Should you work for free? These 5 words have sparked wildfires of debate across photography forums across the vast span of the internet for years. There’s a firm line drawn in the sand and virtual bloodshed on both sides. Every few months, this question makes waves within the community and very recently, this issue was splashed across headlines yet again when Pat Pope, a photographer made a very public and very viral stand against the band, Garbage, when they requested to use some of his images for free.

Flickr Creative Commons
Dan Moyle/Flickr Creative Commons


We have numerous articles with differing opinions from a variety of photographers who have a say on this topic and I’m sure the video below won’t be the last we hear of this controversial, much-debated topic. In the following video, Ted Forbes from ‘The Art of Photography,’ tackles the question, “Should I Work For Free?” In the 8-minute clip, Ted discusses various scenarios where a photographer may be asked to work for free or for “exposure.” Ted gives some very good examples and things you should think about before you agree to work “pro bono.”

For me, I really never had a lot of issues working for free for my friends, and maybe a few select non-profit organizations. When it came to working for “exposure,” I’m afraid I was more of a pushover (like I am in much of life) and have done hours upon hours of work with little to no return.

Watch “Should I Work For Free? | The Art of Photography”

My big takeaway from this video is that, as a business (and in life), you need to make a list of solid boundaries that are written down, that are non-negotiable, and as Ted says, working for free should be on the top of that list.

To see more from Ted Forbes, check out his website:

What do you think? Should you work for free?