Your doctor, mechanic, cleaner or pool guy don’t work free so don’t you either! Shooting for free is a big mistake that many newbies make. When you work for free people don’t value your work as much as if they had to pay for it. Clients who commit to your services with a booking fee or a full payment are much less likely to cancel the session and will put more effort into preparing for the session, thus giving you more creative opportunities.
A key point to understand is that portfolio building and experimenting shouldn’t be done with paying customers. Build and grow your skills on your time. The best way you can build a portfolio and hone your skills is with a TFP arrangement. TFP is “time for print” or “trade for print.” Time for print means the arrangement between model and photographer where the photographer provides the model with the best photos from the session, and the model gives a limited license in return for his/her time. These images can be used in your portfolio, advertising of any kind, business cards, articles for the web, and for many other situations you may need them.