Dos & Don’ts

An open book in sepia tones. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

…of freelance-client relationships

Ah, the small things in life…. This past weekend I read a book just to give my mind a break, no strings attached. I needed it for my sanity, and it allowed me the time to rethink my to-do and to-don’t lists for the near and not-so-near future.

That, in turn, helped me come up with an idea for today’s blog post: do’s and don’ts of working with photographers, writers and other creatives. Here are a few of such experiences I’ve encountered over the years:

DON’T tell a photographer any variation of: “You take nice pictures. You must have a nice camera.”

Also, DON’T tell a writer that they have a nice keyboard or typewriter or pen, hence the bestseller. Or a chef, that they have a good oven, hence the delicious meal, etc.

DON’T offer a mask, pop tarts (or junk food of any kind for that matter) or credit as payment for “professional pictures” or “professional photo sessions” especially during a pandemic such is this never-ending coronavirus pandemic. [Offering “a mask” as payment for a half-day, on-location, weekend “professional photo shoot” at the height of COVID says it all, especially if you’re a doctor.]

Keys on a keyboard. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Keys on a keyboard. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

If you cannot pay (or can only pay very little and very late) your photographers, writers and other content creators, DON’T tell them to find a regular-paying (“real”) job so that they can afford to work for you for free (or pennies).

Publications that reprint their contributors’ work, DO pay your contributors and freelancers EACH time you reuse their work. Giving credit only doesn’t cut it!

DO pay content creators and DO it in a timely manner! There’s a deadline for submitting work, and there’s a deadline for getting paid for that work. Both deadlines are usually determined by the client, and both deadlines should be honored by the respective parties.

As a publication or publisher, if you can only pay in magazine copies or book copies or calendar copies (or copies of any kind but not actual money) DON’T ask for exclusive rights for any length of time. FYI: freelancers, content creatives, cannot buy food or pay rent with credits or magazine/book copies.

If you hire a photographer for a photo shoot and the agreement is that you’ll receive X number of edited images, DON’T ask for X + 10 or 20 or whatever afterwards, without asking how much more that would cost.

"Lazy on a Sunday afternoon" Sunglasses and iPad in the grass. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
“Lazy on a Sunday afternoon” Sunglasses and iPad in the grass. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

If a photographer gives you a great deal on a photo shoot, engagement photo session or the like, because you’re a friend of a friend, DON’T push for even more favors or free images just to see what’s the breaking point; and DON’T try to delay payment in hopes that maybe you won’t be asked to pay at all, in the end. Also, if a writer or editor who offers to look over your work (be that a resume, important email, or a longer piece of writing); DON’T add “just one more thing” to it, at no cost (money or time) to you.

Also, if a photographer is on assignment to photograph you for a publication, DON’T ask that photograph, since they’re there anyway, to also take a “quick pic” for a headshot to post online. Just DON’T!

In general, if someone, anyone, volunteers or offers to do something for you, as a goodwill gesture, DON’T ask for even more free stuff. DO thank for the help, and hire the freelancer/creative for future services.

If creatives offer one free photo shoot or one book-cover design, etc., DON’T assume that everything else and everything that follows will also and always be for free. It’s like going into a store and sampling something (a piece of cheese or a small bite of a cake, etc.), and then assuming that the entire product is and will always be there for you to grab and go, without paying.

If photographers offer a photo session in exchange for photos (so, you do get something in return), that’s because they might need samples for their website or they want to test out a new piece of gear, or experiment with an idea, etc.

If a blogger offers to interview and photograph you for their blog, they might need new ideas for their blog, and, in the process, they promote your work, too. DON’T abuse that!

An open book in sepia tones. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
An open book in sepia tones. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

DON’T steal other people’s work! Oftentimes, creatives post samples of their work online to promote themselves, or publications post their contributors’ work online as part of digital issues or the like. That doesn’t mean that the posted content is for you to grab and use without permission or without crediting the creator!

I believe that COVID has changed many people’s minds, many content creators’ minds, in terms of what they’re willing to do for the amount of money they they’re being paid and what clients they’re willing to work for and deal with.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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