Shortly after I decided to pursue photography professionally, a friend of mine asked me about shooting engagement pictures. I let her know what my asking rate was, and she told me that her fiance had a friend who was willing to do it for free, but that she really liked my photography and wanted to know if I would charge less—far less. After some deliberation, I realized that I just could not agree to that rate. I was up against a substantial obstacle…
It's hard to compete with free.
In this day and age, many people—both quality photographers and terrible fauxtographers—are willing to provide photography for free. Or in return for exposure. Don't get me wrong; exposure can be a wonderful thing and provide even greater benefits in the long run (theoretically). However, exposure in lieu of being paid for the work you do can only take you so far and last so long. Where do you draw the line?
This is definitely not breaking news in any regard. However, it is a topic that I think must be visited and revisited until something changes.
It's time for photographers to demand what is deserved.
It's not about being demanding, but demanding what you deserve.* It's about being confident in the photography you provide and confident in the price you charge. Professional photography isn't for everyone. Photography can be an interest, a hobby, a passion, a career. And if you want to make photography your career and your life's work, you have to charge. And if I'm providing a valuable service, great experience and quality images, I should be able to earn a living doing so.
I have loved photography as long as I can remember, but it's (beyond) time for me to fully pursue photography as a profession. Henceforth, I will be demanding what I deserve.
How about you?
*(Please note: because it is deserved, that means you earned it. No sense of entitlement based solely on being labeled a "photographer".)