If Non-Photographers Were Asked to Work For Free…

Requests for free work come in more ways than one. Would you agree to work for free? The visual art industry—including photography—is split into two with people on either side arguing vehemently on the virtues of whether or not we should ever do spec work. One way to think about it is to imagine the same requests for free work being made in other industries. That’s what Zulu Alpha Kilo has done:

Would you dare to ask your architect, “You give me the designs on spec and then we’ll see how I like the finished product; maybe I’ll pay for the bills?”

spec work photographer

Would you expect free work from an architect?

Or something like this to your personal physical trainer: “I will own all the rights to all the different training methods we’ve gone through.”

spec work, free work

Would you expect your trainer to sign over his methods to you?

Or maybe something like this to the chef at your favorite diner: “You guys can make me a spec breakfast, right? And then if I enjoy it, I’ll make you guys my ROR (my restaurant of record).”

I suppose no. So why agree to free photography work?

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3 responses to “If Non-Photographers Were Asked to Work For Free…”

  1. Burt says:

    Actually architects work on spec all the time. Anytime a big government building is to be created, architects are asked to submit proposals _on spec_. Only the winning proposal gets the work. The others just did the work for free.

    And yes, the proposal has to be pretty complete in order to have a chance at winning.

    This is done in lots of fields. Photographers whine constantly about it, thinking they are the only profession in the world where this is done. Just ain’t so…

  2. Rick says:

    I don’t think the comparison between photographers and architects is accurate. An architect submits the idea of a project. There’s a loooooong way between a project and an actual building. A photo is a finished product. Once the photo is done, that’s it. The photographer completed the activity and the client keeps it…

  3. C-Dub says:

    Ok…to all of those architects who took offense to this video. I’m in engineering not architecture. So I don’t know how you feel. But, I do know that you missed the point. Design pays my bills amplify. Yet, my true passion is jazz music. I’ve spent more time, money, and energy honing my skills as a musician than ever as a designer. Yet, I’m asked to play music for free constantly. I don’t know how a photographer feels about that. But, as a musician, it really really sucks. Please watch the video again and think about it.

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