Photographers almost always start by shooting for ‘free’ in exchange for something – recommendations to others has been a big one for me. I started that way. There is no denying that anyone can take half-decent photos even with a mobile phone these days. Is it still worth paying a photographer? It is if your own photos are not good enough (for whatever reason) and if you like someone else’s (professional) photos more.
A few weeks ago the Sunday Times contacted me asking if they could use some of my graduate show images. The caller was a long-time acquaintance – I’ve known that person since 2008. Of course, I said yes without any hesitation fully knowing that she would want those images free of charge on the basis that the paper would have my name on it. Two different thoughts. The Sunday Times is a very well known brand. Wow, they want my images! Am I on a way to become ‘famous’? Well, on the flip side, however, they have photographers so why not use theirs? It’s a big paper, why can’t they just buy the images from me?
In reality, if I had not given them the images, probably someone else would have done it. And next year? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I do believe at some point I need to say No to this type of request. With no regular monthly salary coming in as of February 2014, I want to make enough money to live off solely from shooting. One can’t really expect that if one gives away photos. It doesn’t mean I’ll never shoot for free. I’ll still do volunteer work for charitable and cultural/non-commercial organisations that I like.
But getting famous from a one-off spread in the Sunday Times? Who am I kidding, right? I never expected that anyway. As it happens, the digital version that appeared in social media didn’t even have my name on it anyway ;-)
Maybe next year I’ll be so fully booked up I won’t be able to attend any of the graduate fashion shows. Fingers crossed! Missing out on those great graduate shows would be rather sad but at least it would mean that I wouldn’t have to survive on instant noodles.