The Grid: The Grid: Episode 26 – Is It OK To Work For Free?


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Episode Summary

The lunatics are taking over the asylum! With Scott, Matt, and 90% of the video team out of the office - RC, Pete and Nancy (with the help of a skeleton crew of two behind the scenes) attempt to uphold what viewers love about the show (spontaneity, some laughs, a few technical bumps, and an interesting discussion). The audience got a little more than they bargained for in one area but the discussion, "Is it OK to work for free?" was definitely worth the wait… and the technical difficulties. A special thanks to Daniel & Tami from video for doing their absolute best under the circumstances.

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  1. Craig Stevens says:

    VERY entertaining guys. Does Pete need an Internship now?

  2. Ghassan M. al-harbi says:

    i was going through a bad day, will, i still am ….

    you guys have helped me through it !!

    Thank you.

  3. Don Evan says:


    There is a geometric rule that syas: A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. The free work analogy should be: Charity work is free, but free work is not charity.

  4. Hippynz says:

    These guys on crap, typical selfish americans. Charities rely on free help, some people like to give even highly skilled people. People like these two are so far up their own arses that they think they are guys and should not help little nobodies. THey are just selfish. I would guess they do not take photos at their owns kids school camps unless the other parents pay them, there idiots are not that fantastic or valuable. But they like to have people think they are. Free does not mean worthless. Sometimes helping people or doing a friends wedding is good for you. Bet these guys never help their neighbours, their school, or even help an old lady across the street if they do not get paid. They are just greedy, selfish dickheads.

  5. MichaelK says:

    Very interesting topic, you guys rock!!

  6. Thx, alot of info to think about. To charge or not to charge. We should charge I think. Thanks again, and Thx 4 L@@KING.

  7. V Terway says:

    Thanks again for another great show! This was a great discussion. I have a question – all of these photographers that have a problem with low prices or free photographers – where did they start out?

  8. Donna Kirby says:

    What can I say —-you guys and Nancy continue to rock

  9. Tony Belot says:

    you rock

  10. Dave Moore says:

    Great points, guys, and great show as always!

  11. Shawn Highfill says:

    Is Pete’s job open yet? Good show.

    Free = box on the sidewalk after a yard sale.

    Floof and Run

  12. ernie decker says:

    This was a great show. RC and Pete make a great team. Real and pertinent discussion and not a bunch of silliness like usual.

  13. Cilgwyn says:

    Great show. Seeing Pete’s more serious side was a first. As a retired professional from another field who now takes photographs for free, I was getting twitchy until the demarcation with volunteering for charity got a mention. I have had abuse from a ‘professional photographer’ who didn’t recognise the difference.

  14. Hubert says:

    Entertaining and funny… nice show.

  15. Scot Diamond says:

    Best show I ever saw for free!

  16. John Lovejoy says:

    Funny show, guys, about a topic that is applicable to many endeavors.

  17. John Havord says:

    Great show, wish I could have watched the live version, the taped version was far too well “put together” :)

    RC doesn’t do free? DTown the “free” show for DSLR shooters. But then again, I suppose it’s Kelby training offering the free show, not RC.

    Enough, I’m starting to waffle, bye.

  18. As an amateur wanting to learn about lighting, photographing models, still learning the trade, then time for pics is a great option. Model Mayhem is a great way to work with people that are willing to pose and it’s mutually beneficial.

  19. Shawn says:

    Wow! Pete really is a loose cannon!

  20. Steve Jones says:

    With all the technical issues experienced during the live taping, the taped show was so much easier to watch compared to the live one. Perfect topic for us beginners, thanks guys. It is a great subject to think about and you have given me some really good insight.

  21. Danylo Samiylenko says:

    “There is no such a thing like free lunch”

    if something free for one, doesn`t mean it`s free for other.

  22. Abner Rivera Concepcion says:

    Great show guys. I have a problem with doing shoots for free, but no more. You guys have inspired me. Thanks!!

  23. Great show again. Thanks!

  24. Johnny Dao says:

    Great listening to you guys. I just received a copy of RC’s HDR from Amazon and I’m excited to read through it. Waiting on Pete to get a book out.

  25. i LOVe your shows … but … there are sooo many annoying sound issues.
    in this case it’s a very loud noise in the background, just turn up the gain and fix it with the faders … please – it would be even better if those issues were gone! anyway great show!

  26. Tony Rouzer says:

    I am right there with you RC.
    I started out in photography sales and learned how to retouch first before learning about the camera a how to photogarph. Kinda backwards but thats hoiw it worked for me.
    I have always felt I should get paid for my work or the photgraphers work.
    But I did shoot for free while I was learning the camera and all the different lighting situations. For about the first year.
    I did happen to get lucky from time to time and sell something.
    But now I always charge an affordable rate for friends and new clients. Everyone seems to be happy. I have been shooting live concert photography, for a now good friend since 2005.
    The first show I shot for FREE.
    There are other photographers that show up from time to time that have better equipment or that fisheye lens, this one guy always shoots with. (He gets cool shots by the way.) And he shoots for free and then tries to sell his shots to the person that hired me. That’s OK. It’s a Free Country,
    Point is I am the primary photographer and I get paid for that shoot. My friend/client does usually buy a few images from him. Simply because he got a shot I didn’t get. It’s all good.

