Shooting for Free - Is It Worth It?

As a full-time freelance photographer, we often ask ourselves why we should work for free, especially at the start of our careers. Are we being taken for a ride, or is it worth investing in our client for possible future returns? 

To give you a bit of background, I’m a photographer residing in Cape Town, South Africa. In my experience, photography is not really seen as something more than a mere hobby where I live. We have a handful of top professionals, who managed to break the international barrier. Yet, there are tons of photographers working under the international radar and trying their best to hit the big time jackpot. Unfortunately, most of them find it difficult to pay the bills at the end of the month as well as grab those high-end clients. So why should they accept free work? 

Starting out as a band photographer in 2008, I only did free shoots for musicians, whether it was a studio/location shoot or concerts. I did it for the love of the game while finishing my studies in Photography. Every now and then I was lucky when I was offered payment for the shoot, even if it was just a beer or a free T-shirt to say thanks. What remained after the shoot was an established relationship. I became friends with many of the artists I shot during the early years of my photography career and only about a decade later did it started paying off when I was contacted again by one of the musicians I worked with. This time the work was fully commissioned. I managed to shoot one music video for the client and he referred me to someone else who also needed some work done. It only takes one person to believe in your work for you to succeed. 

 

Read the full article in fstoppers

previous / next