Requests to shoot for free...Advice needed

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by mary_ann|1, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Two years ago I photographed a wedding for free. At the time I'd been shooting weddings for 3 years and hadn't planned on photographing the wedding, but when I arrived as a guest with a camera I discovered they had not hired a photographer so I took lots and lots of photos. The wedding was for a childhood neighbor who I had not seen in many years. When he got the disc he never called or wrote a thank you note. It was a big lesson for me.
    Now the sister of the free wedding recipiant wants me to photographer her wedding - for free. The wedding is on a Saturday in July.
    I emailed her a very kind reply letting her know that I'd be happy to give her a huge discount (80%) and photograph the wedding $250 (prints for sale at $5 with a disc if they purchase $350 in prints). She was shocked that I would charge her because we grew up next door to each other and I photographed her brothers wedding for free. She then asked if I wouldn't mind just attending as a guest and taking photos.
    Any tips on how I can very politely let her know that I'm not going to work for free? Her parents still live next door to my parents so I do not want to just blow her off. Any compromises that I'm not thinking of? Do other people have this problem?
    I was considering telling her that if the date was not booked by June I'd agree to shoot for $100 which is essentially the cost of the deprecation of my gear.
  2. Have you heard the saying ... a prophet has no honor in his hometown or in his house? I have a feeling this situation is a non winner (for you) whatever you decide to do.
  3. I don't think you should shoot wedding for free or $ will keep coming asking for free, next her husband's sister, brother, another relatives, etc. As a neighbor, and family friend, you have already give them a "friend & family" discount, so, my suggestion is, keep your original reply ($250 and prints for sale at $5 with a disc if they purchase $350 in prints)
    After did couple friends' wedding for free, I found out they don't really appreciate much as "Paid" photographer. After that, I never work for free.
  4. I wouldn't even have offered as much as the 80 percent discount you did, but now that it's out there, you can't rescind. But, I wouldn't lower it any either, so forget the $100 offer regardless of any other offers going your way.
    The bride's option of having you there as a guest who just takes pictures is essentially a sugar-coated attempt to get what she wants.
    There are at least two sides to this: as shocked as she is that you'd charge her $250 along with the other stipulations you set is as shocked as you can be that she'd ask for more.
    Be prepared for her to scratch you from the guest list when you make it clear that you won't take any pictures that day.
  5. I agree with Wen. Cut it off now or you'll just keep getting requests for free wedding photography. All you need to do is send a nice e-mail saying that your wedding photography business has grown since you last photographed her brother's wedding, and you can no longer afford to photograph any wedding for free. I would not even make the offer to shoot for $100.
    When you shoot for immediate family, shoot for free, but only if you want to. Its that or charge your full price. People are unhappy with anything in between.
  6. this is a slippery slope. is there any particular reason why you would want to attend the wedding? is she really close to you? if she isn't then don't bother attending. tell her that you have a paid booking for that day. if she agrees to the discounted price offered before as a goodwill gesture, just a favour to her family, you would do the shoot, otherwise you would have a decline. mention in your letter that the credit crunch has affected your trade in such a way that it is not possible for you to turn down work.
    either way, you are doing her a favour.
  7. First of all, I'm a videographer, but have been through this many times before.
    The primary thing to remember is nothing done for free is appreciated. If you do it for free or next to free, it has no value to the recipient. It also shows a lack of respect for yourself.
    I told my own sister I would videotape my niece's wedding but it would still be half price. I never do free. I have been burned by ungrateful friends a time or two as you were and I just won't do it any longer.
  8. Don't shoot it for free - or $100 - unless you really, really want to. Would they get a plumber to show up for free? I don't think so. Although I don't shoot weddings, I learned long ago that if I'm a guest, I don't take a camera. I just enjoy the event.
  9. You could turn up with a P&S camera :)
  10. I'm sure I would attend... and unfortunately have my cameras in the shop for clean/lube/adjust that weekend. Of course, I would let the bride know a few days in advance.
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Any tips on how I can very politely let her know that I'm not going to work for free?"
    I would telephone her and simply state that this a business, and, you do not work for free.
    I would not re-mention the discount offer you have already made.
