To do, or not to do, are you confused? Because I know I was when I first started as a photographer and was told by a well known photographer to give every wedding photograph to vendors for free, and so, I did. However, the longer I have been shooting, wedding, portraits, products, and lifestyle, the more I realize, wait, I can’t really do that (unless certain circumstances apply). And I’m not only doing a huge diservice to myself, but my industry as well.
Here’s why I don’t give images away for free:
- Creativity, time, and education to do what I do, is not valued at “free.”
- A byline in a book or magazine rarely gets you any exposure or referrals.
- It places little to no value on photography if you give images to publications for free.
- There are publications that pay me to shoot for them.
- If by using my image on an advertisement, brochure, website, or product like a book will stir up more business for them, and increase their bookings or revenue, I should be paid for those images. I don’t see printers or publishers donating their services, so neither should I.
- Big venues with lots of money have an advertising and marketing budget. Your work is used to market their product or place, your check can come out of that budget.
When I do give away images for free:
- Blogs, watermarked of course with a link to my website. Links are actually good, active marketing. Marketing is now online.
- If it is a concept/staged shoot and the vendor donated a service or product, then it’s an agreement that my photos are what I’m giving to the shoot and all involved can use as they see fit. And, if they use it for advertisement in like a bridal magazine, I request a credit line.
- Web quality images for iPad or such for venue or places to share or showcase to their clients. This doesn’t count as public advertisement but rather sharing my work.
- As a small business owner, I support small businesses so I am more likely to share images with them to help build their business.
Think about this – if a venue is trying to use the images to showcase what a wedding could look like at their location and a couple’s minimum booking is say $10,000, and they book a few weddings off it, well that would be sad if I didn’t get a little piece of it since my work helped. If they think it’s too much money, then they could buy stock photography online, it’s cheaper, but the quality isn’t the same. I always extend the offer of them being able to share a website link or online slideshow for free when their clients come in, but on marketing collateral, think about it – marketing, well that’s a different medium. That’s advertising.
Even if you’re a starter, you should at least charge for overhead – the disc, a little bit of time, or else you’ll be out of business real fast. This is purely my business sense, but know that YOU are talented, and if YOUR work is requested, that means someone thinks there is value in it too. So don’t be afraid to ask for compensation, even if it’s just one photo. You are worth it, and you do deserve it. I can’t really tell you a pricing on where to start but take into consideration usage and do not give your copy rights away.
And because every post is better with a photo, here is one of my favorite brides, Lizzey. I can’t wait for this wedding to debut on Style Me Pretty. Stay tuned.
Diana Elizabeth Photography is Diana’s third LLC. She’s very business oriented, and each LLC has been successful. The best thing is to charge for your services and to structure it for survival if you want it to be your main source of income. Don’t be afraid. You can do it!