Chris Henderson, supremely talented Corporate Industrial Location Photographer. Wizard of lighting techniques, dedicated family man, passed away on the 15th April 2019 after being admitted to hospital 2 weeks earlier with what he termed a bout of ‘Man Flu”
We spent many a long journey driving to various separate locations nattering about all things photographic, family, life in general and every topic that happened to be in the news at that time often at a silly 0’Clock time.
A month earlier he wrote a blog on his website about working for free and how when we discussed this topic it was agreed that by doing this on a professional level it would be the undoing of our profession. Below is Chris’s Blog post which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Why I will not work for free*...or cheap.
I have forgotten how many times I have been asked to do a job for an inexpensive or very discounted rate..always from a new ‘potential’ client or agency promising that there is more in the pipeline..we love your work..we have a small budget for this one..we’ll definitely call you for the next shoot.
TBH I’m not interested in how cheaply something can be done..I’m only interested in how well it can be done. And as a matter of interest if you do something that you would normally charge more...it still takes the same amount of time and resource..how can you then justify your costs being higher for the next similar shoot with the same client.
NOW. just to get things into perspective I understand about budgeting and do work to maximise on productive time and deliverables; keep the non productive costs to a minimum..it’s good just business.
“Can you '“Just this time”, the realisation is no matter what you charge for your art there is still your resources that need to be paid for, equipment/cars/offices/computers/software licensing/cloud storage/insurance/safety training/repairs/upgrades the list goes on, even before to have your first coffee of the day it has cost you to be in business..you’re in the hole..peddling water at best.
As creatives it’s not what resources we bring to a shoot (although often the tools we use influence the creative output) it’s what is in our heads, the experience of solving and producing great output in any situation. Having that knowledge must have a value..it’s the only bargaining chip we as creatives have..all the shoot kit can be rented.
Having just prepared a presentation for a potential project, 12 hours of my life (and over a weekend) to assemble, edit and arrange the content..12 hours of my life I will not get back…but I still get enthusiastic about new and interesting projects..and when you do what you enjoy you’ll always put in the extra time.
I know the market is the ultimate decider on these matters and will find it’s own level, but I for one am not going to work and charge at the lowest denominator..there’s always space for busy fools.
“We saw your web site - we love your work..and would love for you to do our next shoot..you’re a great fit for our client”..thank you how can I help..”Can you do XYZ for $$ and assign worldwide copyrights, do all the retouching and deliver in 6 days time”..I think that is a little ambitious..maybe X ”Oh the client now says there is more time as this project is a long term priority”..that’s great..I’ll prepare a costing and a small bio/presentation so you can show your client my image style..”about the price..we already gave the client a ball park costing.. now you have more time so can you can achieve XYZ”...to quote a favourite ‘Good Grief Charlie Brown’
Experience give’s insight, and experience is the accumulation of knowledge..it has value..so I’m not going to ‘punt’ just as the ball is taken away..no matter how tempting the Peanuts are.
*I will work for Free..sometimes it’s good to ‘give back’