Many of you will act based upon your actions being morally right, ethically right, or just right on principle. However, there is a broader group that won't act as counseled to unless it's something that is personally good for the individual. In many cases, this is selfish, and is counter to a greater good, but for people to act based upon how the decision is good for them are either, in general, not concerned with that, or see themselves as not having the luxury, at this stage of their careers, with being concerned with that.
So, the question remains then - how do you affect someone who's attitude is "I do what's good for me..."? If you're that type of person, this post is for you. If you know that type of person, then the message points in this post are those which will help you convince others about how to change, for the better.
When I, or many others, say "don't do WMFH, it's bad for the profession...", or "don't do jobs for $500 that you know are worth $5,000 because it's bad for the profession...", those are a form of a "shortcut" of advice. When we say it's bad for the profession, that means it's not just bad for you, it's bad for your friends and colleagues.
Consider the call girl. Not because I am going to equate some photographers to them. Rather, there's an almost universal agreement as to opinion about them and the profession. We all can agree that being a call girl has moral and ethical and principled deficits. We all can stand back and say "she shouldn't be doing that...". Further, few, if any of you, could hold in any regard the profession of call girl. That leaves the call girl herself to discuss. There are three primary things wrong with her and her chosen profession then. The first is that, while subjecting herself to that line of work, she's at high risk of contracting a communicable disease that quite probably will kill her. The second is that, she is also at a high risk of physical abuse or assault. The third is the psychological damage - the transfer of percieving intimacy as for sale, and quantified by a dollar figure, affects the call girls' ability to be genuinely intimate or genuinely in love in the future. Yet, in these instances, the call girl doesn't see all of this diminishment as bad for women, she just sees it as income - as good for her. She's not considering, nor does she care about, short term versus long term benefits, she's just worried about making money. No matter how loud you shout that what she's doing is bad for her, or bad for women, she won't hear it. She only will stop when she comes to her own conclusion that it's bad for her, even when she may well know, deep down, it's bad for her, she does it because she feels she has no other choice.
Consider next, the day laborer. Forget for a moment, whether they're illegal immigrants or not. That person earns a nominal hourly wage, each day, for back-breaking work. Each day they work, they earn dollars. When they don't, they don't. Further, their daily income is all but capped. With that income, they'll never own a new car, they'll never have health insurance, they'll never buy a house. In order to do these things, they must leave the profession where they are paid for their physical capabilities, to being paid for their mental capabilities. That worker is only concerned with how much money they're bringing in for themselves. They're not concerned with how, by their subjecting themselves to those working conditions, they are telling their employers "hey, it's ok to treat me this way..." and then, as more and more people do the work, those working conditions become more and more acceptable. Further, they won't be able to support or provide for a family as they should.
Photographers are not day laborers, nor call girls. Yet, when a photographer accepts a WMFH job, they become, in effect, a day-laborer. They're paid for that work, and will never generate a dime from it again. When a photographer accepts an assignment that they're paid $150 for, that should be an assignment for $1,000, they are selling themselves short, and not recognizing the true cost of that assignment, and how they have given away their creative talents for a fraction of it's value.
When we say "it's bad for the profession", what we're saying is a shortcut to how it's really bad for you, and that it'll hurt your friends as well. It's not a holier-than-thou attitude, it's sound counsel. You may know, deep down, that WMFH is bad for you, but you feel you have no other choice. You do. You can say no to the deal, or, better yet, negotiate the deal to a yes/win-win for both parties. Sure, some clients have such a long line of people saying yes to WMFH, that you have no bargaining power. Don't work for them. Don't work for people who don't value you beyond your eyeball and trigger-finger.
As you enter the profession, there are leaders in trade associations who all are (or have been) photographers, there are the legends in the field, peers you look up to, and the middle-of-the-road photographers, and when all of them are telling you that something is "bad for the profession", they're saying it's bad for you, so don't do it. These folks know whereof they speak. You've probably, in preparation for entering the field, read their books, or been inspired by the images they have produced.
What's good for the profession, is, in turn, good for you, as a member of that profession. What's bad for the profession, almost without exception, is also bad for you.
When you don't know what you're talking about, or when you're new to the field, listen to the people around you whom have been in it awhile, or listen to the people you look up to and aspire to be like. These photographers will be able to tell you what's good for the profession, and what's not. Listen to that advice.
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