Working for exposure is a zero sum game, and this is why I so often no longer accept any requests for any work where the only payment is "exposure". There is no way this post can come across as anything but vain and assholic, but I'm ok with that.
You see I have been in business for about 5 years now and in that time I have emerged as an established photographer. I work full time behind the scenes in this business, as well as having a family, a contract job and tertiary study, this means working for exposure isn't in my vocabulary, I just don't have time for it. There are some caveats here, which you will read about a little later but in general...
From a models point of view, you're probably thinking that you will post the images on social media and eventually on your own website etc and that in turn will give me exposure to all your friends who may or may not hire me in the future. This is a nice thought, but in the 5 years I have been in business it has not brought me much if any work. You see like attracts like, if I do a shoot for you for free, most of the time your friends also decide they are going to be "models" just so that they can then also try and get photos for free.
Exposure doesn't pay my bills, working for free doesn't pay my bills, and unfortunately, I just cannot afford to be putting work out there that other people would pay for even if you yourself won't.
Anyway, that's enough whining from me, here is a word of warning for models and other photographers out there. I honestly don't care if you work on a tfp basis all the time, there are times I do it too, but I seriously urge you to think about why you do it. Do you just enjoy interacting and having a bit of fun? then continue on as you are.
All this being said...I still don't believe there is any harm in asking, there have been times, even recently when I have liked the look someone has and said yes, but please don't be offended if i say no! My time is precious, and just like you I need to allocate it to my highest priorities.
The reason this post has come up, however, is because on a nearly daily basis I still get messages asking to do so by models just starting out who want free photos. The underlying logic of the exposure argument is not too bad, new model works with some photographers to build up a portfolio to promote themselves. TFP or time for prints is what we call it in the trade and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Where it goes awry is when a trade is not equal; If you are a new model you probably don't have the range I would usually look for in a model, you might still feel very awkward in front of the camera and/or you probably want some stuff I have tonnes of and don't need any more for my own portfolio. And this is a very big thing...you see I have enough work that the majority of my portfolio are shots that have been paid for.
There is a caveat to all this, sometimes I put out model calls, this usually happens when business is slow and I have had an itching to do something I don't usually get to do or that does fill a need in my portfolio. But even in this case I usually trade your time for about 5 digital files and after that, you pay for anything else you would like. This is where these shots from a shoot in Christchurch this last weekend came from. I had an idea that I wanted to explore and found someone to do it with, I have worked with Amanda before and knew she would be perfect for this light and breezy winter photo shoot!