Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

Started Jul 5, 2011 | Discussions thread
Michael Thomas Mitchell Forum Pro • Posts: 11,792
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

These days, it seems that everybody and their mother is "building a wedding and portrait photography business". So you're no longer offering a particularly rare "service". You need to forget your friends and former social settings as a potential income source. If they didn't pay you before. they're not going to now.

Now, you obviously used to enjoy doing pictures for free for your friends. Is it no longer fun? Either do it because you enjoy doing it or don't do because you no longer enjoy it. It's that simple.

Keep your business and your pleasure separate. I assume that once your business is going, you're still going to take, for example, pictures on vacation. Nobody is going to pay you, right? And you can't get a tax right off. So you're doing it for fun.

My dad ran a successful local studio/lab/retail store for decades. He had lots of enthusiasts who came in professing that they were "going pro". Why? Because they loved photography. Problem is, making photography for a living and making it for fun are two separate things. The business of photography is just that... business. You can have fun doing it, but the fun is secondary to actually making a profit.

I doubt that you can turn your friends into a viable source of income selling them a product that you once provided for free. But I could be wrong.

jjsterling wrote:

Professional photographers, do you provide your social friends free photos (files) from group events such as dancing and parties?

I am building a wedding & portrait photography business.

But my friends still expect to continue to receive for free, the pictures that I take at our social events like I have been doing for years with my old P&S that I no longer have. These may be dances at music festivals or club or parties that I go to socialize and have fun. Nobody asks me to take pictures at these events. I do it on my own accord. I bring my dslr everywhere I go.

Should I continue to provide the free image files, or start charging them like a wedding / portrait client? Perhaps putting them on a pro-sharing site, for review and access. And allow them to purchase a hard copy picture or a file. If they like the picture enough. It also gives them a chance to see the pictures of others friends, bands, scenery, etc. It is not specifically a photo shoot of an individual.


It is better to continue my friendships and not cause ill will and hope that people may provide referrals for my wedding & portrait business.


I am devaluing my work by providing free picture. People are less likely to see me as a professional.


People may be disappointed when they are unable to get what they have been previously getting for free.


Possible oppoortunity to market my talents to those who see the pictures. Or not.

What should I do?

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