A Tricky Way to Guarantee Your TFP Model Will Show Up

Young female model posing in white camisole

The TFP —

Every photographer has used it and if you haven’t it’s a valuable tool to advance your craft as well as add to your portfolio. So, before I reveal the answer to what the title of this article teases, let’s first define what TFP is… for those who don’t already know.

What Does TFP Mean?

TFP stands for “Time for Prints” (or Time for Photos since most everything is digital now).

It allows photographers and models to trade services with each other that benefits both parties. The photographer gets a model to photograph and images to add to their portfolio, while the model gets a photographer to photograph them, then given images to add to their portfolio and social media. Time is the currency, not money.

It’s a great arrangement… when it works, but things can go wrong. The model can not show up without any notice or call right before the shoot and cancel.  This “no-show” is often referred to as flaking, as in, “The model flaked”. 

It’s especially bad if the photographer spent money renting a studio, which I have personally experienced. 

That’s a case of rotten eggs that smells real bad. (Sorry, had to use something other than the standard “that sucks” line.)

So, what’s a tricky way to guarantee your TFP boudoir model will show up? Recruit a friend of the makeup artist to be your model. Okay, so this does require having a makeup artist, but then again, this is a boudoir shoot and most models (and photographers) will want to use one anyway.

So, how does it all work?

Start With The Makeup Artist — Not the Model

This is something I discovered quite by accident.

Makeup artist working on model

I had recently moved across the country from Los Angeles to Virginia and I was establishing myself and my photography business in a completely new area. I was brand spankin’ new to the scene. I knew no one, and no one knew me. I wanted to try out some makeup artists and studios before charging people to test the waters. 

I don’t like going into a shoot with a client who’s paying full price with a makeup artist I’ve never worked with before in a studio I’ve never stepped foot in. I like to test things beforehand, so I decided to set up some TFP shoots. 

I contacted a number of makeup artists and after introducing myself and explaining to them what I was doing, asked if they happened to know any “models” who might be interested in a TFP boudoir shoot.

One of them answered with, “Oh, I have a friend who might be interested.”

Her response struck my brain like a bolt of lightening.

The word kept echoing in my head…

“… I have a friend… friend… friend…”

It was subtle but I immediately recognized the leverage that came with that statement.

I thought to myself, if the “model” was a friend of the makeup artist, the odds of her flaking and being a no-show go waaaaay down because she’ll be flaking on her friend (the MUA) which would damage their relationship. She would not only be letting me down, but more important, she’d be letting down her friend as well.

Eureka! It felt like I’d struck gold in them thar’ hills!

It was now time to put this to the test.

Over the course of the next several weeks I tested three separate makeup artists with three different models, all personal friends of the makeup artist… and not one flaked. Pretty good considering I had paid for studio space all three times. 

The makeup artist was thrilled to be doing makeup for one of her friends. The model was thrilled to have her makeup done by one of her friends. And I was just thrilled everyone showed up and didn’t have to eat my deposit (money leave a bitter taste in your mouth, especially ones).

(Ahh! The trials and tribulations of being a photographer and getting your business up and running.)

It worked… like a dream and everyone walked away happy.

The Camaraderie Effect

Another great benefit that serves the model is that by having her friend there to do her makeup, there’s a sense of camaraderie between the two of them during the session — a mutual built-in trust. 

The model will feel a lot more comfortable having someone there she already knows as opposed to walking into the shoot with a complete stranger — and boudoir can make subjects feel even more vulnerable than other types of shoots. 

If Not a Makeup Artist, Then a Hair Stylist

A variation on this would be to start with a hair stylist instead of a makeup artist. 

If you’re lining up a TFP shoot and you don’t know any makeup artists or can’t get one in time, then start with a hair stylist. Get in touch with several hair people and ask them if they have any friends who would be interested in a TFP boudoir shoot.

The stipulation would be that they’d have to do their own makeup, but hair would be provided by your hair stylist / their friend. 

Of course the ultimate would be getting someone who does both hair and makeup. 

How To Get Your Makeup Artist For “Free” for a TFP Shoot

There is a way to get your makeup artist (or hair stylist) for free for your TFP shoot (as I did with all three of my mine). Well, not exactly free free, but you’re not reaching into your pocket and pulling out cold hard cash. You can read all about it right here in my article entitled, “How To Get A Free MUA For Your Boudoir Shoot”

How To Find a Makeup Artist If You Don’t Know Any

If you want to try this method out and you know a few makeup artists already, you’re one step ahead of the game. Just ask them if they have any friends who’d be interested in a TFP boudoir shoot. 

If you’re new to the area or just new starting out with your boudoir photography business, where can you find makeup artists?

Fear not, there are several places you can look.


Thumbtack is an online service (and app) that pairs people up searching for specific business services with local professionals who provide those services. 

There are others too. Bark is another such service.

You just need to sign up and type in the service you’re looking for. In this case it would be “makeup artist”. A list of makeup artists with their photos will pop up and you contact them through the app. They usually have a little statement on what they’re all about along with a rating that past customers have given them.

It’s sort of like Angie’s List, which is another similar service (although I’ve never tried that one myself).

With services like Thumbtack and Bark you’re going to find people who are much more serious about offering professional services to their community, more so than Facebook Groups (which I’ll talk about next) which is a mix of hobbyists, professionals, and part-timers.)

Facebook Groups

In just about every area of the country you can find a Facebook group for “Models, Makeup Artists, and Photographers” — the trifecta that all aspiring models, makeup artists, and photographers belong to. 

Let’s face it, if you belong to any one of those three categories, you need the services of the other two and there’s usually a Facebook group (or two, or three) you can join to connect with them all.

The great thing about these Facebook groups is that they are self-protective of their members. If there’s a bad apple in the midst, word gets ‘round real fast and you’ll be called out and flogged publicly (or at least digitally)

They’re also a great way to vet other people you’ve never worked with before. Just ask the group in a post if any one has worked with so-and-so before. You’ll get honest answers, either publicly or in a private message.

Craig’s List

Good ‘ole Craig’s List. 

If you’re not familiar with Craig’s List, it’s kind of like an online digital bulletin board where people advertise for everything and anything. You can sell stuff, buy stuff, offer business services and find business services.

Craig’s List seems to be falling out of favor lately due to the vetting system these newer services have in place, but it depends on your area. Anyway, it’s worth checking out.

Just go to CraigsList.com and type in your city, town, or zip code to tap into the local market — then search for “makeup artist”. They’ll be there, although you’re more likely to find people just getting started as opposed to someone seasoned with more experience. 

I’d use Craig’s List only as a last resort. 

My Ultimate Boudoir TFP Agreement

If you’re interested in using a written agreement with your model for TFP shoots (which I highly recommend), then check out the one I use for my TFP shoots here.

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Thanks for your time!

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of LoungeBoudoir.com, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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