    If the topic of her Brother's Wedding comes up, then I would simple state (not explain, but STATE) that was a time ago and that you made an “on the spot decision” based upon arriving at the Wedding and noting that there was no Professional Photographer hired.
    On two other matters:
    When you acted kindly and took Photographs at the Brother's Wedding and supplied him with the disc of your work, IMO it would have been better business to include an invoice at your full price, marked "Gratis / Paid in Full - with Regards"
    Also, when the Sister contacted you, asking for the same account as her Brother, I think it would have been better business to respond politely, supplying her with your current rate card and availability - (I would not have offered any discount).
    If you do decide to give consideration, it is better for a business to supply a gift, showing clearly the value, than "discounting" the service or goods.
    "Her parents still live next door to my parents so I do not want to just blow her off."
    I understand this aspect of the question. It appears the Bride-to-be has no endearing emotional ties to you. The fact that there is a possibility that she, or her Parents will be disgruntled, is quite irrelevant to your Business, and IMO should be irrelevant to you, also.
    I have a Daughter in Business: I would side with my Daughter in this regard . . . the Bride to be might get grumpy momentarily, but I doubt it would cause a big neighborhood riot. I think you need to focus on your business, and not on this tangential emotional aspect of this situation.
    It seems the Bride-to-be is working you - if she is, her leverage is twofold: your kindness to her Brother and the fact that your Parents live where they live. Once you isolate the first and ignore the second, you are on the same playing field and both of you are then bound by your Business’s rules – and not the Bride's postulations.
  12. Get booked for that day !
  13. I would ask you two questions, one do you want to do photograph weddings as a profession or are you doing it only as a hoppy? Two is your work worth paying for? I have not seen your work there for I can’t give you any advice on the second one. But if you want to do it for fun and that is it I do not see a problem. If you are going to make a profession of this as small business, I would still do it (for free). But I would get the couple to sign something saying that you can use there pictures for advertisement. They get there wedding done for free and you can build your portfolio. All the time there are no bad filling between ether families. I would also tell her that any further shouts would cost here or any one else your going rate.
  14. Your original offer was generous. Considering the fact that they passed would be the only answer that I needed to hear.
  15. Ask her to detail your truck for free.
  16. I don't take my camera to anything that I either don't personally WANT to photograph or to which I am not being paid to photograph. Stating a full price and including "paid in full" or "booking discount" or "myspace" discount is a better way to go if you are actually going to do the work. But if deep down inside.... you just really don't WANT to shoot this wedding then you shouldn't. Your heart won't be in it and it will show in the photos. I get passionate about the weddings I shoot and that is what makes them fun. Catching those moments.
    If you despise the people and situation then it just won't work.
  17. FYI... I've been "invited" to "attend" functions before... and I've showed up with my phone camera or my really nice 4mp Sanyo Xacti cam. I think they get the point soon enough.
  18. I've done a lot of bending pricing for friends and clients. It usually works out badly. My new philosophy: If they are close friend or family and I want to make a gift, I do it for free/cost of supplies. Otherwise, full price.
    Most of my clients have been my friends and family, but they understand that paying me is a sign of appreciation and respect. I've not really had a good experience bending the pricing. Either it's never enough for the cheapskate client, or I feel used and resent the work.
    Here's how I'd approach it: If you're invited to the wedding as a friend, leave the camera at home to enjoy the wedding and be present. If she's not inviting you to show up without the camera, she's not a friend and should be charged in full (or whatever your previous offer was) as a business transaction. Stand up for your own work, and realize that not everything you do will please everyone.
  19. "Her parents still live next door to my parents so I do not want to just blow her off"
    It sounds to me like you haven't blown her off. You made a more than reasonable offer. For some reason there are a lot of people out there who believe that this isn't actually a business and professional photographers don't deserve to be compensated for their services. If they have a problem with your offer then they can go and shop around. They'll probably be surprised (not so pleasantly either). If they still don't want to pay you then I say go Nancy Reagan style and just say no.
    I got burned in a similar way photographing my cousins wedding last June. Photographed and helped cater it. Still haven't heard so much as a simple thank you. Ah the things we do for family. Bitter much? Nah...
  20. "No good deed goes unpunished."
  21. William brings about a brilliant point.
