“It will mean great exposure for you”.
Yes, it might. But that again, so will using the Internet properly. It’s one of the most common tricks. A wide range of people looking for photography services use it thinking they can get away with just putting your photos somewhere because people will see them. Why isn’t it profitable to take these offers? Because it’s likely they’ve done it with other photographers as well, and your chances for contracting real clients like this are pretty slim. After all, when another potential client will ask about the price of your work, the reply will probably be “he did it for the exposure.”
If you don’t want to do it for free, I know other photographers who will
The best way to handle a situation like this is to just say “ok, go with them”. You are trying to make a living, run a business and essentially put food on the table. It’s not likely to happen by agreeing to do pro bono work forever.
“We could just find a stock photo if you’re not interested”
This actually says a lot about their level of interest in photography. I have nothing against stock photography, but it can’t address all needs. If a client is still debating whether they should pay you for a proper, personalized photo shoot, or just buy some stock photos, you have no business talking to them in the first place.
“My cousin has a DSLR and I think I can get him to do it, if you don’t want to.”
Again, politely excuse yourself and get out of there. These are not the people you want to be working with because they are basically black mailing you into saying yes, for usually a symbolic compensation.
“If all goes well, it could lead to paid opportunities with our company.”
So…why don’t they just pay you in the first place? They’re obviously not testing the market because they need the photography services. It’s a trap many photographers fall into, only to realize, at one point that they aren’t going to get any paid gigs at all from that client.
Image credit: lightpoet / 123RF Stock Photo