In simple terms, ‘TF’ stands for “time for..”, and the premise is quite simple. It’s a photo shoot where neither the photographer nor the model charges for his or her time. Instead, in exchange for the model’s time, the photographer compensates the model with photographs. This agreement results in a fair and equitable exchange of time for photos with no money changing hands.
Why would people do this?
Two reasons mainly, firstly because many photographers and models shoot primarily for their own enjoyment and simply want to get some great photos, the other is so they can gain experience and add some photographs to their portfolio. This agreement allows models to practice their craft – working with different photographers under various conditions and in many different environments. Photographers are motivated to work under a TF arrangement in order to improve their skills while building their own professional portfolios. Other motivations for photographers might include a desire to work with exceptionally attractive or interesting models, testing new equipment, experimenting with various lighting techniques, developing content for a personal project, or simply embracing their passion for photography.
In years past, under a TFP agreement, models were commonly provided with physical photographic prints, hence the ‘P’ stood for ‘prints’. These days when most people want to build an online portfolio it’s much less common for a photographer to supply prints, and usually they will supply the model with a set of edited images as digital image files, which might be emailed or supplied on a CD .
Model Releases / TF Agreements
Some photographers working under TF arrangements require a Model Release or at least some form of written TF agreement form. Although some models and photographers might find themselves intimidated by this document, it is simply an agreement intended to protect the rights of both the model and the photographer.
Models should always read and fully understand the agreement prior to signing the document. There are usually several components to a TF agreement or Model Release document. Models as well as photographers should ensure that each of the following considerations – addressed in each of the following sections – is addressed within the agreement.
One purpose of a TF agreement form is to define the compensation the model and photographer will receive from agreeing to participate in the photo session. The release should clearly define what the model will receive – specifically the number of images, the type of images, the format and size of the images, as well as how they will be delivered, i.e via email, CD or prints.
TF photography sessions are usually held under the assumption that images created during the course of the project are intended for purpose of self promotion only. So, unless otherwise stipulated in the model release, neither party should be allowed to sell these photographs to a third party unless additional compensation is negotiated on a per-case basis.
The agreement should clearly state this requirement and also offer stipulations as to how the model or the photographer might be compensated if a photograph is sold at a later date.
If the photographer schedules a photo session with the primary intent of creating images to sell, the photographer should hire the model outright or make specific predetermined arrangements for deferred payment if a sale is made. Commercial photo sessions should never be held under the auspices of a TF shoot.
Although the model is featured in the photographs, international copyright law stipulates that the copyright for these images is retained by the photographer. The Model Release or TF Agreement does not provide the model with copyright ownership; instead, the release provides models with clearly defined parameters under which the photographs may be used.
It is very important to understand that the model cannot publish or alter the supplied images in any way without the photographer’s permission.
Permission to Reproduce
The TF agreement should include a statement that provides explicit permission for the model to reproduce the images provided by the photographer. Many photo labs and service bureaus won’t provide photographic prints of professional photographs without written permission from the photographer.