    Don't discount yourself. I've, on the odd occasion in other fields of business have chucked a freebie toward someone. I make mention of my full charge for the job then iterate my reason for no charge or an amount to cover costs. In the vast majority of cases I'd have that one free offer come back and pay itself threefold because I was refered for the great work.
    People in boating are a little different and understanding than photographers vs the public after all you don't just suck on a hose full of air when you're cleaning a hull whereas the public's perception of photography is point and click and an hour for development. ;)
    In this case you haven't done so however you need to empathize that her brother's wedding was a matter of circumstance. If you were to offer her a package with her "offering" to cover your costs I would do so but not expect anything in return.
    Take a little lesson from this encounter and move on. Don't discount yourself, if you don't reflect confidence in your work's worth then people will never see that value.
  22. Thanks for the invite, but I have other things that were planned for day. Best wishes on your wedding day.
  23. As others say, don't start to offer further concessions. I'm not a professional photographer, but I'm surprised how sometimes people I don't know well ask me to for professional services (my field is software and computers). Since I have little interest in solving boring problems for free for people who I barely know, my answer is always no. From your description of the situation, it seems that you haven't had much contact with the bride since childhood. Given that and the fact that from last time you didn't get even a thank you -note, I suggest that you make your offer final, don't reserve the date before the deal is closed and just explain that you're making a living out of this and can't afford to start working for free. IMHO, her directly requesting that you do it for free is downright rude.
  24. I wouldn't even have offered as much as the 80 percent discount you did, but now that it's out there, you can't rescind.
    Not true.
    Unless an offer is made with some sort of binding language (no such langauge was mentioned in the post) it can be revoked once the revocation is communicated. A offer met with a counteroffer is a rejected offer. The communications of the parties will show if such circumstances exist.
    Even socially speaking its reasonable to forgo this proposal. An enormous courtesy discounted price was given and recieved. It was either rejected outright or at least met with grudging disapproval. I guess the former, as the guest reaction is just a disguise for the original shoot for free proposal. Since the recipient is offended, there is no outrage to opt out of the offending situation.
    As to Mary Ann's question, the answer is the same as any other type of vendor may give. It seems best to politely explain the whole level of involvement in wedding photography (or whatever service is involved) as well as the potenial or actual loss of paying business from another wedding (if otherwise not on the guest list), that the brother's shoot was unexpected and a formal advance request to shoot carries responsibilities not present in the brother's situation. Since the sensibilties concern the parents rather than the sister, perhaps they should be told this stuff. That might not be completely graceful but the reality is the parents will only get the sister's scorned version otherwise. If the relationship with the parents permit it, they can be told that this is a surprise it was assumed the prior work was unsatisfactory as you never heard back from the son after all the work. If they are reasonable, they will tell the daughter to lay off.
  25. I had that happen to me also but the second time I did the shoot I just billed them for the cost of supplies and that came to about $200.00 by the time it was all done and said, then the bride tipped me $100.00. It was still alot of work and running around. I still got too eat great food and BS with all the people I knew at the wedding and it was a get away weekend for me and the wife.
  26. Nadine, you're always contributing very wise information to the community every time I see you post. Very well put!
    I agree with Ian, too, that if you end up doing this wedding but feel cheated or bitter about it inside, your images won't be your best at all.
    It's not reasonable for an acquaintance to ask you for free services. I don't even ask my family members for free services in their area of expertise. It's just a faux pas, IMO, and shows that your future-possible-client doesn't understand the size of the request she's making of you, or she may just be someone who genuinely don't want to pay a dime for anything and will try to weasel out of everything she can. Of course, there may be other reasons she may have asked for a free shoot, but unless she were a good friend or family member, I would go so far as to say those other reasons are irrelevant, from a business standpoint.
  27. I have a related case .. but with concerts of my friends bands.
