“Photographer Looking For People to Do Their Job Without Pay”

Some Atlanta-based photographer posted a humorous Craigslist ad on Monday highlighting the fact that people often assume that photographers will be happy to do work for free.

I am a photographer and since people are always looking for free shoots I assume that they must also do their job, or provide their services, for free.

I am looking to hire all types of people to do all sorts of jobs for me, as long as I do not have to pay anything. Just think, you will gain more experience, and I will put the word out for you and let everyone know what wonderful work you do. This opportunity will bring you a ton of unpaid work, but everyone will love you. So if you have a job or service you provide, and will do it for free, please let me know, because I am sure I have work for you and will hire you in a second.

Feel free to email me with the service you can provide, when you can start, and please include references.

I look forward to you free service.


Photographer Looking For People to Do Their Job Without Pay (Atlanta) (via GoingPro)

  • Sam the Deaf

    Gimme food then I might consider it. :)

  • Anonymous

    Anybody unsure about how to approach unpaid work should follow this easy to use flow chart: Start in the middle and work your way around.

  • Squeamish Ossifrage

    Do you people never get favors from professionals? Your doctor friends never write you a prescription without an office visit? Your never ask a lawyer friend a legal question?

    I get his point, but disagree with it. I routinely do both photographic work (my part-time job) and IT-related work (my full-time job) for people for free. Why? Because I’m a nice person and neither of those things cost me anything but time, which I am happy to donate to friends and causes I support.

  • Alex Masters

    “I get his point, but disagree with it.”

    I don’t believe he’s talking about charities or friends – he’s talking about the people that claim not to have a photography budget but promise a by-line and/or ‘experience’.

  • Chris Day

    Skills to time to learn.  Time = Money.  And last but not least a lot of these people EXPECT free work.  If the photographer offers it’s a different story.

  • Aus_Guy

    Amazing. Hahahah

  • Poeticphotopress

    I completely agree. People think photography should be free because everyone has a camera these days and can use PS to make the image look better. Real photographers do not need much editing and have the eye that average folks do not. My family refuses to let me shoot them for free. Its called respect. Tracey Easter | Poetic Photo Press

  • john moyer

    Professionals always offer a little “pro bono” work now and then and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I love seeing my work published by a worthy Non-profit who will be using it to further a cause in which I believe.  Try it some time.  It feels great!

  • Eslogico

    Sometimes i do fotog jobs for some friends or family, but i choose to do that pro bono. when a client (who is neither family nor a friend) calls me for a job, i obviously charge them for that. 
    I remember the first job offer i got a year ago, it was a 12-hour shoot, at a fashion parade, they wanted to pay me $50, and the promisse to gimme credit for the photos on their catalog. But, they got to keep the photos. 
    I had to decline that, not for the underpayment, but for the pride.

  • PhotoChick

    I’m happy to do pro-bono work real charities, but I have had more than one for-profit entity/company ask me to do a job totally for free for them. That’s unprofessional of them.

  • David Kozlowski

    I posted a similar experience…Craigslist ads for free photography really gets my blood pressure up!

  • Mike Philippens

    Can photographers please stop feeling sorry for themselves or start looking for a job that pays? The constant complaining and resisting the inevitable is getting on my nerves.

    I understand what they’re on about, but since the world won’t roll backwards, they just have to deal with it and stop the whining. Full stop.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think your examples in your first paragraph are apropos.  For one, it sounds like strangers are expecting free services, so your “friend” examples don’t apply.  If they were your friends, then you’d tell them directly, not broadcast a Craigslist ad, which your friends might never notice, unless you’re odd enough to write the ad and then email them the link to it.

    If you actually trade favors with someone, and they’re actually good for a reciprocation, then by all means.  The chart linked by alvintoro makes a lot of sense, giving away work shouldn’t be done unless you have a specific reason to do so.

  • Pj Perez

    There’s a difference between donating your time out of goodwill and others asking for your services at no cost so they can benefit from the savings.

