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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:08 pm 
Hi guys,

I'm relatively new to the world of DSLR photography (only 2 years in) but, without sounding arrogant, I'm already getting encouraging praise and recognition for my photos both among friends and online.

I recently took photos of a friend's wedding which surpassed the official wedding photographer's and now, the groom's family, and many friends are asking for copies of the 100 or so pics I took and edited from the day.

Then, earlier today, a friend asked me to come round and some point and take photos of her children in a semi-pro fashion so she can have some proper portraits of them.

Now, I want to get to the point where a nice percentage of my annual income comes from my photography (say 5-10%).

So, do I charge friends for my time and effort, or should they get the work for free in the hope they spread the word?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:20 am 
Only if you want to get the reputation of being the guy who takes photos for free and only if you're happy about never being able to charge your friends/family for photos again!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:35 am 
Hi Olly,

if you always do it for free, you will have many many clients in no time. If you charge friends - everyone - something, only those who understand, appreciate and VALUE good - even great - pictures as part of their history and future, will seek you out.

If you are good enough, there will be those who will pay for it. Most "civilians" are not used to pay for photography services and they will probably be reluctant to pay large amounts for birthdays, family events, family portraits, couple-shots..that sort of thing.

However, there is a balance to be found somewhere. You should only try to command larger amounts if you are CONFIDENT that you can deliver professional results EVERY SINGLE TIME. But, I'd advise against doing it for free as well.

To be quite honest, chances are that the amounts you can successfully charge and BUILD business upon, will be so modest - for the first couple of years - that you might make more money working as a dishwasher, if you count every single hour and minute you spend on it.

Nothing beats experience. You can be - inherently - the most talented photographer on this planet, but until you have the experience in the full range of aspects of the photography-business, you should remain cautious of over extending.

Most people start with only what they are comfortable with - say portraits of pretty young people, outdoors, on a well-lit summer's day. If you are successful with those types of images, you will draw others to you with marketing, word-of-mouth and website presence and advertising.

Then, one day, a mature, overweight couple with bad skin, will show up with their mangy unkempt dog and want you to take the same kind of pictures of them on a rainy overcast day, somewhere where there are overflowing dumpsters full of dead pig carcasses as a background. Unless you know exactly how many flashes and what settings to you to make them look good, how to pose them and what to tell them to get comfortable, you are still a novice :-) Prepare to be a novice for several years, until you have situations like these - and many others - covered by "recipes" that you know by heart.

OK, I have perhaps exaggerated for dramatic effect and entertainment purposes, but the principle is sound.

So yes, do demand payment for services, but be conscious of your limitations and charge accordingly if you want to continue to grow. If you max out all profit potential from day 1, you better be damn good under a huge variety of circumstances. Then, build from there.

Good luck!

Cheers :-)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:59 pm
Posts: 6009
Location: The Netherlands
I'm kind of in the same boat, and I agree with LahLahSr. People in general are VERY reluctant to pay for pictures by themselves, let alone friends/relatives. If you were to charge something, charge them for the time you spent, not for the pictures afterwards.
If they call you a scrooge, don't be afraid to mention the total cost of your kit, and your current profit from your photography (mine is at -4000 euros and yes, that's a negative).

I take pictures so quickly, my highschool was "Continuous High".

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:49 pm 
with friends definitely never ask for money, but tell them to put your name or link to your site everywhere they put your photo (facebook, twitter..). That's gonna spread the word quite well (believe me, i know). but if you take photos of a friends child, you need to have something out of it. take your time and spend at least 2 hours shooting the kids, after that she will almost certainly ask about how much you're gonna cost.. It will eventually come up. If it won't, then mention it!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:55 pm 
I agree with lahlahsr, and I still have the image of the old fat couple with the dead pigs around (I better not get a nightmare out of this image).

You can always explain to your friends the reason for the fees, equipment cost and of course time. Or you could ask them to take a picture with your camera (change the settings so it's the worst picture ever). If you do charge your friends make sure to give them a friendly price (let them know about it).

