Reasons Professional Photographers Cannot Work Free

Dear potential photo buyer,

If you have been directed to this page, it is likely that you have requested the use of an image or images for free or minimal compensation.

As professional photographers, we receive requests for free images on a regular basis. In a perfect world, each of us would love to be able to respond in a positive manner and assist, especially with projects or efforts related to areas such as education, social issues, and conservation of natural resources. It is fair to say that in many cases, we wish we had the time and resources to do more to assist than just send photographs.

Unfortunately, such are the practicalities of life that we are often unable to respond, or that when we do, our replies are brief and do not convey an adequate sense of the reasons underlying our response.

Circumstances vary for each situation, but we have found that there are a number of recurring themes, which we have set out below with the objective of communicating more clearly with you, and hopefully avoiding misunderstandings or unintentionally engendering ill will.

Please take the following points in the constructive manner in which they are intended. We certainly hope that after you have had a chance to read this, we will be able to talk again and establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Photographs Are Our Livelihood
Creating compelling images is the way we make our living. If we give away our images for free, or spend too much time responding to requests for free images, we cannot make a living.

We Do Support Worthy Causes With Images
Most of us do contribute photographs, sometimes more, to support certain causes. In many cases, we may have participated directly in projects that we support with images, or we may have a pre-existing personal relationship with key people involved with the efforts concerned. In other words, each of us can and does provide images without compensation on a selective basis.

We Have Time Constraints
Making a leap from such selective support to responding positively to every request we get for free photographs, however, is impractical, if for no other reason than the substantial amount of time required to respond to requests, exchange correspondence, prepare and send files, and then follow-up to find out how our images were used and what objectives, if any, were achieved. It takes a lot of time to respond to requests, and time is always in short supply.

Pleas of “We Have No Money” Are Often Difficult to Fathom
The primary rationale provided in nearly all requests for free photographs is budgetary constraint, meaning that the requestor pleads a lack of funds.

Such requests frequently originate from organisations with a lot of cash on hand, whether they be publicly listed companies, government or quasi-government agencies, or even NGOs. Often, it is a simple matter of taking a look at a public filing or other similar disclosure document to see that the entity concerned has access to significant funding, certainly more than enough to pay photographers a reasonable fee should they choose to do so.

To make matters worse, it is apparent that all too often, of all the parties involved in a project or particular effort, photographers are the only ones being asked to work for free. Everyone else gets paid.

Given considerations like this, you can perhaps understand why we frequently feel slighted when we are told that: “We have no money.” Such claims can come across as a cynical ploy intended to take advantage of gullible individuals.

We Have Real Budget Constraints
With some exceptions, photography is not a highly remunerative profession. We have chosen this path in large part due to the passion we have for visual communication, visual art, and the subject matters in which we specialise.

The substantial increase in photographs available via the internet in recent years, coupled with reduced budgets of many photo buyers, means that our already meager incomes have come under additional strain.

Moreover, being a professional photographer involves significant monetary investment.

Our profession is by nature equipment-intensive. We need to buy cameras, lenses, computers, software, storage devices, and more on a regular basis. Things break and need to be repaired. We need back-ups of all our data, as one ill-placed cup of coffee could literally erase years of work. For all of us, investment in essential hardware and software entails thousands of dollars a year, as we need to stay current with new technology and best practices.

In addition, travel is a big part of many of our businesses. We must spend a lot of money on transportation, lodging and other travel-related costs.

And of course, perhaps most importantly, there is a substantial sum associated with the time and experience we have invested to become proficient at what we do, as well as the personal risks we often take. Taking snapshots may only involve pressing the camera shutter release, but creating images requires skill, experience and judgement.

So the bottom line is that although we certainly understand and can sympathise with budget constraints, from a practical point of view, we simply cannot afford to subsidise everyone who asks.

