From a recent post on Linked-in ‘Event Photographer Magazine’ group –
“How do you handle requests for free services from event planners? Below is the e-mail they sent
‘If you are not doing anything on NYE and spend the evening with us, we are looking for a couple of photographers to sponsor their time. Your photos will be posted on our social media pages which will be seen by over 6,000 people. And our crowd is very upscale.
Check out the event: http://tickets.synergynye.com and our flyer.’
Paul, you said you wished you had gone because of the high calibre clients that were there. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that any of these will follow up on seeing you at an event. However, If you do actually start to get known for these events, you will get known for working for nothing!
There are so many ‘professional’ photographers out there now who will work or nothing. This, combined with the fact that companies don’t realise the skill involved in producing good or even usable work, makes it very difficult for the true professional. Your job therefore is to impress upon them the quality of your work and the problems that clients have faced when using an amateur.
For example, at a recent wedding fayre, when a couple stopped at a photography stand, they said ‘It’s ok. Our friend is into photography and has a really good DSLR so they’ll be doing our photos for us”. The photographer faked enthusiasm and said ‘Oh fantastic! Do you know what? I could maybe help you out too? I LOVE cooking and have just been given a set of professional pans for Christmas, so maybe I could do your wedding meal for you and your guests?” They couple were horrified but realised what she was getting at. The photographer then went on to site the perils of using an amateur like not having a back-up camera, disks getting wiped, difficulty of lighting conditions, managing people, etc. You could adapt this example for your own.
Another good analogy is this. If I offered you 2 cars, one for £3000 and one for £12,000, you would probably take the £4000 one. But if I told you then £4000 one was some beat up old Nissan that is 20 years old with a dodgy exhaust and the other was a pristine 1967 Mustang Fastback as used by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, then I think I know which one you would take. You ARE the Ford Mustang!
In summary, you get what you pay for. It is vital you get this over to the client.
A compromise is to negotiate payment in kind, such as an hours work then free drinks at the party for the rest of the evening, or a dinner for two with wine at one of their top-quality restaurants or whatever.
Or, cover the whole evening but only give them 5 or 10 images to fulfil your obligation and to show them the quality of your work. Show and entice them with the 100 others (or however many), but explain that they would have to pay for these as you are a professional and as such, deserve to be paid for your experience!
Another good place for advice for creative freelancers is http://99u.com/