When TFP goes wrong

Posted on 15.09.2009


I’m not writing this as an artist. I’m writing this as a fine art model.

I’ve been FA modeling for 10 years and was glad to do TFP when it didn’t interfere with my schedule, esp when I was in art school and the modeling you gave meant you got modeling from others. No biggie when the trade is concrete and no one messes it up.

Our story takes place in the late summer of ’07. X is one of my favorite local artists. I won’t name any names, but I WILL say that I love his fetish/cross processed/rock and celebrity work. I love it so much, in fact, that when he offers a TFP (Trade for Print for those of you NOT in the biz), I gladly accept because this means I will have an X original of myself to hang!!!

Around this time, I haven’t been doing a lot of TFP specifically because I just took a $15k pay cut to leave my shitty job for one that is better and has better benefits. But for X I am willing and excited to work for free!

I leave work on my lunch break to go to his studio on the east side. I get there, find parking and am so excited that I nearly fall in when he opens the door. But there are problems. He’s double booked me. A girl named Y is there for the same time slot.

Seriously, who double books a model session? No one that pays the models, that’s for fucking sure. He explains that the other girl here is one that he’s been trying to book for a while, do I mind that there is someone else here?

I’m no diva, so I am fine with it. It’s usually not a problem to work around/near other models for me, but I should have seen his lack of care in scheduling as the first major hint.

We do the shoot and everything is going fine. X shoots with film that only takes 12 images per roll, so we are only doing 2 rolls. He is obviously more excited to shoot Y than me, so I end up feeling a little rejected through some of the shoot when we are switching off. Y is, in my mind, hotter/cuter/thinner/edgier than me, much closer to the models I have seen in his images than I could ever be and I’m starting to doubt myself.

We get to my second roll and X wants to know if I am down to shoot a roll with Y. Hell yes, she is hot. So we totally shoot this awesome scene that includes some bondage, hair pulling, etc… and then it’s time to go.

I usually give the artists a month to get back to me with digital images of my work. X takes 3. I get them somewhere around the fall, as digital files of a contact sheet. The sheet of just me, I can open. The images are so small I can barely see them at the proper resolution. The sheet of Y and me won’t open. I send X a message about this and he just never gets back to me.

So I give him another week, then message again. A month later, another message and all I get back from him is some small response about being buried under work. As of today, it’s been about 2.5 years. I’ve messaged him sporadically with no response and obviously no print. No print from the guy that used to be my favorite Baltimore artist… And the worst part? A photo of Y that he shot while I was THERE is now on his website. So I know he developed the other rolls.

I’d never name any names, but when people message me about him or bring him up in conversation, I make sure to tell them about his inability to follow a simple agreement. I also make sure to tell them that he used to be one of my favorites, and now I would never work with or for him again.

So when you’re trying to build your portfolio and models refuse to do TFP for you, just know it’s not about the money. It’s about not getting screwed by assholes like this guy that have ruined it for the rest of you. It’s because of artists like him that I make sure to get my models at least a digital image within the first few weeks.