I’ve been fiddling with photography for over a decade now. For the most part, I had been shooting casually, taking snapshots of friends, food, and places. As for events, I only covered my old company’s parties and family gatherings. I’ve experimented with a few other things like lighting with speedlights and post-processing.

I never really had much formal training besides books and online courses. The wife and I took a basic course and primers on food and landscape photography under Sir Jo Avila but that’s pretty much it. I wasn’t shooting with nifty camera bodies and lenses either but over the course of my dabbling I was able to acquire a collection of stands, reflectors, lighting modifiers — enough to even set up my own small “studio” in our attic.

So around June of last year, I finally decided to focus on a niche for a change. I’ve long appreciated the human form so portraiture, fashion, and glamour looked to be a good place to start.

Since most of my friends are shy introverts, I had to look elsewhere for models to practice and build a portfolio with. I didn’t want to spend a lot money on established models, especially since I wasn’t all too confident with my skills just yet. But I was willing to invest in my portfolio.

So, in my search for willing subjects, I stumbled upon the local photo shoot community. There are various groups on Facebook each with thousands of members. It turns out, the most common way shoots get arranged is through exchange deals or “ex deals.” Basically, it’s a barter system. Aspiring models could pose for free, a minimal fee, or even just for food and transportation. In turn, they can get some shots for their own set cards.

I was able to kick start my own journey through a bunch of ex-deals and I’ll probably be writing about some of my shoots and quirky experiences.

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