By definition from cambridge dictionary, a passion is defined as a very powerful feeling and a passion for something is an extreme interest in or wish for doing something. While exploitation means the use of something in order to get an advantage from it. In short, passion exploitation would be someone using your interest to do something to gain advantage for themself. I will discuss this topic leaning towards photography side of things but it applies to every other creative genre.
So you ask, why so? There are two common reason why this exist which are due to the passion that you have. The work itself is already the reward to you and you will volunteer in doing it anyway. Leveraging on the idea above, exploiters plant the idea to make you believe that they are providing an opportunity for you to shoot and grow while they secretly ripping you off with little or no cost. This might not be a bad thing as you are most likely to be more hardworking than others. Meaning to say you are working for others and also working for yourself.
If you haven't already realise as much as you love photography, there might be someone that is exploiting you for it. Think about it, how many times have you work for free or how many times have you agreed to work on low wage or how many times have you being treated unfairly or getting ridiculous demand or how many times have your wage/pay being delayed like you aren't important after completing their job? These are the obvious red flags to begin with.
So you ask, who are these exploiters? They can be your client or even a larger entity in your own industry who aims to monopolise the market just by selling you the idea that they are helping you by providing you with stability of jobs or in a way helping you to gain a name for yourself. But have you ever ask yourself are these worth your level of skill currently?
Yes, you may argue that we are all human beings, we all will need help from others at some point in life. As much as this is true, being exploited negates the idea of growth and contributes almost nothing to the industry solely for the exploiter's benefit. There are exceptions to this, only if you do gain some level of mutual benefit or you are willing to learn from them. No one should be exploited given choice.
You must understand that having passion does not equal to success if you are being exploited or controlled all the way from the beginning. Until everyone is genuine, there is no definite way to know if their motive is to exploit or to help you. You should be alert and smart while having a sense of directions on where and what you want to achieve. This will allow you to stick on it and not being sway away while being true and responsible to yourself. The ultimate way is that all genuine and passionate people should find your way to gather your strength to work together in achieving a much larger goal instead of attacking one another. This will ensure a healthy growth in the industry while maintaining the integrity of it.