Free Photography To Build Portfolio?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by BTilson, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Messages:
    467
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Western NC, USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I'm not entirely sure this should be posted here, since if it's free, I don't think it qualifies as a business technically, but I still think this is the most applicable forum.

    I am a beginning photographer, looking to (eventually and slowly) work my way into making a profession out of it. I figure the best way to build a name, reputation and a portfolio would be to offer free photography services to my local area. I would steer clear of "important" things like weddings, simply due to the "once in a lifetime" nature of them. Instead, I figure I will focus more on outdoor family sessions, birthday parties, etc...

    I'll provide an immediate up front disclaimer to the effect of, "I am just beginning! No guarantees are made about quality or quantity of work!" I would like to offer prints, maybe a free 8x10 or something with their package, and in return all I would want is the allowance to use the photos I have taken in establishing content for a portfolio.

    Does this sound reasonable, realistic, legal, morally sound, etc? It seems to me like it would be a good way to get my foot in the door and get some experience under my belt before I begin charging for my work.

    What do you all think?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,822
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    The concept is certainly one that has been used by many people before and it can work...but I would avoid saying anything like this:
    What you are essentially telling people, is that you think that you are not any good.
    You need to have confidence in yourself and you need to project that to your clients...whether they are paying or not.

    Also, beware of starting with low prices or doing too much for free. Yes, you need a way to build your portfolio but you also want to build up a client base...and if you give them something for a dollar, then suddenly raise your prices, they probably won't be happy about coming back to you.

    Also, people won't respect your service very much, if they aren't paying for it. If you make an appointment with a client, for a free photo shoot....they probably wouldn't think much of blowing you off, if something better comes up. But if they booked you for a $100 appointment, they are more likely to be there and be attentive.

    I would suggest tweaking your idea so that people will know that your prices are (or will be) average...but at the same time, giving them a deal that will make them think that they are getting a great value.

    Or you could be perfectly open about it..and say that you are building your portfolio and need people to shoot.
     
  3. NateWagner

    NateWagner TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Well, I'm not sure everybody will agree with me, but I think that's a fine way of getting started. I know that's really how I have started, setting up sessions with friends and family in order to practice and develop a portfolio

    The thing I can see as being difficult is that you is once you do start charging. It is difficult to go from saying I'm doing it for free, to I'm charging you 300 bucks for a senior portrait session.

    The other difficulty is that when you don't charge at all, people will think that you are not very good, similarly if you charge a rather high amount people will think that your photos are quite good. Discerning people can then look at the photos and know that they aren't worth the amount spent, but many times couples will assume that you're worth what you charged. This is one reason it is very important to charge what a decent price when you are ready to be paid for your work.
     
  4. sperry

    sperry TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond VA USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    i agree with what has been said.

    i am in the same boat... offering friends and family free shoots to get my portfolio built. i have managed to get in a couple paying gigs too.

    it's a fine balance in offering a deal and not having your work perceived as 'cheap'.

    what i've done for prospective clients (mostly co-workers and friends of friends) is offer them an 'introductory rate' as a first time client. basically, they are getting 40% off. i make enough to cover expenses and i get to test my business processes... not all value can be measured in dollars.

    i mean, on top of that i am learning a ton about on location shooting, lighting, equipment, how to talk to babies, etc...

    with every keeper i get from a shoot it helps build my portfolio (or, how i look at it - marketing material). i have already used one of my shots on the back of my business card.
     
  5. aprileve

    aprileve TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I'm in almost exactly the same boat right now and have milled this over in my head until I'm dizzy.
    what i've decided (and actually posted flyer today!) is to offer "Discount Photo Sessions" so that people know they are getting a good deal ($25) but still know that prices in the future will be more. know what I mean? Then when people call for an appt or more info I tell them... I've actually never shot an engagement shoot (etc...) but have experience in other areas and that they experience will be beneficial for both them (cheap shots) and you (building portfolio)
    hope that helps! :)
     
  6. Pure Captures

    Pure Captures TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Springfield, NO
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I would say to go with the discount sessions that several people have suggested. For some reason, people appreciate a discount more than a giveaway. Make sure they know what a great deal they are getting and they'll appreciate it even more.
    Don't by any means say that you don't guarantee your photos because you're just a beginner. If anything, give them a guarantee that if you don't get enough shots or good enough shots, then you'll give them a free reshoot. If you were willing to shoot for free to get practice in the first place, this would provide even more practice and you'll sound like someone who really wants to do a good job instead of sounding like someone who probably doesn't know how to do a good job.
     
  7. ukreal1

    ukreal1 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 12, 2008
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Okinawa, Japan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I did the introductory thing. I also posted a request for pregnant bellies in a local blog/forum I go on. Basically, I said I get a model release as a portfolio builder and they get images on disc. Well, did it, then she booked me for newborn shots (paid) and now booking me for when the inlaws come into town (paid). She also sent out an email to everyone singing my praises (she's so nice) and I have 2 paid shoots because of that!
    Also, I started my prices how I want them for 2008 and now I have just put up an October special...
    There are a lot of photographers on this small island...
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
free photo session for portfolio
,

free photo shoot for portfolio

,
free photo shoots for portfolio
,
free photography portfolio builder
,
free photoshoot for portfolio
,
how to find photographers looking to build a portfolio
,
if i start a photography business should i offer free session
,
photographer looking to build portfolio
,

photographers looking to build portfolios

,
what photograhy sessions should i offer