    They don't make money on the shows, these are just a hobby little stand up shows and the photos they want are only for the website or facebook. I do like to shoot for practice, and consider this as an exercise, so I do bring camera. With time I got recognized as being "the one with big camera" so, now I get a bunch of calls for pretty much "everything" that can go on. "[name], would you please, attend the show and take some pictures" - I can have such calls/messages almost every weekend.
    I am starting to think, on how to say that I want to be put on the guest list, (there are huge many people) come on the guest list - so I know it's possible.
    Considering, the social aspect of the events, I think, if I stop making photos available, I will become an outcast on these things .. so seems kind of a loose-loose situation
  28. You say that the lack of a 'thank you' was a big lesson for you - if that is how you look at it then you need to make sure you learn the lesson. If you can't say 'no' when the person is not particularly close then you will find it harder with people closer to you. Console yourself with the fact that it is distasteful of her to use emotional blackmail to get something for free.
    I think the key to situations like this is to keep your reply as short and polite as possible - the more you say the more likely they are to find an angle to coerce you (the salesman's trick in reverse).
    You could mention that if you go as the photographer then you would charge them as previously discussed and this would include post processing to your professional standards; but if you were to go as a guest with the intention of taking the 'official' wedding photographs then your concerns about getting the best shots would detract from your enjoyment of attending her wedding as an invited guest.
    It sound to me like the first wedding was a fortuitous accident (for the B&G) - you took the photos for pleasure and, having seen they had no photgrapher you offered them the fruits of your labour. You could mention this in your reply - when you shot her brother's wedding the pictures were for yourself which you chose to share with him.
    If you do go as a guest then I would leave your camera at home - from your description she is 'the sister of a childhood friend' and memories of her wedding are not important to you so I would be tempted to leave your camera at home and take a P&S if you use one. If the temptation gets too much then take your camera and leave it in the car - and take it out only if you see they have a professional there. Small minded, maybe but it will get you out of a hole.
    If they 'disinvite' you because of this then sticking to your guns will be vindicated.
  29. I think I would tell her that you just got booked for another wedding and you will not be able to attend.
  30. This is very interesting, not least because it is essentially a psychological issue. It has nothing to do with photography.
    William W and Mike Hitchen has stated all relevant facts for you to consider. As I see it, you need to work with your ability to say "no" politely to obviously outrageous claims. Ask yourself how you deal with attempts of abuse in other aspects of your life. Sorry if I sound harsh, this is written with the best intention. In my professional career, I am respected for being flexible, but with a very clearly defined threshold for saying no. It is a skill I only developed since I rounded 45 years or so.
  31. "Any tips on how I can very politely let her know that I'm not going to work for free"
    You've already done that. I can't believe that you'd consider extending any more courtesy to someone like this. It's one thing for her to make the initial request but to reply to your generous offer with expecting you to do it? You waste anymore time with this person and you'll be getting what you deserve. Best you don't even respond. Your parent's can explain to the neighbors when it comes up that you made a very generous offer that was rudely dismissed and they might remind them that no thanks were ever given by the son three years ago.
    You'd be smart not to shoot this wedding at any price (because you'll likely never see the money) although you might suggest that her brother foot the bill and you'll accept that as the long over due thanks for shooting his wedding for free. Time to find some spine Mary Ann.
  32. Explain to the bride to be exactly what happened at her brother's wedding. Also firmly but politely let her know that your livelihood is your wedding photography and you're simply unable to photograph for free. You could also suggest she purchase a couple of dozen disposable cameras and hand them out to the guests with instructions to shoot freely, and then collect them when the wedding is over. If she is so cheap that she won't offer you any compensation, the disposable idea may ring her wedding bell!
  33. I might suggest to let her know that July can be a busy month for weddings and that it may cost you if you don't leave that date open. That way maybe she'll realize that this is your livelyhood and your not just a friend with a camera.
  34. A client is hiring not only your camera, but your eye and your years of experience - all that is worth something, to say nothing of your time. I am not saying anything that hasn't been said already, but I just had to cast a vote for integrity and encourage you to nicely refuse to work for free. To do so devalues your worth and shows a lack of understanding on the part of the "client" as to how the amount of work involved in professionally covering a wedding.
  35. bms


