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working for free (or not..)

JackAllTog Plus
11 6.1k 58 United Kingdom
1 Jun 2012 1:35PM
IF you do stuff for free, I think you should charge them 100, but give them a 100 introductory discount. then the Photos are worth 100 even if no money exchanges hands this time.

Then next time there is an expectation of cost.

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1 Jun 2012 1:37PM
i like that idea jack, i think i'll try that next time since there would likely be ongoing work, but theres an agreement that there will be payment.
OldTom1 8 69
2 Jun 2012 8:34PM
I have provided some images for our local church magazine. I have had several 'free' ads in the mag. These were about the farmers' market they hold and craft fair, that I also attend andhave a stall.
So far I've had several portrait seesions and a wedding from the exposure.
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
2 Jun 2012 8:46PM
I think the model of "it would get you exposure" by working for free used to work in the past, mostly because the pool of potential photographers and photos was drastically smaller. Today photographers are a dime a dozen and photos even less. Plus with the internet almost anyone can get access to a massive range of both.

Ergo the competition is much stronger than in the past and, many times, if you simply do shoots for free all it will net you is either nothing or more offers for free work. It's a deadly trap some seem to fall into as they get hooked on the idea that they must work for any cost, without first calculating the value of their working time (ie their costs to do business and the earnings they need to support their lifestyle).

I think working out your own hours rate is key - know how much your time is worth. From there you can start to decide better how much time (ergo money) you are willing to donate toward services. It also gives you an idea of how much your worth when negotiating - pay might not come in cash, but it should reflect the amount that you're worth.
thewilliam 12 6.1k
3 Jun 2012 12:41PM
When I was a newbie professional, many prospects would ask for a soft deal because I was an unproven quantity.

About 10 years back, a client (who'd found my one-line free entry in the Photographers Commercial section of YP rather than the display ad in Photographers General) tried this tack. I replied that my work carried a money-back guarantee and if the images weren't fit for purpose, then he could return the transparencies and wouldn't need to pay.

Although the job went well, the client complained and returned the trans but not before he's scanned them. A few weeks later, I saw the ad that used one my images so contacted the legal people at FSB. They helped me to write a letter that got me full payment by return of post.

The UK does seem to have a culture of dishonesty these days, starting with our elected government. Sad, but what can we do?
hobbs Plus
16 1.3k Japan
3 Jun 2012 1:31PM
There are benifits and pitfalls to doing things for free and at the end of the day it's down to how comfortable you feel as well as making sure your not being just taken advantage off.

I've been fortunate the company I work for asked if I would photograph a couple of staff reward events for them, while I didn't invoice for the work it was done within my normal working hours and I was invited along to the evening event as a guest as well as having all expenses paid. The benifit from doing 4 off these events out wieghed what I would of invoiced for, mind I wouldn't of got the work if I had of invoiced. The events themselves meant I got to get exprience shooting from helicopters, speedboats, racing cars as well as getting my name known across the company and a couple of large events organising companies.

After the first year of doing these the company themselves approached me to see if going forward I would continue doing the events. They didn't have the budget in the project to pay me and excepted that it would be unlikely I would continue as I was of a level where they would expect to have to pay. I took the discission that I would do one more event for them as it was something I hadn't photographed before and would be good for my portfolio. I ended up photographing 5 events for them in total that weren't invoiced for. But off the back off that in the last 12 mths I've shot 4 invoiced events for other departments and I'm now on the companies official suppliers list. I've also built a good referral list with a strong recognisable global brand which has lead to more invoiced work with other companies.

With the non invoiced work I have done it has been muttally benifiacail situation and once it started to stop being so I walked away from it. if someone approaches you and says "i cant pay you, but it would be great for your portfolio" weigh it up to see if the benifit you get from it is anywhere near the financial value you would of got if you invoiced.
ade_mcfade 16 15.2k 216 England
3 Jun 2012 7:00PM
does "non invoiced" = "cash in hand" Wink
hobbs Plus
16 1.3k Japan
4 Jun 2012 7:48PM

Quote:Does "non invoiced" = "cash in hand" Wink

Nope Grin
steve_kershaw 15 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2012 1:39PM
I have just done a boxing event for free, I had said I wouldn't work for free again mainly for the reasons stated above,

why I changed my mind was because I realize I still want to do photography for me, this was an opportunity to get ringside and with a bit less pressure, its the sort of photography I love to do, as an armature just turning up there is no way you would be allowed ringside,

I know a few of you do the models on a time for print(CD) basis, this is the same theory, yes you may get some shots for your portfolio, but the main reason you are there is because you love this type of photography,

some of these events/model shoots can be quite challenging, if you enjoy this type of photography then personal gratification can be reward enough,
danielwaters 12 93 4 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2012 11:15PM
The people to give free photos to are the people who have a similar client base to you. For example, if you're a wedding photographer then it makes sense to build strong relationships with bridal shops, florists, hotels etc. Bear in mind that giving them free photos is just part of the relationship building process.
thewilliam 12 6.1k
6 Jun 2012 1:34PM
Daniel's dead right but make sure these FREE prints are well branded with your name and contact info. And position your name so that it can't be cropped out without spoiling the image!
Photo4x4 16 470 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2012 2:00PM
Hmmm. In general I'd say no. Would a plumber be expected to do work at his local pub (for instance) just for a sign on the door that read - 'Plumbing by Joe Bloggs'? If you are a professional photographer then that means getting paid for what you do. I support charity by giving money not by giving my services free.

That said, I have a very important client for whom I do a lot of work and I have for the past couple of years done the photos at their annual Christmas party. I don't charge them for this but I do get two tickets and a night out for my wife and me. I do it on the terms that it is my thank you for their business during the year. BTW my wife and I also get invited to their annual Christmas cocktail party (no photos). This is very different though than just doing a job for no payment other than a mention or credit.

A pal of mine in the radio industry was often asked to open fetes and such like. He said to me, 'NEVER do it for free, they won't respect you and will treat you like rubbish. Always ask for something, not necessarily money, ask for food and drink to be supplied and stipulate what other criteria you want. That way they will still respect what you are doing and they will look after you.'

Wise words I think.

Keith Hart
Sooty_1 10 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2012 10:27AM
If you are doing it for you - ie you will get the benefit, then anything you make from it is a bonus.

If you are doing it for someone else and they get the benefit, then you should be paid commensurate with the work done. Any professional person deserves to be paid for work done, and selling yourself short only makes it likely you will be taken advantage of.

Bylines and accreditation are usually worthless these days, unlike referrals and real contacts, but make sure they aren't just 'possibly, maybe, sometime in the future' vague referrals.

Other things you can do include getting a percentage of any future profit - eg from sales of an item you shoot for a company brochure etc.

My bottom line: Never work for free. There is always something you can negotiate from the deal (even if it's only the personal satisfaction of contributing to charity), and try to work on your terms, not someone else's.


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