  • Lococov

    First, the person was probably complaining because too many friends/acquaintances asked for free work. Doing jobs for free or discounted price when you first start out is one thing, it’s a good way to get your name out. However, when you become a professional and your living depends on that money, you get paid unless you decide to do it for free.
    Second, when you’re passionate about something you have to do it, Mike Philippens. If you can get paid for something you’re passionate about is what makes it better. Photography is a JOB and you’re right it doesn’t pay that much at first and not many photographers who love it complain about the pay. And I feel sorry for you that you obviously don’t have something you’re passionate about.

  • JR

    People do this in college All. The. Time. It’s called an “Unpaid Internship”. 

    I don’t see Wall-Street types running around bemoaning the existence of summer interns at Investment Banking houses. 

    When people are out there that will do a similar job as you for LESS than you ($0, in this case), then it’s time to act like a professional and GET BETTER. Do the things that are scarce, that necessitate skill, and that are in demand. Hit your deadlines, follow up with clients, turn around a photoshoot in a day – for ****’s sake, do something that the above-average-hobbyist can’t do, and then you’ll have a case! 

    For the love of baby jesus, please stop whining about the saturation of above average photographers that will do the job for free.

  • Spike

    As a damned enthusiastic semi-pro photographer of six years… Mike and JR are right. We photographers need to suck it up. Technology is making what we do easier and more accessible. Clients don’t pay for artistry, they pay for a product, they care about the quality of that product, not how it was achieved.

    I do free stuff, because I can, and because I *am* passionate about photography. If there are pros out there who think I’m devaluing their work, well… they need to raise their game or lower their prices. Photographers don’t owe each other anything.

  • JR

    I disagree. Passion is a wonderful thing, but it is no substitute for simple supply and demand for equivalent levels of work. 

    In simplest terms: If two people will be able to take a photograph that meets/exceeds the client’s artistic and logistic demands, but one charges $500 and the other will do it for free, who do you think gets the job? 

    No amount of passion can overcome that.

  • FLHTC2011

    You are a stupid jack ass. You should be required to know what you’re talking about before you’re allowed to post a comment here. I’ve been a full-time professional photographer for over 25 years- I did it the right way by going to school and have paid my dues. It’s very disturbing to see the art of photography being turned to crap by this new breed of digital dumb asses who work for little of for free, who have no manners, no professionalism and who dress like they’re going to a picnic with shorts and flip-flops. 
    I have no idea what you do for a living but I am pretty sure that you just go to a job, kiss the bosses ass all week and draw your paycheck. You should have to deal with the issues that us true professional photographers have to deal with. 

  • Dan

    actually, it´s called professional courtesy. i know someone can do it cheaper than me, but probably if a photog does free jobs for clients, maybe the results won´t be that good. i don´t charge $500 for a job because i have a name, i charge for a job beacause i studied and formed myself as a professional. 

    that´s why we hate it when a talenteless guy with a expensive camera does a job for free. I make a living out of taking photos. 

    it´s like a cheap and an expensive lawyer. the cheap one can do the job, but probably won´t have the resources the more expensive one has.

  • Scott Dallas

    I’m so hungry for a drumstick

  • Scabby Arm


    Well put. I agree. The landscape for professional photographers has changed. Professional photographers need to examine their skill set and either change their pricing structure to reflect the current environment, offer a different product or provide better value than the rest.

  • Jason Heilig

    That’s odd, the PPA studio survey seemed to point out that photography does pay, decently, when you know how to run a business.

    If it gets on your nerves, go away.

  • Ghost

    I hate that… I’ve spent many thousands of dollars on training & equipment… but people look at me like im crazy if I want to get paid for my hard work…

  • Raymond Wong

    Was going to say the same thing.

  • Photos_to_Share

    It’s not the camera, it’s the eye and the ability to capture the moment that are of value.

  • Travis

    I want this on a business card somehow lol!

