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If you are into shooting models, you have probably heard the words testing (or test shoot), time for print (TFP / TFCP) and collaborations thrown around. If you are wondering what the difference between each these types of shoot you are not alone!

A search on a popular model and photographer networking site shows that many people are confused by what these terms actually mean.

A large part of the problem with the overall confusion about differences is that everyone seems to have a different interpretation of the terms, simply put what TFP means for one team might mean test for another or even in some cases something completely different altogether…  So when applying for castings (or casting for team members yourself) it’s always best to clarify the teams personal interpretation of what is required and what will be provided before starting the job.

Here is our personal thoughts on the difference between testing, TFP and collaborations;

Time for Print (TFP) / Time for CD of Images (TFCD):

These two acronyms are throw backs to the “good old days” when you would quite literally give each team member a designated amount of real life hold in your hand printed photos (can you imagine trying to give a model a film negative for their book?). This later evolved into digital images on a CD and now with thumb drives, faster internet connections and services such as Dropbox even this is antiquated terminology. To make this hurt the brain less really it should be called TFI (Time For Images). Of the two terms you will usually hear TFP utilised the most.

TFP is a form of a barter arrangement where a photographer quite literally pays a model with some edited images for their time at the photo shoot. Typically the photographer will previously agree to the number of the images that will be provided in return for the models time.

Obviously the quality of the model and photographer will vary greatly at this level so it is important to consider every team members portfolio to gauge their ability to do what is required of them to make the concept work. Often people get so excited by the inspiration images from the mood board they commit to something that the team may not have the skills to reproduce so the final result can be VERY different and feel a bit disappointing.

TFP shoots are popular with new photographers and models who are looking to expand their portfolio or book.

Shoots are usually a predetermined concept (not always) and are structured similar to a more formal shoot often using tools such as mood boards to help help achieve a specific look or concept and may be a small or large team but more often than not have at a minimum a model, photographer and MUA. These type of arrangements also give non professional creatives the opportunity to practice working as part of a team in planning and executing a photo shoot.

These type of arrangements are skewed quite heavily in the models favour as they only have to come to the shoot but the photographer has to edit all of the images after the shoot. Financially as well it is often expected that the photographer will foot the bill for a studio space and the MUA has to outlay for any makeup used for the shoot. Some teams will all contribute towards a studio space but PLEASE always remember that just because you aren’t getting paid for a shoot it is costing other people money and you are quite literally getting something of value for FREE so don’t be late or worse cancel at short notice or worst of all not show up! This not only costs everyone in their valuable time and money, but can be potential career suicide as you don’t know where these passionate and dedicated creatives will be in a few months time, always remember that not only are you “going places” but (potentially) so are they and they can either take you along for the ride or you can become the horror story that they tell.

Testing or Test Shoot:

Test shoots are similar to TFP shoots but typically have a less formal arrangement. It is not unusual for there to be just the model and the photographer but often there will be a MUA as well. The shoot is usually styled from whatever the model brings along on the day rather than using a stylist or sourcing specific wardrobe from stores / designers.

Often the looks shot are quite simple as more creative concepts can take more planning but this will depend on what the small team comes up with on the day.

Test shoots are often used by agency bookers as a way to get feedback from trusted photographers about their new faces (new models), help develop their posing ability, get experience in front of the camera and potentially a few new images for their book. It is also an opportunity for photographers to test models they may be interested in hiring in the future, a chance to show an agency their quality of work or an opportunity to test a new piece of equipment.

Another important facet of testing is that it can (and in our opinion should) be considered more as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas, get experience in front of the camera, for photographers & models to keep their skills sharp and expand networks / relationships in the creative industry. The fact that you may get a few images for your book (portfolio) should be a secondary consideration to these other highly important areas of developing a career in the creative industry and should you not get many (or even any) useable images (which can be disappointing) these other considerations should be your utmost consideration.

A test shoot can also be used as part of a casting, a few “test photos” to see how you would look in a certain set or wardrobe or it may refer to a more elaborate pre planned shoot with a lot of moving parts, a dress rehearsal of sorts to make sure that everything is going to work as planned before committing 100% of the financial resources to shooting the final shoot.

Collaborations:

Collaborations usually involve a group of creatives who donate their time for a specific project with a view for publication or similar. Collaborations often involve larger teams and may include any combination of photographers, lighting assistants, stylists, designers, MUA, Hair Stylist, Set Builder, Art Director, videographer, multiple models and many other potential roles.

The pay off for these type of productions is the potential to get a “tear sheet” (to be published) which can then go into your portfolio and potentially get your name out there to more people in the industry.

This means that you are not going to get anything for you portfolio straight away, publications take time. It is not unusual to have to wait up to 12 months for something to be published! This might sound crazy but remember that magazines (especially in the fashion genre) are usually seasonal which means that if you submit something that just misses the cut off for the winter issue but they want to run it next issue guess what? Yep next winter. There are a lot of factors that go into getting published which I want get into in this article but as a team member the main things to remember are DO NOT publish anything anywhere that may jeopardise the publication (this can include BTS photos and selfies of the look or location) and be patient it takes time!

As a general rule I would enforce a no phone and no camera other than the main camera policy and I would not share any photos digitally with anyone including team members. Have people back over for a celebration drink and show them the images there which is a fun way to catch up and congratulate each other, get feedback on potential final touch ups and most importantly protect the publish ability of the editorial!

With all of this said and done, remember that these description are our personal opinions from our experience booking models, running photo shoots and renting our studio to photographers. Any of these terms can be used in place of another within the industry and it is important to clarify with any team their personal interpretation.

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