Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

Started Jul 5, 2011 | Discussions
jjsterling Forum Member • Posts: 52
Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

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.

Thoughts:
1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

What should I do?

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28to70 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,040
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?
  1. 1. Just hope that whoever they refer to you won't expect free pictures!

lightp8nter Contributing Member • Posts: 865
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

Send everyone an inaugural business launching invitation. Included a rate card and a coupon for a package. Include a special note saying how much you look forward to booking their next event.

Nothing brings clarity to a situation like a price sheet or price quote.

Good luck.
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Vegasluvr Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

I have a freind who is a medical doctor. Do I expect her to give me free services? NO. I have a friend who is a plumber. Do I expect him to repair my plumbing for free? NO. I have a friend who is a contractor. Do I expect her to build me a patio or put up drywall for me for free? NO.

I have friends in professional sports and in Hollywood (movie stars). Yes, I hob nob with them but I never ask for any special favors nor do they. I have shot some Christmas photos for many sports celebrities and movie celebrities but, come on, how hard is it to take a great Christmas picture - maybe 5 minutes? So why should I charge my friends for this simple act of shooting a photograph?

If you are a professional, you have to understand that as a professional they have expenses too.

When one is first starting out and testing new equipment, I can see doing freebies here and there. But once you are established, you can offer a discount like cost plus 2% or just on a cost basis only.

Here is a good example. I shot a sport celebrities wedding. Usually I charge about $8,000 for the type of photos they wanted but I only only charged them my cost and considered the rest their wedding gift. They were happy and pleased with the results. They later sent me a very nice Christmas gift to let me know if their gratefulness of the wedding photos.

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Scott G Spellman Senior Member • Posts: 2,047
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

First, you cannot provide a valuable and rare service at no cost. When you bring your camera everywhere, people will have no reason to pay you to be there. Even I use a P&S for friends photos, and bring the big camera when hired.

Second, your friends can be very valuable sources of business. You do not need to radically change what you are doing to get referals for paying work. Just be upfront for costs for new clients and provide price info on your website and FB.

Third, build your photo fullfilment on Facebook as a free tool to spread photos of events with your LOGO ON EACH PHOTO. FB is the quickest free referal tool anywhere, but make sure they all have your logo. Friends can get photos with no additional effort from you, and you can host your portfolio on their to atract new business.

-Scott

ABA DABA Veteran Member • Posts: 3,084
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

One question, what is your age and how long have you attempting build your business?
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ABA DABA

Michael Thomas Mitchell Forum Pro • Posts: 11,678
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.

Thoughts:
1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

What should I do?

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Andrew Veteran Member • Posts: 4,486
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

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.

Would you consider not taking your camera? I never take a camera to parties, social events etc. Partially for that very reason. If you dont want to work for free for your friends, train them that you wont be working. To them its not work, its you having fun, with your camera, like you always have, and now you want money from them? "hey where's your camera?"... "oh, forgot it" or " I only photograph for money now"

Thoughts:
1

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

Just facebook them and let them down load it if you are taking the photos for fun as a social participant

2

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

Yeah, your friends wont respect your business untill you quit your day job and charge them full fees, then most of them will suddenly turn off your work (sounds harsh but its true, its not you, its not them, its just how it is) By taking pics at these events etc like you always did when you were amateur, means they wont see any difference.

3

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

Yeah. It wont kill them though, they will likely be just as happy with someone elses iphone snaps. (not to say your pics are bad, just that they may not care enough to pay for what is better)

4

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

If you can show something that is extraordinarily more appealling than what everybody else is doing, yeah, maybe, if there is a market for it, social fun outings usually dont lend themselves to such opportunities that I know of. Having a bunch of business cards would be a better idea, for when you meet someone new.

What should I do?

separate your pro photography from hanging out with your friends. Dont push your services onto them, some of your friends might not be your photography clients. Consider leaving the dslr at home when on social occaisions. or just do what a normal person would do with those pics, whether that is post them on facebook, let them rot on your harddrive, email a low res of what they want, whatever is easy and fun for you.

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Andrew Veteran Member • Posts: 4,486
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

Nothing would get you off their invite list faster either.. I would do that if I suspected they wanted good photos more than just hanging out with me though.

TonyGamble Veteran Member • Posts: 3,002
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

If I have a good shot, or two, of a friend I give them A5 prints. They know I am a pro and often offer to pay. I refuse to accept payment saying that it is a poor thing if I cannot give something to my chums.

If I am asked for a print by a friend I say that I normally charge £x but if they are prepared to wait I always have a bit of spare (paper) space on a printing run and I can drop their image into it at no cost.

In that way they know the image has a cost but they are getting it for nothing

People I don't rate as friends get charged - likewise when I am asked to cover an event and lots of people will want prints (even including friends).

