Realistic Advice for the Freelancer: Photography Can be a Grim Business

A recent thread on Reddit traced that professional creatives often have a pretty tough time.

If I were to go back in time and give any sort of advice to my younger self when I first quit my day job to run The Phoblographer full time, it would have involved a whole lot about money and personal health. Luckily, I don’t seem to be alone as a recent Reddit thread echoed the sentiments of many other freelancers in the US. For all of us, it seems very grim because of how our system works. And in general, it’s easy to say that a lot of us are often pretty scared of the things that those with full time jobs don’t even think about yet complain about to their higher ups pretty often.

Continue reading…

On Companies Wanting to Use Your Images for Free

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica Q camera sample images (57 of 62)ISO 1001-10 sec at f - 1.7

Let’s be honest here: your images and the work that you do should be compensated for if they’re going to be used commercially. While that doesn’t necessarily mean monetary payment, there should be some sort of fair barter. But with that in mind, you should always remember that specific term: fair barter.

When a company asks to use your images for free, you should carefully consider exactly what they’re doing. If you’re going to be part of some big campaign that they’re announcing, then they’re probably trying to take you for a ride. But if it doesn’t sound like such a big project, then they probably don’t care a lot about it and I’d suggest that you carefully consider that because you may not want to be part of a project that they put very little effort into. When you show that off in your portfolio or tearsheets, then potential new clients may not care about it very much.

Think about it this way: if a restaurant wants you to do a photography gig (shooting their food) for free, then you should barter accordingly. This is most likely a lot of work for you, and you should get paid for it. Let’s say that your rate is $350 for the first two hours and $50/hr after that, and let’s the actual shoot is three hours. Then you need to weed through your images and do the necessary work in post, and the job may end up being 12 hours of work overall. First off, you should consider whether 12 hours of work is worth $400 for you, which comes out to around $33/hr. But then if they want you to shoot for free then they need to find a way to compensate you for $400 worth of work.

You could try to get a running agreement with them because the company may really just not have the budget, but then in that case you two should really be held closely to that agreement. So, they should compensate you with $400 worth of free meals. That will mean that you’ve got some running store credit with them.

It also depends on how high end the company is: a local newspaper may try to take you for granted while the NYTimes is more likely to pay a photographer because they understand that good work should be compensated. Further, if you don’t deliver then they can make you redo it.

Either way, remember the barter system and if it sounds like you’re being used, then have more self-respect.

Giving Your Images Away for Free is the Stupidest Thing a Photographer Can Do

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS review product images (9 of 10)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 4.0

The other day, I posted a Facebook status about large companies pinging us wanting to use images for large campaigns with big budgets, and it turned into an argument about why you should license your images instead of giving them away for free. In essence, what you’re doing is hurting the pro market because of the fact that many people actually produce images for a living–not just for pure sport.

Now before you go on I want you to think about that and I’m going to break it down for you specifically in terms of how it relates to my personal life. Before you read any further I’m using myself as an example because while most of my income comes from this site, part of it comes from actually shooting photos. But even then, the site is about photography and part of the job description requires me to shoot photos.

Are you ready?

Continue reading…

The Brutal Honest Truth About Getting Your Images Stolen

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer DNP DS40 printer review images (10 of 10)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

At this current time on the web, there is a huge controversy over the fact that Facebook is allowed to use your images royalty free. From the standpoint of a company, that essentially means that what they’re going to do is use it in their own commercials and promotion of their own brand. We highly doubt that Facebook is going to get into the image licensing market lest they run into a massive PR issue.

But this brings up an even bigger issue: knowing your worth.

Ask yourself: is every image that you upload to Facebook something that you’d want in your portfolio?

Let’s raise the stakes a bit more now.

Continue reading…