When is a free shoot free?


If you’ve owned a camera longer than 4 hours or if you’ve had modeling photos of yourself posted, someone has wrote you and either asked to date you, sleep with you or shoot you/with you. As addressed in a previous article, professionalism goes a long way, but they’ve more than likely asked for a free shoot. There’s nothing wrong with free shoots! I do them from time to time, but it should be noted, a free shoot is not “free”.

How? You ask? It doesn’t make sense, you say?

Let’s break down the free shoot:

Most photographers work a 9-5 job to pay the bills. Nothing wrong with that! Making a living in the Fashion and Glamour world is difficult since there are so many wannabe’s out there. To keep it all fair, let’s break it down from a photographers point of view first.

Spend time finding studio.

Booking studio (25.00/50.00/hr).

Booking studio anywhere from one to half hour early to prepare for model (Paying for an hour extra to allow for model to be late and still have decent studio time).

Find MUA (If it calls for one or if shoot calls for one)

Meet model, get over awkward time.


Say goodbye and tear down studio. Clean and return to as it was prior to use, most clean it better than when they had it.

Get in car.

Notice that 16 text messages were missed where model is asking when the photos will be up. How many she gets and reminding you that the other photographers she worked with, had them setup long before now.

Forget that you haven’t eatenand stop to get junk food. Notice that 8 more texts have been missed.

Get home, unload your gear (3 more text)

Put memory card into reader because truth be told, you’re too excited to wait until tomorrow to look.

Quickly edit a photo or post a pic of the back of your camera (like a boss) to share/brag what  you were doing today.

8 more missed texts wondering whats going on with photos.

Spend 2 hours editing photos down to a few usable photos.

5-20 hours retouching images only to resize and share on facebook, twitter and other social media sites.

As a photographer, if you add up the time, it comes out to about 35-40 hours worth of work. This is why every “free” shoot that is done, it HAS to pay for itself in the end. I would love to shoot all the beautiful women who contact me for free, but sadly, bills don’t get paid that way. When we as photographers sit and think about it, we would be very alarmed to think of how much time truly goes into a free shoot. This is why a free shoot is never free. Models served up next week!



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