Do NOT Shoot for Free “Exposure”

One of the things that photographers get asked a lot is “Can I use your photographs for free and give you “exposure”? This is always a bad idea and I understand that as a new photographer starting out, you might think, “Why not, I want to become known”?
The reason you should NOT let people or especially companies use your work for free “exposure” is it hurts the market for every photographer that is out there trying to make a living in this chosen profession. The following image is one of my photos I had a company ask if they could use for free and I told them no.


A lot of times, the client wanting to use your photos will used the excuse that they cannot afford to pay you for your work, which is usually a lie, they just want something for nothing. I remember recently reading an article by David Carson, who is a professional photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where CBS News actually asked him if they could use some of his incredible photos for free.

David, as you can imagine, was insulted. CBS News is a multi-billion dollar company and they didn’t want to pay him for his work, they expected him to let them use his photograph for free for “exposure”.

It’s so funny how people and companies think photographers should work for free, but they would not do the same thing if you asked them to work for free or “spec”. A few months back I watched a great video put out by an ad agency named Zulu Alpha Kilo titled “Say No to Spec”. This morning I saw the same video re-shared by LightStalking so I thought it would make a good subject for this week’s blog post. You can view their video here.

So, remember, next time someone asks you to work for free “exposure” or spec, just tell them No and send them the link to this video.