Tony

chris1humphreys Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

If you're out with your mates enjoying a party and taking photos you can't expect to charge them for it.

If I mentioned that to my mates I'd have to wait 5 minutes for them to stop rolling around on the floor laughing before getting up and saying 'oh...you were serious?!'

DenWil
DenWil Veteran Member • Posts: 3,338
Nope. Work is work.

I do not know a professional photographer who schleps along equipment to social events as a guest or spectator. Personally I never take a camera anywhere unless it is to service the business.

You have a choice to make. You can watch the other people or you can be the other people. Do you want to be seen as a professional or as everyone's buddy who serves the need of the group- like the guy who always tends bar or always plays the piano?

cajuncc Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

If you're asked to shoot photos for an event and there are expectations of what you'll capture, then you need to be getting paid, regardless of who it is.

If, on the other hand, you're shooting for fun, then why wouldn't you want to share the results? If someone wants a print, ask 'em for a couple bucks to cover costs or give then a full-size jpeg and they can get it printed themselves.

I don't see that social stuff as having anything to do with your business.

happypoppeye
happypoppeye Veteran Member • Posts: 3,894
Whats more important to you? Friends or money.

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.

Sure, I would give then to them and often do. Their freinds and your out socializing. Now, if one of them asks you to do a wedding for free, thats a different story.

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.

You could put up semi reasonable sizes so they can print off the web.

Thoughts:
1

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

Up to you - what is more important to you, friends? or money?

2

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

but ...only your friends, correct? Which shouldn't really hurt your business, especially if your just out having fun with them and taking pics while your there. If one asks for you to be an official event photographer or such, thats when you explain the situation to them. I don't see you devaluing your work, I see you as a person who genuinely cares for the people he hangs out with. If they start asking for albums and prints and such, well sure, let them pay.

3

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

4

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

What should I do?

Decide what is more imortant to you - Friends? or money? Than take that decision and use common sense when dealing with your friends.

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Suse B Regular Member • Posts: 371
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

There are not much truer words than what you wrote Michael
suse

Paul in Toronto Junior Member • Posts: 28
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

I know quite a few dentists who offer free services to family and close friends. I can't see your business overhead as a pro photographer being any higher than a fully staffed and equipped dental office, so you could probably do the same for your friends and family without seeing too big a hit in terms of revenue.

Professionals in all kinds of fields do the same thing. Go ahead.

If nothing else, if your work is good, it'd serve as free advertising. Word of mouth is great.

calson Veteran Member • Posts: 9,016
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

The only way I have found to make money with event photography was by charging a fee up front that included the license rights to the images for 1 year. Otherwise you are really doing this as a hobby and I see little reason to charge your friends.

You can use a photo printing site to make it easy for people to select an image and pay for it to be printed and mailed to them. I do this as I don't want to take an hour to print a picture and put it in the mail which means out of pocket cost of an hour plus $5 for the print, ink, envelope, and postage.

Gnome Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

If I am on a job, I'm working and the images belong to the client. I don't care if I have a shot of my best friend chatting up the President, the images belong to the client.

If I'm at a social event as a guest, I leave my cameras at the office. I don't have to take a camera everywhere I go. I don't want to burdened with a D3 hung around my neck. I want to talk to friends, eat and drink. Now I might have a little P&S in my pocket but if so I'm just in "guy with a camera" mode taking snapshots, then yeah I might email them out.

But, I don’t feel obligated to do it.

I think your problem harkens back to the issue of giving away photos. Once someone does that, they have established the value of their photos to the receiving customer. “Last year you gave me photos, now you want to charge? Some friend you are.”

owenleve
owenleve Senior Member • Posts: 2,762
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

go back to using your p&s camera and shoot photos for fun, and nothing more. People will ask you why you aren't shooting with your 'real' camera. Tell them it's due to the wear and tear on your gear and time editing, etc.. You just want to have fun like everyone else.

Not sure why you are taking so many photos of your friends in the first place. Nice of you, but to turn around and ask/expect money... You are going to look like a cheap you-know what... Right or wrong, it's just how it will come off.

As for devaluing your work. Have you had one single person hook you up with work from your random free photos so far???
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Mario Taormina New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Professional Photographers - Free pics for friends?

I don't have a problem informally shooting for friends or family members in a casual situation. However, most of them know that I make my living in this business and they would never expect me to cover an event or do a sitting for free. When I'm not "on the clock" I shoot what I feel like. Often it is candid shots of friends. Yes, I will oblige if someone asks me to take a shot and I'll also email a low res if they ask for it. Often, I will mark and print a candid and gift it to the person or people in the shot. Friends are friends and family is family. This is true unless you work for them. Then you are ALWAYS an employee.
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