Photographers Working for Free or Low Pay

Posted: March 12, 2017 in Uncategorized
The idea of new photographers working a job for free or low pay is not uncommon, and many that are new to the business of photography feel in some cases the exposure and the word of mouth could bring them more business in the future. Depending on the situation it may work out well, or may not.
I know pro photographers complain when they see a new photographer trying to get into the business and charging lower rates then all the other established pros. I guess they shouldn’t be charging the same rates if they are new and inexperienced.
A pro athlete doesn’t start out at the highest pay unless they are an exceptional talent and they play for less money until they start to improve and their pay goes up.
A new wedding photographer shouldn’t be charging the same rates as a well know established photographer charges as the client will not be getting the same quality images.
Many moons ago when I was in the music business and playing in a rock band, it wasn’t all that unusual for young bands to take on gigs working for free or for low pay to get exposure. So for me this idea of photographers working for free or less pay for exposure and experience is much as it was in the music business.
If you read the book by rock legend Sammy Hagar who was best known as the lead singer for Van Halen, Montrose, and his own bands, he talks about when in the band Montrose and their first album was released, they went out on tour as an opening act for major groups in arenas all over the country to help promote sales for the new album. He said they toured for about a year and all they got paid was enough to cover their hotel expenses and a little food money. The idea of all opening acts that are unknown is to get in front of an audience and play for exposure. These bands go out play their set night after night for basically no money, in hopes of gathering a following that will pay off down the road.
So I guess when I hear photographers talk about working for free or low pay for exposure, it’s not just in the photography business that this goes on.
I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just saying it happens and sometimes the exposure pay off and sometimes it doesn’t. Some rock bands went on to become huge from those early gigs they played for the exposure with little to no pay. So again not in support of working for free and not totally against it under the right circumstance.
Website click here
Macro Workshops click here
”Macro Online Course click here
”Creating Art With Macro E-Book click here
Macro Photo Conference click here
You can buy my images from a select group at
To save 15% on Topaz products click here
Like my Facebook Page
Share through social media, click links at bottom of this article.
  1. Daniel Cogan says:

    Thanks for these thoughts. I think you’ve made a great analogy to musicians and a great comparison to other fields where less experienced, less expert people naturally earn less than those with proven expertise and ability to execute.

    Dan Cogan

  2. Stu Davis says:

    I have no problem with that. I don’t go along with some of us who are not in the Wedding Photo Business taking cameras to weddings we are invited to and asked to also bring your camera.

    Let the other guy do his job and make a living, If he can.

  3. Roxana Whitt says:

    A photographer who feels seriously threatened by someone setting a bargain price, probably because of inexperience, needs to reevaluate his/her own reaction. Do you really want to work for a client who’s looking for cheap? That’s a harbinger of future trouble.

  4. Michael Fenton says:

    Don’t forget college students nearing graduation and also graduate students who work short-term for free as interns in industry and government to gain practical experience while the employers save money.

  5. Jennifer Benton says:

    Thanks for putting a different slant on the age-old question about lower prices when you are new.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s