Why Creative Work Shouldn't Be Free

When should a person in a creative field start charging for their creativity, and why should a customer actually pay for this? This is a topic that is increasingly on my mind. 

As a self taught photographer this is something that I am constantly in conflict with. Am I good enough to be paid for the work that I do? I have no fancy piece of paper, no fancy course name to pad out my CV with, and it's not as if I have a series of reknowned professionals at my disposal to tell me whether my work is good enough, and if it is, how much I should be charging. So, should I be charging for my services?

I've fought with the idea for awhile, and it's gone beyond that contentious debate for all creative people, slowly morphing into this monster that is a crisis of confidence. But while this battle has been wrestling at the fore of my mind, I have invested large sums of money into new and better gear, into a glossier website and platform to show my work in, and more importantly, I've dedicated more time into my portfolio and have seen my skills improve.

And with this, I've decided that creative work shouldn't be free and  that it's a matter of respect between the creative and the customer to come to this conclusion. If your boiler were to break, you would not hire someone to fix it for next to nothing out of fear that they would not do a good enough job. By hiring a photographer to shoot your wedding/gig/portrait for next to nothing, what you are basically suggesting is that you accept that a poor job could be made or even worse, that you don't respect that persons talents. And by me doing jobs for next to nothing what I am saying to others is that my own work is substandard and worthless, something that I very much feel to be untrue.

So it's time that we as creative people stopped competing by trying to undercut each other in such overcrowded markets to this point of giving our art away for nothing. And it is more than about time that customers respect this and that the different elements of creativity are taken more seriously and finally, considered a real job.