  • Anonymous

    Being given the run around by clients is shitty no matter how you feel about the changing market. Being asked to drive across town to a meeting to negotiate a 10 hour gig, delivering your estimate, and then having phone calls not returned is shitty. Having professional colleagues tell you to your face that your rates are too high (when you charge exactly what they charge for their time) is shitty. This isn’t about pro bono photogs “ruining” it for the professionals (I shoot friends’ artwork for free, often) this is about a naivety about what it takes to create a professional image, quickly and consistently. I agree with the above sentiments, “up your game”. That’s the only way to stay ahead of the masses.

  • Butcher

    I pitty this, I see it a lot among actors, designers and psychologists…  always complaining about people wanting their services for free…. 

    When you love something with passion, you will stop eating and breathing just to do it. 

    Mistake is trying to make a living out of what you love.   Passion will get killed by bills and hunger.

    If you consider yourself as an artist, goal should be to express yourself.  Is to move feelings with images, even the credit as an egocentric person. 

    Money? Who cares about money?

    Did Michelangelo got paid enough for his works? 

    Bottom line:  If you make your living out of of what you love,  you might reconsider finding a hobby to keep you motivated.   

  • TAM

    ‎”You can’t eat exposure… we can’t eat exposure nor can we spend it on rent, or camera gear, or insurance.” – Andrew Buchanan.

  • Mike Philippens

    Why do photographers think they’re something special? In IT and there are a lot of ‘smart nephews’ who think they can build a website for (almost) free, or the student trying to make a buck. Also the people (like you probably) who ask the local nerd at a party to fix their PC because they screwed it up…

    It’s all the same. Every profession has it’s ‘enemies’. Photography is nothing special, so live with the changing times. Deal with it. Grow up, move on. Think of something that makes you special, instead of just assuming you are.

    And just because you’re asking so nice, I’m not going to tell you what I do for a living or what my connection is with photography. It surely never occured to you that I even might be a photographer. I might not be worthy in your eyes, but that tells me more about you than me. Your reaction in itself reveals a lot about you. Your abuse, your assumptions. So, I won’t lower myself to your level.

    You changed nothing. You accomplished nothing. I hope it’s not indicative of your life and professional attitide.

  • Mike Philippens

    I think you read my reply wrong. It’s the photographers who are complaining. I just say that they shouldn’t. If photography does pay, why are they complaining? So…wtf?

  • Mike Philippens

    Oh, and you can read that in my reply? You can start a second career on the fair ground with a crystal ball… ;)

    I don’t know why you assume that I’m not passionate about something. I’m just saying that photographers are complaining about something that’s just a fact of life. And every profession has to deal with the same thing. How many mechanics do you think get asked by a ‘friendly’ neighbour to look at their car when it won’t start? The list goes on and on… Photography is nothing special.

    If you’re passionate, the pay doesn’t matter. I don’t have to be paid for riding my motorcycle…I don’t see the point. I want to be paid for my job, which I love by the way, and I’m very passionate about it by the way.

    Passion is not the issue here. The times are changing. Classic photographers see that there’s a new generation of digital photographers who are as good as they are. Ok, there are a lot of crappy photographers. Some are so bad that I don’t know why someone would hire them again. But, as you know as a photographer: the man in the street doesn’t appreciate true quality. It’s a fact. See how wild people get when they see a snapshot of a dark arena where U2 is performing 50m away, taken with an iPhone. The shot is as crappy as it gets. Great pic! Then there’s me, with my Canon 1DIII and expensive L lens and all the gear making truly great shots. They like them too, but they still like the crappy iPhone shot. Because they don’t give a shit.

    Obviously, a really great photo is appreciated somewhat. Everybody sees the difference in quality, sharpness, colours etc. But if I make a crappy shot with a 1DIII which is sharp etc, but not very good compositionwise, nobody notices. Sure, other photographers notice and Rolling Stone wouldn’t take the pic. But if you’re a photographer, you’ll know what I mean.

