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05/07/2007 05:09:21 PM · #1
OK, all of us face it from time to time.

"You're a photographer, how much would you charge ME to shoot a wedding?"

I got one of these today. I dealt with it by "overquoting" and then offering to shoot it for less. I did got a little, but not much, under my normal price, because it was a friend, but I don't do many freebie or extreme discount weddings anymore, mostly because I hate weddings to start. I don't necessarily hate shooting them, I hate PPing them.

I thought it would be fun to ask other working photogs how they deal with friends, family or acquaintances that want freebies or extreme discounts?
05/07/2007 05:20:16 PM · #2
The way I feel about it is - no matter who they are your time is valuable. How much to discount? I guess that depends on how close you are. If you were to buy them a gift for their wedding how much would you spend? Can they ever return the favor by providing you with something they do?

Don't sell yourself short or it will just create bad blood all around in the end.
05/07/2007 05:22:48 PM · #3
Originally posted by Megatherian:

If you were to buy them a gift for their wedding how much would you spend? Can they ever return the favor by providing you with something they do?


That's pretty much how I think about it.
05/07/2007 05:30:41 PM · #4
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

OK, all of us face it from time to time.

"You're a photographer, how much would you charge ME to shoot a wedding?"

I got one of these today. I dealt with it by "overquoting" and then offering to shoot it for less. I did got a little, but not much, under my normal price, because it was a friend, but I don't do many freebie or extreme discount weddings anymore, mostly because I hate weddings to start. I don't necessarily hate shooting them, I hate PPing them.

I thought it would be fun to ask other working photogs how they deal with friends, family or acquaintances that want freebies or extreme discounts?


i had one of these recently and I need to get a backbone. These people that I know through someone else wanted me to do their wedding. I said, i will do it cheaper because i kinda know you, so after 2 hours of talking to them about what they wanted and expected I asked what their budget was. To my suprise they said $500 and to my bigger suprise I said yes without even flinching. I can remember sitting there and thinking NOoooooooo did i just say yes??
Well, I did their wedding at the quoted price. I was there for 9 hours, and handed over discs with all images and a dvd story. Major lesson learnt there for me. I hope people do quote properly and not just quote cause you know them. It is a majorly hard day with weeks later to process and they would expect the same job from me if I had charged them $2000.
05/07/2007 05:38:52 PM · #5
Just tell them since you don't work for enemy's you consider all your customers to be a friends to some degree and if you dicounted for all your friends you'd be homeless.
05/07/2007 05:54:35 PM · #6
$20,000.

Then hire a Pro for about $5,000 and keep the change.
05/07/2007 08:34:19 PM · #7
Originally posted by lentil:

i had one of these recently and I need to get a backbone. These people that I know through someone else wanted me to do their wedding. I said, i will do it cheaper because i kinda know you, so after 2 hours of talking to them about what they wanted and expected I asked what their budget was. To my suprise they said $500 and to my bigger suprise I said yes without even flinching. I can remember sitting there and thinking NOoooooooo did i just say yes??
Well, I did their wedding at the quoted price. I was there for 9 hours, and handed over discs with all images and a dvd story. Major lesson learnt there for me. I hope people do quote properly and not just quote cause you know them. It is a majorly hard day with weeks later to process and they would expect the same job from me if I had charged them $2000.

Ouch.
05/07/2007 08:52:33 PM · #8
Originally posted by Nullix:

$20,000.

Then hire a Pro for about $5,000 and keep the change.

Now there's a good solution. You could even be generous and buy them a nice wedding present. ;)

05/07/2007 09:08:13 PM · #9
Oh don't get me started! ...too late...

Not photography, but web development business - same dynamics though - my absolute WORST clients are friends & family. Not only do I discount heavily, but for some stupid reason I even feel guilty about charging some of them at all and the only clients I have had that defaulted on final or subsequent payments are friends / acquaintances. One was the Pastor at the church we used to go to. Yeah, exactly.

The only issues I have had with Family is that they sometimes expect endless and instant technical support.

As much as I try not to do it, I still find myself not being able to say no either. I am currently doing 2 websites for my neighbor in trade for landscaping services and I know I am going to feel weird about trading my 40 hours or so on the mouse and keyboard for his 60 hours or so of back-breaking labor in my yard, but I'll get over it. :)
05/07/2007 09:29:04 PM · #10
Not for anyone. Not even myself. I charge MYSELF for regular portrait sessions for my kids and family and treat the time for it exactly the same (though, mostly I do that because if I dont schedule it like business it just never happens).

