Home Industry Don’t shoot FREE for clients…

Don’t shoot FREE for clients…

Shooting for free

For the longest time I had trouble believing that giving away free images was detrimental to my business.  I understood that I wouldn’t make money, but I assumed that the client would pay to have me work for them the next time.  If a client won’t pay you for your work, then they are almost never worth the time.  I’ve heard it all before, “I’ll pay for the next job,” “If I sell any product I’ll pay you,” etc.  The truth is that if they won’t pay for the first job, they are going to expect more jobs for free.  Hagglers will alway’s be hagglers, and freebies rarely pay off for photographers.

Photography is art.  It may not take as long to capture images as painting the Mona Lisa, but it’s still a form of art.  Art has value.  You are an artist with a unique vision and your art has value.  Believe this!  It’s tough to put a price on your own art and over the years I’ve found that I started out charging way too little.  I thought that once I got in with a company and they saw what I was capable of, then they would really start paying me.  This never happened though….

It’s tough sometimes to pass up the client that wants a deal, when your rent is due next week and funds are low….  But if you don’t give in, they still might hire you.  If they don’t, it’s not the end of the world.  If a client wants a deal right off the bat, they are going to want more deals on every shoot from then on.  It’s sometimes almost a test.  They want you to cave right away so that they can get you for even cheaper the next job.  Clients like these are not worth your time.  Headaches are painful and bad clients always cause headaches.  Keep your head “ache” free and only work with clients that you’re comfortable with.  They are out there and DO exist!

Spend time working with good clients, and don’t waste your time on bad ones.  It’s just not worth it.



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At only 25 years old, Connor has been published in many major international publications and is a signed Getty photographer. His writing and photos have been published in Photoshop User and Light It Magazines, amongst many others. He believes that if you work at what you love, you'll be able to make a great living. Connor currently resides in Edwards, CO with his wife, Kelly, and dog Tucker. You can view his portfolio at www.cnwphoto.com


  1. There are times when you should shoot for free but that times is up to you when and where and why

    I did a free shoot for family
    who’s daughter was in hospital who only had a few weeks or months to live.as they had no money as the father work a few days a week the other day were so he could be with is daughter and being with his family.
    As they never had a chance to get the family photos done
    now there are faced with no money and soon to be no daughter

    So yes there time in your life you will be ask (all i’m saying is just have a think before you say no )

    ression for do a free shoot

    1) It felt good for me and them
    2) word of mouth
    3) I meet more people now more contact’s

    upside is

    i got two family shoots from it (who payed)
    but that was not my plain to market at the loss of a young girl

    Ron Wilson
    Cassowary coast image

  2. Hi Ron,

    I completely agree that under certain circumstances (the one you explained especially) that there is nothing wrong with shooting for free and we would have done the same as you.

    The main point of the post is that when you are shooting for business clients that you hope to work with again, don’t start low or free because they may just be all talk and not looking to hire for more than one shoot. Just be wary of certain circumstances.

    I think your reasons for a free shoot are excellent and make a lot of sense. Use your best judgement!

    Thanks for the comment.


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