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Thread: Voluntary photography work

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    Voluntary photography work

    What's your opinion when it's ok to provide voluntary or unpaid photography work to a community event, charity, sports club, company, organization, or an event ?

    Never ?
    Always ?
    Depends ?

    The reason I ask is that often I scout for paid work only to be told that they have photographers there in an unpaid capacity ?
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    This is an interesting question and I've often pondered it too. I shoot dog shows and just about all clubs are not for profit. Some will pay for a photographer, some just get someone with a "good camera" to do it for nothing, and others want a good photographer but aren't willing to pay.

    I guess the answer to your question is, it depends! On what I don't know though! If they are not for profit, is it ok to charge? But you are providing a good service, your equipment, your expertise...? It is a tough one.

    I've working on a model of charging the club a modest fee and then putting all the images up for sale to exhibitors to buy with some of the money from each sale going back to the club. That way I get the job, they can get their photos done for not much or even a profit (if when my images are good and we sell enough) and I get a reasonable sum; not enough to live on, or even build a business on, but something to fuel my GAS . Some would say people like me are also part of the problem. This model seems to be working for the moment, but it is a lot of work and there seems to be more and more people offering services for nothing; and the clubs gets what they paid for.

    People doing it for nothing certainly devalues the industry, but that is the nature of the beast and where it is heading, first it was weekend warriors like me trying to make some cash on the side, and now it is anyone with a 'good camera' will do. I guess all you/we can do is produce great work and demonstrate value for money. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask to be paid, and the people you want to work for are the ones that recognise your value.
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    Hi I think for a club images for there web site is OK but if you shoot an event you expect the competitors \ participants to pay for your images. Unfortunately some people think they are buying friends by giving the driver of a $100,000 + car images for free, doesn't make sense to me.
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    My opinion is there is no reason not to get paid if they are going to profit from it, unless it is a favour for a friend or you will somehow get a non $ gain from the exchange (maybe get a good rep from the boss of the company you work for etc.)
    If someone approached me from a charity I probably would, I don't think I would actively seek out unpaid work, unless maybe It was a sporting event which may be fun to shoot and would get a nice set of picture from.
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    There's a lot of stuff that most would shoot for free....lets be honet, if someone said shoot the afl gand final as long as the got all the images I would in a heartbeat.....do it every weekend it soon becomes work.

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    I think it depends on the event or activity. For a non profit organization that are not selling on the images, I have no problems doing it for free for them, but I have an agreement, that states that if I take images of people, I will give my card, load up after the event, and if they want to purchase ok then. We still own the images but give limited commercial use for advertising or promoting the next event. They usually request specific things like opening welcomes or a particular event that can be given to the local papers and all are recognized to the photographer concerned. But if it is for an organization to make money, well I will make money too

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    I think it comes down to if the images are going to be used for a profit then charge. I shoot a lot of kids sport and the look you get when you give them a shot of them doing roost on a moto x bike or a specky at the football is all the payment needed.
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    In think this pretty much sums up photographing for free:

    (c) image removed

    If you cant see it here is the original: http://www.aphotoeditor.com/wp-conte...orkforfree.jpg
    Last edited by Kym; 31-05-2011 at 10:38pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    What's your opinion when it's ok to provide voluntary or unpaid photography work to a community event, charity, sports club, company, organization, or an event ?

    Never ?
    Always ?
    Depends ?

    The reason I ask is that often I scout for paid work only to be told that they have photographers there in an unpaid capacity ?
    is photography any different to any other form of volunteer work?

    in any case, for me, its always a 'depends'. There are plenty of orgs that operate as charities but have plenty of money to burn whilst others have very little, hence the play it by ear.
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    Member James T's Avatar
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    When is it OK to volunteer my services? Whenever the hell I want to. Same should go for anyone else really.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James T View Post
    When is it OK to volunteer my services? Whenever the hell I want to. Same should go for anyone else really.
    I fully agree. I can and will do for free what and when I please, and I have no regard whatsoever for how professional or want to be professional, part time professional etc photographers may view that. Those who see it as devaluing their industry, should re-think their chosen industry if they feel it affects them so terribly. I don't think doing it for free is the only problem for those who have a problem, it is basically doing any cheaper, better etc or doing anything that takes away from them as being the problem.

