Thursday, February 6, 2014

Respect Isn't Free!

A few months ago, a friend and fellow photographer contacted one of his regular clients here in Montreal about a (then) upcoming assignment in Europe. The client was thrilled the photographer was available to go. But after consulting head office, the client found out, and told the photographer, that they didn’t have a budget to send a photographer. Instead, they were going to hire a local freelancer in Europe.

Shortly after this, it turns out, another Canadian photographer contacted this same client and offered to cover the same event. This second photographer was told the same thing: there’s no budget to send a photographer and a local freelancer in Europe was going to be hired.

This second photographer then said he would pay his own airfare, his own hotel costs and all other expenses, and would be happy to cover the event for the same pay as the local freelancer. The client refused this offer. By the way, the pay was equal to about half the airfare cost.

So, this second photographer essentially offered to work for free and to lose a few thousand dollars in the process. Great business strategy. (Not!)

The European event was not unique nor a chance of a lifetime. All the wire services and local newspapers covered the event. Resale value of the pictures would have been minimal, if anything at all.

All of this begs the question... “Are you crazy?!”

Why would any “professional” photographer offer to pay thousands of dollars to work for free?  The client was so surprised at the offer, they called my friend, (the first photographer), and said, “Do you know what another photographer just offered to do?”

Even though some clients may expect photographers to work for free, many clients do not. Most worthwhile clients really do understand the value that a professional photographer brings and creates. Furthermore, these clients are shocked when a photographer offers to work for free or at a ridiculously cheap rate. When a photographer makes such a silly offer, the clients opinion of that photographer falls through the floor.

If a photographer doesn’t value or respect their own work, chances are, neither will the client.