Trade for What?

We would all love to have a stylist dress us each day so we didn’t have to pick out our own wardrobe. It would also be nice to leave the house with flawless hair and makeup, but that’s not the reality for most of us. Maybe when the money rolls in you’ll be able to afford that luxury, but in the meantime I’ll let you in on my secret to finding a “dream team”. This won’t help you in the everyday, but it will make your life easier when planning your photo shoots. It’s hardly a secret, I just believe that anyone who’s determined enough to expand their portfolio can fit anything into their budget…or find it for free. Sites like Model Mayhem, art shows where photographers showcase their latest work, and fashion shows–where there are plenty of creative individuals in the same place–are great places to begin networking.

Being new to the industry, I used to think a model didn’t need a business card. Modeling isn’t a business, is it? Of course it is! You are your business in any career that uses your looks to make profit, gain exposure, network, etc. I noticed a greater feedback and interest when I started handing out fresh, glossy business cards with my contact info on them as opposed to scrambling for a pen and paper and hoping what I wrote was legible. Even more feedback came when I started my website and became more active in the online world (a simple blog will do). Your cards don’t have to be flashy, bright, and glow in the dark, but they do need to be eye-catching and unique to your personality. In a creative industry like this one, black type on a white card just doesn’t cut it. I’ve even had recommendations to integrate my photo into my card’s design somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with that and–if your card is placed in a stack that keeps piling up on someone’s desk–your face might help it to stand out. The only reason I haven’t done this is because I hand mine out to potential clients for other work like video editing and–if they see my glamour shot on the front–they might look at me crazy! Haha.

There are two terms you’ll here a lot. Trade for Photos (TFP) and Trade for CD ( TFCD). In that order, it means you’ll all work on a photo shoot for free, but the agreement is you’ll get a few edited photos or a CD of all of the images. No money is exchanged because you’re all doing a favor for each other, but no one walks away empty-handed (usually). A model might have to sign a release form that gives the photographer rights to use their images in any way he/she wishes. A model also has the right to draft up a contract that states the photographer’s liability to give her/him the promised images from the shoot. I’ve even heard of an incident where a model took her photographer to court because he didn’t fulfill his side of the contract. Let’s hope this is never the case for you!

Through doing projects like these, I found out rather quickly who I loved to work with and who to avoid. In business, I’m not a fan of second chances. A first impression will let you know a lot about an individual’s work ethic and there’s no need to relive a bad experience. I would recommend having a “go-to” list. In that list, jot down at least two of each: makeup artist, hair stylist, photographer, wardrobe stylist, and designer. There’s rarely an instance that all of them will be available all the time–especially if their good! Never be offended if someone who started out with you now has to pencil you into their calendar for a session with them. It should be your goal that you all continue to grow and expand to more projects so that there becomes a higher demand for you all.

Another great thing about building a team is that you become familiar with each other’s styles and visions. For example, an idea that pops into your makeup artist’s head will immediately lead them to contact you because they know you’ll be the best fit for the project. Also, using the same makeup artist, designer, or photographer will allow them to recognize your body type, poses, and facial structure. Prepping for the shoot happens much quicker when everyone knows what you look best in, how to properly shape your brows, and how you take direction. If you’re like me, you might even get nervous working with people for the first time and over think the aspects of the shoot. When you’re around people you trust, you’re more comfortable and willing to try out new concepts.

The basic tips I want you to remember from this post are:

1. Network through trusted online sites, art shows, and fashion shows.

2. Invest in your business cards and website.

3. Learn from first impressions and don’t allow yourself to relive a bad experience.

4. Never allow resentment to hinder growth within your team.

5. Try new concepts.

I’d love to hear your personal tips and experience. Feel free to share anything I haven’t covered that you think would be helpful to models out there. Happy shooting!


❤ K. Love

(Photos courtesy of: Kevin Michael Schmitz, Shawna Wilson Photography, Shelly Eve Photography, and Jennifer Sosa Photography.)

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Tracy says:

    Love what you are saying. I have had many friends and clients ripped off by “agents” or “publicist’s”, one of the worst is the will trade for pictures. Most of the time it ends up being a waste of time for the model due to the quality of the pictures. Great blog and great tips.

    1. Thanks, Tracy! I’ve had my fair share of wasted time with photogs not giving me my photos or giving me amateur shots that aren’t up to par with my port. Learning to avoid those situations is key in this business.

  2. j-boogie says:

    love it!
    thanks for the advice! you are so helpful, thoughtful, and adorable!


    1. By adorable, you mean super insightful and business-like? Oh yeah, thanks love!

  3. @shellyeve says:

    kytia – i love all your shots! you are a wise woman – and i love that you’re sharing your wisdom with others 🙂 you are also a GEM to work with. loved it.

    1. Thanks, Shelly! I’m glad you liked it and I hope people check out the link to your site too!

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