Photography News and Opinions

Photography News, Opinions and more with Steve McMarson, professional photographer.

.. I know it is supposed to be a bit of fun, but I get a little grouchy at the types of attitude expressed by the photographer in the image. As an industry we have to accept some responsibility for the misconception that we shoot for free. I hear the attitude above expressed by photographers from time to time. It tends to be just ‘after’ they have transformed from struggling new business to ‘okay – I think I can eat every week this month’.

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TFF shoots (Time For Files). Forums are littered with photographers asking for models/families etc to shoot with them for free. It is part of the industry and most of us have done it. The good photographers shoot TFF regularly as part of ongoing learning and development. As professionals within the industry, we know the protocols for setting these types of shoots up. Joe Average does not.

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TFF shoot with Jo Black (2018)

The lines get blurred when person X buys a camera and two weeks later adds the word Photography or Photographer to their name on FB. They are shooting TFF as a marketing tool while developing a portfolio to get their name ‘out there’.

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TFF Shoot with Adelle-Marree (2013)

What this really does is provide the public with a false perception that ‘free’ shoots are something that photographers do. It creates the impression that our portfolio’s and its development are super important to us. And as we have heard a million times, ‘if you don’t ask .. you don’t get!’.

I see a lot of established Lash and Brow boutique’s asking for people to help out by offering ‘free services’ while they train/trial new techniques, staff and products. Granted, offering free services vs being asked for free services are two different things – but in this day and age of entitlement, is it that surprising?

TFF Shoot Morgana’s Bower (2015)

Looking at the glass half full. However misguided, someone asking for a free shoot must like your work. This means your marketing/advertising is working. It takes no effort to say “Thank-you for making contact, I am not offering anything like that at the moment – but I do have these packages … ” or “I know a student photographer who might appreciate the opportunity to work with you’ .. and the thing is, the student photographer probably would appreciate the opportunity.

In 15 years of running a business, I have been asked to give someone a free shoot 3 times. Two of those I converted to portrait sales. Years later, one of these clients would book me to shoot their wedding. That is nearly $5000.00 from a random inquiry for a free model portfolio. The other person I did not hear back from. I don’t think either of us were offended to the point of spontaneous combustion.

TFF Shoot Courtney Angilley (2016)


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