How I Feel About Companies Asking Me to Work for Free in Exchange for Exposure
As a professional photographer, I have always taken pride in my work and the value that I provide to my clients. I have invested time, money, and energy into honing my skills, building my portfolio, and creating a reputation in the industry. I have also learned to set fair prices for my services and to negotiate contracts that reflect the quality and scope of my work.
However, there is one thing that has really annoyed me lately: companies reaching out to me to work for free in exchange for exposure. Yes, you read that right. Some companies are asking me to do their photography work for free.
They claim that exposure is the best form of payment.
I am here to tell you why this is insulting, unethical, and unsustainable. Photography is not a hobby. It is a business. It is a service that requires creativity, talent, and experience. It is a service that has a value and a cost. It is a service that deserves to be paid.
Why Exposure Is Not Enough
The first reason why exposure is not enough is because it does not pay the bills. Exposure may help you gain some popularity or visibility in your niche, but it does not guarantee any income or profit. In fact, many times exposure can backfire and damage your reputation or credibility if it is done poorly or inconsistently.
Therefore, exposure alone is not enough to sustain your photography business. You need to have a steady stream of income from your clients who are willing to pay you for your services.
Why Exposure Is Not Fair
The second reason why exposure is not fair is because it exploits you as a professional photographer. By asking you to do photography work for free, companies are taking advantage of your skills and expertise without giving you any compensation or recognition.
You are essentially doing their work for them while they do nothing for you. You are providing them with valuable content while they provide you with nothing in return. You are investing your time and resources while they invest nothing in return.
This is not only insulting but also devaluing the photography industry and undermining the professional standards and quality of service that I and my fellow photographers strive to maintain.
By asking me to do photography work for free, companies are sending a message that they do not value or respect the work that I do, or the people that I serve. They are also sending a message that they think they can get away with anything as long as they promise some exposure.
This outdated way of attempting to pay professionals with “exposure” is what has really rubbed me the wrong way. The harsh reality is that the so-called ‘exposure promise’ rarely directly leads to any paid work. You surely cannot deny that paying professionals with exposure is a controversial topic and often does not result in a fair deal for the professional.