On Working for Free and Other Expectations

Cloud patterns from above. B&W aerial photography by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

On the expectation of working for free as a creative

Here, in the U.S., because of the recent government shutdown, many government employees ended up having to work for free or for the promise that they would get paid, eventually. This outraged many people, and for good reason. I believe that many in the creative world understand what these government employees had to go through. We understand because we’re are expected to do the same–to work for free or not to be paid on time–on a regular basis.

So, without minimizing or downplaying the suffering of those caught in this government shutdown, I wonder where’s the outrage when creatives, creative content producers (freelance writers and photographers, for example) are expected to work for free or not get paid on time, day in and day out? Truth is that there is no outrage! That said, creative content helps promote businesses, support causes, capture memories, and so on. So, why the expectation that those creating the work should do it for free or not be paid on time?

Converging and parallel lines on Atlantic City, NJ, beach. Photo by Alina Oswald.
“The Road Ahead” – Atlantic City beach. Photo by Alina Oswald.

This is not expected from other professionals. No other professionals are expected to work for free until (or even after) they’re considered “good enough” to get paid for their work. No other professionals are expected to accept not getting paid on time as a status quo. Why this expectation from this particular group of professionals, from content creators?

I believe that it will take a long time to change this kind of mindset, but it needs to be changed, and for good. How or where to start to change it? That’s another question. But for now, maybe, among others, this shutdown will open eyes and minds, and help people better understand and respect creatives and the work that they provide.

Woman to Woman photography show.
Solitude. Photo by Alina Oswald. Woman to Woman show, Jersey City, NJ. #tbt

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald


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