Why I don't work for exposure - and you shouldn't either

I was lining up at the post office the other day when a new email landed in my inbox. As I skimmed through the lines I heard myself asking out loud: "Ummm... what?"

I could not stop shaking my head while I was filling out the customs forms. From the outside, it could have seemed like I'm just one of those people who hates the whole admin struggle, but in my mind, I was somewhere else. I was recapping the offer in my email coming from one of the biggest retail chains in Canada asking me to photograph their 6-figure event for free.


Not for free. 

For "exposure".

Even though I get these emails every once in a while - I felt kinda betrayed.

I imagined offering a social media mention to the woman at Canada Post in exchange for mailing my package. I mean, I'm sure she could use some exposure, right? So does my barista at my favourite coffee shop. Yet, somehow it never crosses my mind to offend them with anything like that.

So here's the thing: there are way too many 'for-credit' requests flying around, asking people to do a not so fair trade.

It's time to cut this bullshit.

As photographers (or basically any other freelancers, bloggers, designers, etc.) we need to help each other by saying no.

Working for free will never lead to 'potential opportunities'. Free work leads to more free work. And you working for free is really just people taking advantage of you. Your photos will give someone else exposure. Someone else will sell more products. Someone else will have more materials for marketing and content. And you will feel used, and will be left without compensation. So next time just say: thanks, but no thanks. 

If you find yourself getting some of these cringeworthy emails, try and educate your clients on why it is important to make sure that you get paid. Perhaps list all the amazing things that investing their money into your services will get them, like: 

  • Professionalism
    Showing up early, knowing how to dress, where to stand and what to say AND delivering within the deadline. 

  • Knowledge and experience
    Knowing what to shoot and how to shoot it.
  • Time
    Your time on the project starts with the request email coming in, the negotiations, the shoots, then the uploading, culling, editing, retouching, transferring and handling the extra file/edit requests
  • Talent
    Your unique eye and way of capturing moments.
  • Equipment
    Have you ever sat back and added up the value of all your gear? Do clients know that cameras bodies die after a certain shutter count - therefore every photo you take costs you money? 

The next time someone asks you to work for free think about all of the above - think about your worth. You are worthy of compensation.

Each time you say no to a request for free work, three paid opportunities will come from somewhere else. I promise. 

Once I implemented this into my strategy and stopped trying to please everyone, things started to change. My priorities shifted from wanting to work for 'big brand names' and moved to keeping my cash flow nice and healthy.  And yet somehow, the big brand names with actual budget found me and got me working on projects where I felt appreciated and respected as a photographer.

These dreamy clients are out there, waiting for you too - you just have to be really clear on your direction and firm on your prices. 

Struggle is not required. 



Oshiis Surf & Yoga Retreat 2016 - Puerto Viejo x Costa Rica

Words can't describe our trip with the Oshiis Surf & Yoga Retreat to Costa Rica. In less than a few days we were all up on our surfboards, riding the waves the Caribbean Sea had for us. If you're looking for an active holiday with the adventure factor and local, authentic experience, this might just be the perfect vacation for you. 

Check out my little gallery of the highlights of this trip. 

Special thanks to SPL Water Housings for my camera housing that made this trip and the photos extra amazing. 

Roncesvalles x Humber Bay Engagement Session

Sarah and Bernard are one of the funniest and most easy-going couples I've ever had the chance to photograph. 

Despite the cold day and crazy wind, these two were true champs throughout the entire session.

I am so looking forward to documenting all the sweet moments as they tie the knot next year. Watch out Muskoka - it's going to be the most beautiful wedding you've seen yet. 

Scarborough Bluffs - Toronto Maternity Session

Sometimes, a recipe for a perfect day is very, very simple. 

All you need is:
- 1 beautiful Sunday afternoon,
- 2 of your gorgeous friends, 
- a 38-week-old baby,
- and an endless cup of love. 

I've captured some very special moments for Sue and Nick, who are awaiting for their baby girl. Life couldn't get more exciting for these two and I'm so happy to be able to share some of these exciting moments with them. 

The Surprise Leslieville Proposal

It's the best kind of shoot when you get to photograph two of your friends getting engaged.

Nick contacted me weeks before the big day, with the request of capturing the story of his secret proposal. He had quite a plan on surprising his girlfriend, including a beautiful Tesla, a romantic picnic at their favourite park ending with the sunset at Polson Pier. 

