To work for free or to not work for free? For some creatives, this isn’t even a question, but for others, it’s hard to decide, especially if they’re just starting out. As a newbie with no portfolio and with little experience, should you do some free work first? At least for a while? Chase Turnbow believes you should, and he explains his reasoning in his latest video.
According to Chase, a good portfolio is vital to your production company. I believe we can agree that the same goes for your photography business. But what if you haven’t built up your portfolio yet? One scenario is that you haven’t had enough clients. The other is that you have had clients, but in a different genre than the one you want to shoot the most. What should you do then?
In case your portfolio is already up to standard, then “absolutely do not do free videos,” Chase suggests. But, if you need more projects to include in your portfolio, or just different kinds of projects from those you’ve worked on – then Chase suggests doing some work for free.
It probably goes without saying, but start by figuring out exactly what type of work you want to create. Then find a reputable business that you can partner with and that matches your preferred style. Chase suggests that you make it mutually beneficial for you and the client: they get free photos or videos, and you get the portfolio material.
Still, Chase notes that not every company will want free promo material. First, they may be suspicious of anything labeled as “free.” Second, they will need to invest time for you to come and shoot at their offices, and some businesses simply don’t want it.
I have to admit that I don’t entirely agree with Chase. While there are some cases when you can or should work for free, I don’t think this is one of them. Even Chase notes that you can shoot at a discount rate if you don’t want to work for free, and this is something we can agree on. I think it’s a better idea to offer a discount, and make sure to point out that it’s not your regular price. This will also be beneficial for both you and the client: they get awesome photos/videos at a cheaper price; you get the portfolio material and still make some earnings. And, the word doesn’t go out that you’ll shoot for free, and I think this is pretty important in the long run.
What do you think about this? Should you do free work just to fill your portfolio? And have you done something like this? Share your thoughts in the comments; I’d like to hear what you think and what your experience is like.