Work for free or work to gain experience.... This was a hot topic in the photojournalism class I taught in the fall last year. Photographers, journalists, writers and pj students are often confronted with this issue and so far there is no solution. And jobs in the media are pretty scarce (maybe Black Star would hire a photographer without experience???). So the article on Black Star says nothing new.
Look at a current job posting (if you look on craigslist, you will get quite depressed to see the "work for free" postings). Most of the employers require X years of experience. Would school count as experience? If not, what is the solution? I can't say DON'T WORK FOR FREE. I got some experience while I worked for free. I went as a second shooter to a wedding to see if I can shoot pictures and deliver them the next day. Surprise, surprise, the wedding dinner was in a dark restaurant! A beginner photographer who would have used the auto settings on the camera and on camera flash may have not gotten deliverable pictures. I had my flash and I took the assignment as a challenge. That's when I learned to use my flash. I did okay under the circumstances and since then I am better prepared with a load of equipment in my trunk just in case... So for me, these few photoshoots for free were enough to prepare me to take better shots at the second wedding I covered in Clearwater Beach (see the difference).
I am not afraid that someone with an amazing camera may produce good quality shots because amazing wedding photographers have a ton of experience. On the other hand, if a client doesn't want to pay for a job, my portfolio, experience and enthusiasm for media/photography doesn't matter. At the end of the day, you get what you paid for :)
Thanks to John Harrington to the post on this hot topic!!!