Working For Free As A Photographer
I think every photographer works for free now and then. And for us it might sound super normal, but when I tell someone that I have photoshoot tomorrow and when they ask more about the shoot and they figure out it’s a non-paid shoot, they really don’t understand it. For me, the only shoots I do for free are portfolio shoots. This means that everyone in the team is working for free, because we all want to create new work to try new techniques, learn work with new equipment, working on our creative side of photography and there are much more reasons to create a portfolio shoot.
But it’s different if you have to work for free for a brand, because the brand is going to sell products thanks your photos. Nobody should work for free but there are a few points to ask yourself before you accept the job:
- Will this job help my photography business?
- Will this job help me to reach new clients?
- Will this job be good to add to my client list?
- Will this job be very special to do? (Special location, exclusive models, etc.?)
If this happens to me and I can answer all the above questions with ‘yes’, I might do it, but I always ask something else in return. One thing I never believe is: ‘Next time we will pay you for the shoot!’. Always make sure that it is really worth it for you to do the shoot, and don’t forget to make a contract together to avoid any conflicts afterwards.
“Each time a photographer takes an unpaid job thinking they’re jump starting their career, they’re actually destroying any hope of job security. If we all started saying no to unpaid gigs, we’d all be asked a lot less.”source quote: pixsy.com
They ask us to work for free because they think photography is super easy and we love to take pictures, so why won’t we do it for free? We have to make a living from our job, and yes we love to create pictures, but that doesn’t mean we can say yes to free (commercial) jobs.
Decide for yourself if it’s worth to spent your time on this free job, and if not, just be honest and say no. How do you think about this topic?
Totally agree with you on this and love the checklist you have shared. I am just starting out accepting work after offering to do some shoots for free. The clients like the work so are now paying but I did need to make that clear from the beginning – mostly for myself to claim my own worth.