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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Charging for unplanned shots?
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04/19/2006 05:36:31 PM · #1
I volunteered to take some photos at church to use in a powerpoint presentation duing our Easter Play. The pastor wanted shots of some of our actors in costume on the set.

One family had the whole family in the play, dad mom and little girl. They asked if I would take a shot of them, so I said sure. (Not used in the slide show, as all of them had the Jesus actor in them.) I told the mom that the pastor had my email address to get in touch with me.

I thought the shots turned out well and today got an email from her asking me to send her the shots. I put lower res shots with my copyright on my PBase gallery, and sent her an email directing her to them. I told her she was certainly free to share the site with family and friends so that they could see the shots and if anyone wanted to order prints, I sent her the print prices (very reasonable.)

My question: since I was volunteering to do the photos for the church, do you think charging that family for their family prints is okay? I haven't heard back from her yet, but I was curious. I didn't even charge much, but I wanted to start getting across to my "aphere of influence" (as we Realtors call them) that I do generally charge for my photography now, when it's requested by people. For what it's worth, I didn't even know this particular family at the church.

What do you think? Should I have just given them the print files?

HERE is a link to the main shot.
04/19/2006 05:44:13 PM · #2
Great shot!!! I'd certainly be willing to PAY for it, and don't think I'd expect it for free.

It's been years since I did any photography for pay, but when I did it was always understood that "extras" would incur an additional charge. After all, you should be compensated for your expertise (and you appear to have a LOT of it!).

04/19/2006 05:45:46 PM · #3
I think you are perfectly reasonable. You did donate your time to the church and give them the images to use. The fact that the family or families also want shots is beyond the scope of what you agreed to. I would let them know that you are a professional or semi-pro photographer and explaine to them the cost involved in making images. (time, your talent, prints, equipment ware) You may want to butter up your sales pitch and include something extra if they purchase any prints, Like a free 5 x 7 or extra wallets. This won't break you budget at all, and will make them feel better.

Kevin Russo -Photographer
04/19/2006 05:48:00 PM · #4
I don't see any reason you can't charge to make prints, even to the church.

However, you should contact the people in the picture and discuss with them too. And be sure to get releases signed, no matter what you determine.

-Rick
04/19/2006 05:52:19 PM · #5
Hey, Doctor, I know this is a family picnic, but I hav this abscess on my ass, could you look at it? (for free)

Hmm...no, he won't.

You got a lawyer at church? What about free legal advice, you know, at intermission on the play. What? He won't do it?

Yep. That's the way it works.

You go to the little league game and the other parents approach you for pics...all free? Nope.


04/19/2006 05:56:50 PM · #6
I did something like this once- I was gonna put them on my website and charge them normal rates. I thought about it and decided I could spare the $5.00 and make some nice prints for two families. I got three jobs out of it.
Sometimes it's better to give away some 'freebies' especially at functions like this- a church one. You keep your "aphere of influence" by the way you present your materials and yourself. All my prints were in nice envalopes with my business name/ logo printed on it. One of the family members was a caterer and will be calling me again and again.

Not to say you aren't being reasonable! Perfectly reasonable to do what you did, just an idea to think about. :0)
04/19/2006 06:04:38 PM · #7
Is photography how you make your living? If it is, then it is completely unreasonable for them to think you were doing this for free.

Unfortunately, part of the problem with being an amatuer trying to go pro is everyone wants you to take pictures for them because you're good, but nobody wants to pay you for it. What I've started doing is giving people one 4x5. I make sure to sign the back with a copyright symbol. If they want more prints, then they can pay me for it. I've had one person complain that I charge more for the prints than it costs me to make them (I go to Costco). That's when I explain about my time, the wear and tear on my camera, and the fact that I'm basically working for less than minimum wage. That shut them up.
04/19/2006 06:04:41 PM · #8
Originally posted by oOWonderBreadOo:

I did something like this once- I was gonna put them on my website and charge them normal rates. I thought about it and decided I could spare the $5.00 and make some nice prints for two families. I got three jobs out of it.
Sometimes it's better to give away some 'freebies' especially at functions like this- a church one. You keep your "aphere of influence" by the way you present your materials and yourself. All my prints were in nice envalopes with my business name/ logo printed on it. One of the family members was a caterer and will be calling me again and again.

Not to say you aren't being reasonable! Perfectly reasonable to do what you did, just an idea to think about. :0)


I thought about that. I should have added that I have done several "freebies" for church folks. One as a wedding present, some maternity shots, and of course all actual church related photos (of the building etc. for the brochure, slides for power point etc.) How do you know when it's time to be compensated?

Thanks for the responses. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has encountered this at a variety of events. I also do have a business card, but it was a rehersal and we were rushed, so I didn't have time to grab one and give it to them.
04/19/2006 06:07:29 PM · #9
well- I wouldn't do a shoot for free, but it was the same case as yours that time- the kids were there, snapped a few off & gave them to the families later :0)
04/19/2006 06:19:05 PM · #10
She has already emailed me back with her print order (two 5x7's), so I guess it wasn't a big deal. :)

So hard to put a value on a talent or skill like that IMO. It's not a lot of money, but every little bit helps.

