TF (or Time For….) is great when you’re starting out – when you have no credits, no experience and therefore no reputation and, within reason, you’re happy to work with almost anyone in return for portfolio material to create a range of styles that are going to get you noticed. We’ve all had to do it, it’s basically starting at the bottom and working up.
This works with anyone – photographers, MUAs, hairstylists, stylists and designers. But there does come a point when you either no longer need portfolio material, the quality of material you need goes beyond what’s on offer for free or you can no longer afford to do it for nothing because – well basically it’s your living.
I’ve seen quite a few of these sorts of postings recently on Facebook mostly – Photographer looking for…. and
and I concur.
This year is my last as a predominantly TF stylist. I’ve been able to work for free up until now because I have needed the material, credits, networking opportunities, and Student Loans has been (theoretically) paying my bills as I have been in study full time. Getting a paid job always makes me happy of course, though they are few and far between but highly cherished.
Next June I go into business full time so I will be involved in very few TF shoots although there are still a few epically good photographers and models out there I want to work with on very specific projects who may do me the honour.
My concern is getting any work at all. With so many people in the industry willing to work for nothing, those of us worth paying are finding it harder and harder to find work. This is because many photographers and models are hobbyists (if you’re not charging you must be surely) or have second jobs which takes the pressure off. Fair dos!
Whilst I will still accept (and offer) TF work to get my design work published or help someone talented on the up, I NEVER design or manufacture for nothing and it occurs to me I never have. I’ve done a lot of free styling work but I’ve never had to manufacture anything for nothing.
I am hoping that the fashion market is going to be a little different from the sort of work I’ve done this past couple of years. I’ve had a core stock of historical and vintage clothing for years now. It’s not really a money spinner though unless you’re an artist and as most of it has been used on multiple shoots it’s time to start selling on.
I am by nature a hoarder so getting rid of unique, never to be seen again outfits is hard though at the same time liberating and it means I am making money and starting to create space, both of which I really need at the moment. I have an entire room full of about 60 outfits – that’s the sort of hoarder I am.
So I am now beginning the clear out process ready for next year when fashion, vintage and creative concept become my focus. I haven’t actually made any historical clothing for about 4 years now so it’s remarkable that it’s only in the last 2 I’ve found a market for it. This was great to start with as it meant I had no end of offers but I am now finding that unless they are high end concept or art shoots the quality of the results is dubious and I am finding more and more that I am not including these results in my portfolio, which kind of defeats the object of doing it for nothing.
For that reason also, I no longer hire historical for TF. You want it, you pay for it. It may mean no more historical shoots but I can live that. My historical work is highly accurate and handmade. Some of these dresses have taken weeks to make. It’s not fancy dress. It deserves better.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the results I have had have been amazing, truly amazing. I’ve included just a few of my favourites below. You can find full sets and credits on my Facebook page.
At the end of the day, collaborations are give and take, based on what you need and what you can get. We’re all artists in one sense or another and you can’t keep good artwork down but some of us have to make a living out of it. That’s just the way it is.