While this blog post is primarily meant for models, there may be value in clients also reviewing it. Each session/shoot is unique in its requirements, expected results, products delivered, and costs. Due to these variables, the following are general descriptions of the terminology used for models and clients when working with a photographer and do not include shoots involving modeling agencies, advertising companies, or other potential clients.

Modeling sessions/shoots can be broken down into five (5) categories—Free, Test, TFP, Paid, and Hired. Following is a general description of each type and what the model can expect.


Free shoots are those where no compensation is received by the client or model. No payment is given for their time and no images have to be delivered for them to use. Free shoots are uncommon these days partly do to the increase in social media. 

A model release may or may not be asked for with free shoots.


Test shoots are generally those where the model and photographer are working together for the first time. While most view this from the photographer’s point of view, it is also important from the model’s perspective as well. Both parties should be seeing how well they work together along with what they were able to create during the shoot. This can determine whether the two parties can and will work together in the future. Photographers should be evaluating the model on if they are on time, how prepared for the shoot they are, their attitude during the shoot, how they are accepting direction, if they can communicate their ideas and thoughts, and their general behavior. Models should be evaluating how the photographer works, how they treat the model, their behavior, how they react to the model’s input and comments, if they can communicate their ideas and thoughts, and how comfortable the model feels around them.

Test shoots fall in-between Free and TFP shoots as they generally are a combination of the two. Some photographers may offer images from the shoot to the model, while other photographers won’t.

A model release may or may not be asked for with Test shoots.


A word commonly thrown around, especially with models and photographers, is TFP. TFP stands for Time for Prints or Time for Photos. This is a term that was used before digital and mirrorless cameras. Today, a better term would be TFD or TFDI (Time for Digital or Time for Digital Images). Regardless of term used, what it means is that the model will receive a specific number of images from the photographer for their time in lieu of financial payment. Generally speaking, this is the type of shoot done when you hear about collaborations between models and photographers. 

The number of images to be given/received varies by photographer and can be a negotiating point for both models and photographers. For example, the default number of images given with TFP shoots for me are two (2) edited images per hour, while other photographers may give 20 or more images (sometimes edited sometimes not). Does this mean that I won’t work with a model that desires five (5) or more images from a two-hour shoot? Nope. If I’m the one that approached them it’s because I saw something making me want to work with them, so I’m willing to make certain changes within reason when that happens. What about if the model approaches me? I’m still willing to make adjustments if possible, but I will want to know why the want these additional images and what they plan to use them for. In most cases, it’s because they don’t understand what they want and are going off of what another photographer did. Most models only want one or two images per look, so having anything more doesn’t serve them well and generally is a waste.

A model release may or may not be asked for with TFP shoots.


A paid shoot is where the photographer hires the model for a specific project or result. The model should not expect to receive any images from the shoot as the they are being financially compensated for their time and ability. This does not mean that the photographer may not gift them several images to be used to promote the model and the photographer, but images should not be expected.

A model release will be required for Paid shoots.


A hired shoot is when the model or client hires the photographer for their photographic ability. Hired shoots involve communicating the needs of the model or client to the photographer and paying them for the costs involved in performing the shoot and delivering the required products. These costs can involve rental equipment, outfits, props, and locations, travel expenses, production time, editing time, etc. Based on the purpose of the shoot and its needs, the rate may be charged per hour, per hour plus rentals/materials, half day, or full day. 

An agreement or contract will be required for Hired shoots and generally cover what the shoot is for, products to be delivered, options for additional products, costs involved, makeup and hair, level of retouching, and shoot/product delivery timeframes. Also, a licesening agreement detailing how the model/client can use the final images may also be included. 

A model release may or may not be asked for.


* Regardless of type of shoot, remember that images cannot be used in a commercial manner without a signed release. Hence, if no release was signed, both parties need the others approval to use any image or portion of any image from the shoot commercially. 

* As a general rule, the photographer will pay all costs involved when doing Free and Paid shoots as they will have approached the model. 

* Test shoots will normally have little to no costs and tend to be conducted at the photographer’s studio or public location.

* TFP shoots may involve additional fees for both the photographer and the model. When this happens, it is important to discuss who will be paying what. Also, please understand that when a studio location is being rented, the photographer cannot just reschedule the shoot because the model forgot about it. This type of behavior not only affects the photographer, but can also reflect negatively on the model making it hard for them to get new work.

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