04/19/2006 06:23:46 PM · #11
Repeat after me: I do not work for free.

I would include the church in that. Can you claim the free work you do for them on your taxes? No. You can't. You might be able to claim any expenses, but you can't claim your labor. Even if you turn around and give all the money back as a donation, they need to pay you.


Message edited by author 2006-04-19 18:28:14.
04/19/2006 06:50:42 PM · #12
Originally posted by jpochard:



My question: since I was volunteering to do the photos for the church, do you think charging that family for their family prints is okay? I haven't heard back from her yet, but I was curious. I didn't even charge much, but I wanted to start getting across to my "aphere of influence" (as we Realtors call them) that I do generally charge for my photography now, when it's requested by people. For what it's worth, I didn't even know this particular family at the church.

What do you think? Should I have just given them the print files?



Well, let me ask you this. Would you charge your brother or sister or relatives for that shot? If it was just a family who asked if you could take a shot that'd be one thing. But as you offered to shoot for the church play. And the family was in the play and asked if they could get one of the whole family. IMHO, you should have said "No" or straight up front told them you'll have to charge.

Now you've created a situation where you are going to damage your reputation and relationships for what... a measly few dollars?

Sounds foolish to me...

Scripture is clear about paying a workman his wages, but from the sound of it you weren't acting in the role of a workman. But as a member of the church.

You'll get a lot of answers and I think most of them will be worldly...all about the $$$ and your right and just due. Then again, as I recall, Christ put his himself in the place of a servant and washed the feet of his disciples.

I think you'd be much better off giving them the copy of the best shot. Then telling them if they ever wanted more family photos to let you know and you guys could work something out and you'd be sure to charge them a really reasonable rate. Then you go from ostracizing your fellow congregation members to potentially building your client base.

*shrug*

Just my feelings....

Well I see things are somewhat resolved. In the future I'd be up front on costs.

04/19/2006 07:08:03 PM · #13
It is a beautiful shot, and certainly worth payment.

However, because of the situation, it seems that they were expecting a favor from one church member to another, NOT a sales pitch.

I feel that you were misleading them, even if it wasn't intentionally. I agree with theSaj - the terms of business should have been clear from the start, not AFTER they were thrilled to get a lovely photo of a special occasion.
04/19/2006 07:11:41 PM · #14
Give them to the church, it would be a great tithe.
04/19/2006 07:40:18 PM · #15
Just to be clear, all the photography work I do specifically for the church is free. I've done photos for childrens programs, Bible school, brochures etc. I don't have a bit of problem with that and I have no intentions of charging for my time and talent there. I am most grateful for that opportunity to serve using my photography. I even have let the youth pastor know that anytime he has senior whose family may really be in a financial bind to call me and see about setting them up with some senior portraits free of charge (well, they pay only for whatever prints they want at cost.)

I also told the family that they would be free to do whatever they wanted with the file I uploaded to the pbase site. I did tell them that if they wanted higher resolution prints, that I would provide those for them and gave them the price.

I can see from the difference of opinions here there certainly could be several ways to handle the situation. The 5x7's I charged them $10 a piece for.

What I have learned from this, although it has not been an issue with the family, is that whenever I'm taking photos, I will have my business cards right there with me. If someone wants and "extra", I'll take it, hand them my business card and explain that if they email me I will send them information about how to see the online shot, as well as the pricing and how to order prints. I'm not against charging, but I don't want a misunderstanding as well.
04/28/2006 03:26:33 PM · #16
Originally posted by jpochard:

What I have learned from this, although it has not been an issue with the family, is that whenever I'm taking photos, I will have my business cards right there with me. If someone wants and "extra", I'll take it, hand them my business card and explain that if they email me I will send them information about how to see the online shot, as well as the pricing and how to order prints. I'm not against charging, but I don't want a misunderstanding as well.

This sounds like an excellent method of promoting your (for-profit) business while not seeming greedy. Telling them "yeah, I'll take your picture, but it'll cost ya" up front, before even taking the picture, will put a bad taste in their mouths. Saying nothing about a charge until after they have been teased with the low-res picture is also bad business (I realize you were just caught unprepared this time). The plan you stated above is a perfect way to do it -- you're happy to take the picture, and oh yeah, if you want a professional copy of it it, here are my rates.
04/28/2006 03:40:19 PM · #17
I think in this situation I would have asked them to pay my cost, including any shipping, for the printing. It's a documentary shot that was specific to the location; they wouldn't come to your studio in costume, probably, and as thus, it was tied very closely to the event that you offered to shoot for free. They did not ask you to do anything that added to your travel or workload - you were there shooting anyway.

I hope this doesn't sound harsh - goodness knows I don't mean it that way. It might be appropriate to approach the family and say "I've reconsidered my charges, and I would like to refund you everything except my costs."

That's me. There's nothing WRONG with what you've done, I don't think, but you might win some customers by taking the "giveaway" approach.
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