If you are a photographer, you have likely been asked by friends and family if you can work for free.  Maybe this is something you have done in the past when you were first starting out.  Perhaps you thought of it as a way to get some exposure and build clients?  In today’s post, we are going to talk about why it’s ok to say no.  Saying no to people in life can be difficult.  It makes you unpopular, but because this is your livelihood, there’s nothing wrong with taking this stance.

Set Proper Expectations

Setting proper expectations from the beginning is going to build your foundation related to how you run your business.  Friends and family can be some of the most important people in your life, so it’s extremely important that they understand your expectations when you’re going into business with them.  Set those expectations early on.  When a friend or family member brings up the idea of hiring you as their photographer, it’s important to set the expectation that the services and/or products will not be free.  It’s important that you spell this out, so there are absolutely no assumptions that you will do it for a huge discount or for free. You may feel weird about talking about this, but its something you have to do.  Just do it in a professional way.

Offer “Friends and Family” Pricing

It’s ok to have a category of pricing for your friends and family.  You can gift them part of your services or products without devaluing yourself.  A great way to do this is by having special pricing specifically for your friends and family.  Having this as part of your price list is a great way to set proper expectations with a loved one, while also demonstrating that you will give them a special price.  Like I said in my introduction, this is your livelihood. Friends and family don’t always understand what is involved behind the scenes with your overhead, so having a specialized price list is helpful to convey that message. The “friends and family” pricing isn’t intended to make money off your family, but to give you the ability to perform the job without making your own life more difficult.


Go the Extra Mile

As professionals, you already know that you go the extra mile to make sure clients have the best experiences possible. This is no different for friends and family and should apply even more so.  The idea of “underpromising and overdelivering” is especially important when providing professional services for friends and family in order to maintain a strong relationship outside of your business.  If you’re still feeling uncomfortable by charging friends or family, consider gifting them a product like an album or wall art.  There are definitely ways to add value to the experience beyond the discount that you’re already providing.  When in doubt, think of ways you can add value to yourself instead of taking value away when people ask for it.

I’ve included a video that takes a bit of a harsher stance than I was taking when it comes to saying no to free video services.  I’m not necessarily suggesting that you take this stance, I found it to be an interesting opinion and encourage you to find a balance that works for you.


By Staff Writer

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