PetaPixel

What It Feels Like to Be a Freelance Photographer

Freelancers often have to deal with the difficult challenge of trying to satisfy vaguely stated requests from clients, and also the frustration of meeting new requirements that aren’t revealed until after the work is “completed”. The video above is an interesting social experiment by Don’t Get Screwed Over that attempts to show people what these freelance horror stories feel like to the people getting “screwed over”.

In it, we find a booth set up in a New York City park with the simple and enticing offer: “WILL PAY $5 FOR A DRAWING.” Passers-by quickly set to work drawing the requested subjects (e.g. dog, bird, island) after a simple handshake agreement. As they hand in their work expecting to get a fiver in return, they’re quickly met with unexpected disappointment (which quickly turns into anger).

The moral of the story: make sure you have a clear contract before you start working.


 
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  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    “Freelancers often have to deal with the difficult challenge of trying to satisfy vaguely stated requests from clients, and also the frustration of meeting new requirements that aren’t revealed until after the work is “completed”. ”

    And this is why knowing how to be in business, is important. The video is pretty lame, but the fact is that people get in these situations because they don’t ask questions, will work for nothing, expect other parties to be honest, don’t use contracts, etc – in short, most people who find themselves in this situation aren’t good businesspeople – and photographers are just that. If you get screwed because you didn’t get a contract with all the particulars spelled out and a deposit, etc upfront…. well, then my level of sympathy is zero.

  • Mark

    I have a lot of people ask me what constitutes the use of the title “professional photographer”. Many photogs will quantify it with something like “when your main source of income is from photography”, but I have a different answer.
    It’s when you are paid only under protection of contract, no matter how small the job may be.

    It’s when you tell your family and friends that if they want you to shoot an event for them, they will have to pay nearly the same amount a regular customer does.

    It’s when you are always thinking of ways that the client can screw you over and thus you preemptively shield yourself from litigation through binding contracts.

    It’s when you start telling stingy clients that every time you walk out of your front door with the camera, there is a chance something could happen to your equipment and your livelihood would be destroyed–nothing is free.

    It’s when you start acknowledging that every click of your shutter is another step closer to having to buy a new camera.

    Really, the day you become a professional is when you realize that being a Pollyanna will only land you in the poor house, and that being cynical and cautious is the only way to be successful in a self-run business.

    This video doesn’t show how bad a customer can be, but rather shows how bad some people are at entrepreneurship.