I've lost friends over invitations to visit that are conditional upon camera usage issue. I dont attend weddings anymore unless I'm in the wedding party (Your invited to your cousins neighbors sisters boyfriends brothers wedding and if you take any pics, we wont argue), dont use friends kids as models (Hey, have you processed those pics of Eli with the Apple yet? I'm DYING to see how they came out and get copies), and bring my really old A70 to things like Karate Graduations (Hey, since your the fancy photo-graffff-er can you take a picture of my kid and email it to me?) and have gotten really good at my "I will not be bringing the camera" and "Its a flat $85 sitting fee" speil.

I almost put myself out of business being too nice. Never again. I'm downright witchy about it now.
05/07/2007 10:18:28 PM · #11
Originally posted by notesinstones:


I almost put myself out of business being too nice. Never again. I'm downright witchy about it now.


You should teach classes to us suckers :-D
05/07/2007 10:23:47 PM · #12
for my family I shoot the wedding free and only pp the images they are buying prints of. otherwise no discount
05/07/2007 10:59:07 PM · #13
I know of a distantly of a woman who was in the habit of not discounting anything for her friends or family. It wasn't photography, but it was a retail type business. When her new sister-in-law started buying from her, she explained, "it is a business. I can't give you a discount because I am trying to make a livelihood here."

Fast forward several weeks. The businesswoman, in the heat of the summer, had her air conditioner go out. No problem, her brother was a repairman, and had always helped her out before. She called, he came and fixed the AC. As he was leaving, he handed her a bill for $600. "What? You've never charged me before?"

His reply? "It is a business. I can't give you a discount because I am trying to make a livelihood here."

Moral of the story? Don't be too hard and fast about family members. (I'm not talking about great Aunt Hilda's second cousin's Suzy's brother-in-law Edgar's mother's friend's third cousin by marriage, I'm talking mom/dad/brother/sister/close cousins, etc.). Do to them what you would want them to do for you. Friends? maybe, depending on the relationship.

The flip side to remember though, is whatever you charge them the first time, they will want forever.
05/07/2007 11:10:38 PM · #14
Originally posted by karmat:

great Aunt Hilda's second cousin's Suzy's brother-in-law Edgar's mother's friend's third cousin by marriage


Like, OMG! You and I are related through her!
05/07/2007 11:38:44 PM · #15
I just shoot ONE friends and family wedding a year, free. I ditch the duds, do simple PP on the rest, and give them the disc. They all know that it's my policy, and it limits the problem for me, and allows me to do something for ones who don't have the cash to pay $2K for a pro.
05/07/2007 11:44:49 PM · #16
Often friends and family, especially if they knew you before you became a famous, well, paid/professional photographer, don't consider you as the same as a 'real pro' they don't know.

You used to shoot for free at some point and now don't.

Is it a respect thing? To a degree, yes.

There are two schools of thought on this - one is never shoot friends and family. Make it a policy not to do it. Make friends with another photog and trade off the work. Doctors and lawyers do it!

Give a discount, but give them an invoice with the full regular amount, then a discount marked on there in bold and the bottom line. Let them know the discount they got. Anyone you give a discount to, mark it as such.

I know the urge to shoot cheap...I do it once in a while on purpose (sorta) and get cornered into it at times too. I turned down a wedding today that would have been money in my pocket, no album. A year ago I might have taken it at that price. I am still wondering if I should call her back...but one can't move upmarket or make a living if they're forever working for whatever they can get.
05/08/2007 12:04:37 AM · #17
I won't shoot anyone's wedding for free, but I'm willing to trade for it. Lots of my friends have businesses that offer a variety of goods and services that I want or need.
05/08/2007 12:15:37 AM · #18
There's a difference between being invited and being hired, and one should never be both at the same event. For my friends and family, who have asked, I've told them that (1) I would prefer to participate in and enjoy the even rather than work, and (2) I would like them to continue speaking to me when it's over. Simply put, I don't work for family. If I bring my camera it's for fun, and any prints or online galleries I do are on my terms. Seriously, I'd rather hang out with grandma and the cousins and everyone I haven't seen in years than miss out on the fun when I have to work.
05/08/2007 01:41:14 AM · #19
And it's not only the discounts you give to friends/family... once they know what you're capable of in Photoshop they'll ask for all kinds of tedious things like "Can you just remove my double chin and get rid of that little bit of flab under my arm?" They think that Photoshop has some miraculous tool that instantly takes 20 pounds off them, and don't understand the amount of time it takes to liquify, clone, heal, etc.
05/08/2007 01:55:20 AM · #20
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:


You should teach classes to us suckers :-D


Being nice and wanting to share your passion doesnt make you a sucker. I just have opportunistic friends and too much family guilt. Plus - I'm really just cantankerous beyond my years. lol :)

Message edited by author 2007-05-08 02:01:14.
05/08/2007 02:07:13 AM · #21
I don't have a problem giving some friends/family a discount but I really worry that their friends and family will expect that same discount.

