“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 “Trade For” or a free photoshoot 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 for a free photoshoot.
Solution? Either continue asking other photographers for free photoshoots until you get enough experience (and you have a developed portfolio) or
simply book a shoot with an experienced photographer, which is the fastest way to gain valuable experience!
2. How big is your social media?
If your Instagram account is set on private, or if you only have 42 contacts, then a trade shoot or free photoshoot 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, therefor the model’s existing reach will see my info.
We are trading exposure, which leads to increased bookings in the long run. If your social media accounts are tiny, and 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 and there is a chance I simply don’t remember who I spoke with. Persistence is key and sending a simple reminder is helpful, but it is depending on how you’re sending those reminders…
4. How polite have you asked/sent reminders?
Keep in mind that you are asking someone to give you a service or product 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, and 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 which means 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 full-time student, but I think I’d add to your portfolio because of XYZ, please keep me in mind for any future opportunities!
If it’s okay, 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 Trade-For 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, then 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 equals amazing images.
If your portfolio has mediocre pics, then you may have a tougher time getting the trade-shoots you’d like.
I’ve been there, I sucked for a long time, and I got rejected and 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 trade-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…”
— Just stop! 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, then stay tuned for my next project.
It combines the need for super affordable photoshoots with the need for new photographer training.
Thanks for reading!
Tips above were written by a photographer I’ve been inspired by since I first started, Brett Seeley.