Have you ever wondered if a job is worth accepting? Here’s a quick way to determine if a job is right for you by seeing if you would answer “yes” to at least two of these three simple questions.

  1. Do I like the person commissioning the project?
  2. Is this project good for my portfolio?
  3. Is this project good for my business financially?

Answering yes or no to all three questions is an easy choice. The decision gets a little harder when you’re mixing yeses and nos.

Do I like the person (or company) commissioning the project?

Just liking the person or company may not be enough if it doesn’t help your portfolio or put money in your pocket. I chose to address this rule first because there are many gray areas. One example: If you really like the person/company and you can see possible work in the future, then you may want to accept the job. But what happens when there isn’t a possible gain, such as working with a charity. As photographers, we’ve all been down this road before. A charity comes along and asks for your services. They can’t pay and the images are not something you would use in your portfolio. This decision is the hardest. Do you stick with the “must have two” rule? That decision is up to you. There are always going to be worthy charities that need your help. If it’s taking time away from your family or you’re passing on a paying job, learn to address your guilty feeling of not helping. You could train an intern to take it over or suggest another photographer. Either way, you’re still helping and you should be guilt free.

(Editor’s note: Charities–non-profits are designated 501c3 corporations. They are required to file this tax statement annually. It is public record. Photographers asked to work for free might want to go online and check the income of the charity. It is surprising how large a non-profit’s income is really. This can also help make a decision about working for a charity for free.)

Is this project good for my portfolio?

I work a lot with models. Occasionally I will post a casting call requesting to collaborate with models on a project. Normally, these are free shoots known as TF (Trade For). Both model and photographer agree to exchange or “trade” their time “for” photos or prints. How do you decide who to work with? Follow the rule. We already answered “no” to “Is it Good Financially” and we answer “yes” to “Is it good for my portfolio,” so it boils down to who do you like and who would be the best fit for the project. Let’s switch the scenario. Let’s say you’re a model and a photographer asked you for a TF shoot. You like the photographer, but it’s not good financially and you can’t see yourself using the images for your portfolio. Politely decline the offer.

Is this project good for my business financially?

If the financial gain is good, but you can’t use the images for your portfolio and working with this client is very stressful, then pass on the project. Why work with a person or company you don’t like or respect? They may devour your time, causing you to stress on other jobs or with family.

I know it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are many variables involved, such as “…will I gain work from this project” or “…they have helped me in the past, so I’ll help them now.” These three simple questions should be a base when you’re stuck deciding if you should accept the job.

Please leave a comment on your thoughts, views or share a personal example on how this could help.