Message edited by author 2007-05-08 02:07:26.
05/08/2007 02:46:02 AM · #22
My case was extreme - I dont think very many people would end up over-extending themselves to friends/fam the way I did. *I* let it get that far. I was spending all my "bookable" time at personal events. It took me nearly closing up the camera for good and focusing on the paintbrush before I actually looked hard and found that I spent 80% working on friends/fam stuff. I was working my tail off and not getting ahead. Even after I saw what it was doing to my biz it still took a long time for me to get some backbone.

I still give my services close to free to any single mom, or teen-mom (because I know how much harder they work at being mom in the first place) and I barter all the time.

I got some brass the day I brought all 4 of my kids to the playground and one woman I knew there saw me come in with the camera and called all her friends. In less than a half an hour 10 grumpy, rosy-scrubbed kids were being encouraged to play in front of me and I already had my hands full trying to keep an eye on my own swarm of small people - and none of these parents came over to chat, ask for a photo... nothing. When the camera went up (it was aimed at one of my own) and the mom of the kid closest to me ran over and asked "So do you think you could email that to me right away when you get home?" - I just exploded.

Im one of those quiet, non-combative people who doesnt snap well when I get to that point. I WAY over did it asserting myself that day, especially since these people all thought free shoots at the playground was just something I DID as a service (or for practice) after doing one nice favor for a parent once and I had never set anyone straight because - I didnt know how to say "No. Heres my card, call me for a sitting".

Figured I'd pipe up incase anyone else is a big wimp like me who has gotten themselves in over their heads. :)
05/08/2007 02:58:23 AM · #23
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Give a discount, but give them an invoice with the full regular amount, then a discount marked on there in bold and the bottom line. Let them know the discount they got. Anyone you give a discount to, mark it as such.

I use this same approach when billing worthy non-profits.
05/11/2007 02:35:47 PM · #24
I no longer shoot free for friends. I had a situation when a friend of mine was getting married and asked me to shoot her wedding for free. I agreed with only stipulation that she would pay for a hotel, the wedding was out of town. Initially she agreed and you would think she would have been happy, but a couple of months before the wedding she became a true bride-zilla and told me that others do things for her for free and I should do as well. The situation got out of hand and I had to back out. They had to hire a "pro" and pay $$.

I also used to take pics of friend's kids and really did not mind it, until she started to call and ask if the pictures were ready yet, as if she paid for them.

I would shoot for free only for my parents. As far as everyone else is concerned I would do it for a discounted price, since time is money and I have to cover my expenses as well, or trade it for services they can offer.

I completely agree with Prof_Fate:

Give a discount, but give them an invoice with the full regular amount, then a discount marked on there in bold and the bottom line. Let them know the discount they got. Anyone you give a discount to, mark it as such.


People do not value free things.
05/11/2007 02:59:32 PM · #25
I did a wedding for my son-in-law to be - his sister was getting married - would I do it and how much would I charge. I said I would do it for no fee but if they supplied me with a few drinks at the evening reception that would be ok. I shot both film and digital, my son's girlfriend at the time worked in a high street photo development shop. She produced sheets of proof prints and we handed them over.
1. They never bought me a single drink!
2. When they asked how much the prints were and I told them they said thats a bit expensive! - It cost them about £200 for 4 sets of prints - around 150-200.
3. My sons girlfriend did not make a penny - in fact I gave her some money for doing it!
4. It took me hours and hours of pc work.
5. I was asked last year if I could photograph a friend of theirs wedding - NO!
6. The brides mum was so embarrased she gave me £50 which I refused for several months until one day it was thrust into my hand.

I must admit I did enjoy my day and I learned a lot - so the experience was great.

My daughter is getting married on 16th June - my wife has told me that if I buy 'them' so much as a coke I will be in deep dodo.

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