I Often Give Away My Photos for Free. Here’s Why You Might Want to Consider It, Too

Making any kind of money from photography is hard, so it would seem counter-intuitive to give away your work for free. However, there are times when I have no hesitation in giving away dozens of images free to people. Read on to see why this might help you too.To start, I want to make it emphatically, unequivocally clear that I’m not talking about studio work, or wedding work, or any other type of work where you’re providing a specific service to a paying customer you’ve organized a transaction with. In no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that you rock up to your next wedding gig, stand around for hours shooting thousands of incredible images, then at the end of the day take your SD card out its slot, hand it over to the happy couple, and walk off into the sunset without a penny in your pocket, even though that’s how you put food on the table. That’s not what I’m talking about here.What am I talking about? More along the lines of freelancing and trying to turn your passions and talents into some kind of income. I’m going to use surfing as my example to state my case here, but you can easily apply it and adapt it to any number of scenarios. So let me paint you a picture and give you some context. In the surf world, it’s quite common for photographers to stand on the beach with their telephoto lenses for hours shooting all manner of people. Good surfers, bad surfers, and everything in between. Then at the end of the shoot, often times the photographer will approach some surfers they have shot and ask if they’re interested in purchasing some prints or sequences. In the short term, this can offer a little opportunity for some income, but it’s definitely finite. I’ve found over time that giving images away free is often far more effective, and lucrative, in the long term.For example, last year here in the south of Japan we had some of the best typhoon swells to hit the coast in decades. I was out there for days on end shooting and came away with some absolute beauties. Instead of trying to sell these shots to the surfers, I contacted them through social media channels or through friends and offered them for free. Here are some of the shots I’m talking about.

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