Tennis Australia Wants Experienced, High-Quality Photographers… For Free


In another “sign-of-the-times” type of story out of Australia, the company Tennis Australia has been in hot water with photographers for over a month now over a classified ad posted on The ad called for photogs with “previous experience,” “a strong knowledge of tennis,” and their own equipment. The pay? There is none.

That’s right, the positions advertised were strictly volunteer positions, with the ‘payment’ boiled down to free access to Tennis Australia’s popular December Showdown — the 2,000 player tournament for spots in the Australian Open — and, of course, “valuable experience.”

Needless to say not everybody in Australia with a camera took kindly to the ad, leading to a social media campaign against them and a strongly worded open letter form the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), which you can read here.


According to Media Watch, Tennis Australia pulls in some $200 million per year in revenue and makes a profit. Prize money for the Australian Open was also just increased to $33 million, and the company was trying to hire a junior PR Person for the same December Showdown at $40,000 a year — but when it comes to hiring photographers, the budget doesn’t seem to exist.

“It’s a sign of the times. The industry is dwindling. People are willing to work for nothing and photography is being devalued,” sums up award-winning Australian photographer Dean Sewell in a statement to Media Watch. “On any given day you’ll have News the Herald and radio stations too asking for images from the public. It undermines the work of professional photographers.”

(via Reddit)

Image credits: Vodafone Arena by Mp70

  • Killlian

    Oh I totally agreed that most ‘clients’ who would ask for free services wouldn’t be ones that would likely pay anyways. I come from the perspective of someone who is a recent college graduate who’s main competition in the beginning were people undercutting you for free. It can be extremely frustrating to be asked to work for free in the beginning but persistence pays off. Just under 2 years out of college I’ve established a good core of return clients that I do photo, video, and editing work for. Enough to be stable and even being able to purchase a brand new car over the weekend.

  • NancyP

    well, if you are a tennis nut and would be paying to watch the games, and if you can score lots of autographs of your favorite Grand Slam level players and in effect have free tickets and preferably free food, you might take it. Whether or not you got good photos would be secondary. If they expect to have consistently pro level photos on every player, well, fuggedaboutit.

  • EffeteBloke

    Exactly. If you are truly good enough you will create demand for your work. But in careers that are incredibly competitive yet easily accessible such as photography, it is getting harder and harder to make a living unless you are among the best. Photographers may be getting paid less as a whole but photography has never been better.

  • Horange Cones

    Actions such as these lead to Licensing and Certification requirements. Realtors, Interior Designers, HVAC technicians, Engineers and Architects among many other fields require certification and licenses. Is it time for the same in Professional Photography? Will the chaos in the market lead to Unions and the barring of Freelancers or non-union members such as in the stagecraft trades?

  • Lukas Prochazka

    I dont know if the jackass is right word for me…I shot my friend that is quiet beautiful but they dont have much money, yes they could safe some months and pay 200 bucks to proffesional and dont buy anything else…but I did it for free of course….I think that’s everybody’s personal traits whatever doing it for free or not…of course that’s because I am not making living of that….one day if I will I might change my mind…but my ideology is still that what makes me happy I want to give it to or share it with someone whatever for free or not…and no I dont want to be as a guy that doing it for free…but the guy who is doing it with pleasure.

  • Lukas Prochazka

    and as a other matter of fact…you are reading this article tottaly for free and taking jobs to real publishers to sell printed magazines about photography…just saying :D

  • Chive Awesomeness

    Will they fly me over? I’ll gladly shoot for the sake of shooting…

  • Ken Elliott

    I’m a pro and while I may not like it, I can’t fault Lukas for doing it for fun. He’s not stealing a darn thing, because it was not your’s to begin with. If I can’t deliver a product that people are willing to pay for, then that’s my problem, not his.

    It’s a tough game, and getting mad at non-pros does not help. But it does make you look like a jerk. You called him asshole, but it really reflects who you are, not him.

  • Ken Elliott

    Well, we like models to work for free. So we should understand that our customers want the same. But we learn that working with free models is more expensive than a paid professional in the long run. This is a lesson Tennis Australia needs to learn.

    Here’s how to solve this: Get a bunch of people to apply for this. Shoot the crappiest, blurry stuff you can, and turn this into an embarrassment for Tennis Australia. Whoever came up with the bright idea will get fired. Word will spread, and the PR people will want pro photographers to save their own skins. After all, the PR people are spending someone else’s money, not their own. So they like to get pats on the back for saving money, but if it backfires and they lose their job, it will stop. Or at least some of it will.

  • Brad

    You’re a bit slow on this one, it did the rounds last month. Kicked up a massive stink among the local tog community.

  • Better Off Damned

    The company isn’t forcing photographers to take the position, so what’s the problem? Sure, it’s an insulting offer to professionals, but one you don’t have to apply for. I seriously don’t see how asking someone to do something for nothing is wrong when you’re able to say “Thanks, but no thanks”.