Admittedly an odd title for a blog post, but let me explain…
A few days ago my wife Anne told me of a conversation she’d heard on BBC Radio 2 in a regular daily slot called ‘Pause for thought’. The title of the subject was exactly that…”Are you poor” but rather than what you might at first think, the word ‘Poor’ was actually referring to: Passing Over Opportunity Repeatedly.
Maybe it’s just me but the first thing I thought of was my photography and how I’m a big believer in personal projects and doing work for free. Now don’t misunderstand me here…I’m not talking about undercutting fellow photographers or devaluing what I do but what I’m actually talking about is taking on projects / shoots that I wouldn’t maybe get commissioned for but with it in my portfolio, may well open doors in the future; does that make sense? In other words…not turning down opportunities that arise.
Heck I’ve done more ‘free’ personal project work than I can remember and will continue to do so but guaranteed, every single time it’s paid off in the end because it’s resulted in me being able to add images into my portfolio that I’ve then shown to perspective clients and ended up being hired for; images that I may never have been able to add to my portfolio if all I was doing was my ‘paid’ work.
The whole issue of working for ‘free’ has been across the web many times and always stirs up mixed emotions. In this case what I’m talking about is taking up opportunities with folks that you think would be good to photograph and then doing it, but doing it in such a way that you’re getting images that stretch you and mean you both end up with something you may never have had the opportunity to get. Everyone’s a winner!
Editorial Portrait Photographer David E. Jackson [Link] eluded to this in his recent Guest Post [Link] and went on to say that personal work and taking on the opportunities for projects is vitally important if we are to grow as photographers.
I’m no betting man (unless I’m in Las Vegas for Photoshop World of course) but I’d put money on it that every high profile photographer out there that’s photographing the kind of stuff you’d like to be has and continues to work on personal projects, so that they can both stretch themselves and produce work they wouldn’t necessarily have been hired to do because it wasn’t in their portfolio. I’d also say that doing these ‘free’ projects’ is what ultimately led to them working in the area they are today i.e. they saw an opportunity and grasped it with both hands!
So, my question to you is simply this…”Are you Poor?”
Thoughts? Comments? then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below; I’d love to hear what you think and if you are indeed taking the time out to work on personal projects/shoots or should I say ‘opportunities’ as they present themselves.