This Photographer’s Journey

Random Musing Ep. 2

You hear all the time in creative industries about free work, TFP (Time For Print), etc. It’s often ridiculed and chastised as a practice that hurts the industry as well as the creative. But hasn’t this concept been around as long as we have?

When I was researching art schools in my early 20’s every school i looked into required a full year of unpaid internship to complete your degree. As a young father and husband at the time it was a compromise I just couldn’t make. Well, that and the exorbitant costs of art school at the time. But isn’t unpaid internship just a version of free work? You are giving away your services for experience in a particular field, with a particular firm, creative, etc. And you’re doing it for experience in how the industry works, and to pad your portfolio.

Today, I do drastically discounted, or free, work often. The issue is that you have to pick and choose what you will do for free, or how discounted you will do the work for.

You often hear in the photography industry, but this bodes true for any creative industry, show the work you want to do. In other words only display on your website, instagram, or facebook page the work you want to attract. So if it’s a project you really believe in, a conceptual shoot you really have a lot of enthusiasm for, a client you really want to build a future with, etc. then just do it. Just be careful about it. Make sure the client/model/project head/etc. understands your enthusiasm is the reason you choose to do it at low cost, or no cost, and that this is a discounted rate they are receiving.

I guess the ultimate trap is in finding too many projects you’re enthusiastic about. Then again if that’s your problem then your focus is most likely too broad to be very successful in your given field anyway. For example if you’re currently shooting portraits and weddings to pay your expenses, but your true passion lies in social documentary work, don’t give away/discount your portrait work. There is a concept used often by photographers: Make time for personal projects. In the corporate world it might be called work to live, don’t live to work. As creatives the work that feeds our soul and our passion for our creative endeavors is what we should be doing for free, or discounting to gain our foothold, so that we can begin to do the work that truly enriches our creative soul.

Clinton AusmusComment