Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Working for free.

Today, two opportunities came up for me to do some work. The first one was for a fund raising event; as I understand it, they were looking for someone to do basic coverage, and maybe shoot some pictures of key people involved. We didn't really talk about the details because they were looking for someone to do the job for free.

The second job was to shoot some pictures of a band for a magazine - my friends in Loop 243 are being interviewed, and the editor wanted some photos to go with the article. Unfortunately, there was "no photo budget".

In both of these cases, I found myself thinking about the various discussions that went around the photography scene blogs a few months ago on the topic.

And in both of these cases, I turned down the job. Well, kinda.

For the fund raiser, it was a pretty simple choice. I didn't have any details, and after some further explanation from the friend of mine that referred me in the first place, it became clear that this wasn't going to be a worthwhile opportunity. This friend is also a working professional, and didn't realize the nature of the inquiry until after he had asked me about the job, so there aren't any hard feelings, and hopefully he will continue to keep me in mind for work in the future.

The music magazine job was a bit tougher to decide on, but ultimately, we worked out a reasonable compromise. A few months ago, I shot some promotional photos for Loop 243. They paid me for this work, and everything is all good with them. As far as I'm concerned, they own those photos, and can do with them whatever they see fit.
So, rather than taking on the assignment, I proposed that they choose from the existing work, and I would provide them with whatever support they might need. I'd still get the same photo credit I would had I taken the assignment, and my professional principles remain intact.

I was very straightforward with both the band (who recommended me to the magazine in the first place) and to the music editor about the situation, and everyone was very understanding - we're all good, now.

My hope is that the next time the magazine needs a photographer in New York City, they'll think of me - not just based on my photographic skills, but also based on my professionalism and demeanor. Which, I'm learning, can actually be as important (if not _more_ important) than one's ability to take a picture.

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