    Oh, it's always so interesting to read the threads here! All kinds of characters, social drama :)
    All jokes aside, as someone who does not do this professionally, it seems to me she is quite unreasonable. Although her borther seemed not to care about a photographer for his wedding, she clearly does. She MUST have at least looked at some prices and so she knows what a great deal she is getting. $250? C'mon - that is a great deal. Unless this a super low budget wedding, this is small fish.
    Ask her what her job is - then ask her if she would provide her services for free for you...... and take her up on the offer. Quid pro quo.
  36. bms


    sorry double post...
  37. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I wouldn't even have offered as much as the 80 percent discount you did, but now that it's out there, you can't rescind.
    Not true." (JH)

    A side comment: I have often found in a sales meeting, as part of a protracted sales negotiation - which this is, whilst any conversation continues and until the Wedding day passes - that the Prospect is often awakened to the immediacy of the situation and the importance of them making a decision, soon, if this fact is politely pointed out.

    A brash method is "this is a once only offer" - but more polite techniques can easily be found.

    Obviously, using those techniques requires the seller to WANT the job . . . in this regard my gut feelings, based upon what has been presented, are similar to Patrick Clancy's: "You'd be smart not to shoot this wedding at any price".

    On another note - I have found battering to a quid pro quo solution is messy and usually does not resolve the situation but makes it more problematic.

    Currency is designed to be a yardstick to measure the worth of each individual transaction of goods or services - OK, we each will have an opinion on the whether we get value, or not - but the PRICE at least we know, it is a number, and we can use that number as a comparison.

  38. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Opps, I forgot to add -

    Al , That was a very kind comment, though I think “Brilliant” might be a bit over the top. And I am not just sucking up because I like Triumphs and I know where Phillip Island is :) – but IMO, Ducati s are nice, too.

    Seriously . . . I learnt not to discount (money) from the school of hard knocks and that is not to dismiss going to school - I did that too – I still am.

    I tried discounting for about three years. . . and I believe I marketed the business appropriately . . . the end result: slightly more turnover, less gross profit and way less net profit. Very early on I found I had better return custom, more referrals and (anecdotally) higher customer satisfaction by giving gifts, rather than discounting the bottom line.

    Discounting is a specialist tool IMO, best left to the discount kings with huge draw, the ability to drag debts to 180 days and the capacity to determine their own buying price - and even these business can fold, and quickly, whilst they teeter on slim margins and are dependent upon volume turnover. The other group of businesses who can discount well are those who have a niche where the cost price is almost zero, overheads small and their personal life costs, are meager.

    I am sometimes against the general flow of thought in this forum . . . times are tough (economically) it is time to raise the prices to accommodate the costs of business and maintain growth or at least stability for the next 18 months – discounting $ from an acceptable selling price, is the worst marketing option available – perhaps suicidal in many instances, IMO.
  39. bms


    WW, probably should have put a smiley next to the quid pro quo :) Not entirely serious, although people who think that shooting the wedding is just fun for Mary etc, maybe brought to their senses when asked to provide, say, a a few hours of legal consultation for free.....
  40. a. Send a gift & not attend or b. if it is a small wedding take the equivalent of 2 rolls of film of just the main participants & that is your gift.
  41. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "probably should have put a smiley next to the quid pro quo :) Not entirely serious,"

    Ah, I am glad you were online for a quick response: nice to meet you.

    Yes, I pondered a while before making that comment on your "quid pro quo".

    I initially thought it was a “suggestion” to quickly whip some sense into the matter – albeit a more subtle suggestion than Art's (at which I chuckled).

    But, there was room for a little confusion as to your exact meaning when you used the phrase "all jokes aside" previous - so I just played a straight bat – and only in the interest of the Original Post and clarification – it was not a slight at you.

    I like your style.


