So this is a little bit of a rant post. Actually, it is a rant post. Why? Because like others, I’m sick and tired of people expecting work for free.
The last 15 or so emails I’ve gotten from my website have all been people wanting to book with me. Awesome! That’s exciting. Until I tell them my rates. As soon as money is brought up, the game changes. No one wants to pay for photographers or hair or makeup. Is there something about this profession that says “Hey, we will work for free! We don’t have bills or families or anything to worry about so I can just waste my time on you!”
Do you go into a doctors office and say “I love how you healed my friend. I’d love for you to fix me too!” and expect them to do it for free? (bad analogy, don’t care) No you don’t. You walk in and expect to pay them thousands of dollars because what they do is their job, they spent TONS of money and years learning their practice and going to school to help you not die.
I don’t go into a grocery store and ask for free stuff. I don’t expect them to give me free bread or drinks because I told them I love their store. So why is photography any different? Us as photographers have spent YEARS learning our craft, perfecting it. Some of us went to school for it and have to pay off loans, we bought thousands of dollars worth of gear, computers, hard drives, and not to mention we spend hours dealing with you as a client and other clients in meetings, editing, driving to the shoot, etc.
We have families to feed, bills, travel costs, etc and I’m not quite sure how people expect us to pay for those things if we don’t make money.
Having companies approach me with offers such as “in return, you will receive exposure to our 150,000 user base each month”……. if you have 150,000 users each month, I’m pretty sure you can afford to license out my images. Your clients also have no reason to hire me. They are there buying your albums or whatever it is you’re selling and unless they are here in my city, they most likely will not be flying me out to take senior/family pictures.
Having “models” saying “LOVE YOUR WORK!!! WE SHOULD SHOOT!” and then you send them your rates and they respond with “I don’t pay for shoots”…. It’s getting really old and needs to stop and there is a WHOLE community I know of to back me up on this.
Anyway, happy St. Patrick day.
P.S. If a client approaches you and offers exposure. Tell them no. Your work is worth more than a few people looking at it and spending money with the company that just ripped you off.
Chris Lambeth is a Phoenix, Arizona-based commercial portrait and fashion photographer. This article originally appeared here. Lead image by Chris Lambeth, text added for flair, because fuck you, pay us.