Reasons Why Professional Photo Booths Cannot Work for Free

Dear Organiser,

 

Thank you for your enquiry.

If you have been directed to this page, it’s likely due to requesting our services for free or at a significant discount.

As professional photo booth operators, we receive requests for free booths on a very regular basis. In an ideal world, we would love to be benevolent and respond in a positive manner and assist, especially with projects or efforts related to areas such as health, education, social issues, and conservation of natural resources. It is fair to say that in many cases, we wish we had the time and resources to do more to assist.

Unfortunately, such are the practicalities of life that we are often unable to respond, or that when we do, our replies are brief and do not convey an adequate sense of the reasons underlying our response.

Circumstances vary for each situation, but we have found that there are a number of recurring themes, which we have set out below with the objective of communicating more clearly with you, and hopefully avoiding misunderstandings or unintentionally engendering ill will.

Please take the following points in the constructive manner in which they are intended. We certainly hope that after you have had a chance to read this, we will be able to talk again and establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Photo Booths Are Our Livelihood

This service is how we make our living. If we give away our time and resources for free, or spend too much time responding to requests for free services, we would not be in business too long, we’ve been in the industry since 2009. Chances are the event you’re interested in is very dear to your heart personally. We don’t doubt it’s a worthwhile cause, to us though, sadly it’s another date in the calendar that maybe booked by a paying client.

We Do Support Worthy Causes

We do contribute photo booths to selected charities and events each year, sometimes more, to support certain causes. In many cases, we may have participated directly in projects that we support, or we may have a pre-existing personal relationship with key people involved with the efforts concerned. We do in fact, possibly do more, than many other related businesses or individuals in relation to supporting such causes by very nature of the popularity of our photo booths.

We Have Time Constraints

If for no other reason than the substantial amount of time required to respond to requests, exchange correspondence, prepare and staff events. It takes a lot of time before and after each event over and above the specified duration, and time is always in short supply, sadly we can’t just turn up. Typically too the dates and times generally fall on peak periods.

Statements such as  “We Have No Budget” 

The primary reason provided in nearly all requests for free photo booths is budgetary constraint or fund raising.

Such requests frequently originate from organisations with a lot of cash on hand, whether they be publicly listed companies, government or quasi-government agencies, or even charities. To make matters worse, it is apparent that all too often, of all the parties involved in a project or particular effort, photo booths are the only ones being asked to work for free. Everyone else gets paid, the venue, the caterer…

If you are a charity involved in fund raising activity or similar we can show ways you can engage us and have us paid for by others.

All to often too we are the last minute add-on, talk to use from the outset, adding a couple of quid to a ticket price isn’t going to make them any less salable but is another mechanism to cover our cost.

We Have Real Budget Constraints

Operating as a professional involves significant monetary investment. All too often not comprehended by the ‘weekend warriors’, who own a high quality digital camera and believe they can suddenly transform into a professional photographer or photo booth operator by simply creating a website or facebook page, with little else to back it up, all to often leaving a trail of disappointment or even disaster behind them.

Our profession is by nature equipment-intensive. We need to buy cameras, lenses, lights, printers, computers, software, storage devices, booths, props and more on a regular basis, not to mention premises in which to store it all. Things break and need to be repaired. We need back-ups of all our data and equipment. For all of us, investment in essential hardware and software entails thousands of pounds a year, as we need to stay current with new technology and best practices. Add to that the nature of the events where frequently people are relaxed and having fun and perhaps not being as observant or careful as they would otherwise, the potential for damage is high.

In addition, travel is a big part of many of our businesses. We must spend a lot of money on transportation, lodging and other travel-related costs.

And of course, perhaps most importantly, there is a substantial sum associated with the time and experience we have invested to become proficient at what we do, as well as the personal risks we often take. Taking snapshots may only involve pressing the camera shutter release, but creating professional images requires skills, experience. Whilst our images maybe fun, we insist they are of the highest quality, often superior to many high street studios.

So the bottom line is that although we certainly understand and can sympathise with budget constraints, from a practical point of view, we simply cannot afford to subsidise everyone who asks.

Opportunity for ‘Promoting Ourselves” Doesn’t Mean Much

Part and parcel with requests for our services for free on budgetary constraints, is often the promise of providing “exposure” or the opportunity to “promote ourselves”, in the form of inclusion in publicity material, blogs, media or with a watermark, link, or perhaps even a specific mention, as a form of compensation in lieu of commercial remuneration.

Sadly, credit doesn’t pay bills. Ignoring the investment in our equipment, our staff, and indeed ourselves, need to make enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, etc.

In short, receiving credit for a service provided is not compensation, and credit is not a substitute for payment.

“Other Photo Booth Operators Have Helped”

Yes – that is highly likely, we all operate our businesses differently! We would simply ask “Why are they not therefore doing it again this time?”

Many do this part-time and have a salaried income to rely on, others who’ve probably offered previously have this time refused, possibly due to no longer being in businesses as their business model failed through giving away too many low cost bookings or even freebies, perhaps they too realised the future promise of more business or great exposure was as empty as the payment envelope?

We know that no professional photo booth operator would agree to this and would in 99% of all instances demand a reasonable fee for providing the service, unless the cause or event was such that it was personal to them for some reason.

Summary

We hope that the above points help explain why we cannot assist you or your organisation with free services and that as professionals who operate professionally, we have to expect remuneration for the services we provide and have the same costs as any other business.

 

PhotoProfessionals