And of course, Sue had no idea that from that point on, Friday the 13th is going to be her lucky day. Congratulations again guys! <3 

7 Questions A Professional Photographer Will Ask To Make Your Wedding Photos Look Amazing

Over the years, I’ve worked with some really wonderful couples and shot some incredible weddings. All of them have been unique in their own way but what I’ve realized is that when it comes to the initial planning, couples all start from the same place.

A wedding photographer (and her second shooter) is often the second thing couples search for after the venue, so in a funny twist, I often find myself doubling as a wedding planner. I don’t mind this one bit as my biggest goal is to make couples feel comfortable and excited, so I love to start by asking a series of questions that help them walk me through the big day.

What I often find is that these questions really help uncover opportunities, potential pitfalls and many other things they had never even thought of.

So here there are, the seven questions I ask couples when we sit down for a coffee.

1. What kind of wedding are you having?

Every ceremony is different so a photographer is going to want to understand your vision and get important answers to questions like will it be in a church/ceremony room? Is it a religious wedding? Does the venue have rules around photography? And what can we expect to see during the ceremony?

2. Will you be seeing your partner before the ceremony or do you prefer the traditional approach?

There is no right or wrong answer to answer this question. Some couples enjoy images of them spending the day together, some enjoy the reaction of their partner’s face as they walk down the isle. 

3. Would you like photos of you and the wedding party getting ready?  

This question always prompts the same follow-up question and the answer is no, we don't photograph brides without hair and makeup done. We're there to capture you both as you perfect your look with the help of your beloved friends and family. Getting into your dress/tux. Getting into your shoes. Putting on accessories. Capturing your parents seeing you for the first time.

4. Will you want family photos?

Lately, I've been hearing couples saying no to the family photos and questioning their importance. They just want their own candid moments captured without going through a bunch of group shots with different people. And it's totally understandable. However, before you remove them completely, think about your extended family and the overseas aunts and uncles who travelled miles to see you. They will likely wander over looking for a photo when you least expect it. Without the photographer around, it could be taken with an old camera phone and so it's a super nice gesture to allocate a little time for a professional photo that you can send them later on as a thank you gift.

5. Are you be taking a break? 

So you've been up since 4 AM, you got ready, you tied the knot, you're done with the family photos. What else is left? Oh yes, enjoying your day. You're probably already exhausted, but it's time for those photos that you want to have in your book, on your walls and probably as a profile. Oh wait! Have you eaten yet? Have you had a sip of water? Have you realized that you just got married? I always suggest a little break for the couple to get away from all the guests, the photographers and vendors. They will see you later. Now it's your time to take it in, grab 30 minutes for yourself and get refreshed. The photos will turn out 1000 times better if you're relaxed, not hangry, and in the right mindset. I always tell my couples to organize a ride back to the bridal suite where food and drinks are waiting for just the two of you. I never charge for this time that I call... well... a healthy mental break.  

6. What are the main events during your dinner? 

Timing is everything. Your guests are hungry and it's important for you that everyone's having fun. So try and interrupt the dinner the least amount of times as possible. Time your dances and speeches before dinner/in between courses, so people won’t be eating in the background of your photos. An extra tip that has nothing to do with photography: cut the cake before serving the dessert so people will want to eat some and it won't end up in the freezer. 

7. Would you like photos of the party?

It’s a long day, and the party is just about to start. It's fun to have a photographer capture these moments, but in my experience, most people don't like having their pictures taken while eating and letting loose. The party and dancing photos rarely make it to the album and people just want to have fun without someone constantly flashing and snapping their dance moves. My advice - invest in a photo booth or purchase some disposable film cameras to put on each table. Guest will produce an insane amount of fun photos and you'll laugh going through them.

That’s it. Pretty simple right?

Just keep in mind that when hiring your wedding photographer, you’re actually hiring your partner in crime. We will be there to capture every smile, every teardrop and every moment you will never want to forget. Our energy and our cameras will surround you and the photos will reflect your energy.

Everyone wants their photos to be unique and so go with a photographer that know’s their stuff, grasps your vision and asks the right questions.

The Healthy Maven

What a fun day with this mega talented and super inspiring woman! 

Davida and I met almost a year ago - and it was an instant connection between our creative/entrepreneur minds. 

With the revamp of her blog, now was the perfect time to take her personal brand to the next level and organize a full day set with various locations to capture a day in the life of The Healthy Maven

Special thanks to Impact Kitchen for letting us take over their restaurant for a couple hours. 

