I recently read an article which I have to admit not remembering what was about. But I do remember that the discussion below the article really made me almost lose my temper (and those who knows me knows that it takes a lot).
The users were debating whether it were alright to work for free or not, and the prevailing argument seemed to be "Don't work for free if it means that you are doing a job somebody else could have been paid for. If you do, you are destroying the industry."
Really? I can't believe the arrogance of such a statement. If I wanted to work for free to make someone happy with the gift of my pictures or in order to give myself more challenges or just for fun, why shouldn't I be allowed to do so, even if it means someone else is not getting paid to do so?
If this destroys "The Industry" I would argue that it is said industry that has a problem and not me. I might even argue that if "The Industry" can be destroyed by a guy with a camera who is just enjoying taking pictures and cares less about being paid for these pictures, then "The Industry" should maybe start to consider if the number of paid photographers are perhaps too big. Or maybe too expensive? If I am a threat, maybe they ought to improve their skills or lower their prices. I know that the last pictures I paid for were kindergartener photos of my daughter and I'll tell you this: they were expensive and not really that good. As my wife said when she saw them: "you could have done better".
Another argument I hear is "you're a software developer. How would you like it if I learned about development and then started offering to do your job for free?". Well.. Be my guest. As a matter of fact this is already happening with the neighbors son who happens to know computer-stuff and who will work for a Big Mac. I am sure this happens in all kinds of job industries.
My point is. Do what you want. Have fun and enjoy it. Make other people happy and don't worry. You are not destroying any industry. The industry is just not trying to change according to the changes in its surroundings.