Washington DC Wedding Photographer: Stephen Gosling Photography
The first thing I want to say is that I am under no illusion that people read my blog, let alone other photographers. I in no way think that the way I do things is the correct way and I am not writing these posts to tell people how to shoot or how to run their businesses. I am however going to be writing about my experiences; my failures, my successes, etc. If these posts help anyone, great! If not; no big deal.
That being said…
The subject of ‘giving back’ or volunteering if you will, is a complex one in the photography industry. As professionals we do this for our living. We have things like rent and mortgages and car payments and grocery bills just like the rest of the world. So we; as professionals set our prices and the such in order for us to make a profit. That is the name of the game after all. Now, take me for example. I love what I do. I love photography and I love shooting. I have a degree in the subject and it is the only thing I know how to do, and the only thing I want to do. But if I were unable to make a living at it; if I wasn’t making a profit from my business and paying for things like my car and my rent, then I would need to do something else. But this isn’t going to be a post about how people should value photography because of blah, blah, blah. Plenty of other people have written great posts about that subject and I would basically just be plagiarizing them by writing that post. Instead this post is about ‘giving back’ to the people/organizations who deserve it.
Some of you will know that as well as shooting weddings I also do some editorial portrait work (see that website here – www.goslingphoto.com). As part of the portrait work I have shot a lot of headshots for actors and some fashion work, and also some portfolio work for up and coming models. Here is the basic jist of an email I get almost weekly;
“I love your work. I need headshots and modeling pics for my portfolio. I am really pretty and sexy and all that stuff so you should shoot my picture for free. But then you’ll be able to use those pics in your portfolio so it’s a win, win!”
In my head I run through this answer;
3. My portfolio is fine. I don’t need you in it. The fact that you like my portfolio and want me to shoot you tells me that it is fine.
4. I don’t need your permission for me to use photography that I take in my portfolio. It is a right afforded to me by me owning the copyright to pictures I produce.
5. If you want me you can pay me 🙂
I have a pretty standard email that I just copy and paste and hit reply which tells them a little about my pricing. Why on earth would I give them something for free? They don’t deserve it. Maybe they do, but they’re going about it the wrong way.
***Side note*** This post is going way off track…
Any who… I don’t give out stuff for free to people who don’t deserve it. And that brings me to some people who do deserve it! There is charity called Flashes of Hope. From the Flashes of Hope website; “Flashes of Hope is a national non-profit organization that changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research”.
I found out about Flashes of Hope a while ago and I contacted them eager to help out where possible. Unfortunately for me I have been busy for a few of the occasions they have contacted me about helping them. But thankfully I have been able to help out with one shoot last year (and hopefully I’ll help out again soon).
So here are some pics of deserving kids hanging out with Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich of the Washington Captiols.
Moral of the story #1; no-one can tell you how to run your business, but if you give away everything for free; you will not have a business for very long.
Moral of the story #2; helping out groups of people and charities is a fun thing to do; it gives you warm tingly feelings inside.
Moral of the story #3; you don’t have to “give back” or volunteer at all! You can do whatever you like. But if you are going to volunteer your time and equipment and experience; it is probably a good idea to volunteer those things to a deserving group.
And finally, I apologize for this post being all over the place. This is just how my brain decided to work today.