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I am working as a Software Engineer and I'm a hobbyist photographer.

The organization I'm working for carries out a corporate social responsibility program. Last month we had an event under this program and I photographed the event. (It was a gathering of orphan kids and old age people and some fun activities with them that were conducted in the office cafeteria premiss). I did not ask for any payment from my employer for shooting this event, as I don't find asking money for a charity event going well with my own self.

This morning I got an email from CEO office that he liked the pictures and would like me to shoot an assignment for the company. This assignment involves shooting portraits of a few employees. I don't think it is appropriate for me to do this for free.

I have developed photography as a skill over past three years. I have worked hard and invested a lot of time and money over this. I believe I am pretty much skilled and capable of delivering great photographs if asked to shoot.

Is this appropriate if I ask for monetary rewards for this assignment? Is it professional to bring this up to my employer.

Edit:

I am based in India. The company wants me to take a couple of hours off and shoot for them in normal working hours. Regarding the culture, I am not aware if the company pays employees if it asks for additional services. There is a "fun committee" that voluntarily organizes activities (with organization-provided budget, of course). There is another committee for organizing CSR activities and yet another committee for organizing sports activities. All these committee members are employees who work voluntarily taking time off from their normal working hours. Their contribution is counted in their annual performance reviews also.

For many such events professional photographers are hired and paid accordingly. After I shot the last CSR event (for free) they seemed to have discovered a decent photographer in the organization itself.

Moreover, this assignment involves some serious photography skills and equipment (that I own). I will have to make additional efforts and expenses to carry this to the assignment location.

Edit 2

I have replied to the mail from CEO office and asked for time for an informal discussion over this with the person in charge of such activities. She will be in the office in about three hours from now.

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    if they are paying you to do this (because it is during normal working hours), would there still be a problem? – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 4:14
  • @bharal: Precisely speaking, I'm not comfortable doing this for free as 1. This is not the job they hired me for. 2. They would hire a professional photographer and pay them if I decline. 3. I have invested a lot of time and money in learning photography and improve my skills in it. The only thing I need to know is whether it would be ethical and professional to ask for monetary compensation if I agree to shoot pictures. – Rachcha Nov 13 '14 at 4:29
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    when you say free - would you still be earning your salary while you did this task? or would you not be paid at all? a company can ask you to do whatever - typically - within the time that you've agreed to work for them (as long as they pay you to, and within reason) – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 4:32
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    well... you're not really shooting the assignment for free, are you? they're paying you to be there (as per your salary). how much do photographers get paid where you're from? is it really that much more? why irritate your company (and deny yourself exposure as a photographer) for a small amount of money? – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 4:44
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    yeah, if i were you i wouldn't bother pushing over this. you don't have experience and you don't have exposure - use these photos and the charity stuff as part of your personal photographer portfolio so then you can charge the same to a different company. right now you're just starting out, so i don't see you having the same weight. – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 4:48
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If your boss asks you do a work activity, during working hours, and you get paid your regular salary for it, then no, you don't really have any grounds to ask for extra money. Of course the company should pay any expenses you'll have in the process (transportation etc), and it would be wise to make this clear in advance.

The only exceptions would be a) if the work was something demeaning and clearly outside your job description ("Go mop the toilets"), or b) this assignment would have a serious impact on your day job (you'd miss a release deadline etc). But in both these cases, you should refuse the assignment outright, not ask for extra money.

As an aside, I find it a bit odd that you work as an software engineer, yet you say a photographer would be paid "at least ten times more" for a day's work. I suspect you either have an inflated idea of how much photographers make, or are seriously underpaid in your current role.

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  • +1 yeh, i dunno about the salary estimate the OP has... altho good photographers can get paid good money for contract shoots, but they're also pretty unpredictable. good point on the travel expenses too. – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 4:57
  • This seems like a very comprehensive answer. I am confident about my photography skill but if my company recognizes me as a skilled photographer and provides me more exposure and other non-monetary benefits, I will definitely accept this assignment. I will try to negotiate more on the things that don't involve paying me then, for example, more freedom in shooting, more options and resources to be made available while shooting and renting more gear (through company budget, of course.) – Rachcha Nov 13 '14 at 5:08
  • @jpatokal:Apparently you haven't been involved with a wedding and the planning if you think photographers don't make a boatload of money. – Dunk Nov 13 '14 at 15:04
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    @dunk. Wedding photographers may charge a boatload of money, but they don't necessarily make a boatload of money when you count all of the hours they and their staff work on it. It isn't just the amount of time they are at the wedding that you are paying for. – cdkMoose Nov 13 '14 at 17:48
  • @cdkMoose Exactly. It's also not sensible to compare eat-what-you-kill jobs like freelance photography to a fixed salary: even if that wedding photographer does make 5x a software engineer's pay on that one day he's hired, he's earning nothing the rest of the time (not too many weddings outside the weekends...). – lambshaanxy Nov 13 '14 at 21:28
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No, you should not. (this is situation specific)

You are a hobbyist photographer, not a professional one. From chatting with you in the comments you probably want to be a professional photographer too. But right now you don't have

  1. experience
  2. a wide portfolio

this job is exactly that - the experience and addition to your portfolio that you will want. if you haven't talked to your company rep, i'd advise forgetting about the small amount of money extra (10 days salary is not, in the grand scheme of things, that much more) and instead ask if the company can recognise you as the photographer in whatever medium they publish the photos in.

you're still (hopefully) getting your salary for doing this, so you're getting paid. You're helping your company out on company time, so unless you were actually a professional photographer (and then, why would you be working as a software engineer?), you really don't have much of an argument to earn more money.

i would take this opportunity and use it to grow your skills, exposure and experience. i know the temptation is there to earn money and stuff, but you're literally amateur, don't squander a long-term opportunity for short term gain.

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  • +1 Thank you so much for your analysis. I will definitely consider your answer. – Rachcha Nov 13 '14 at 5:12
  • IOW, your company is willing to pay you to play with your hobby instead of actually doing your job. You look at this as being taken advantage of? I wish my company would let me charge my time for playing a couple of hours of basketball. – Dunk Nov 13 '14 at 15:07
  • @Dunk i know, right? i think i need a new hobby - i like feeding ducks, of all things. i don't think any company will ever pay me to feed them during my normal job. – bharal Nov 13 '14 at 15:58
  • @Dunk: You playing basketball is not going to save your employer any money, but me taking photographs does save a lot of money for my employer. If I have to play basketball or any other sport, I wouldn't definitely ask for money, as I don't provide the employer with anything tangible and they don't get any or much monitory profit or saving, even if I win some prize or trophy. – Rachcha Jan 30 '15 at 11:03
  • @Rachcha:You are just splitting hairs. Would playing the guitar or painting a mural on their wall make a difference to you? Those are other hobbies of mine, just insert those in the example. A hobby is a hobby. You don't do it for money. You do it for fun. If you are doing it for money then it becomes a job. In this case, the person is being paid to do what they would otherwise be doing for fun. Just because there are other people who charge for doing this or because the company gets some benefit makes no difference. If the OP wants to run a business then just hand his boss his business card. – Dunk Jan 30 '15 at 20:23

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