Why I don't pick up my camera for free anymore

February 14, 2016  •  1 Comment

Why you have to pay me to pick up my camera.

“GURL…that woman right there will not pick her camera UP for less than $50.00”

“WHAT….She must thank she is SOMEBODY with that camera..!  I’ll take my own …** pictures.”

That used to make me mad, until it didn’t anymore.  It stopped when I joined the Professional Photographers Association of America.  It stopped when I surrounded myself with Professional Photographers that make a living with their camera.  It stopped when I started my quest for my CPP.

Think about it for a minute.  Are you a hair dresser?  Do you let mass amounts of people come sit in your chair, perform a service for them and then say…”No charge.  It’s free….you look good….go and I’ll see you next month!” What if you are a restaurant owner, I mean I see all the time on menus, the chips are not free if you don’t order something….WHAT???  Who comes in and just eats the chip and salsa and leaves without even a coke?  Then it hit me…the same people that come to my studio and want me to take pictures of them in 3 or 4 different outfits so they can have a profile picture on social media.  The same people that screen shot my galleries, even with the word PROOF and my logo on them and make a tee shirt….Well. If the Mexican restaurant doesn’t mind telling you to go away, then why should I? How about the cashier at a Dollar General?  Do you think they are going to show up and work their shift, go home and do it day after day for no pay?  Or based on what they sell?  Or a teacher, or anyone else that goes to work and expects to be paid. 

“But you just take pictures and that’s a lot of fun and it’s easy…”  Here are the facts.  Yes, it can be fun, that’s one reason I do this.  I find it feeds something within my soul.  I love to work with people, I feel in some small way that I am giving the best of me to my clients.  What I do has value, I capture moments, I capture emotions and I capture feelings.  I don’t TAKE PICTURES.  I take a moment in time and freeze it.  I take what I see and hand it back to you, on a silver platter, a piece of me and what I see in you.

I have a very large studio that has a VERY LARGE power bill.  I have insurance and sale taxes, dues, props, camera’s that cost more than cars I’ve owned, flashes, costumes, computer systems and software, printers and all manner of equipment to insure that if you do hire me…You have the same quality product as anyone else in the world.  I have the same access to anything that any other Professional Photographer on this planet has.  RIGHT HERE in tiny little Pine Hill, Al. AND, if for some reason I don’t, I have a network of Professional Photographers, World Class Professional Photographers, Photographers that have and are winning World Wide awards, Photographers that get paid hundreds of dollars an hour to teach and speak, that are less than a phone call away. 

So, yes….If you want me to take your picture, I’m going to charge you a LOWLY rate of $50 which is refunded to you in print product.  (I can hear my Professional Photographer friends gasping at that low rate…but as I always am defending myself…we are in the highest rate of poverty in the United States, so lay off my rate and my 4x6’s)

I figure if you are not willing to spend $50 on professional photos, then all you wanted with a Face Book profile picture anyway.  I’m not your girl.  That’s what Selfie Sticks are made for.

I also take my “Show” on the road to events.  There again, I charge a fee.  You get it back in print credits, but I drive a BIG CHEVY 4x4 diesel fully loaded pickup truck.  It is my favorite vehicle that I have ever owned, but to roll that big boy cost a lot of money…Drive something else you say.  NO. I need the room for the flea markets finds side the road and to haul my equipment.  You never KNOW when someone has discarded an old chair that only has 3 legs.  WHAT?  I can SO fix that, paint it blue and sit an 18 month old on it….yes, even with the 3 legs.  Try throwing a good vintage couch in the back of your energy saving Prius…

I also enjoy helping other people who are wanting to become professional photographers themselves.  I find a common bound with them.  I’ve had people ask me if I’m worried about the competition when I teach classes.  NO.  I am not.  These people become some of my closest friends.  One of my dearest friends ever, is my mentor.  I trust her, I can ask her anything and she has my best interest at heart.  When someone else can take a really good image of something that they see, in what way does that diminish my ability to take good images of what I see?  It’s the people that DON’T get the training and don’t know what they are doing that hurts the industry of Photography.  It’s the people that take your once in a lifetime events and later you understand that you can’t redo that moment and they just handed you a CD with 2600 images on it that won’t print.  (But hey…It looked good on their Face Book page…) No..it didn’t, you just didn’t know what to look for.  Face Book likes don’t make you a photographer any more than owning a thermometer makes you a nurse, or owning a sewing machine makes you a seamstress. It all takes hard work, dedication and learning combined with skill.

I’m taking my photography business in a whole new direction.  And I’m no longer doing freebies for people I don’t even know.  If you can afford to have the Vietnamese do your nails, you can afford images that will last longer than those nails.  I don’t have time for excuses and I will call you out on them if you bring them in here.  I’m tired of seeing my images as people’s profile pictures and they never bought a single one from 3 years ago.  (They even cut the logo off…) Hey..if you didn’t like it enough to hand me $5.00 for it, why do you like it enough to represent yourself virtually?   I have a BUCKET full of these people and they are on a list….it is called….  “DO NOT FOOL WITH THESE FOLKS AGAIN.”    You know who you are too.  I give my close friends and family my images of them, I don’t reduce the cost, I give it to them.  There is a difference.  This is my small way of doing something for them…they do stuff for me all the time, it’s my gift to them for being who they are to me.  I don’t like it when they don’t let me give them these gifts, it somehow diminishes some of my inter glow…Can’t have that now.

In closing, let me add why I don’t give you the digital files unless you have purchased the prints first. When I release those files to you, I lose all control over them. If you go take it and make it some strange shade of purple and a glow in the dark shade of green on the skin with some stupid Instagram app…who does that reflect upon?  ME.  People will think I did it.  Can’t have that either.  Sorry, again use your selfie stick or one of those images from the girl that burns the CD in the parking lot on her laptop when she finishes with your “Session.”

Oh yes…footnote to closing remarks…The Norfolk Southern Railroad department is doing a very big push to keep people OFF the railroad tracks….they will take your equipment after they put you in jail. So keep on with that crap. They have even developed a hotline for people to report photographers that are trespassing and using their tracks for images.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see a baby in a basket on a railroad track???   I shudder to think of how that’s cool. 

Hey, it’s my birthday so I can rant if I want to!

As always, thank you to my clients that allow me to work with you.  And if I have any left after this post, I hope to see you soon!    Lambs will be here in March!!

God Bless!


Joyce Harper(non-registered)
Please let me know own when you can finish TJ Detlefsen senior.portraits! I love the cap n gown portraits and I am anxious to see the rest! I am so glad I got to know you
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