Go to any popular photography community website and it won’t be long before you come across an article or forum thread about working for free.
It’s understandably a hot topic and will probably always be a contentious issue, with the ever-growing number of keen amateurs swelling the ranks of ‘cameras for hire’ and scrabbling for a foothold in the industry. Working for free is seen by many as the only way to grab some precious market share.
Originally this post wasn’t going to be about working for free, but it’s relevant because these images are from a free shoot. This is Deborah Rose, a singer songwriter who I approached via a mutual friend. Remember, it’s as much about who you know as what you know – work those contacts people!
Having met with the lovely Deb and talking over our respective plans & creative aims, we decided to schedule a free shoot: the aim of which was to work together on some new images for her new album. We both had ideas on the sort of shots we’d like; Deb with her album in mind, but – and this is the important bit – me with one eye on adding something fresh to my portfolio and spreading into the music scene… purely photographically, of course – I can’t sing a note.
So Deb came to the studio and with the help of the always excellent Anna White we had a laugh, ate some biscuits and made some gorgeous images, a couple of which I’ve included here. The image at the top of the page is already in print and being used to distribute some sampler CD’s to lots of Deb’s contacts, both here and in the States.
In summary then, I’d say that working for free is good… in the right context and under YOUR conditions. Don’t be bullied by ‘clients’ who, in response to your quote, say ‘But we can get my cousin’s sister’s uncle to do it for free’. If they want free, and there is nothing in it for you, then walk away.
Be selective with what time you give away, it’s valuable stuff.