Time for Print (TFP) sounds like a great deal for a photographer but often it is not. For photographers like me you are trading your services to a model in exchange for images so she can build her portfolio and you get another album for your website. A simple exchange that often goes wrong. As a model photographer for over eighteen years I wanted to document some of my experiences and thoughts on the subject.

The biggest mistake newbie photographers make is believing that the reason that all the models that responded to their advertisement/offer for a photo shoot is that the model desires some images or wants to experience a model shoot at no cost to her. It is true there are many women who honestly want to experience a model shoot to get images and that one shoot is enough for them.  Unfortunately many other women and I should add a large percentage of the ones that contact me have different and somewhat sinister reasons for answering one of my advertisements or contacting me after seeing me on Model Mayhem. The following are some of my accounts of some of the events that happened over the years.

The Accepting Model

The ‘Accepting Model’ will happily agree to a photo shoot and then ghost me. Apparently she is satisfied that I have agreed to do a photo shoot with her and that is all she needs.

The Serial Canceler

The ‘Serial Canceler’ as she is commonly known by photographers is a pretend model who wants attention from a photographer but not images. She will contact a photographer and plan for a future photo-shoot and even set a firm date and time with a hard promise she is will be there. But on the day of the shoot she will cancel often only an hour before the shoot. The most common excuses I have heard and also read with other photographer forum rants are:

‘My grandmother died so I have to postpone the shoot’

‘I have to work today and I forgot / I was just called into work’

‘I was partying late last night and can’t shoot today’

‘I just don’t feel pretty today’

That will end the first round with the Serial Canceler. As a photographer you have done the prep work needed to get ready for a shoot you were anticipating and might be a little upset. But the Serial Canceler is not done with you yet. She immediately issues her request for ‘next week’ with a firm promise that whatever was the cause of the cancellation will not be happen again and assures you are such a good photographer that she guarantees she will be there for the shoot.

Round two will be another cancellation with more realistic excuses and she is feeding off toying with you. Perhaps she hates photographers or hates males or the ex-boyfriend that hurt her. She will go as many rounds as you will let her. Newbies will fall prey to this easily but experienced photographers will only allow one round and end it. She is easy to spot on Model Mayhem or Instagram as her images are older and never updated.

After being burned a few times when I was a newbie desperate for any models I finally accepted I was being played. If a model blows me off the day of the shoot and sends me the cancellation message I will cancel her and text her that ‘today was the day of your shoot. I do not schedule models for another day unless it was an outdoor shoot and weather was the cause’.

In an instant will come the barrage of angry text messages from the model trying to point the blame of the problem on me. I know they were not expecting that answer. I have had my phone buzzing for an hour and I never answer back.

The reason is after doing TFP for over eighteen years I have found that if a shoot does not happen on the day scheduled with the exception of weather it will never happen. Actually, about very every model I have photographed it always happens in the same week from initial contact. So I end it and have my closures and end the games the model is trying to play.

The Scheduler

A ‘Scheduler’ will contact me every month or so. It generally starts with a long email from a model praising my work and the genuine desire to work with me. The conversion will go over several days to a week and the models that do this are very detailed in what they want and why I am the perfect fit. When I see this pattern I know that I am dealing with the Scheduler so to end it I will offer the date for the shoot. Then the Scheduler will strike with some date that is six months to a year in the future and the excuses will be finishing school, losing weight, getting hair done a certain way etc. To me it seems they are trying to upset me by dangling the shoot in front of me and then putting it so far in the distance it no longer matters to try to get me to plead with them. I will text or email back a short message for them to contact me when ready rather than the barrage from me wanting it sooner.

The Long Distance Model

A variation of The Scheduler, is the Long Distance Model. She is similar but wants the shoot and promises to drive to where I live even though she could be a thousand miles away. While I am pretty good with taking images another suitable photographer could be found closer to her. Her goal is this same as The Scheduler but rather than time it is distance. The model will only be satisfied when I give her details of the shoot and what I want. She sets and appointment with the details provided and will ghost me as she got what she wanted and I never hear from her again.

The Hidden Fee Model

Some models will wait for the last moment and request a trip fee and act very surprised she is being questioned. While I have paid for gas and am glad to do it for a model having to drive a ways it needs to be said upfront instead of the last minute. Overall if a model changes the agreement at the last minute I find it better to cancel.

The Extortionist Model

Twice during TFP shoots in Miami I have completed the shoot only for the model to asked to be paid. When I explain we did TFP she will still demand money or she will go online and trash me on various modeling websites.

The Attention Seeking Female

Some newbies will say ‘yes’ for the attention as the serial canceler. The Attention Seeking Female is only looking for attention that some photographer wants her as a model. An easy way to expose her and end it is to ask her for her phone number. If she won’t give it she is not serious. I ask the models to call me before the shoot to go over details and the ones that will not I simply email them I am no longer interested.

The Model’s ‘Agent’

Some pretend models will start negotiations for a shoot and things will progress to the point where it looks like it will happen. Suddenly the model will end the game with announcing to me she is now being represented by a mysterious ‘agent’ and all negotiations and permission have to be approved but the agent is not available of course. The wannabe just wants to end the game on a high note.

UPDATE – I now giving out my cell and messaging it back to models that contact me with a request to call. So far it has been ‘game over’ as the ones trying to play me won’t give out a phone. A real model who will show up will.