Should You Ever Work For Free?
Let me preface whatever I want to say in this blog by saying that photography like any other business is a BUSINESS. There are investments vis-à-vis your camera, lights, strobes, lenses and the most important of all your TIME. The time that could have been spent on something else other than perfecting the art of photography. Our time isn’t free.
Like every business there are profits and losses and a host of infrastructure needed to be laid out just so that we are able to take the camera out and shoot. We have to know a lot about our craft, prepare for it a lot just to deliver what you wish for. If just owning a camera is enough to call someone a photographer then practically everyone is a photographer….isn’t it?
Let Me Be Perfectly Clear Now:
Photography is a service. Let me speak my mind now and list a few other services that I can mention just over the top of my head. Okay so we have Doctors, Electricians, Makeup Artists, Content writers, Singers, Stage Performers, etc. Let us just for the sake of it pick up the doctor now. The person, whom the state has given permission to practice medicine, calls himself a “doctor”.
He had to go through tremendous amount of training before he could be called a ‘Doctor’. He had to study a lot, dedicate many years to it and pass many an exam to be proficient enough to heal you when he looks at the symptoms. Guess what it…it is the same with photography.
A photographer is not someone who came out of the mother’s womb holding a camera. A photographer like a doctor had to study his art for long; then he had to master it and finally, he matters now. He had to undergo a lot to win you as a paying client and offer his services. It takes a lot of knowledge gathering, know-how and dedication to do what you might think is nothing but just pointing an expensive camera and pressing the shutter.
The Famous Trick:
I have encountered many people who tried very hard to trick me to do a photo shoot for them or offer them my photographs for free. “Please come to my wedding, it has been a long time since we met…and by the way if you could bring your camera and a light”. I don’t know what to say to them. I don’t even have a reply to these kind of requests, seriously now…are you asking me to come to your wedding as a friend or am I considered a free mode of getting photographs. And in any case I am a street photographer remember. So, unless your wedding is on the street, stop calling me.
These people; they are not bad people, they just have a different set of philosophy that leads them to believe that a photographer is just a nut with an expensive camera. Can you name any other service that you can just call and ask them to do it for free or worse for some credit that nobody would even see? Guess not..!!!
What The Hell Is Your Philosophy?
I simply cannot understand what makes people think that this is not a real business that is focused on making a living out of. I have even heard people say “…Oh! That took you only so much money to print and you are charging so much more…” Drawing a reference from still another example; would you ask a painter or an artist to charge you whatever the canvas and paints cost?Would you ask a singer to charge you only the amount that they paid for the CD? Why the hell are you asking us to do that?
The photographer is an artist remember. It is he who decides what goes where in his “canvas” and makes your photographs look so much better. And if you see absolutely no value in the images and expect to get those photographs at the rate that the lab charged the photographer, maybe you can fill in for the photographer too. You do his job and voila…..you don’t have to pay him a rupee.
Photography may look like a gold mine from a distance but trust me when I say this, it is NOT! It may look from the outside that all we have to do is show up with a camera and then dump whatever we gather in a lab which then develops the prints. BUT It is so much more than that. The preparation list is endless. We really work hard to give you the results that you want. So that your big days remains forever etched in your heart and the photographs we take forever remind you how beautiful you are. Beautiful not pretty!
I just had to vent out this to get it out of my system. I am sorry if this seems like a random rambling, but it was important to me. So, if you cannot respect a photographer for what he does and consider him a replaceable part of the system; maybe you should stay at an arm’s distance from them. For the rest of you if you find any sense in this at all, please do not ask anyone to work for you for FREE! It simply is insulting and it hurts.