Getting “Credit” Doesn’t Mean Much
Part and parcel with requests for free images premised on budgetary constraints is often the promise of providing “credit” and “exposure”, in the form or a watermark, link, or perhaps even a specific mention, as a form of compensation in lieu of commercial remuneration.

There are two major problems with this.

First, getting credit isn’t compensation. We did, after all, create the images concerned, so credit is automatic. It is not something that we hope a third party will be kind enough to grant us.

Second, credit doesn’t pay bills. As we hopefully made clear above, we work hard to make the money required to reinvest in our photographic equipment and to cover related business expenses. On top of that, we need to make enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, etc.

In short, receiving credit for an image we created is a given, not compensation, and credit is not a substitute for payment.

“You Are The Only Photographer Being Unreasonable”
When we do have time to engage in correspondence with people and entities who request free photos, the dialogue sometimes degenerates into an agitated statement directed toward us, asserting in essence that all other photographers the person or entity has contacted are more than delighted to provide photos for free, and that somehow, we are “the only photographer being unreasonable”.

We know that is not true.

We also know that no reasonable and competent photographer would agree to unreasonable conditions. We do allow for the fact that some inexperienced photographers or people who happen to own cameras may indeed agree to work for free, but as the folk wisdom goes: “You get what you pay for.”

Please Follow-Up
One other experience we have in common is that when we do provide photographs for free, we often do not receive updates, feedback or any other form of follow-up letting us know how the event or project unfolded, what goals (if any) were achieved, and what good (if any) our photos did.

All too often, we don’t even get responses to emails we send to follow-up, until, of course, the next time that someone wants free photographs.

In instances where we do agree to work for free, please have the courtesy to follow-up and let us know how things went. A little consideration will go a long way in making us feel more inclined to take time to provide additional images in the future.

Wrap Up
We hope that the above points help elucidate why the relevant photographer listed below has sent you to this link. All of us are dedicated professionals, and we would be happy to work with you to move forward in a mutually beneficial manner.

Article courtesy of:

CMMS Studio Offers Metropolitan Style Photography

High end photography studios are typically found in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta to name a few. Due to location these studios typically carry huge overhead and a matching price tag which is the reason why many aspiring actresses, models and pageant contestants are looking to professionals such as CMMS Studio located in the small southern town of Loris, SC.

Located away from the hustle and bustle, CMMS Studio offers photography services that meet or exceed those of big cities with the added bonus of being located in a relaxed setting that is friendlier, more economical and convenient to those seeking commercial quality images. “The sky is the limit. We can do anything we set our minds to, we are very passionate about what we do” says Meganpixels Parker, photographer and graphic artist at CMMS Studio.

CMMS Studio has seen growth in the interest from aspiring models and pageant moms that are looking for alternative photography studios that will offer a competitive edge without the metropolitan price tag. For example, CMMS Studio recently photographed a client that came from Atlanta to have a portfolio especially tailored. He currently models for firms in NY and Miami.

Pageant moms have become increasingly aware that a good portfolio may be the key to getting into a pageant, but having a WOW portfolio will set a contestant apart and heighten chances of success. The Photographic section of a pageant portfolio showcases a variety of Live, Natural and Glamour images all of which are specialties of CMMS Studio. Often overlooked, the underlying purpose of a pageant portfolio is to ultimately gain talent agency representation, modeling assignments and even acting jobs for the contestant. This is when it pays to use a company such as CMMS Studio which has the ability to produce all the creative photography and graphic design for supporting artwork such as comp cards.

The company’s tag line speaks for itself: “Step out of the ordinary”. The photographic portfolios are created through the eyes of several artists and professionals who live to help aspiring stars achieve their dreams. Each portfolio session offers a unique experience crafted to the model’s needs: wardrobes are discussed as are locations, backdrops, props and finally the times and dates. Then the magic begins and the results speak for themselves.

When asked in depth about what other photography services are offered, CMMS Studio representatives stated that the studio covers the entire gamut from general portraiture and weddings to the afore mentioned modeling portfolios and even photos with Santa.

