“Do you want to work this awesome gig?”
“Great, you’ll be on the list with a press pass.”
“Cool, whats the pay?”
“No pay, just shots for your portfolio…”
Too often this dialogue transpires for the emerging photographer. The responses vary but all photographers feel the same way: USED. Clients in this situation are taking advantage of something new in the freelance photographer’s market: everyone has a camera and to some degree know how to use it.
What clients do not understand is the difference between the amateur and professional. A professional photographer will shoot an event and take, lets say 100 photos, of those 100 maybe 75 will be “keepers”. Had an amateur covered the same event and taken the same 100 photos maybe only 25 will be “keepers”. For my purpose the actual ratio does not matter, it is simply the difference between the two.
A pro photographer is like a lion waiting to pounce on moments and situations using a carefully crafted balance of creativity and skill to capture and create. Unlike the pro, an amateur will approach the same situation optimistically yet without the confidence, knowledge, or experience necessary to get equal results. What ends up happening is moments/photographs are missed (to a variety of reasons) or overall quality suffers. Simply put, a pro MAKES photographs, an amateur TAKES photos.
Because of the advancements of modern cameras, anyone is easily capable of getting good to excellent photos (in ideal situations) without any working knowledge/experience, but in order to do this on-cue repeatedly requires a professional. Sure there are times when there is no budget and a student must be found on craigslist who will work for exposure/experience/something-to-put-in-their-portfolio, but this is an inherent risk to the client. Before looking for a “free photog” you must be absolutely willing to receive sub par results. If you require quality, you must hire (pay) a professional. And please, do not give me the line, “to better your portfolio”, I do that everyday.
To ALL photographers: You have a skill and should be paid well for it. Wether or not you consider yourself qualified you must understand that the service you are providing is not cheap and anyone cannot do it. Find out what other photographers are charging. If you want to be cheap, be cheap, but don’t sell yourself, and the industry, short by working for nothing. Many potential clients like my work, but can’t afford to hire me. I always try and work with a client and their specific budget, but there must be a point of no return. No one likes to turn down work, but this is how we make our living. Working for free is not better than not working.