As a photographer we want the best of the best! Our love for photography is just a never ending thirst that we can’t seem to satisfy. We want to be on the top level with the big leagues photographing all the ad campaigns, models and celebrities. But if we are not careful, that same passion, we have for photography can hurt us. Let me explain.
If not guarded, our passion. We can end up getting it used against us. Any person that you meet. On Instagram, social media, or approaches you, could be an amazing connection. Or could be just a random person you bump into on the sidewalk that likes your work. You think they might be an opportunity. They ask for free work, knowing in the back of their heads they have to pay. But they rely on on our bad reputations. Yes, we have a reputation. And has been a reputation for photographers for quite some time though. And it's time we break it.
We have a tendency to want to automatically say yes, with out knowing or taking the time to look into the bigger picture of who is asking us to work with them for free. Little do we realize at that time, that person who is asking us, is only trying to take advantage of you. They can afford you, but they rather not pay. Why do we have this reputation? It’s because so many photographers has been willing to shoot for free to satisfy their passion instead of keeping it in check and guarding their pocket. And giving into these people that should be paying you instead.
Not only does this hurt you in the long run, but those that shoot for free are literally affecting others who work in the same field. You are hurting those that make a living being a full time photographer.
A lot of people will say “I have a big following on social media, it will get you exposure.” “Oh, if you hook me up, I can introduce you to a famous person and try and get you to shoot them.” Or you might even get people angry at you for being professional you a guilt trip for charging. It happens believe me. I have literally had everything you can think of thrown at me with people not wanting to pay. But we must stand our ground and let them know we don’t work for free.
It takes practice guarding our passion and providing for our pocket. Sometimes its going to suck pretty bad when you have to tell someone no. But this in the long run will not only help you, but help those in your field of work. Whether you realize it or not, you are on a bigger team and represent those then whom you can visibly see. Photographers are everywhere!
Another reason why we need to guard our passion when that opportunity finally comes. With a major client, they ask you for a certain type of job. You would love to, then you realize you don’t have the equipment to do the job. You didn’t charge people when you were suppose to and gave in to your thirst for shooting over guarding it. But you could have if you didn’t let your passion kill your pocket. And then you miss out on a life changing career opportunity.
I get it, we all love shooting. It's one of the strongest loves we have in our life. To be able to create our view of the subject or topic. To show people how we see life and turn into art. Its amazing! But we also have to be realistic. You need money for the improved gear coming out right? What about that new Sony or Nikon Camera? More megapixels, better resolution, faster frames per second. If you are happy with your current gear. What about your rent? Phone bill? Vacation? Do you wanna travel? How are you gonna pay for that?
I hear photographers say well I need to build my portfolio, that’s why I shoot for free. But then you don’t realize that you made yourself a reputation of being a free photographer. When you finally ask for money people won’t take you seriously. And then they walk away. So how do you start a portfolio with out shooting for free? It's easy, go to the street and photograph. You don’t need to rely on or wait for people or companies to get amazing work from. Create your own opportunity. Small town or big city it doesn’t matter. Go stand on a street corner and take candid shots. Or get a black velvet felt, tape it up to a wall. And ask interesting looking people that walk by you if you can’t take a picture of them. But over all you must guard your passion and not let people take advantage of you. You must protect yourself. As an artist and stand up for those who are still learning how to stand up for themselves.