However this new breed of studio not only offers photography, it also provides graphic design, video and film production services all in one place. Business owners have discovered that dealing with one vendor that can handle their product photography, graphic/web design and TV commercial spots can be very effective and saves money. “It only makes sense. Our different departments coordinate with each other in-house and the client only has to make one call. This saves time and money” states Videography Department Head Art Barrera.

As the photography and media industry continues to change companies like CMMS Studio are becoming the standard for aspiring models, pageant contestants and businesses alike.

About CMMS Studio
Located in Loris, South Carolina, Custom Multi-Media Solutions, Inc. was founded and incorporated with the objective of providing cutting-edge multimedia services ranging from Photography and Video to Graphic Design at affordable rates to people everywhere. CMMS Studio offers a wide variety of photographic services from Commercial Modeling to General Portraiture. We believe that every customer is unique and has specific needs. We provide personalized attention to all of our clients to help meet their personal budget. Our professionals include a video production team that films weddings, dance recitals and family events as well as producing high quality TV commercial spots, documentaries and industrial/training videos. CMMS Studio offers Graphic Design solutions for small and large business with three designers that can design anything from business logos to signs, brochures, billboards and web sites. No job is too large or too small.

“First Look” Wedding Photos

There is a trend in Wedding Photography called the “First Look” where the Bride and Groom set aside time for the Photographer to catch their first glimpse of each other before the ceremony. It is a special time that is unrushed and emotional for the couple to share without family and guests being involved. We had the opportunity to be a part of a”First Look” with the “Haymore Twins” and would like to share this special part of the wedding with our readers.

First we Photographed Heather and Sean:



















Next we Photographed Kristen and Evan:





















Next we Photographed the Father’s “First Look”. This was a decision made “spur of the moment” as we were having such a wonderful shoot!











We kept going! The girls decided that we would shoot a “First Look” with their brother:

























Videography 101 – White Balance

Hi again everyone and welcome. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I am going to go over some of the buttons/features that you may find on your camcorders.

Here is a brief list of the features that we will be covering:

-          White Balance
-          Iris Setting (aperture)
-          Shutter Speed/Angle
-          Backlight
-          Focus (manual vs. auto)
-          Zoom
-          Frame Rate (fps)

The above items or settings are commonly found on most consumer camcorders as well as professional Cameras. In principal, they all work the same; the key is in understanding what they do and how one may affect the other.

Today I will provide a brief explanation of White Balance then in subsequent posts I will go into more detail about the others individually.


White balance can also be thought of as color balance. Its function is to give the camera a reference to “true white” — since white light is the sum of all other colors, this function tells the video camera what the color white looks like so the camera will then record all colors correctly.

Incorrect white balance shows up as video recorded with orange or blue tints, as demonstrated by the following examples:



Most camcorders have an “auto-white balance” feature, which is activated when the camera operates in “full auto mode”. When on automatic, the camera performs its own white balance without any input from the operator. Unfortunately, the auto-white balance function is not particularly reliable and it is usually preferable to perform this function manually in order to obtain the best results.

White balancing can make the difference between a video that looks natural and one that looks a little off, giving the audience reason to feel as though something isn’t right.It is important to note that even the slightest shift in color can spark a subconscious uneasiness in the mind of the viewer. We know when something isn’t right, especially when looking at skin tones  and even clouds in the sky. Things may look a bit too blue (cool) or yellow (warm) as in the examples above.

This problem is caused by a difference between how cameras see things and how our eyes perceive the world. Different types of light sources “splash” surfaces with a slightly different color. This is what is called color temperature and what the cameras adjust for.

Color Temperature in video and digital photography is measured in kelvins (K). Different light sources give off a different temperature making the reflected color from objects slightly different. It is for this purpose that most manufacturers include several “presets “ on video cameras that allow for a quick color balance setting.

This table may be found in some manuals that illustrates the most comon settings found. Note that these settings are also commonly found on most point and shoot digital photography cameras.

