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As A Photographer, Should You Decline When It Compromises Your Creative Integrity?

Distorted Image I've recently shot for two different financial firms and received an inquiry from a third. The third firm is one that I declined because the style they wanted did not fit my idea of flattering professional photography.

Although the image to the left was not the style they wanted, I'm using the image to help drive my point home. For example, if you were asked to photograph everyone in the company like the image on the left, I mean exact facial expressions, wide angle and all and were told it was for a financial services firm to highlight each employee's profile, would you do it just because of the pay? You have no input, no say so, you were told this is what we want and this is the way you must shoot it. End of Discussion! OK, they were not that rude, but I'm trying to make a point.

In my case, I didn't like the lighting scheme, firmly felt that it would not represent the company well, would likely never use the lighting setup ever again and doubt that I would ever use any of it in my portfolio. Should I have done it anyway for the money?

The potential client told me to think of it from the site visitors perspective rather than a photographers eye. Well, when I thought of it like that, my gut told me that if I saw these types of images on a financial firms website that I wouldn't be inclined to call the company to do business with them. In my mind, a headshot should cause someone to want to get to know that person, to feel there is connection, to say, "that's someone that I'd like to do business with.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for creative lighting and fun. However, in this case, I didn't feel that it was creative, fun or flattering.

Here is and exact snippet that I got in an email from the potential client: "If you are not interested, I completely understand. It must feel as if you are compromising your creative integrity." Yes, if I had of taken on the project, I would have been compromising my creative integrity.

Now, you may not feel that same way based on what I have written above. But where do you draw the line? When would you decline a project that pays? I got a call a few months ago about a Penthouse style photoshoot. I declined. Would you?

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.