Earlier this year I had a message from someone who was watching my Etsy shop. She wanted one of my dresses but couldn’t or didn’t want to pay for it. So instead she offered me things she thought were a fair swap – a business card design, a doll, some other bric-a-brac she was selling in her own shop. Needless to say I didn’t respond.
But I have a dilemma and so I can see her standpoint. I am a designer. I do two kinds of work – the stuff people specifically ask me to make and therefore want to pay for, and the stuff I make to my own design remit in the expectation that I will somewhere down the line sell it.
Presentation is everything and in order to sell things and catalogue the work I do I need a damn good shoot behind it. There are amazing people out there willing to shoot for nothing if it benefits their portfolio and I think all things considered that’s a fair swap if it expands your genres and gets you noticed. Get a great shoot and you’ve showcased everyone’s talents which will hopefully lead to paid work or new client leads.
There are of course those other people who have full time jobs they love and do their creative stuff because they also love that and because it’s not paying their bills. I’m kind of jealous of those people. It opens up so many doors in terms of work levels.
And then there are the people who I’d love to work with but I can’t afford to pay and I’m too embarrassed to ask if they’ll shoot for free (a dubious term since everyone involved is putting in the same effort and outlay). Yes it would be an insult to them because they probably have lots of paid work and yes I should know better. There are one or two photographers out there who are particularly scathing of anyone who asks to work for free and will happily name and shame on their Facebook pages. I guess they should be flattered by so many requests – maybe. I don’t blame them. But seriously, we’re all trying to get along.
Whilst I do prefer to be paid for styling shoots (hence I get very few offers at the moment) I will shoot for free if my designs are involved in return for awesome images that sell my skills.
And that’s what TF is all about. It is a swap but of an equally useful kind. Everyone gets an equal benefit. Everyone puts in the man hours, everyone gets the credit.
Next year I have to do many more photoshoots. Things are being made but not seen but I realise it’s going to be a struggle getting the quality and the reputations that I want linked with my work. I don’t mind putting in the extra effort or travelling far. But it’s time to step up a gear and start making approaches. It’s called being stuck between a rock and a hard place.