Does nothing really mean nothing?

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: September 24, 2010

Category: General

Question: Would you take time out of your diary, take photographs, edit and then provide them to a client…for nothing?
Now before all the sharp intakes of breath and the shouts of “No way!” and “Are you mad?” let me explain:

What I’m talking about here is giving back to your Community, providing a Professional Service to a needy cause and so on…

Those of you who follow the work of Zack Arias will have heard I’m sure his personal story about how he came to have his current studio space and also about how he opens it up to other local creatives to make us of it for FREE for their exhibitions and product launches. The thinking behind it being, is that he’s paying rent on the studio anyway, so rather than have it empty at times and still be paying rent, why not fill it with folks from other creative backgrounds and network at the same time? Makes perfect sense huh 🙂

Now not everyone is in the position to give up their studio to the local community but how about giving up some of your time?

This month I have a series of photographs in ‘Totally Society‘ Magazine; photographs that I took a couple of months back at an event in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and get this, I did it for nothing…gasp!!! …well maybe not…

Does nothing really mean nothing?
I’m a big believer in the mantra “The more you give, the more you get” but with one proviso: “Don’t give and expect something back in return”

Giving back this way is something I’ve always done and will continue to do and yes when the time comes that Anne and I have relocated and have our studio space set up we’ll be following in the footsteps of Zack and allow others to come in and make use of it for FREE too. In the meantime, if I don’t have a shoot or it’s the end of the day and there’s nothing on the ‘goggle box’ to be honest I’d rather be out photographing for someone that needs it, and you only have to look around locally to see there’s plenty of them.

I urge you to give it a try…go find someone; a local charity, event etc that could really do with some photographs and do it for FREE; you may find it’s the best pay day you’ve ever had (and I don’t mean financially).

So what do you think? Would you / do you shoot for free on occasion? If you do, how do you approach it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this be they positive or negative so as always feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Enjoy 🙂

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13 Comments

  1. Neil Holmes

    Funnily enough Glyn, I’m dong a few shots (at no charge, I’m not keen on the word free) at lunchtime for a client doing some charity work. I have done a few similar things over the years, I take each request on merit.

    Cheers Neil

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Neal, yeah I’m with you on the use of the word ‘Free’; at no charge does sound better 🙂
      Enjoy the shoot,

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  2. Todor Ostojic

    Glyn

    I think you cover quite an excellent topic. I have done photography for free in the past and will continue to do so.

    I agree, too, that you should NOT do it with the expectation that you have to get something back in return. To me having a client that has had a free shoot tell you that they love the pictures and are really happy with the results is worth more than money!

    The second point I would like to make is that everybody MUST do an event, or a few (eg: charity dinner) for free. Not only are you giving something to that charity but the people who are involved will be able to donate more to their cause as they are not paying for a photographer. And from a marketing perspective this is a fantastic way of getting your name known within the community and network with people from all sorts of backgrounds.

    As for the post production, you would have been editing images even if you had been out and about photographing, anyway.

    Take care and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Todor

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Todor…Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Yep, totally agree…no point going into this stuff with a hidden agenda; just do it because it’s right to and see what happens but certainly don’t go into it expecting something back in return.

      Cheers, Glyn

      Reply
  3. Tim Skipper

    Glen

    One of the first things I did when I started was offer free portraits to the Hope Group. The Hope Group provides care for expecting mothers with low or no incomes.

    The mother’s can come in either for a maternity or new born session and get a free session and free wall size print.

    Jim Rohn use to teach that giving is like planting seed for the future. He told a story that I never forgot; “A man goes to a field and says meet my need. The field responds who is this fool who tells me of his need and brings me no seed.”

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Tim…The Hope Group sounds like a perfect candidate for offering your time and expertise too.
      Love the short story; perfectly sums it up!

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  4. Keith Hammond

    a bit of free never hurt anyone, i expect most of us are chasing the dollar but there is always a time when you can give a bit back. Not everyone is a position to give huge but that doesn’t matter, even a small free gesture is doing something, As you say you should not look at it as a marketing stratagory and plan your giving around what you expect back and who knows give in the right way and you never know what is around the “karma” corner…………….now when is your studio free 🙂

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Keith…Absolutely! Oh, and re the studio…we’re looking at organising a full day of shooting towards the end of the year with whole host of different subject / sets to shoot …. I’ll keep you posted.

      All the best to you,
      Glyn

      Reply
  5. David Kelly

    Glyn,

    Well I can’t speak as someone who earns money from photography, as being a mere hobbyist I quite used to shooting stuff for free 🙂 However as someone who undertakes voluntary work for a charity outside my working life, I’d say it’s always good to give something back – you really can’t put a price on the value of that warm glow that you get inside. So if any photographer has the opportunity to undertake some pro bono work, I’d say embrace it.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David…Couldn’t agree with you more; definitely gives you that ‘Ready Brek’ glow which is payment in itself.
      Must meet up again soon mate,
      Glyn

      Reply
  6. Govind Vekaria

    Hi Glyn,

    I have done things for “free” in the past and will continue to do so. However, of course, I choice which ones and why. If its something different than my norm, or it helps my students, then I am more open to doing it for free. The only condition I try to impose is free publicity of my work.

    C u soon.
    Govind

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Govind…Thanks for dropping by and yeah I totally agree that you have to decide what is done for free. Out of interest, do you have any specific criteria that helps you decide to do it or not?
      Glyn

      Reply
  7. Neal Hibbert

    I personally would have no problem in giving my time shooting for free, as well as helping those that need it, it would help me as every shoot is a learning curve in some way or another.

    Reply

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