    So…it’s hard times for the photographer. But they could’ve seen it coming. Digital photography takes away the cloud of mystery surrounding photography for ages. People see that it’s really not so difficult as you’d make it look. The technique is simple, and if you got ‘the eye’ you can do it. No problem. Now everybody can take a pic. Accept it, deal with it and don’t whine.

  • Tim

    Commercial photographers need to relax about the idiots who give their work away.  Yes, it doesn’t do much for value in the marketplace but really, I don’t think that some guy’s (gal’s) quick and dirty images are any threat.
    Commercial photography is about compelling people.  That’s the whole point.  Professional commercial photographers help people and business make money.  Once in a while, a newbie is going to make a photograph that speaks to people, and when that happens, the image has value.  Let’s see em do it twice…  Let’s see em make a living from it.
    If you can make images that actually work, then you’ll actually be working.

  • Earthtorachel

    working for free for friends and causes is one thing. working for free for people you don’t know or hardly know is entirely another thing. the only reason anyone would be ok with it is because they have another source of income. photographers making ends meet solely on their work have to treat the trade like any other job, they expect to get paid.

  • Jeff

    I lots of photographers in my area devaluing the work.  So, I offer better products and get better clients.  Once a client sees my portfolio, sees weddings I’ve shot, and compares that to what brother Bob does with his fancy t21, they hire me.  Or they don’t, and they get brother Bob’s work.  Either way, I work hard to win my client’s trust and repeat business, not to mention advertising and referrals.  It’s slow business, but that’s why I work two jobs!  I only work with clients I want to work with, they ones that can pay me what I’m worth and appreciate what they get.

  • Ken

    In the past 2 years of working part time as a photographer, I have experienced:

    At least once I week I receive a message along the lines of “Hi.  I need a photographer but I don’t have any money for it.  If you will do the shoot for free then I will allow you to use the pictures in your portfolio and I’ll tell everybody who comments on my pictures that you did a great job.” 

    A couple times a month I get a message along the lines of “Hi.  We need a photographer to cover our {insert name of corporate event} but we don’t have any money in the budget.  If will do the shoot for free then we will allow you to use the pictures for your own advertising and will give credit to you as the photographer.”

    Once or twice a month I get a message along the lines of “Hi.  I noticed this great picture on {insert name of photo sharing site or online portfolio} and we would like to use it in our {website/magazine/newspaper/other publication} but we don’t have a budget.  If you allow us to use your image we will give you credit and include a link to contact you.”

    In 15 years of working full time in IT, I have -never- received a message along the lines of “Hi.  We need to build a new website but we don’t have a development budget.  If you will design and build us the site for free then we will include a note in the page footer that says you created the site for us.”

  • Roy Warner

    People always fail to remember that the client who winds up going with the free/cheap guy was probably never an actual prospect to begin with. If they value good work, they wouldn’t go for the free/cheap guy. You were never going to get them to pay your prices because they were always going to look for someone cheaper.

  • Kerri

    Why are you so aggravated by someone making a point, and a valid one at that about their profession? I think you need to get a life, move on and accept it and deal with it and dont whine. Sheesh!

