doing TFP projects can take away
from resources that can be used to find and book the work which is needed
to generate cash flow and keep the business profitable.
Models and photographers who do TFP a lot often run themselves into the
ground, working themselves to death with no money being made. Like the
photographer who tries to sell photography by being the cheapest, they
raise their overhead and run themselves out of business by not being able
to turn a profit. There needs to be a balance for TFP to be worthwhile.
As a rule of thumb, TFP only works when it does not conflict with business
or with booking paying work, and where both the model and the photographer
mutually benefit equally; neither the photographer nor the model should
be in the market, or need, what the other is selling.
Most professionals are too busy booking paying work to mess with TFP,
and more often than not TFP is offered by amateurs who do not have a lot
to offer anyone. As a result, portfolios made by Time For Print cannot
compete with portfolios from professional photographers which models invest
in, and the models who build portfolios through free work find out the
hard way that they cannot compete with professional models who invest
in professional, relevant portfolios. You only get out of your modeling
career what you put into it, and the blind leading the blind is no way
to be competitive.
Models who are independent and who seek freelance modeling work often
market their modeling services to photographers, which is a long shot
at best when there are models out there who will do TFP with them. Sure,
if the model is an experienced professional model with a name in the industry,
they could probably get a photographer to pay them if the photographer
is new and is building their portfolio, but the bottom line is that no
professional photographer is going to pay a model for anything unless
they have a commercial job where they are being paid and they need a model,
and in that case, the job would pay the model, and not the photographer
directly. A professional photographer is going to have an established
portfolio, and therefor will not be in the market for what the model is
selling. Models who are trying to get professional photographers to pay
them directly out of pocket to shoot with them are going to need a lot
of luck, and this is not a good business model.
Of course, for high-risk modeling work, such as glamour, nude, fetish,
boudoir, pin-up, alternative, modeling in skimpy bikinis, and modeling
in provocative poses, where the model themselves are the product, more
professional photographers might pay a model directly for shooting with
them, but there is a catch, and a cost. High-risk is high-risk for a reason;
it’s risky for any model to do. Most models who do high-risk work
specialize in it, and accept the fact that it makes it more difficult
for them to market themselves as a model, and to compete with other models.
In a fashion, high-risk models make money by selling themselves short,
You can see why TFP and collaborative work has no business in high-risk
modeling work. Models have the most to lose in such work, and need to
get paid if they do high-risk work!
Some photographers will try to get models to do TFP with them because,
really, they are out to exploit the model, either literally with high-risk
modeling work, or by getting them to work for free in a commercial venture
where they are making money off of the model, either directly or indirectly.
If they make money, so should you, and this also includes any kind of
work done for “charity”. TFP also has no business being done
in modeling event or marketing work. Lately, there have been unethical
businesses which offer modeling jobs at retail sales events or other events,
such modeling runway fashion shows, where “charities” are
used as a way to convince the models to work for free. The bottom line
is that, charity or not, if they make money, the model needs to make money.
If it is a runway fashion show for charity, and the organizer is charging
a cover or selling tickets, and they are making money, it’s not
right for them to exploit models as free labor. Likewise, if the work
is used to market a business, such as a promotional event for a retail
store, and the store is making money from the event, the model needs to
get paid! Models who are tricked into working for free this way, through
“TFP” whether it is really TFP or not, do not last in their
Time For Print is also used as a gateway into non-modeling work. A photographer
will convince a model to do high-risk work with TFP to “test”
them. They will then offer the model some money for adult work, which
is not modeling, and completely conflicts with a modeling career (or,
worse, the photographer gets the model to do such work for free, or with
promised future compensation). As a result, the model is completely exploited,
and their modeling career is destroyed.
There are even TFP offers where a photographer will get a model to work
with them, for free, taking pictures of them in bikinis, for example,
and the photographers turn around and then sell the pictures, leaving
the models unpaid. A dangerous example is a tale of more than one photographer
taking supposedly “safe” pictures of models in TFP work of
the models in sexy poses and in bikinis, where the photographer then sells
the pictures and uses them in a context which the model would have never
agreed to. In these cases, the pictures were sold to adult businesses
and 900 lines, where the pictures of the models were used to sell services
which were not compatible with the modeling industry or a modeling career.
As a result, not only did the models not get paid, but their careers were
harmed, and there was nothing that the models could do about it because
they had signed a release.
Never sign a release enabling commercial use or the sale of TFP images.
Be specific about how those images will be used, and get it in writing!
If a glamour photographer is offering TFP, say no. If it is high-risk
work, models need to get paid for the risk that they are taking. Don’t
get taken advantage of. The results of TFP work should be as safe for
a modeling career as possible. Remember: Mutually beneficial.
Evaluating Time For Print Offers
Who stands to benefit the most from the TFP offer? The model or the photographer?
If one party stands to benefit more than the other, it is no longer TFP
or a professional collaboration, and the party benefitting the most needs
to pay the one ending up short.
The Risks Of Time For Print
Besides what we have already gone over, by far the greatest danger of
TFP is that is devalues your brand as a business, and can directly undermine
your marketability. If you market yourself as cheap or free, you are giving
away the store, and your value in the industry is diminished.
See also Sex
For Print (SFP) for the unethical, unprofessional, career-killing
version of this.
- 11/03/12 - 11/08/12 - 11/21/12