It really doesn't matter if you make excellent images that make your clients look their best, or that they're using your creative brain and technical mastery to sell their product. Clients deserve massive discounts, and, sometimes you just need to give them a load of images for free because they feel that they did you a favor that one time — conveniently forgetting all the other free and massively discounted commercial images you gave them.
You're Not Worth It
That's right, all you full-time professional photographers — you're not worth as much as you say you're worth. Why? Because image makers are a dime a dozen, and the concept of a fair wage doesn't matter when you're a freelancer in a world saturated in freelancers. You don't have rights, so, either you just get over it, or become a corporate lawyer if you want to make some decent money. Failing that, you should have just been born into wealth, so you then also develop an unhealthy disrespect for people who don't make as much money as you, who you can exploit for your own financial gain.
"Um, Actually, You Should be Paying Me for the Privilege"
As we all know, wedding photography is super easy. All you do is turn up and take a few photos. How handy a number is that? You get to dress up, eat some free food (maybe), and you have the absolute honor to document the most important day in the lives of two complete strangers; who, coincidentally, also don't respect what you do for a living, despite going to the bother of hiring a professional photographer. You see, their nephew has a "professional camera" and an artistic mind — he would have done it for nothing. $3,000 for just one day?! Who do you think you are? Frida Kahlo? A weeks worth of editing the faces of people who are the personification of love, should be more than enough to cover the rent for your one-bedroom apartment situated next to a cabbage pickling factory.
Image courtesy of David J. Fulde
"You Need an Hour to Photograph a House?"
Listen buddy, you were just offered €118 to photograph a slightly above average looking home for an Airbnb profile. Those clients have the right to demand that you shoot the property on an absolutely perfect day, in the middle of Spring, on the west coast of Ireland (note: Irish Spring is wet; real wet). You should probably put all your other clients on the back-burner because, let me repeat: they're paying 118 whole Euros. Disregard the fact that you need to pay for fuel, tax, rent, camera depreciation, food etc., or that a single night's rent of that property will net the owner three times the amount that they will pay you for those professional photos, which help them make more sales. Yes, the images will earn them money, but how good will that slightly above average semi-detatched, with a sliver of a sea view, look on your portfolio?
"Think of all That Tasty Exposure, Bro."
Yeah, you took the time to scout a location, find and hire a professional fitness model/athlete to photograph performing complex stunts, and used expensive gear to shoot high-paced scenes, but this shi**y clothing company needs to sell some merch, yo. You don't expect them to pay you for your work, do you? Give them a break, man — they're just a small business trying to bring people together with positive vibes (by freebooting images on Instagram). I thought you were chill. Here, have a cheaply made cup with a generic inspirational phrase and some ClipArt on it. "Love your content! *many inane emojis*"
Courtesy of Andy Day
You Are in Fact Worth Every Penny
To be serious for a minute, I don't have a problem with a little quid pro quo. What really gets my goat is people taking advantage of hard working, often struggling, freelancers like me. I've learned the hard way to say "No". It's not easy to refuse any work when you're starting out, but don't let people use you. You deserve to paid fairly.
Do any of our readers have a story about a tight or manipulative client. We would love to hear about it in the comments below.