  • Kerri

    I am amazed at the people who are calling photographers whiners and to get over it and move on. Seriously, what we are talking about here is real lives, businesses, passions, etc. for most every sector of the marketplace. I am sure plumbers, mechanics, and even lawyers get that phone call that plays upon the friendship card. So, when I hear people complain against one group and use the other groups to show how others suffer the same problem how is that an argument? You have just made the argument we photographers are dealing with as well.
    When anyone has successfully climbed a ladder, paid their dues, got to the top only to find that others have crawled over you with crap for brains for business and drivel for good work, with the promise of cheaper…I say that is sad and frustrating. Make no mistake that photographer “wanna be” wants to make money. They are under cutting the very business they hope to make better money at someday unless they are really clueless…that they can support a family, pay the mortgage, buy groceries, gas and pay bills as well as support a business and all that goes into that.
    Let me just say when I need someone to treat me medically I am really glad that they have gone to school, been tested, hold some sort of degree, has a skill and experience, and has a a passion for what they do. The last thing I would think of doing is calling my Dr. the day before my surgery and say, hey my neighbor next door is really good at the game Operation and he says he would only charge me $50. I think my Dr. would say Good Luck with that! So, would I be so stupid as to do that? No, and no one would really fall for that but my point is that it is beyond comprehension that anyone would consider doing that very thing for something as important as their wedding day! We see every year that more and more people come to us saying things like my sister, my friend, my neighbor hired a cheap photographer and regretted it terribly when they saw all the dark, blurry, or blown out images. We feel badly for those who really cant afford a professional and have to use someone that is just starting out or has some decent stuff but has never shot a wedding. Its the couple who say that photography is their priority, but they spent the bulk of their budget on everything else…then want to wheel and deal on the their priority? Give me a break. I am not going to send out thousands of dollars of equipment to a wedding where they want to spend a beer budget on what they say is the most important vendor they will hire for the day.  I have heard soooo many stories of photographers show up to a wedding where they lowered their cost only to show up and see the top caterer, top DJ, top venue, custom dress, and shoes that cost more than most mortgages. I doubt that they tried to dicker on the cake, or the food that would be served. The venue price is what it is. It is hard to understand why when it comes to the very person who is going to record all these expensive details and ask them to take the bullet because the budget is now pitifully unable to pay for a professional.
    I say, buyer beware, but in order to beware you really need to be enlightened as to what you are asking. And for all you out there that think we are whining…tell me what you do for a living and if you would be so inclined to cut your rate in half for the next forseeable future. I am not talking about for your friends, charity, etc. but really cutting your income as a whole for everyone from here on out. Or for those of you who work for the man…how would you like to have him/her cut your pay by 1/2 for the forseeable future and see if you whine a little bit. You might feel your boss is a friend and that you would cut him some slack and let him guilt you into taking less pay but really? Are you not going to complain one little bit?
    I thought not.

  • Darleenstry

    Dear Squemish,

    I appreciate your point that’s it’s often nice to volunteer your services.  I think what they original author was getting at though is that it’s humiliating as a photographer that often people EXPECT you to do it for free.  They don’t ask if they could give you something for your time or even if you’d want the job.  They just assume you’ll be at the event, take great images,   put them in a CD all for free because you are a photographer. 
    Don’t sell yourself too short.  Anybody can take pictures but to be a good photographer takes skills and time to put together a nice portfolio and do a good job.,  You can’t just shoot and run off to the local drugstore to make 10 cent prints.  If that’s all you do then you’re not a photographer.  You’re just somebody who takes pictures.
    Antoher thing you have overlooked is about capital investment.  Good equipment is generally needed to take good shots.  You don’t get equipment by only donating.

  • Darleenstry


    I appreciate your point that people who are photographers often feel like they are under paid.  However, everybody feels that way.  You can ask anybody in any profession if they think they are getting paid what they are worth.  My bet is most people would say NO.  Duh, that’s why they always give themselves raises.

    I doubt you are a true photographer who has ever tried to make any money either discretionary cash or steady income.  If you were you would have walked in those shoes and been able to understand it. 
    Rather you chose to explain a point of view that basically says “shut up and deal with it” because I’m sick and tired of listening to it.  Who are you to ask others to change?  If you don’t like it get out now and save us the bother of hearing your egotistic opinions anymore.

  • Darleenstry

    I believe you are mistaken what the whining is about. 

    The whining from my perspective as a photographer is the following:
    People you know invite you to an event, ie a wedding,.  They hire a photographer too.  But the photographer has given them a list of images they will take for set price.  They want more so rather than pay the professional that they hired.  They ask you to bring your camera to the event and take a bunch of shots they don’t want to pay the paid photographer for.  Mind you I’ve been invited as a guest.  Since when are guests given a list of jobs to do at an event they’re invited to?  I usually do it because they are my friends.  However, the notion that irks me is that.  Well, she’s a photographer and she’s coming we’ll just ask her to do the shots and she’ll probably oblige. 

