Thoughts about TFP

Written by Manuel Faessler
Hi folks!

As I have announced in the last blog-post I want to write a few lines about „TFP". As many of you will know this is a topic that has caused many discussions in the last couple of weeks. Discussions with many different points of view, from photographers and models alike (and even from some model-agencies). The „styles" vary ... from really realistic and factual ones to really heated arguments ... and even personal offences (even against me ...). Because of that I want to make my point clear ... and explain a little bit how I see the whole thing.


At first I want to give you a short explaination of the term „TFP"... e.g. Wikipedia offers this definition:

TFP („time for prints" or „time for pictures") is a term many online photography communities use to describe an arrangement between a model and a photographer whereby the photographer agrees to provide the model with an agreed number of pictures of the best photographs from the session, and a limited license to use those pictures in return for the model's time.

I'll put it like this: nobody needs to pay money and everyone gets the pictures which were made during the shooting, with equal rights to publish them.

From my point of view this only works if everyone involved is satisfied with their input-benefit ratio. Those benefits can be diverse ... from exposure or good pictures to „getting expierence" or fun-time ...


To put everything on a nice and factual basis, I want to compare the different inputs of the different parties. I only want to compare the time needed, as everyone has a certain amount of gear he/she needs to fulfil his part which is subject to wear and loss of value. But if you start to discuss that part, someone will always come up with some weird stuff which should be taken into consideration (e.g. one model once told me, that her tattoos were expensive and she regards that as an „investment" which is needed for her job) ...

Lets assume the shooting lasts for 3 hours, the model needs additional time for driving and maybe styling (if no make-up artist is on set). To make an assumption which is a little bit extreme, lets say she needs 2 hours for driving to and from the shooting and 2 hours for the styling, and maybe 1 hour of communication with the photographer before the shooting takes place (to discuss the shooting, styling, outfit, ...) to give a total of 7-8 hours, which is more than realistic for a normal shooting.

Make-up artist
With the same assumption for shooting (yes, when shooting with me, the visa is on set the whole time) and the same time for styling and driving, the make-up artist needs additional time to prepare (and maybe „develop" a styling idea with the photographer) and the follow-up (e.g. cleaning his/her stuff) which totals in 10-11 hours.

With the same time needed for the shooting and the styling-time (which I use to prepare the studio and take a look over the make-up artists shoulder) the photographer needs driving-time as everybody else and he needs to prepare himself (and „develop" the idea for the styling, the shooting, ...). Lets assume that when the shooting is done, the photographer needed the same amount of time as the model (7-8 hours). This is the point, where the biggest part of work is still to be done for the photographer. During a 3-hour-shooting I'll make at least 200-300 pictures, which have to be sorted out and „graded". Depending on the shooting and the desired quality of the pics I'll need about 1-4 hours for post processing (in extreme cases even more) ... PER PIC!!!!

With this little comparison I don't want to get anybody mad, it's just my point of view. If anybody has another opinion please comment below this post, I'll very much appreciate it.


Lets say there is no „disproportion" which means, all parties are about equally well known, are about equally skilled in their job and nobody has to pull a bigger weight than the others, everybody share the same benefits: the pictures made, including equal rights to publish them (normally non-commercial).

For me, the benefits can be diverse ... for example a benefit for me is working with people I haven't worked with before, or that I have the chance to try something new, or that I can take advantage of someones „prominence", or that I can be part of a great and creative project ... like I said: for me there can be many benefits ... ;-)

My point of view

Now that I have outlined the „facts" (from my point of view of course – as neutral as possible), I want to make a little statement.

Despite the time-comparison looks like a big disadvantage for the photographer I work on a TFP-basis often and I really like the concept. There are a couple of reasons for me to shoot on that basis as well as a couple of requirements which have to be fulfilled for me to consider it. I often use TFP shootings to „test" working with people I haven't worked with before, in order to know how they work, many times as a basis for future projects or pay-shootings or important shootings I don't do with people I don't know.

Another reason I do TFP shootings is to test new stuff or techniques and/or want to „develop" a new light-setup or idea ... or when the shootings are „easy" and it is not that important that everything is „spot on". I really have no problem with requests to shoot TFP either, quite to the opposite: if I like the idea, like to work with the people, ... I really like to do it!!!

One thing for sure: the most fun are projects where it is all about something special ... a creative project (no matter who is running it), where everybody puts in all his/her creative energy to make something great ... these are the projects where I don't care if it costs more time, more money, more everything ... because that is exactly what I love most about photography!!

But on the other hand, there are shootings which I refuse to do on a TFP-basis. One of this reasons is when it is about shooting typical „sedcard-pics" which means standard light, standard poses, most of the time beginner-models who need guidance, ... all in all lots of works for little to no benefits for me. Or for example that request I refused to do not so long ago: a Lady wanted to do a dessous-shooting on TFP basis with only one snag ... she wouldn't wanna let me publish the pics as she didn't want them to be seen publicly ... when I have asked her what my benefits would be her reply was, that I would have the opportunity to shoot her in dessous ... ;-)

There is just one thing I can't stand ... the case when a model-agency wants to reap the rewards of a TFP-shooting without contributing anything ... and even wants to be mentioned when publishing the pic (happened for real!!). I just can't see one single reason why someone should have the pics without doing something to make it happen ...

I think I've made my point pretty clear: If everyone involved is happy with their respective input-output ratio, TFP is a great concept ... if there is any form of disproportion, that has to be fixed (normally with money ... ;-) ), as it is really important for me that in the end everyone is happy and statisfied, and nobody feels exploited.

Now, enough from me ... I'd really appreciate it very much if you would let me hear your opinion and explain your side of things. Despite wanting to write this post as factual and neutral as I possibly can, I know it is mostly the photographers point of view (well, how could it be different?) ... I'm really interested in your point of view ... and I'm sure others will be interested as well.

If you have some additional questions for my, feel free to ask me. You can just comment here, write me an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send me a message on facebook. I'll do my best to answer all your questions.

If you want me to write about a specific topic in the future please let me know. I'll be happy to write a little post about it.

And as allways: if you like this post (or not), please let me know ... spread the word, press „like", etc. I really appreciate your feedback!!!



Heinz 2015-06-22 17:50
Hello Manuel

The only words I can add to yours;
Very well written, and very true.

Regards Heinz
Manuel_MFP 2015-12-28 10:06
Hi Heinz,

sorry for the delay, your message got somehow lost in my system ... :(

Thanks a lot for your kind feedback!!!

Best regards,
http://www. 2015-03-27 23:24
I've been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never
found any interesting article like yours. It's pretty worth enough for me.
In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful
than ever before.
Manuel_MFP 2015-12-28 10:07
Thanks a lot for your feedback ... whoever you are ... ;-)

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