January 9, 2021

Why I Do and Do Not Charge for Photographs of Churches


I've been struggling with the thought of making money off of church photography. Money has never been my motivation when doing church and architecture photography. It's been barely on my radar. I used to do photography for the money and ended up a little jaded from it. I've done senior shoots, engagement shoots, and a few weddings. Money was my motivator because I was living on my own and supporting myself and it was nice to have a little extra income. But this caused me to strongly dislike the types of shoots I was doing and caused me to feel anxious about not doing a good job so I put photography away for a while. It was no longer my passion. This is why, if you've ever asked me to photograph your family, I've (hopefully) politely declined.

Today I'm truly lucky to not need the extra income that my photography could provide me. I'm married and I no longer have to be the sole provider for myself. However, artistic integrity weighs on my conscience and tells me that I should not be doing my craft (completely) for free. Other artists do count on their craft to make a living and I cannot jeopardize that. As I progress in my success as a photographer, there are two things I never want to do. One, I never want money to make my photography unenjoyable again. Two, I never want to take paying work away from other artists or cheapen art. Art should be accessible to everyone but paying an artist is a way to insure that art can continue, plus it's just polite to the artist.

I'll always do as much as I feel comfortable doing for free. When I photograph a church, I add the watermarked photos to Facebook and Instagram as well as upload them to the church's Google location listing. I do a little write up here on my blog to talk about the positive experience I had in a church. I always allow the church to use as many watermarked images they want for free and I never charge a church when I visit to photograph it. If a church or an individual wants to purchase an HD, non-watermarked image, I'm humbled and happy to sell them one.

Writing this post has been cathartic for me. Hopefully I articulated everything clearly enough. If you are a fellow artist and you have anything to add or any thoughts or comments, I would love to hear them!

Cover image: Greenwood United Methodist Church