Let us know on your choice... or ask more questions... Lahlahsr is a great advisor (and he's doing it for free) :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:36 pm 
A year or two ago I used to do portrait shoots of friends for free. In fact it cost me in time, printing paper,ink and all the other stuff that goes along with it. Only a couple ever offered even to buy me a drink let alone pay a small fee. You might guess I was never short of people wanting a set of nice pics for themselves and their families.
Eventually I put the pics on CDs and if they wanted prints it was up to them to print them or take them to a photo-store to have them done. You should have heard the moaning when they realised how much these places charge for a set of A4 size prints.
I now charge enough to cover my costs and a little over but even then I get few requests for photo sessions now. People just don't want to pay for what they think they can do themselves for nothing. They tend not to show me their photos though :wink:
I think they may have some quality issues!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:24 am 
Many thanks for the replies chaps. Especially Lahlahsr!

I seem to get two arguments. One is that you should provide the service to friends for free in the hope they spread the word and you can then charge 'strangers'. The flip side is that I can only imagine doing work for close friends in the near-ish future, so if I adopt that approach, I'll never make a penny over the coming months and beyond, and for that reason some say I should charge friends in order to avoid being seen as a soft touch.

I wouldn't get the pictures printed, I'd only hand over a CD of the images - as I know how expensive printing can be.

I was thinking of charging £50 ($70) for the work. This would include about an hour or two of shooting, and then the time to touch up and tweak the images.

Does that sound reasonable?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:49 am 
True friends will understand, and working for free is slavery or volunteering.
The CD proposal is excellent... don't forget to add your watermark.
Maybe you can ask your friends to help you to start your career, like distributing flyers, or creating a killer website... or friends that have bars so you can expose some of your work... best of luck Olly, can we see some of your shots ...

A trick I've done last week at the dentiste, I noticed the dental clinic has no posters or photo frames... just bare walls. When I was waiting in the chair (not the same comfort as a business class seat on BA) I had my iphone in my hand to turn it off (didn't need something else to vibrate during my wisdom tooth extraction). Anyway she the dentiste saw my wallpaper (photo I took) on the phone and liked it very much, and I proposed to print her a copy in exchange of her services (she a dentiste with a beautiful laugh and smile). So on Wednesday I,m going back to see her to show other shots with my ipad.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:52 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Scotland
Another option you have is if they want a single copy of a shot for free then you want all the rights to the pictures you take so that you can use them for any publicity you choose and to sell on to any stock library, magazine or anywhere else.

That way your friends get one good quality photo and you get to build a portfolio you can potentially make money from at a later date.

Nikon D90
Nikkor AF-S DX; 18-105 f/3.5-5.6G VR, 55-300 f/4.5-5.6G VR, 35mm f/1.8G
Speedlight SB-700

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:53 am 
I'm having a hard time finding the right words to get my point accross, but here it goes: It's a bad idea working for free for others.It will probably end up being as time-consuming as a paid gig,and you are potentially losing paying clients at the same time ("What?You're expecting me to pay?You did it for free for this other guy!").

On the other hand, if you have a cool project in mind that you totally want in your portfolio, you could ask some of your friends/acquaintances to model it. In the very end, they are the same thing (working for free), but there are two key advantages: for one thing, you are in control of the situation. You know exactly what kind of pictures you want and how to get them. For the other, you could have projects in your portfolio that no regular client would pay for, but could get you hired other photographer has a comparable portfolio

For example, Chase Jarvis had this cool ninja-themed project in his mind. So he went out and hired a crew of stuntmen and a warehouse,all payed out of his pocket. As not many photographers have ninja pictures in their portfolios, chances are that, if a company wants an ad for their awesome-ninja-postal-delivery service, they will end up hiring Chase Jarvis.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:54 pm 
Well said Timmy, I agree with you

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:59 pm 
Thanks again chaps.

Well, I wrote back saying I'm going to charge her £50. I justified it by saying that this is a business side line for me. I said that I will take as many pics as she liked of her child - so if she wants to change his outift etc - and that I will edit the pics to remove blemishes etc, add a black and white version of each, and give her the CD with all the images on so she can do with them as she pleases.

Let's see what she says.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:15 pm 
i'd go with 40 if I were you. 50 pounds sounds a lot more.. it also depends if you're able to deliver quality photos. good luck, let's hope she says yes.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:21 pm 
Id charge her half first, and then let her pay you the full amount when she is satisfied :wink:

Just an idea...

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