Job Ad offers unpaid work to Pro Photographers in exchange for ‘experience’

Love doesn’t pay the bills


As a working photographer myself, I can confidently say that love doesn’t pay the bills. This morning I woke up to see a job ad for a pro photographer, to cover a major sporting event. What stood out was that this position was unpaid, with the only incentive of gaining ‘valuable experience in the sporting industry during a busy event ‘. This seems to be an ugly trend lately for large companies, and profitable organisations. The offer is usually an ‘opportunity’ to work at an event, or advertising campaign in exchange for ‘experience & exposure’. This line is often used in quite a few ‘job ad’s’ within the creative industry as a way of gaining free labour & in a lot of cases the rights to the images produced by the photographer or graphic designer.

To give you an idea on how much this ‘Job Offer’ stinks I have put the excerpt in below from the Ad.

This volunteer position will provide valuable experience in the sporting industry during a busy event leading into the summer of Tennis!

The key purpose of our December Showdown Photographer roles will be to offer support to the Communications department and take action and portrait photos of tennis players as well as other shots as required. Other key responsibilities of the role include:
  • Assisting with editing, colouring and re-sizing images
  • Captioning and archiving all images taken over the December Showdown period
  • Covering and completing extensive photographic briefs as set up by the Communication team
  • and other duties as directed by the Communication team
In order to be considered for one of these volunteer positions you will have previous experience and study in photography and have a strong knowledge of tennis. You will also possess the following skills, knowledge and attributes:
  • Strong administration skills and exceptional attention to detail
  • Knowledge and experience in Photoshop
  • A good standard of computer and Word processing skills
  • Full Availability during the December Showdown – 30 November to 15 December 2013
  • Willingness to be flexible with your work hours during peak periods; weekends, evenings etc
Please note: a key requirement of this role is that you own your own camera and equipment and have a portfolio of work, especially action shots that can be submitted with your application.
If you believe you fit the above criteria and would love to volunteer at the December Showdown, then please follow the online process by clicking apply to submit a copy of your resume, cover letter and portfolio, attention to: Human Resources.

The actual ad in question can be found here if it hasn’t been taken down already.

And another example of this sort of practice can be found on this blog here .


So this organisation wants for free all the following.

  • The Time the photographer spends covering the event. 2 weeks, on call (for free)
  • Time spent editing, submitting and communicating with the organisations comms department over the 2 week period (for free)
  • Equipment eg Lenses, Camera bodies, Laptops etc (for free)
  • The photographers food, living, travel & accommodation costs (for free)
  • other business expenses including running costs etc (free)


Who in their right mind would want to do all that for free? I wouldn’t expect a bricklayer to build my house for free, using their own bricks, their own mortar, with their own time & energy, without any physical incentive, or financial reimbursement for the bricklayer. Getting a bricklayer to do all this would be akin to slavery. What makes it any different for a professional photographer?

As photographers, although we love the work that we do, love won’t pay our bills.

James Devine