Wondering if you should be photographing for free?
Maybe you’re thinking that in order to be profitable, or respected, you need to be charging for each and every job that you do.
My hot take? 🌶
No matter how experienced you are, from just picking up your camera to being in the game for 10+ years – you need to be photographing for free.
Today, we are walking through the top reasons why this should be an ace in your annual calendar. Including how it benefits the bottom line of your photography business.
Let’s get into it!
REASON #1: COLLABORATION
One of the biggest parts of working in the wedding industry is networking and collaborating. In almost 9 years of photographing weddings, I have had some of the best friendships come out of a trade-for-trade collaboration with other vendors.
This wasn’t something I set out to do, but something I noticed that naturally occurred after jobs with other vendors.
It goes something like this: A florist contacts you to photograph their work and when you show up there is a team of other vendors there all doing what they do best. While working you have a chance to chat, have lunch together, maybe grab dinner after and build relationships.
Sometimes from this, an amazing relationship begins to blossom and you send each other jobs on jobs on jobs.
All this from free photography services.
REASON #2: STYLED SHOOTS
In that same vein of editorials and collaboration is the other benefit to these style shoots which is: portfolio images. The staggering truth is that a huge majority of the photos you are seeing from some of your favorite luxury photographers aren’t actual jobs – they were styled shoots.
This is because in the industry we all know that in order to be at our most artistic and to have our unbridled vision for what we are capable of come to life…we need to create it.
Usually, a bride isn’t going to have that same vision at a wedding that we are photographing.
Take your photography skills and your vision for what you want to be known for. Start to put together a team of vendors who have the same vision and goals for their portfolio. When you do this, you create something beautiful that you now get to use to really upscale your portfolio. You will also get to use the images as a way to inspire new ideas in future couples and vendors.
You aren’t getting paid for these shoots, but the benefits are so valuable to growing your photography business.
REASON #3 GIVING BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY
The third reason to consider photographing jobs for free is the opportunity to give back to your community. There are countless organizations and individuals that can benefit from professional photography services but may not have the budget to hire a photographer.
Volunteering your time and skills can make a difference in someone’s life. For example, a local animal shelter may need photos of their adoptable pets to help them find homes. Photographing for a non-profit organization can help them increase awareness and raise funds for their cause.
Not only will you be helping these organizations and individuals, but volunteering can also give you a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Knowing that you are using your skills to make a difference in someone’s life can be incredibly rewarding.
I’m a huge advocate of a heart-centered business and using your blessings to be able to bless other people. I personally do this by giving to our local church and charities that are dear to my heart. However, if you aren’t financially in that place yet, using your skills is a fantastic way to do that.
While it’s important to value your time and skills, sometimes working for free can have a positive impact on your career. Building your portfolio, establishing relationships, and giving back to your community are all reasons to consider photographing jobs for free.
However, I will say it’s essential to be selective about the jobs you take on and make sure they align with your values and goals as a photographer. Remember, your time and skills are valuable; ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how to use them.