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"The Healthy Maven is about eating real and unprocessed food, getting creative in the kitchen and leading an active and balanced lifestyle. We could all use a little more kale AND wine in our lives. "

"The Healthy Maven has chronicled my experiments in the kitchen, in the gym and perhaps most importantly, in my life. From quitting my job and taking on the blog full-time, opening up about my struggles with body image and how I’m learning to balance health and hedonism, this place has been my virtual diary for almost 3 years and I have loved every second of it."

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Tinderbox FW15 Catalogue

My favourite season has finally arrived! Layers, layers, layers and beautiful, cozy accessories! And of course, oversized pom-poms.

Hence why we had a blast shooting Tinderbox's Fall-Winter Collection. Besides the catalogue shots, we've also captured how to wear Tinderbox on the street.

Models: Charmaine San Pedro, Jazminn Hayes and Boomer.

For more photos you can also follow @tinderbox on instagram.

Tinderbox FW15

The Fall/Winter 2015 Tindebox catalogue shoot went absolutely amazing. I'm so proud of my client and friend for making her passion her paycheque.

This year, besides product photography, we also shot lifestyle and marketing images for Tinderbox's social media. 

Here you can see some of our final images showcasing the designer's beautiful products. I especially love the earthy-look and feel.

If you're thinking about getting one of these goodies, you can just head over to www.ilovetinderbox.com.

My Interview with Ladyboss Magazine

It was such an honour to be featured in Ladyboss Magazine. Below you can learn a bit more about me and my passion for photography. 



Hometown: Budapest

Current City: Toronto

Ladyboss Mag (LM): How did your company begin? 

Bettina Bogar (BB) )Photography always played a huge part of my life. I think I’ve been shooting ever since I was able to hold a camera. However, I founded bettina bogar photography shortly after I moved to Canada three years ago.

LM: Where do you find inspiration? 

BB: Inspiration is everywhere. It’s really just in how you look at things. It can be a shadow, a reflection, an interesting shape or sound, a weird composition or story that moves me. I know I’ve been inspired when I find something that makes me want to create.

LM: What has been your career highlight(s) so far?

BB: It is always a great feeling when you’re hired by international brands. Working for Hershey’s, Ashley Madison and Prezi were definitely great achievements for me. But if I’m being honest with you, the real highlights in my career are the little thank you notes from happy clients. Being self-employed is lonely so receiving emails filled with joy and gratitude after they get a first look at their photos can sometimes be the boost I need on a rough day.

LM: Favorite part of your day?

BB: Every day is different to me. Different people, different sets, meetings and lots of editing. However one thing has became my routine and it always makes my day -  morning walks with my doggy, right before the madness starts.

LM: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

BB: Could you please bring back Audrey Hepburn? I would love to take her portrait. But let’s be real. GQ.

LM: Favorite local spots to hang out?

BB: There are some fascinating rooftops in Toronto that I like to revisit. It’s not exactly legal to climb up there so it’s best I don’t name them.

LM: Describe yourself in 5 words or less:

BB: Dreamer. Thinker. Doer.

LM: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

BB: George Ezra - Budapest. I believe he’s singing my story. 

LM: What does being a Ladyboss mean to you?

BB: Being your own boss is a whole different lifestyle. You learn a lot about yourself through all the challenges and you’ll sacrifice a lot of your free time. Sometimes life will get really unbalanced, but over time you begin to find clarity and figure out how badly you want your dreams to come true. I personally love how it allows you to set your own goals, improve your business and grow your skill set at your own pace. Because believe it or not, you can reach those goals sooner than you think. 

LM: What was the greatest challenge you have had to face as a Ladyboss?

BB: Bettina Bogar Photography went through a lot of changes in the first couple of years. I’m more of an artist than a business person. I enjoy creating, being surrounded by inspirational people and working on ideas. I had to really buckle down and learn the business side of things. A large part of my time will often goes to administrative work that I don't adore as much. But hey, it’s part of making your passion your paycheck.


LM: What advice do you have for other Ladybosses?

BB: I would pass down some simple advice that someone really important told me once. It changed my whole life and quickly turned around my business - surround yourself with only good people. 

LM: What can we expect to see from your in the near (or far) future?

BB: This year is about making more dreams come true. I have a lot to create and capture and I’m super excited about it.

Behind The Scenes - Laundry Day

Expressing myself through photography was never a challenge for me. However my new creative project, real is the new sexy, is something that makes my heart beat twice as fast. It’s something i’ve been dreaming of doing for a long time now. I carefully planned and selected all the bits and pieces: the locations, models, outfits and of course, my creative team.  My goal was to create a series of photographs that showcases real women with real bodies in real scenarios. 