    You are also sadly mistaken about summer interns doing stuff unpaid.  Generally an internship gives a compensation of some sort.  Such as a college credit for a course, or even let you develop your portfolio while using the equipment where the internship is. 
    I have never seen an internship that states, must have all own equipment including computers, cameras, paper, etc.  Pay for own printing, work long hours and get nothing.  Even if they get college credits but not $.  Duh, credits are money.

  • Darleenstry

    go eat

  • Paradisedweller

    I don’t know. I looked at the photography gigs on Craigslist Atlanta, and all the ones I saw offer compensation. I think people are a bit too touchy about this.. I know there are some a$$wipes asking for free service, but they’re not actually the majority.

    Also, when I stared my business, I put an ad looking for a web design students, mostly because I had no startup capital, so I wanted someone who would be flexible about payment dates, but also because I think students less blaise than established professionals. But I offered compensation as ‘quote me your price’. I didn’t put a number, because I had no idea what people charge for that sort of thing.

    So within two days I got a whole slew of angry e-mails from people telling me I was a terrible person and asking people to do their job for free.

    Well, I wasn’t. I had every intention of paying whatever my designer and I agreed was a fair price. But guess what? In the end, I got sick of the harrassment… I canceled the ad and just figured out how to design a website opn my own.

    So maybe, instead of getting all pissy, you can just ignore those ads, and they won’t get any response, and then they’ll stop asking for free service. Talent has an immesurable value to society, and we should all be respecting it. But the artists who want society’s respect should also earn it, and stop throwing childish hissy-fits.

    PS: Honestly. Craigslist is the lowest common denominator. If you started getting offended by all the things people posted on that site, there would be a national blood pressure crisis. Chill, and look for work the real way.

  • ProTog

    People pick up a Digital Camera and THINK they can take a good picture…but they have no concept of correct lighting, posing or composition…it’s completely laughable :-)

  • Analog6

    You get what you pay for – so pay nothing . . . . . 

  • Rod

    I started reading this string because I currently have someone who expects me to show up to every event, birthday party, christening, etc, and provide the same service for her as I do for my clients, but for free.  She is kind of family, so this wasn’t much of a problem at first, but she has now upped her expectations, and tries to book actual sittings for family portraits for her and her friends…this is where it becomes a problem.

    Now, with that said, I cannot believe the pompous-ass attitude of some of the photographers on here.  It drives me insane when other photographers start judging people for trying to get into the business, or doing the occassional free sitting to get their name out there, etc.  Granted, it is slightly annoying when someone gets their hands on a low-level dSLR, flips it to auto, and thinks they’ve made it, but why all the hostility towards those who are ACTUALLY trying to make it?  I hate the terms “fake photographer” or “wannabe” when they are used as derogatory terms for “inexperienced” photographers.  If you don’t like someone’s work, say you don’t like their work.  If you think they are less talented than you, and they don’t charge as much as a “real” photographer does, shrug it off, and move onto your next client.  Just because someone is new to the business doesn’t automatically make them a no-talent hack.  If they “happen to take a photo that speaks to someone”, yes…they can do it again and again and again.  Show some damned respect.  I’m glad I work in an area where my fellow photographers get along, respect each other, and aren’t so terrified of those trying to come into the business that we feel the need to tear them down.

    I recently took on a high school student, as part of a mentoring program, because she told her teacher she is really interested in photography, so she made it her senior project.  She must learn all she can, write a paper, and develop a portfolio by the end of the year.  As I asked her the few couple of question to determine her level of experience with a camera, I quickly found that she had never actually used one before.  I guess I should have told her then that she should hang it up, that she was useless and talentless?  Oh, wait…no…I’m pretty sure everyone in this forum picked up a camera for the first time at some point in their lives.

    It would be a sad day when we no longer welcome new photographers into the business…for you and I won’t be around forever.

  • Danielabayfield
  • jamesbjenkins

    Love this. I truly wish the masses understood the work that goes into every image a pro cranks out.