Photo: Alex Wong

Commercial jobs disguised as TFP

In a TFP collaboration job, the photographer, the models, the stylists and the assistants are working completely free of charge. When someone earns money in a TFP, something doesn't adds up.

What's TFP?

When it's ok to do a TFP?

  • If the purpose of the whole team is to learn or improve.
  • When the photos won't be used commercially and noone in the team will obtain commercial profit from them.
  • If you need to start your portfolio or your book.
  • If you want to test ideas.
  • If the photos will be published and the whole team will be credited.

When you shouldn't accept a TFP?

  • When it's for a commercial purpose and some people will earn money as a result.
  • When the required release of image or authorship rights is abusive.
  • When you're not getting nothing useful in exchange.

I have some experience, should I accept TFP?

Almost all experienced photographers and models do TFP regularly to further improve their portfolios and books. When this happens, they get beautiful images because everyone is free to use their imagination and to put their skills to the test, without a client or an agency imposing any specifications. But remember: nobody earns a penny in a TFP.

The TFP jobs or castings with commercial purposes

Most of the times they seek amateur people and aficionados, and they're companies willing to sacrifice the quality of the work to save some money.

Some other times, they're really small companies or commercial activities for whom TFP is really the only option, and they wouldn't do any campaign at all if it wasn't via TFP.

If you decide to accept this kind of jobs, we recommend you to do it exclusively under the following circumstances:

  • When you have no experience, or very little.
  • If the quality of the portfolios from the team seems nice to you, so the resulting work will help your career.
  • If the image or authorship rights release is reasonable.
  • If you're a model, be sure the publication of the photos won't hurt your image in the future. Remember that most probably, all the team will be amateur, and a few bad photos can chase you forever.

How commercial works disguised as TFP hurt the industry?

  • They undermine the value of the artist's authorship rights, and the model's image rights.
  • They hinder the career of the professionals by generating unfair competition.
  • They hold up the careers of those who want to become professionals.
  • They deteriorate the artistic quality of the advertising and fashion industry.

Suggestions for those who dress up a commercial job as TFP

The photographers, stylists and models who are able to create an effective campaign are not amateur: They've been learning and acquiring experiencie for many years and have turned their art into their job. They're able to look into your needs and understand your requisites, to communicate professionally and to design a complex campaign that goes far beyond some simple amateur photos.

It is understandable when new and small companies think on saving money on advertising, but this is precisely what they shouldn't do at that point. Even with a small budget, some searches on sites like Litmind will let you discover great professionals, with plenty of expertise and great portfolios.

An amateur campaign doesn't go unnoticed, and can hurt a brand's image really fast and forever.

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