I have been extremely blessed to be able to build my Dallas Photography portfolio with some amazing people. I’ve worked with models, photographers, MUAs, and stylists from all around the DFW area. Keeping constant communication via Facebook/Instagram has allowed me to stay inspired and see what others are doing in the industry. I have been shooting since January 2016, and I have gained invaluable knowledge along the way.
Building a photography portfolio with TFP shoots (Trade for Photos)
Building my portfolio was fairly simple once I learned about a term in the industry called TFP or Trade for Photos. This is a term used to describe a shoot where a photographer and model come together and do a shoot where no money is exchanged.
Only time and resources are exchanged for mutual benefit. The photographer gets to work with a model/subject and the model gets a certain amount of high-quality photos for free in return. Many people refer to these as test shoots or TF shoots, but in the end, they are great for building your portfolio when money is tight.
A few key things to keep in mind:
- Don’t put so much pressure on yourself – One of the key things that were holding me back was comparing my photography to others online. It can be discouraging, but can also be inspiring. Don’t let the work of others get you down. Keep practicing and find your own style.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to others – I always thought to myself that other people would never want to work with me. I didn’t have enough experience, so I was scared to ask for shoots. This is far from the case now. I have no problem reaching out to models and other creative professionals because I worked on my communication
- Join Photography groups – This is key to collaborating and networking. Get on Facebook and do a search for TFP groups. They are usually filled with beginners that want to build portfolios. Just stay professional and build your network.
- Just because it is popular, doesn’t mean it is good – I have seen some great photos be ruined by bad editing and filters. I have no doubt people just click a button and add a filter in Lightroom or Photoshop and call it a day. This should never be the case.
- Communication is key – Every shoot has gone well except for 1-2. Miscommunication and misunderstandings ruined those shoots from the start. Make sure to state your intentions before you ever reach a location to start shooting.
- Find Inspiration – Social media makes it easier than ever to find inspiration for your next shoot. Do a little research and get a small team together to help you execute your concept.
I’m sure there are more, but this is a great start.
Building a photography portfolio with rented equipment
If you are interested in learning photography and trying it out, the best thing to do is practice. You don’t have to have an expensive camera. You can rent cameras online with good lenses to try over the weekend. There is no need for a huge investment up front.
Do your research and try out a few different systems. I shoot with a Sony A7, and I have still to upgrade. I am reaching the limits of this camera, and I will upgrade in the future, but not until I believe I can’t do anything else with my camera.
A Few online places to rent camera equipment and have it shipped to your doorstep:
Do a quick google search and I’m sure you can find a rental place close to your area.
Connecting on Social Media
Instagram has brought me more models and collaborations than any other platform so far. You can connect with me at http://www.instagram.com/jasonxpena if you want. I keep my profile updated constantly with new images. With the combination of images and targeted hashtags (#’s), I have been able to slowly grow my audience and followers.
Facebook groups have also been just as effective. I joined the DFW TFP group last year and it has helped me grow my network quick. Being able to post photos and get instant feedback was great. I can also ask general questions to more experienced photographers to help with my learning.
Continued online learning
Just because you are out of school, this does not give you a reason to stop personal education. It doesn’t have to be specifically about photography. I personally believe continued education is invaluable and we should all strive to learn new skill-sets. Business management or communications are a great place to start if you don’t know where to begin.
If you don’t learn anything from this article, I hope that one thing sticks with you and refuses to be forgotten. Your personal photography and work is art. It is a beautiful art form and you should never allow others to establish your self-worth.
Checking out new Gear
If your interested in starting your own photography journey, I recommend checking out some of these great resources and gear!
Great Sony Full-Frame Cameras for Portrait Photography:
My Sony A7riii Mirrorless Camera – High resolution Sony Mirrorless Camera
The Sony A7rii – High resolution Sony Mirrorless Camera (2nd Generation)
Sony a7iii Mirrorless Camera – 3rd Generation Sony Mirrorless Camera
Sony a7ii Mirrorless Camera w/IBIS – 2nd Generation Sony Mirrorless Camera
The Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera – Great full-frame starter camera for beginners
Sony Full-Frame Lenses for Portraits: (e-mount)
Sony 85mm f1.4 G-Master – Best 85mm portrait lens
Batis 85mm f1.8 – Lightweight 85mm portrait lens
Sony 85mm f1.8 – Smallest 85mm portrait lens
Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 – Small, sharp, lightweight portrait lens (my favorite lens)
The Sony 50mm f1.8 – Cheap starter nifty fifty
The Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 – Great wide option for portraits and lifestyle images
Sony 24-70 G-Master f2.8 – Sharp and versatile zoom lens
Sony 24-105 G Lens f4.0 – One of the best zooms for Sony
Wide Angle 16-35mm F2.8 – G-Master wide angle lens
The Sony 70-200 G-Master Lens f2.8 – Long range telephoto zoom
Great Sony Starter Cameras for Portraits: (crop-sensor)
Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera – Amazing eye auto-focus detection
Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera – Sony mirrorless camera (2nd generation)
The Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera – Great affordable interchangeable lens camera
Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera w/IBIS – Amazing photography and video camera
Affordable Crop Sensor Lenses for Portraits: (e-mount)
Sigma 30mm f1.4 – Great for blurry backgrounds
Sony 50mm f1.8 OSS – Made for crop sensors and shallow depth of field
Sigma 16mm f1.4 – Amazing lens for Vloggers and video
Sony 35mm f1.8 – Super walk around lens for travel
*Disclaimer: Portraits of Dallas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I may make a small commission when you click on our links, and make a purchase. This goes to helping me maintain my website and create more content. Pricing for you does not change. I appreciate the help!