Should you accept free photo jobs? A lot of photographers would tell you yes. I mean, I would probably tell you yes if the job or event was for charity or for an organization that you believe in. However, what about just random jobs?
This is a dilemma that faces a lot of young photographers because they feel like if they turn down this offer, it might hurt their chances of scoring a paying gig from the same person or someone else later.
The strange thing is, though, that if you work for free for this company, why would they expect to pay you next time they want to work with you? I mean they already got you to work for them for free, so why should they pay you for providing the exact same services.
It seems a little backwards, right? What other business works that way? I started thinking about it, and no other business does this. No restaurant lets you come in and say I’d like some food for free and maybe next time we come to the restaurant we will pay you if they quality is right for us.
A lot of times companies will be sneaky about getting free photo work. They may not say it outright, but they will get free photos if you agree to their scheme.
They might say something like, “In exchange for the photos, we will promote your name to our thousands of followers on social media.” Name promotion would be nice, but this is code for, “We are going to post your name once, and we have a lot of followers on one platform but nearly none on others.”
When you count the costs (pun intended), it’s not worth your time and effort. Why? Because from my personal experience, they will never call you again because they’ve moved onto the next person they are scamming, or because they will expect you to work for free next time too.
It’s way more beneficial for you as a photographer to scrap and claw to get paying gigs instead of agreeing to work for people who have absolutely no respect for the profession of photography.
Those may seem like harsh words, but I ask you to truly consider them for a moment. Do people who ask for free services really value or believe that something should be paid for? No! If they did, they would be paying you!
So, should you accept free photo jobs?
My answer is no. Not anymore. It’s time for photographers to take business seriously and start acting like actual businesses that require money for their services, work, and time. Make people respect your job.
Here’s a great video from a guy who went around to actual businesses trying to convince them to work for free, just like people do to photographers. This is what prompted this post!