    Those who can't agree with how the industry has gone had better just get used to it, because free or cheap photographers who make $$ on the side are growing in number by the day, and it will only go more that way as time goes on. There are plenty of quality photographers out there who will work for free or very little, simply for some recognition regardless of whether the beneficiary is going to profit or otherwise. Many people will also accept lesser quality in return for lower or zero cost as long as they get what they need as not everyone needs fully edited pro quality files.
    Last edited by Wayne; 31-05-2011 at 11:19pm.

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    The biggest problem I have with it would be if a volunteer was somehow involved in an incident (as unlikely as that may be) without the insurance a professional would likely have.

    I volunteer maybe twice a month for an organization called Heartfelt, non profit, as for something like that... I'd actually be quite disgusted if there were other pros looking to secure paid work. So I think this is a particular situation where volunteer photographers are absolutely necessary.
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    The biggest problem I have with it would be if a volunteer was somehow involved in an incident (as unlikely as that may be) without the insurance a professional would likely have.

    Yes, I do think it devalues the industry... Well actually, isn't it basic economics to say it does???

    However, there is an exception to the issue of devaluation of photography. I volunteer maybe twice a month for an organization called Heartfelt, non profit, as for something like that... I'd actually be quite disgusted if there were other pros looking to secure paid work. So I think this is a particular situation where volunteer photographers are absolutely necessary.

    Oops! Was meant to modify the above post! Instead I quoted
    Last edited by jasevk; 01-06-2011 at 12:37am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    What's your opinion when it's ok to provide voluntary or unpaid photography work to a community event, charity, sports club, company, organization, or an event ?

    Never ?
    Always ?
    Depends ?

    The reason I ask is that often I scout for paid work only to be told that they have photographers there in an unpaid capacity ?
    Ah - yes - tell me about this one.

    To directly respond to your last question first:

    OK companies/organisations tend to seemingly employ someone who has some photographic equipment, which in most of their bosses eyes is akin to being capable of photographing everything and everything, regardless of experience, skill and ability.

    I was recently told by one company in response to my enquiry if they commissioned photography, their response was that they already employed a photographer - he was their accountant "he has a good camera" was the second response.

    I own a musical instrument - doesnt make me a musician.
    I can buy building products from Bunnings - doesnt make me a builder.

    But that will probably ignite a whole topic of rebukes and defensive comments.

    Interestingly I didnt consider calling myself a photographer until I'd been shooting for over five years.

    Recently I was approached by a "photographer" who had set up a website, contacted me for advice, and when I was reviewing their site, I was aware that the large majority of the work displayed was clearly from iStock (it helps if you dont use the samples with the watermark still on them ). They seemed put out when I suggested that it probably isnt ethical to display stock work, especially as they had no hope of reaching the level of work from iStock. Interestingly iStock were more put out that I thought that was unethical use of iStock images then the clear illegal use of iStocks products.

    Back to the first question though:

    Think you should have added one more choice - "Sometimes" - so I have

    Community Event - depends
    Charity - sometimes
    Sports Club - depends
    Company - never
    Organisation - never/depends
    Event - depends

    Welcome to my world Darren.

    Where companies have many employees who may employ people who in their spare time are, sometimes, very capable, and at times quite talented photographers but do not have to consider in their photographic career, costings a) their living expenses, b) standard business running costs, and here's the crux c) feel bullied, compelled, or enjoy the additional ego massage of providing their company with images at no additional cost above their ordinary wages.

    Deal with that, because thats the challenge I meet every day.


    And BTW - Heartfelt is an amazing charity to support and one that requires some cast iron strong personalities to go and shoot under those circumstances to a very very big kudos and thanks to anyone doing that type of work - good on ya Jase !!!
    Last edited by Longshots; 01-06-2011 at 7:40am.
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    I should also add that I have no problem competing with those who want to work for free. I dont see it as devaluing the industry at all. If people want to work for free - then go for it. Because as one who does work in the industry, I'm confident I can compete. And this is a free country (so we're told), so its others choice to do that.