    By the way I recieved my FREE Light IT, Shoot It, Retouch It. Signed By Scott Kelby. Thanks to Scott, Rommi, and the rest of you guys at KelbyTV. It’s the BEST!!

  27. Bill Truran says:

    I own a full time digital photo studio and teach photography at night at a local university. I train my students to be great photo assistants for PAY ($150/day to start, $500/day after 2 years). As a photo assistant you learn about running a commercial photo studio and you meet models and clients while learning how to relate to them. I understand free internships for some of the more famous fashion photographers but I generally hate cheap photographers.

  28. Doug Ward says:

    Hi Guys- Thanks for a GREAT show. The two of you work together great. The topic today was great, it answered a-lot of questions that I have been thinking and battling with myself for a while. So thank you so much for everything.

  29. Steve DuPree says:

    Love the show guys! Keep it up.

  30. Miriam Rosenthal says:

    Very good topic. I struggle with the nuances of people expecting more than they are willing to pay. I do a lot of volunteer photography for an organization I’m a member of, it gives me visibility, an opportunity to serve and gives the organization better images of their activities. I’m glad to do it. It hasn’t brought me much more work for pay. It’s a gift that is not tax deductible (my accountant tells me), but most of the time, I’m glad to do it. It gets complicated when one of the subjects would then like to turn around and use the images for commercial purposes.
    Thanks to Pete for keeping things lively.

  31. Another fine show, in spite of technical difficulties and few people to hold down the fort. As Scripture says, “A worker is worth his wage” (1 Timothy 5:18).

  32. Wim Lemmens says:

    Good show,
    In my experience as a novice photographer. I noticed that if I ask money for something to take pictures. I feel more pressure to perform so my pictures are better. If it is free then there is no pressure. No pressure = bad pictures.

    greetings wim

  33. Justin says:

    Wow as an 18 year old who is just starting to charge people and is honestly scared of picking a price this was just the thing I needed to hear today. I just shot advertising shots for a friends mothers restaurant today and I was freaking out about what to charge because I’m just a kid, but this makes me more confident. Great show. 😀

  34. John Ashmore says:

    Very funny show guys.

  35. David Rosas says:


  36. Dustin says:

    Great Show with a great topic!!!! Thanks

  37. Shaun S says:

    This is an excellent topic, I’m glad that you discussed it. Thanks!

  38. Wayne Pearson says:

    Love the show

  39. Michael Grindley says:

    This topic really hits home for me. Loved this discussion. Phenomenal show guys :)

  40. RC and Pete together in the minimalistic show was great!!! Pete was “shy” in the beginning but got “unchained” by the end of the show!

    Free is a dangerous thing.

    A first comment from Pete’s “shameless people”. If the price is high, you look at the guys portfolio and it’s crap, and even though you hire the guy, you deserve the price :-) On the other hand, if it’s your wedding (David Ziser said something like that), and you hire a free photographer, you deserve the product you’ll get (you might get lucky).

    From a marketing point of view, free is a very bad thing, bad for everyone in a given market. 20 years ago I would charge 50 dollars the service hour for fixing a PC. I left the market because kids started doing it for a very low price. Price dropped to a point it was no longer worth my time. Free service spirals down the market and the quality, because the good professionals have to do something else.

    We just need to keep in mind that not everyone can pay a Ziser’s price.

    On the other hand, providing free assistance to a “Moose-level” professional might be a great school, but the argument that with the amount of information available today (books, on-line training, websites, blogs …) for free or a quite affordable price do we really need to “slave” to a big shot?

    But my “other side” question. Does a Moose-level guy wants an unpaid assistant that when screws up can use the “you’re not paying me anyway” card??

    100% agree with the charity X free service. Charity is a great thing, it only does good!

    That invoice point is interesting. For this reason, some charity institutions, that feed people in need don’t do it for free, there’s a symbolic price, that increase the value of the service.

    Though I don’t know if I’ll ever go to professional photography, I’m spending a lot of time and money in this hobby. As a professional in another area, I don’t work for free, so I don’t intent to be “free” if I get to shoot professionally.

    RC, can your buddy blow the other photographers out with a Fuji X100??? hehehehehehe

    Scott’s or RC’s book … I’M IN :-)

  41. Ken Hunt says:

    Good show, a lot to think about.

  42. Brian says:

    Great show! This is something that everyone starting out / working in a business struggles with… I really appreciate the insight!

  43. robvE says:

    Another great listen. Enjoyed the show. Good idea about the invoice (43 min). Pete you made me laugh.

  44. Rich Ramirez says:

    Great show,very funny! and loved the topic of working for free. Thanks

  45. Thomas Piepszak says:

    Free is ok for family and friends. No one I know gives services away. Knowledge, pay, return services for services rendered is ok.

  46. martin gillette says:

    always great!!

  47. Gregory Johnson says:

    Great topic.

    Really great tips

    Really great points

    When I’m asked to do free work I say “sure” and get out my smart phone.

