Photographers: Work For Free!

As photographers working freelance we’ve all received emails asking us for our professional photographic services yet… with the inability to offer payment for whichever reason. One of the classics is the offer for “exposure”.

But my favourite was this one:

Following their multi-million pound refurbishment, the person in charge of human resources at a very famous newly re-opened 5* Hotel on Piccadilly (easy to figure out) contacted me asking me to shoot their staff Christmas Party taking place on a boat cruising along the Thames.

Having not allocated a budget for this, their offer was the following:

What I’d get in exchange would be the “opportunity” to see Tower Bridge open at night and take photos of it.

I have got to admit it was a little challenging not to wee myself in excitement, but I somehow managed. I guess their refurbishment cost a little more than they planned.

Let’s just say my answer was something along those lines:

“The opportunity to see Tower Bridge open at night”.

Gosh, I always knew those many years investing thousands of pounds in photographic equipment and the countless hours I spent perfecting my craft would lead me to greatness.

Now let me put it this way. You pay someone to clean your toilet yet you are unable to pay someone to shoot your event?”

I’ll spare you the rest.

(A photo of Tower Bridge for which I didn't have to work a full evening yet woke up at 4am to shoot)

(A photo of Tower Bridge for which I didn't have to work a full evening yet woke up at 4am to shoot)

As photographers we can decide to sometimes work for free and it's perfectly fine.

There are indeed some occasions where we'll benefit from true exposure, but it's definitely not a majority. It may be for charity, which I have done in the past, or to develop our portfolio in an area we're not as prolific in.

But when companies or individuals contact me, immediately offering nothing in exchange for my hard work, I find it harder and harder not to let them know how I truly feel.

Have you been asked to work for free? Share your stories here and leave a comment!