    However it does seem ironic that so many will turn to shooting for payment, and then eventually you will see the same points of concern being raised by those who originally worked for free, now want advice on how to counter those doing what they started with.

    I've offered many charities work for free, and its interesting how few have taken that offer on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    I fully agree. I can and will do for free what and when I please, and I have no regard whatsoever for how professional or want to be professional, part time professional etc photographers may view that. Those who see it as devaluing their industry, should re-think their chosen industry if they feel it affects them so terribly. I don't think doing it for free is the only problem for those who have a problem, it is basically doing any cheaper, better etc or doing anything that takes away from them as being the problem.

    Those who can't agree with how the industry has gone had better just get used to it, because free or cheap photographers who make $$ on the side are growing in number by the day, and it will only go more that way as time goes on. There are plenty of quality photographers out there who will work for free or very little, simply for some recognition regardless of whether the beneficiary is going to profit or otherwise. Many people will also accept lesser quality in return for lower or zero cost as long as they get what they need as not everyone needs fully edited pro quality files.
    Wayne, I don't disagree with you and in many ways you have reinforced my point that things are changing! I just think that doing too much for free sells yourself short. We all individually need to draw a line somewhere and that is the hard bit, where? Do free work every week and it becomes just that, work! If you're comfortable doing that fine, but I'm not. Each to their own I guess.

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    I am the photographer for the local Cancer Council Relay for Life - I was a committee member but dropped off the committee due to not having the time to put in a full effort.
    I see me as supplying the images of the day free to the Cancer Council and participants as a civic duty - and is no different to other committee members volunteering their time and expertise in catering, marketing, media, fundraising and management.
    They have never paid a photographer and never would.
    I believe in Kamra - sometimes you have to give to get back...

    So in answering the OP question? Depends....
    Last edited by jeffde; 01-06-2011 at 8:16am.
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    i guess if there is a problem here its where people are supplying images and clearly working for free where under "normal" circumstances that would be considered by most photographers as actual work. For example being an accreditted sport or media tog, concert photography, council run events etc

    Charitable work - yes - heartfelt, the local cancer council etc all worthy "donations".

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    Yep I certainly applaud, agree encourage, and indulge in supporting any charity events.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    What's your opinion when it's ok to provide voluntary or unpaid photography work to a community event, charity, sports club, company, organization, or an event ?
    My point of view from living away from the larger cities and having fairly extensive local knowledge.

    A community event ---

    Most of them are financially backed by the shire. If I was to give my time to the group that was running the event I have no doubt that the shire would want some of the photos to show from the day that the event that "they" organised was a good thing. The shire, or at least the "event coordinators" within the shire would then probably say " ooh goody, we can get free photos from them" and sit back and hatch a scheme where they could allow a bit more in the budget to cover "photography" at the next community event. That money could be then safely siphoned off to go towards a "planning" meeting, more than likely to be conducted at a flash restaurant, pub or club.

    So a resounding NO to community events from me.

    A charity ----

    Only to the ones that don't pay telemarketers, promotional companies or wages to administrative employees.

    A sports club ---

    Many sport clubs are backed / assisted by the shire ( see community events above ) so I would be very selective about which ones I would help out.

    Being a member of a sporting club that is actively ignored by the shire and knowing the circumstances of others it is easy to make decisions so it is a maybe.

    A company ---

    Are they going to provide me anything worthwhile in return?

    Depends but probably not in that case.

    An organisation or event ---

    Depends on the individual case ( see comments re shire backing above ) and recently I have become involved with a group who will be holding an art event that is receiving minimal funding from both state and local government ( particularly the shire, see notes above about the shire ) and I will be both participating in the event and assisting with photographing the event.

    Once again a maybe.

    My points are expressed as more of a personal view point and not necessarily from a business perspective and I have no issue with others doing exactly as they wish to with their time, expertise, equipment and money but I think William summed it up succinctly above where he said that so many of those who gave away their services in order to get a foot in the door in the first place are the ones most likely to complain about others doing it in the future. I'm sure there is something in there about having your cake and eating it as well.
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