Working for exposure.

Call it – working for free – the holy grail of companies looking for a photographer meaning every company in this world.


Point explained by WTD.

I did an article about this article long ago, and the problem has gotten much worse since. A recent article on Petapixel here highlighted the practice is more or less being accepted as standard practice.

Check out the comments on all the links I posted, they are hilarious.

Every photographer in the world worth their time to virtually anyone with a camera above a handphone has been asked this, “Can you work for free? We can offer you exposure because we’re a bunch of cheap ass” Or some obscured excuse of not having the cost of hiring a photographer in the budget.

If you have enough money in the budget to pay your staff, your event location, your bosses and everyone then why not the photographer? An absurd statement I’m sure everyone can relate. Try that with your accountant , the plumber or anyone, tell me what happens. I’m curious.

So why are companies these days constantly asking people to work for free? Thinking that we can live on exposure alone? To answer that, we have to understand when did it all started,
With the advent rise of cheap photography gear, everyone from the gardener to the CEO can now buy just about any camera and declare themselves – “A photographer”. That is like buying a sketch pad, pencil and declaring yourself an artist when you cannot be bothered to really put into the hours needed to learn to become one.  But because of that, companies believe that photos taken from them are even cheaper – free . The payment equally then offered is worth just as much – exposure. Exposure the common form of payment which they think is absolutely priceless. They are right on that, you cannot put any sort of price at all on exposure because it is worth nothing – A big fat zero!

Even then companies that do have budget to hire, they are only inclined to pay you not for the number of hours you worked but would resort to a barter system. Another article on Petapixel here shows just how cheap companies think of photographers.

Companies are always talking about how they cannot lower their own rates for their product or service because their overheads and cost. But when it comes to others they don’t think about the countless hours, expensive gears and mainly hours committed to their chosen craft. We also have to earn a living.

I have been asked a few times to do jobs for free since I started taking up the craft

  1. Weddings for friends or family.
  2. Events for groups or organisation.
  3. News articles or projects.

90% I turn down, the other 10% I couldn’t because the boss at my day job will force me to do it else my performance review will be affected – not team player. This is why I now never tell my employers I own a high end camera. To them, I only have my handphone camera and pray to heaven they never find out about my blog or even FB. Although that is starting to change now that some companies I have been interviewed at started asking for my FB and be added as a friend so they can see what I do in my spare time.

Another article about this another day.

That is not saying I have never been offered a paying assignments, thanks to Paul @ TPR I did a few times along with a handful of pro wedding photographers who needed extra hands for a job which I am thankful for since I don’t make a living as a photographer.

But I find this practice appalling. To companies, photographer need to be paid for a job just like everyone else. You wouldn’t want to be paid in exposure for your work right?

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