If you’ve ever been told you should be doing a job for free, then this is an absolutely special ad just for you. When you’re starting out, or even later on in your career, it’s not uncommon that someone may ask you to do a photography job for free. It’s also fairly common that folks will do it for free and will most of the time do nowhere near as good of a job as you would. And so this special ad recently shared on Writing on Writing’s Facebook wall will relate to photographers oh so much.
The ad, which was shared via JPEGMini, shows off the words of a photographer who makes it very clear: if everyone expects me to do my job for free then it’s safe to assume that everyone else does their for free too. I mean just think about that:
- Trading photographic services for doctor’s fees
- Trading for food
- Trading for a cabbie dropping you off somewhere
- Trading for a delivery man to bring you a sandwich from the local deli
- Trading photos for a mechanic to repair your car
The more and more you think about it, the more this all sounds absurd. And I think that behind it all is a bigger and more inherent problem. For starters, let’s relate this to other art forms: painting, sculpting, performing arts, etc are all seen as much more complicated. But why?
And now, for a rant:
You see, at least here in the United States, people don’t really understand the arts due to a lack of solid arts education. Combine this with every manufacturer saying you can capture the moment with any DSLR on Auto, Instagram, etc. and people will absolutely devalue what you do–which essentially is capturing. But if you’re a photographer who is carrying themselves with every bit of professionalism and typically tends to create images vs capturing them, then you’re doing something the average person without an artistic vision can’t do. In the past few years, I’ve been emphasizing this more and more, especially in the world of street photography. Every photographer and their mother thinks they can shoot street but when you go to collectives and look at the work of many, you more or less get work that all looks similar. There’s only so many times you can see the same expression and people over and over again.
Before street photography, it was with weddings. Cheap weddings should really only be shot in JPEG if you want to maximize the value for the money. Of course, go ahead and shoot in RAW if you wish and then simply export the images with a preset. At least that’s my belief; if you’re getting paid only $250 for a wedding you shouldn’t spend an entire week editing the photos because that means you spent an entire day shooting and a week editing. That makes absolutely no sense and is pretty much working for a slave wage.
If you’re creating images though, then you’re doing something most other people can’t do at all. No amount of Instagram or Apple trying to create a portrait lighting look can do that. And so we as photographers need to step our game up and educate common folk about what we do. Heck, there are AI algorithms that think they can help you take a better picture.