Video White Balance

The custom setting is the most useful when shooting in environments where there are several types of light present and where the color temperature is abnormal. It will also deliver the most accurate color tones.

So where are these settings found?

The WB settings may be found either on a dial or button located on the camera body but most commonly on a “soft setting” within a menu. Some cameras may not have these settings but have an option for “full automatic” & “Manual”. Take some time to find these settings as well the location of your WB button before continuing, and yes, you may have to locate your manual!

Setting a White Balance

This procedure should be performed at the beginning of every shoot and every time the lighting condition changes. It is especially important to re-white balance when moving between indoors and outdoors and sometimes even between rooms that are lit by different kinds of lights such as incandescent and fluorescent or daylight from windows.

It also important to custom white balance frequently during early morning and late evening since the daylight color changes quickly and significantly as the sun rises or sets. When in manual mode, perform regular white balances at intervals during these periods.

How to perform a manual white balance.

  1. Point your camera to a pure white subject, so that most of what you’re seeing in the viewfinder is white.  You can have someone hold up a white sheet of paper or you can look for a white surface that is well lit. Ensure that the surface be fairly matte (non-reflective). For best results ensure to fill your viewfinder with the white surface by either zooming in or physically coming in closer with the camera. If it is not possible to fill your viewfinder, ensure to at least fill about 50-80% of the frame.
  2. For now, set your exposure and focus to automatic.
  3. Activate the white balance by pressing the WB button or throwing the switch. The camera may take a few seconds to complete the operation, after which you should get a message (or icon) in the viewfinder.
    Hopefully this will be telling you that the white balance has succeeded – in this case, the camera will retain its current color balance until another white balance is performed.
    If the viewfinder message is that the white balance has failed, then you need to find out why.  The most common reason is too little light which can be easily corrected by increasing your exposure.


Now that we have some basic understanding of what white balance is and how to set it manually or by using a preset, I encourage you to go out and experiment with your equipment and see what different results you can achieve by altering these settings.

I recommend that you find a room with one type of light (incandescent, fluorescent or daylight)  then shoot the same scene over again each time with a different WB preset (if available). After shooting using the presets attempt a custom WB and compare the results.

If your equipment does not have presets, you can still perform a good experiment. Find two adjacent rooms that have different types of light (one lit with incandescent bulbs and the other with fluorescent).  Perform a custom WB in one room then while recording footage, walk into the other. You will notice a dramatic change in terms of how the scene looks when you enter the other room.

You might want to repeat this exercise using the camera in Auto-WB mode and observe how the camera will slowly adjust to the new WB setting as you enter the new room.  You may notice that the color in your view finder will change slowly and will adjust to this new environment.

I mentioned before that the automatic setting, although useful, may also be very unreliable under certain situations where more than one type of light source is present thus throwing off the true value.  You may find this situation especially in rooms or areas that are lit with fluorescent or incandescent bulbs that also have large windows that spill daylight into the room.

Your camera does not know what your subject is or where you intend to primarily shoot. In a professional and controlled environment, the daylight would be suppressed by either overpowering it using very powerful lights or by using “scrims” (pantyhose type material that reduces the intensity of light) outside of the windows. This technique “balances” the light and eliminates undesired changes in WB and more importantly balances exposure levels. In the world of amateur video this is rarely a possibility so choices and sacrifices must be made in order to obtain the best results.

First you must determine where “the action” will be taking place: is it primarily in the “daylight zone” or “bulb zone”?  The answer to this question will help determine the best WB setting to use. If you leave your camera in the auto-WB mode, chances are that you will get unwanted color shifts throughout your video.

Again the best way to understand this is to practice and experiment with your equipment. The best part is that when you understand the nuts and bolts you will know how to make the most of any situation.

I will leave you with this thought from Greg Kinnear:

“Part of filmmaking is always a guessing game, and part of it is always a game of trust.”

Next up: Aperture Settings (Iris).