Making money in photography is hard — even harder when companies ask you to do work for free that they are profiting off of, and we say yes for the exposure/connections.
While I am not saying that you specifically do free work for the exposure, some photographers — too many photographers — do. Fstoppers released a video series with Monte Isom all about making money with photography in order to keep information flowing about how much photography is worth and to get people talking openly about our charging practices. In this video from Jessica Kobeissi, she talks about how the biggest problem facing our industry is the lack of unity.
If I do a job for free, it is not only showcasing the lack of respect for my own work, but also showing the company that free is an okay price to pay. We almost need to band together and take a stand to no longer do free photoshoots for companies and for-profit ventures. People need to know that what we do is worth something. If you ask for a small fee, and they say that their cousin can do it for free, let them. They will either see the quality and come back to you or be happy with the amateur photos and move on, saving you time with a client that didn't care in the first place.
Obviously, I'm not saying to never work for free. Small charities, causes you support, creatives, general creative expression, etc. are all fantastic reasons to take photos without money exchanging hands (probably 90% of the work I post is not from my paid gigs).
What do you think of the video? Are there examples you have of times when you've stood your ground on pay and actually got it?