"Hey, could you do this photograph for our event/fundraiser/brochure/etc. for free? It would be excellent advertising for you...word of mouth advertising is the best, you know!"
If you are brand new (or fairly new) to doing Photography for Income, be on the look out for this one. Many people and/or companies actively look for new photographers for jobs. They then play to the newbee's lack of experience: "Hey, you need to get the word out...this will be great for your business!"
And the new photographer thinks, "Yeah, maybe he's right!" and does the job free. Big mistake. There are three basic problems with this move:
Number one, often you will not get the photo credit--too late to do anything about it.
Number two, very few people pay attention to who provided what in the program. They don't take them home and use them as a resource guide.
Number Three, think about this: most JayCee events are sausage fests. By that I mean it's all men. Who is the number one buyer of portraits and wedding photography? It sure as hell isn't a member of the JayCees. His wife is a different matter. So if the request is by the Opera Society, and you want to do a little networking with that crowd, it might be worth it.
You cannot eat photo credits. It is OK to do a job for a cause you believe in. But if the greater Slobsville JayCees come to you and pitch you on the fact they will list you in their program and give you a photo credit, I'd tell them "Thanks but no thanks" UNLESS you really feel this job would give you valuable experience that you do not already have.
If someone asks you to donate a portrait for a fundraiser, do so ONLY if the following is agreed to by the group:
1) You are the ONLY photographer in the auction;
2) A member of the group reads a short bio that you have written, then tells the crowd what the item is that is being auctioned and the value, and then introduces you; and
3) YOU do the auctioning of the portrait.
You want VISIBILTY! You want people to know who YOU are. You do not have to be a great auctioneer. This isn't a farm auction, it is a charity auction. Two other things:
1) Don't auction an 8x10, you cheap bastard! I see this all the time and it makes my teeth grind. Give a 20x24 on canvas. They'll buy the gift sizes--be smart about it for Bozo's sake!
2) Dress up! For the love of Mike, don't go in t-shirt and jeans. Wear a suit. If the affair is black tie, rent a tux. Women: this event is perfect for that little black dress that's hanging in the closet that you always complain you never get to wear.
Sometimes you see women wearing a man's tux to an event. Here's a tip: don't! 8 out of 10 women end up looking like a dyke, and I've heard men AND women in the audience make comments to same. Sorry, it's the truth. Understand, I'm not slamming homosexuals in any way, shape or form. If this is for a fundraiser for gay and lesbian rights, go for it. Otherwise forget it, unless you look like - and are built like - Carmen Electra, Megan Fox or Halle Berry.
I think three fourths of the population thinks photographers and artists are "funny" to begin with, and there's no reason to add to their perception. I would never suggest that a person hide their true self. If you can't be true to yourself, how can you be true to your customers or your craft?
If you are gay, then you have to pay special attention to your appearance. It may not be fair, but it is a fact of doing business in mainstream America today. This means no wallets in the back pocket of bib overalls for women and men, please...no feather boas. Keep the swishy look for your Friday nights at The Manhole, okay?
Bottom line: you can dress anyway you want to in your business...as long as you are willing to accept the consequences.
To recap: Make it a rule to make donations ONLY if it lets you increase your visibility in a physical way (such as being in attendance at the event). After all, this is Photography for Income. Til next time!