Editor’s Introduction: Jess Robinson is very popular,
highly accomplished “Internet model” who makes her living booking shoots with
photographers (and occasional clients and publications) for glamour, often nude
shoots all over the country. While her experience is not directly applicable
to every independent model, and not applicable at all to mainstream agency
models, the evolution of her thought process on TFP/TFCD shoots nicely
illustrates the role that “trade shoots” play over a model’s career.
and its Place in My Career
- by Jessica
Once upon a time TF work literally made Jess Robinson. I used it for
experience on set – which taught me most of what I know about my job. I
used it to build a portfolio – some of these images are *still* booking me
work. I was floored by every picture – ‘wow, is that me!?’ And I was
green enough that I hadn’t been disappointed yet. I was lucky enough to
work with amazing photographers early on and I went through a personal
artistic Renaissance. To any new model, I always recommend
booking TF with a) anyone, at first – just to get used to the motions of a photoshoot
NOT with concern for the final product and b) then some better photographers to
start building a collection of images. A caveat, if you have a specific
image you want, and fail to produce a TF result to your satisfaction,
I recommend hiring someone vs. attempting this over and over again in
After a certain point, if you are selling your modeling services, accepting
much if any TF work is stupid. In any industry, giving you product away
for free is bad business. I learned this the hard way, I booked TF after
TF, probably a year after I should have stopped accepting any.
My use for TF work expired when it clearly became a waste of my time.
In a perfect world, I’d be able to do the work that inspires me with an
equal collaborator/friend on a monthly basis. In lala land, an MUA is
involved and I have an active role in the editing (image selection) process.
Also, unless we are shooting fine art, I want non nude images in addition
to whatever nakedness we shoot. I am willing to share expenses.
Naturally, we also have to make images I actually like. These are my
terms for shooting TF, and it doesn’t really exist for me so I opt out.
Last summer I spent 6 weeks on LA. During that time a booked several TFs,
hoping to benefit from the local talent, and had horrible experiences with
nearly all of them. Left and right MUAs ‘cancelled’ (or more likely were
never booked), photographers dropped off the surface of the earth after our
shoot, or neglected to send me any non nude images, which I expressed as
important. And that was the end. Don’t get mad at LA though, my
disgust began much sooner. Photographers with beautiful fashion/art portfolios
interested only in erotica, final products completely lacking any resemblance
to the quality of the portfolio, and photographers who were generally
uninspired by my efforts towards a collaborative shoot. One photographer
even said to me, ‘is that supposed to be a pose?’ as we were shooting a set
that was clearly a stretch for me as a model.
I don’t care about TF for networking, it never pays off. I don’t care
about TF because the photographer is important in the community. I don’t
care about TF work for potential paid jobs, they never materialize. Most
importantly, since this was my weakness, I don’t care about TF because someone
asked really nicely. These will be your hurdles as you transition into
taking less and less TF work.
Now, I am happy to trade with a few select photographers that I worked with
in the beginning; we blissfully journey to lala land and make wonderful images.
You can read a lot more of Jessica’s experiences as a traveling glamour
model on her blog at http://modeljessrobinson.wordpress.com
and see her portfolio at http://modeljessicarobinson.com
This article copyright 2010, Jessica Robinson