Should I get PAID for my Work?


Marissa Meyer of Yahoo may have earned the rancor of photographers everywhere when she categorically said that there is no such thing as a "professional photographer" after the relaunch of the Flickr site.

Such anger from the photographic community is not new, which reflects the very sorry state of digital imaging and digital photography.

Before we jump into this contentious issue let's put everything up for review.

Digital Imaging is a Disruptive Force 

You can't deny how digital imaging has changed the professional landscape forever. Unlike the days of film, where every shot you took costed money, every frame you squeeze out of a DSLR now is free from processing fees.

So when it is free, you get to shoot more at no further cost. And when you shoot more, you gotta have ONE frame in your hundreds of shots that will nail the shot a client wants. If this is the case, then the client will automatically assume that to get ONE frame that is spot on for them, they can't be possibly paying you for your time or exposure cost!

Will Work for Peanuts?

How many times have you answered a call for a photographic project only to realize that you will be paid with "Exposure" and "links to your website".  I am afraid there are just too many to call up. Internet sites like and use this to lure photographer cum writers out to the open with the promise of "exposure".

If you try editorial work, and have a portfolio to show, you'd probably be asked to shoot for free in return for a byline that shows you own the photo. For the offending publication, they get to use your photo for life and once up on the Internet, it will be flogged and reused to death without your permission.

So be mindful about those "work for free" projects that could bring you a few second of Internet fame but little else.

Don't Be a Gear Head

Love the new DSLR? Gotta have that new spiffy lens? Do you earn enough to buy all that in a single leap? Let's not fool ourselves about the cost of these new toys. Buy what you NEED and not what you want. The difference between the two is obvious. The ones you NEED are the ones that have immediate value to you. The ones you WANT are dream toys and tools you wish to have.

It's the Business and not the Photography

Photography as seen through the eyes of professionals has to be more these days especially when you are starting out. Going pro is about earning a living out of it and not about your photography alone. You need to have the acumen to run a business!

There is no two ways around it. Either you have it or you don't. Often it is never about your photography but rather how you run a profitable business that decides if you can turn pro.

The Last Word

Any monkey with a camera can claim to be a pro these days. Digital photography has made it so much easier to shoot a picture that any iPhone totting folk can claim to be a photographer of sorts specializing in food porn. When you have competition from such a crowd, how do you justify that 300 dollar an hour food shoot in your studio?

There will always be a demand for photographers in every industry, it's just a matter if that is a paying one. I have read elsewhere that in order to be a successful photographer, you need to do some market research and price your services lower than the next guy you're fighting with. If that was a success formula, then we should all set up stalls selling $1 dollar take away coffees just outside Starbucks. I am sure it will work. Don't you think?