Are You Saying Yes Enough as a Photographer?

Photographers are constantly asked to work for less than they are worth or even for free, and that can often put us on the defensive, ready to reject any offer that will not bring us meaningful income. That can sometimes stop us from saying yes when it would actually be the best thing for us. This excellent video essay is a reminder of how saying yes can sometimes bring benefits beyond money.

Coming to you from Hans Rosemond, this great video essay discusses the benefits of saying yes to photography projects even when they might not lead directly to additional income. Of course, Rosemond is not advocating for being taken advantage of here. Rather, it is a gentle reminder that photography is supposed to be something we do because we enjoy it, and that can sometimes be lost when it is how we make money. After all, how often do you get to truly experiment without expectations on a paid job? It is in these personal explorations that we rediscover our original creative voices and the love of the process. This is why so many professionals advocate so strongly for pursuing personal projects, as that is where you will develop the unique style that will make you desirable to paying clients. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Rosemond. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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My thought process in these situations is, will the "friend" use the images to generate revenue? Will they bring similar investment whether it's material or resources to the project? Will I have creative control over what and how it's shot? I'm all for shooting something beautiful that I can use to promote my business but I cannot justify creating images that will put money in others pockets and not mine.

Yes if it’s for fun it’s for fun. If it’s for money, it’s for money:)


I did it three years ago with a local group. All we had to do is sign up. I went there with one of my assistants who mentioned the event to me. I took my lights and told him I would assist him but I also ended shooting a few images. They provided models and cars in a field and near a house with details that offered many background options. We just had to post web size images shot on their web site. It's not at all what I typically do but it was fun.

I think anytime that you do work for free it devalues your work. And there are too many photographers willing to "work" for nothing or next to nothing with hope that it pays off in the future. Are there any other occupations that people would consider asking someone to work for free. Try that with your dentist!

I don't think that this video is about any exchange and therefore not about money or working for or no money. It's more of an experience with people you may have or may never have met before. It's neither a club or a sponsor organized type of event. So I would say you go for the discovery or stay home and if it looks more like a trap, then you don't stay. It's more about everyone bringing their own basic stuff and some may decide to shoot film, even 8x10, bring their own lights props or like I did just assist someone with less experience or equipment and give them a chance to do something they wouldn't or couldn't normally do. No serious planning is probably key as long as there is a little bit of an announced theme to stick to.