How to get a photoshoot for free
So, you’re wanting to shoot- but the photographer (maybe me) hasn’t replied or they just send you a link with their rates.
“WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO SHOOT ME FOR FREE??” you say, while pressing the ‘unfriend’ button…
Here are a few things to consider, when trying to get a TF shoot (trade for) from a photographer you’re wanting to shoot with.
1. How much experience do you have?
I personally LOVE trade shoots- as it allows me to try out new things, or create things that typical clients don’t have an interest in– OR — it gives me a chance to fine tune settings for new concepts FOR future clients. With that said, if a new model comes in with zero experience- then they’re most likely not contributing much- other than just being there.
Solution? Either continue asking other photographers until you get enough experience (and you have a developed portfolio) or simply book a shoot with an experienced photographer (fastest way to gain valuable experience!).
2. How big is your social media?
If your IG is set on private, or if you only have 42 contacts… a trade shoot has very little benefit to the photographer. One of the reasons why I do trade shoots- is to increase my social media reach. My existing reach will see a new face (model) and the model’s existing reach will see MY info– we are trading exposure- which leads to increased bookings in the long run. If your SM accounts are tiny, and/or set to private… then it limits who sees the images.
3. How many times have you asked?
I can only speak for myself here… but my memory SUCKS. If you message me today, there may be 50 new conversations started by the same time tomorrow. If a week goes by- I simply don’t remember who I spoke with. Persistence is key. Sending a simple reminder is helpful- depending on HOW you’re sending those reminders…
4. How politely have you asked/sent reminders?
Keep in mind… you are asking someone to give you a service/product (edits) at no cost… which is like asking Chipotle to give you a burrito for free just because you like burritos. I know I know I know… some of you models just got really pissed off just now– because YOUR time is just as valuable…. (yes, it is)- But I guarantee you don’t shoot with 100% of people that ask you to shoot- so hang tight a second–
I have shitty memory… BUT I remember who has amazing manners. If you send me a message- and I reply with rates (or say I’m not in the market for your particular look at the moment)- and you DON’T reply… then I assume you sent that message to a long list of photographers– meaning, MY style isn’t what you wanted… You were simply looking for a free shoot. Adios!
IF you send a message about a specific shot I’ve taken- or a concept I’ve done- or if you say you have access to a location/wardrobe/accessory that would be amazing with a style that I’m known for— THEN I’m intrigued…
IF you were to REPLY saying “Thanks for sending me your rates! I was really hoping to try to keep costs low, as I’m a FT student- but I think I’d add to your portfolio because XYZ… please keep me in mind for any future opportunities! If it’s ok, I’d like to stay in touch a few times a month because I know we’d create magic!” …. Do you think I’d probably contact this person when I wanted to test out some new concepts? (the answer is probably yes)
95% of TF inquiries don’t reply after I send my rate info. Manners matter.
5. How amazing is your portfolio?
If you’ve shot with tons of amazing photographers– chances are- YOU are an amazing model. Chances are- YOU would bring more to the shoot… Which would allow the photographer to focus more on THEIR creativity… which = amazing images. If your port has crappy pics… then you may have a tougher time getting the TF shoots you’d like. I’ve been there– I suuuucked for a long time… and I got rejected/ignored a TON- but that only made me more determined to suck less!
6. What’s your motivation for shooting?
Is it for fun? Is it a hobby only? Then don’t take a ‘no’ personally. You’re probably just not a good fit as of right now.
Is it for business? Are you monetizing?
Things I hate hearing on a TF shoot… “ok, so I need a shot with this product, and then I need a headshot, then I need a shot with these pants, and then I need I need I need…” — This is no longer a trade shoot…
A trade shoot needs to be mutually beneficial– so please don’t take it personally if you’re not a great fit as of right now.
7. Continue to practice!
Just as with everything else in life– the more focus you put into something, the better you will become. Continue practicing your selfies so you learn your angles– and follow the influencers so you know what’s in fashion, and what poses work for your body type. Shoots are fun- and can lead to some amazing opportunities.
If you’re passionate about photoshoots, but just can’t seem to get things moving- stay tuned for my next project.
It combines the need for super affordable photoshoots with the need for new photographer training. Some sexy stuff!
Thanks for reading!