  48. Chuck Sider says:

    “You don’t get paid for what you do, you get paid for what you know how to do”.

  49. Bonnie Fiser says:

    Great show guys!! Good topic!

  50. Andy says:

    Good show with guest hosts Pete and RC.

  51. JOCK GOODMAN says:

    GREAT SHOW ! and thanks for reading my comment. You pretty much covered it totally. I have a few more comments. It appears to me that the markets for getting published are shrinking while more photographers are getting into (or trying to get into) the business. As you pointed out the proliferation of books, dvds, Kelby training etc has made it possible for more people to learn the craft and that is all appreciated.
    On the other hand an example of shrinking market : 3 years ago I got paid $400 for the cover shot of a Hawaii activities tourist magazine. Today that same company gets their advertisers to PAY THEM to use their photo on the cover, so now ABC snorkel tours, or XYZ Zipline tours uses their stock photos, which they PROBABLY traded a photographer a tour for if anything, BUYS the cover page. I ask the magazine about using my photos editorially and they say “we LOVE your photos, (then the BUDGET lie) and say “we will give you half OFF on an adv for your photography. ” Implying that I should PAY THEM to use my photos. Or they go to “x-Stock” and get cheap pics instead of using a local photographer for fresh new “exclusive” material. As you might guess, I’m not a fan of cheap micro stock agencies,,,, I know, they are one of your sponsors.
    nuff said, please enter me for a free, therefore worthless, prize,,,,,,just kidding…LOVE the show
    mahalo, Jock

  52. David Olshan says:

    Pete and RC work great together. Very good show. I really need to get a copy of Scott’s new book. Looks great.

  53. Dana says:

    Great show and interesting topic.

  54. Tom Giannotti says:

    Great topic! The best point was RC’s story about his Parsons professor and the concept of the cost of getting there as part of the “value” of the work.

  55. Trask Smith says:

    You guys rock, well kinda.

  56. Skip Wolff says:

    Pete may not live long enough to get fired. Great subject and thanks.

  57. james says:

    great show! 😛

  58. Bruce Press says:

    I think I’m understanding what you’re saying. By the end I think I’m moving more towards RC’s position. I was definitely not there at the beginning. I felt that experience and confidence was reasonable compensation for time spent. I’m starting to agree that your time is worth something, even as an assistant you should be compensated at your level of contribution.

  59. Nir Livni says:

    Guys, thats not fair. I couldn’t watch the show yesterday since I was mostly on the floor laughing. … Not much better today. You guys are the best.

  60. Tony says:

    One other point I wanted to make about wedding photographers who get mad and say that cheap photographers are undercutting them. That may be true in a few, but very few cases. Those clients who are paying less, like $500 to $800 for a wedding are doing so because that is all they are going to pay. If the $500 or $800 photographer wasn’t there to do it, the $5,000 photog would still not get the job because they just are not going to pay that no matter what. If a $5000 photog is the only option, or for some even a $1,000 photog, they will just do without a photog and have a friend take a few shots for them with a P&S. As RC said, if the $5,000 photog’s work is so much better, then he won’t have time to worry about the $500 guy. He’ll be busy booking the clients who are willing to pay $5,000. I’m just stressing that some folks are not going to pay $5,000 no matter what. They just don’t see any photography, no matter how good, as being worth that.

  61. Tony says:

    This is the best topic yet, in my opinion, since The Grid started; I guess because I can relate to it personally. Just starting out myself I have done some family shoots and a few weddings for very cheap and before that I did a lot of free stuff. It was mostly just for family and friends and I just hate to take advantage of them. When setting a price I think you also have to take into account what value the client puts on the service. The folks for whom I have shot weddings so far would not pay $5,000 for a wedding photograper if he was the last person alive. Even if his work was the best in the world and he said I’ll do it for half price $2,500, they would decline. It is just not worth that to them no matter how good it is. Most of the ones I know barely spent $5,000 on the total wedding, let alone just the photography. So, for that group of people, which are mostly the ones who know my photography, I can’t charge $5,000 or even $1,000 because they just won’t pay it. They would rather get “Uncle Bob” with just a P&S if they have to before they pay even $1,000 for photography. Even though they rave over my photos and say that it is better than so many others, they just don’t realize the investment in time and money it takes to produce nicer photos. They would rather have less and pay less. It puts me in a really hard dilemma.

  62. Matt Perkowski says:

    Great show! I found this topic to be extremely interesting as I’m thinking of leaving the hobbiest world.

  63. Stacy Tuggle says:

    I MUST give the 5 of you props… you did a great job for all that was going on & it turned out to be a very entertaining show. I for one was glad to there on time to see the shenanigans & the RC/Pete puppet show!!!! Great topic of discussion as well!!! Thanks for breaking up my boring afternoon…. TEAM GRID!!!! :)

  64. Rick Evans says:

    If Pete’s job is available, I will do it for almost free..thanks for some great insite on the “free” concept..I really enjoyed the show.

  65. Will Howard says:

    There’s a fine line when deciding what to charge when starting out and at least for myself, I’ve been told I under value my work…live and learn.

    Pete. Is. Hilarious.

    Really missing not being able to watch live with the new time slot!

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