The stories are cute, funny and the models are sexy but approachable.

This creative is all about Jazminn. She’s gorgeous, a little nerdy and making the best out of a laundry day. See more here.

The behind the scenes images were captured by my talented creative assistant, Dave Rideout and makeup, hair and wardrobe styling were provided by the amazing Holly Kurmis of Hot Makeup. Quotes are from Jazminn herself.

Keep an eye out for the next episodes, they are going to blow your mind.

"I was happy with 5'11, but then I just kept on growing. I've been 6'1 since I was 16."
I love travelling. I just turned 22 and I've already been to 23 countries. I mostly travel alone. My favourite places were probably Switzerland, the South of France and Budapest. My ultimate goal is to visit 30 countries by the time I'm 25. 
"I adopted my kitten spontaneously. Someone abandoned him when he was about 2 months old. I was at a shelter and saw him. I played with him for a few minutes and then as I was leaving he started crying... So I went back and picked him up and kept him. I named Pekoe after a tea."


I feel really lucky to be the part of so many awesome assignments lately, where our goal is to strengthen brands with beautiful photographs. 

If you're from Toronto (the capital city of entrepreneurship), you probably already know, that here, almost everybody has his or her own thing going on. Small businesses and start ups are thriving and no matter what service you provide, you must have a website that helps people getting to know you better and create more sales. 

I always tell my clients and friends, that before you'd hire a photographer, think about one thing. Your brand. How would you like to represent yourself to the world? What is that you sell? What kind of images would help you creating more sales? What is the overall feel that you're going for?

When taking professional photos for websites and social media we always start the project by brainstorming about the brand and creating a very own mood board and shot-list for it.

Jacklyn Denise Communications and bettina bogar photography have teamed up during the coldest days of January to create and capture the brand new look for www.jacklyndenise.com.

While working on launching her new website, Jacklyn has also moved to her brand new, beautiful office, so we had a lovely space to capture the essence of her PR and communications boutique. 

I felt like I've arrived to Ladyboss Wonderland on the day of the shoot. Jacklyn has handpicked each piece of her office and also added her very own props create the perfect vibe for the images.


Flipping through her website, I just learned about her very own event, called Mimosa Mornings (yes please!) where you can network with other women, share your thoughts, influence each other and basically take over the world.

Michelle Quance

I will never forget when Michelle Quance and I met for the first time. It was an instant connection. We had a million things in common and what started as casual chat turned into a deep conversation that lasted hours. 

Michelle is my mentor and I could never be at this point in my career without her advice, guidance and unconditional friendship. The time we spend together is like therapy - her wonderful personality always brings  the best out of me. 

I couldn't have been more honoured when she asked me to design and curate her new website. I mean who wouldn't want to go through 17 years of gorgeous work by an artist you look up to. And trust me, this woman's talent is extraordinary.

Below are few examples from her wedding collection and be sure to check out the her new website here. I'm in love with it's simplicity - www.michellequance.com

Photos by: Michelle Quance Photography. - www.michellequance.com

In addition to building the website, I also had the chance to capture Michelle’s portraits in January. The results are absolutely stunning, but to tell you the truth, she was giving me a hard time as a model. Turns out, none of us like to be on the other side of the camera.

Big thank you to Holly from Hot Makeup (https://www.facebook.com/hotmakeupchick) for providing the wonderful makeup. 

Mobility Campaign for Prezi

One of the most rewarding shoots to date has to be the gig I just completed for Prezi.

For those of you who are not familiar, Prezi is like an online version of PowerPoint but so much better.

For their new mobile campaign, Prezi hired photographers from major cities around the world to capture a day in the life of an entrepreneur and highlight the benefits and convenience of their new app.

My good friends Ricardo and Gloria Roheim McRae were selected to represent Canadian entrepreneurs and were kind enough to recommend me as the photographer.

Having the opportunity to tackle the creative direction and storyboarding this project was a huge plus for me. I personally picked the locations and scenarios so I was able to deliver images that were clean and professional.

Prezi only had one condition: we could only use natural light settings. If you know my work well, you’ll know that was not an issue for me.

Gloria and Ricardo also did a fantastic job and followed direction really well. They looked super cute and were really comfortable in front of the cameraa. 

Getting hired by an international brand that’s created an app with over 50 million users is quite an achievement for me, not to mention, how much I love the Hungarian connection here. Prezi was founded in Hungary, in 2009, now it's currently being used worldwide.

You can take a peek at the final photos by clicking here.