Should I work for free?:
Jessica Hische’s flowchart for determining whether or not you should work for free for somebody. In summary, if it’s for a legitimate business: no. Otherwise, it depends. Easy to laugh at, sometimes hard to implement.
My friend Duncan points to this “don’t work for free” piece that’s been floating around the net.
It’s interesting to see a bunch of people who are making a living selling photos tell other people who aren’t to please stop doing things that might help those people who aren’t making money on their images break into the business enough that they can start getting that income.
That’s my problem with this. It’s a bunch of people who HAVE gotten over that hump telling the rest of us to stop trying.
I admit it: I sometimes license my work for free. Why? Well, because in some cases, it gets my work exposure. In other cases, it gives me a reference or the ability to point at an image and say “hey! this is licensed!”. That’s something you can market around, and to put it bluntly, it’s easier to get a foot in the door if you can show that foot’s gotten in other doors already.
And sometimes I do it because I think it’s a situation where it’s worth donating an image. I’ve done that for a number of charitable organizations, and I’ll continue to where I think the cause is worth it. Does that cost a “pro photographer” a sale?
That’s no more my problem than my lack of paying jobs is the pro photographer’s problem.
But I’ll make a deal here. When I start seeing photographers saying “hey, rather than hiring me, go buy this guy’s stuff” and referring some jobs off to people like me, I’ll stop donating images that these photographers seem to think are costing them sales. Deal?
I’m not holding my breath.
Well, of course, other (pro) photographers.
This is, whether you call it that or not, a guild; you don’t get in the guild unless those in the guild give you permission. And frankly, the primary purpose of a guild is to limit membership, so that the members can maintain their prices and limit competition by limiting the numbers who can compete for jobs.
Which is a really great thing — if you’re in the guild.
There are some skill sets where guaranteeing your skill set is a good idea: surgeon is one. Plumber and electrian are others. That’s why those professions still have licensing requirements and some form or another of apprenticeship and skill validation.
But photographer? Licensing “pro” photographers is really nothing more than an attempt to limit the number of photographers in the field, to limit competition.
This proposal will have just as much success as the stock photographers who tried to convince people not to use microstock.
Or those telling photographers not to give away photos. I see the advantage to YOU for me to not give away photos.
What’s in it for me? I’m not seeing much. So why shouldn’t I?