  42. Lots of good responses here. I think Sven sums it up nicely, more of a psychological issue rather than business. I often wonder if doctors, dentists, lawyers, automechanics, plumbers etc. get the same response from their neighbors as this situation. There seems to be an air of entitlement from the bride. I did a bunch of weddings in the 80's and 90's, and I don't miss the relative and friend issues. I have learned to not expect a thank you from anyone, in my business or photography. If I get a "thank you", that's an added bonus.
    When you said "childhood neighbor havent seen in many years" to me that implies you weren't close, you both grew up and drifted apart. It seems like the sister is trying to take advantage of you, there is plenty of good advice here and online and Dr PHil etc. about how to respond to people. I bet this bride and groom, and her parents could afford a pro photo job. good luck. Tom
  43. Well...everyone wants something for nothing, specially when it comes to taking photos for friends, relatives, and specially co-workers. I was in a similar situation; however, it was a church member that had ask me to help her with a video project to honor the pastor of my church for the many years of service to the community. I do freelance photography and shoot video for events, and I have an add in their Sunday publication. At first, she was under the impression that all this work was to commended pro-bono, and when I presented her a proposal with a discounted rate and waiving a 35% over my normal fees, she was is shock. I supposed she thought since I am member of the parrish, I would do it for free. In any event, we came to a sort of compromise and did help her, but she did all the raw video shooting. I just help her with the editing and put my name to the production as one of my products and events' productions. I dont regret it, it helped a good cause. It would be up to you to decide what is best, whether as a favor to your friend and have them sign a release for the photos, so there will be no misunderstanding if they are shown to increase your portfolio.
  44. Its always a tough decision when friends - or tougher yet family - are the parties involved. I've given unsolicited 'for cost' quotes to close friends, only because firstly, I love doing weddings, secondly I knew them very well and knew that I could get more personal and candid 'true-to-life' expressions than a stranger might. And as was previously suggested, the bill was clearly marked as 'pro bono - congratulations' - can you say "tax write-off?".
    I found that family on the other hand was a tougher call. My wife's nephew got married this past year, and not only were we 'hired' to photograph the wedding, but were also invited guests. This was not comfortable. One cannot take part in the event and also accurately record the event. We simply did our job, and had a nice meal. Afterwards the family was grateful for our 'gift' (I only charged for extra prints) and we decided to never again agree to photograph family events.
  45. expectations = premeditated resentments.
  46. Remember, No good deed goes unpunished!
  47. I feel for you. But I would decline. Tell her your flattered that you were considered for the special occasion, but you are not able to handle the extra costs involved, unforseen in this volatile economy.
    Good luck
  48. You could do it as a wedding gift if you want to keep good relations between the families or say you can not make the wedding because you are booked to do a paying gig for a big client and you need the gig to pay the rent. At least you would have a good excuse. Best of luck.
  49. Ask her to mow your lawn for the next two years for free, of course if she isn't booked.
    Paul :)
  50. Mary Ann, I think you have your work cut out for you.
    Simply send her an email with a link to this thread. She will very soon learn the value of your offer, your genuine concern for your parents' relationship, and how involved wedding photography is.
    I have a high respect for wedding photographers - you have one of the most difficult and touchy jobs available!
  51. I am starting to think, on how to say that I want to be put on the guest list"
    This is the way to say it... "I want to be put on the guest list."
  52. Too many words - didn't read them all. My favorite advice from Ribin of Bellisima Photography is -
    'I'm sorry, but I am not running any specials at this time.' Tell her you'd love to be at her wedding but don't be a pushover. If she wants you to take pictures she'll pay you. Do not bring your nice camera if you attend as a guest - it just devalues what you do.
  53. You have 3 choices; full price, discount, or free. What do you want your tombstone to say, "professional photographer","broke professional photographer", or "generous friend". When in doubt, err on the side of goodwill.
  54. I shot my friend's baby boy baptism last August (small event 8 people) plus I shot some portraits for her whole familly, all for free. What I got was complaining how she didn't like the angle I used so on so forth. Latter that year she decided to have some photos taken of her kids and aked me to do it I said NO so she went to JC Penny and paid $250 for 3 poses and same amount of 8x10 prints ( I think thats a good price), but she started complaining how they charged her so much for just 3 poses, I told her this is how much things cost nothing is free. Point is like many others said if it's free it won't be as appreciated as it would be if they paid the full price.
  55. Could it be that it's not a psychological issue nor a business issue as much as it is a Social issue?
    I find myself wondering if you considered it an honor and a favor to shoot her brothers wedding at the time you got that "opportunity" that helped you move forward photographically at that time.
    If it's a Social issue with long time next door neighbors then just let this go and do the right thing and match what you did with the brother and Enjoy yourself. Take the day and enjoy the photography; try a few new techniques and take advantage of the opportunity to do so in a situation that will have no pressure. Look at it as an opportunity to experiment; find the Joy.
    Once done it will be Easy to close the door on doing this kind of free job and your relationship with the neighbors is solid and they become a referral source for you for Paid jobs (fingers crossed!).
    It's more about "the circle of family and friends" of which this neighbor was a part of for you and your family. This is about how You see the wedding process instead of the money ... get past the money and use the time to play and have fun. You will never do a free event again and you'll feel good about what you've done for the family next door who you grew up around: they are part of the Fabric of You and who you are as a person today.
    Ask for nothing and wish them well. (I'm hoping you don't have any more neighbors that were friends! lol.)
  56. zml


    Blow her off. Politely. And quickly so she can hire a photographer or, more likely, manipulate "uncle Joe with a Rebel" into doing it for free. The fact that you did it once has absolutely no bearing on the present situation.
  57. When in doubt, err on the side of goodwill.
    A great approach to take in one's life. Indeed, Mary Ann has generously offered her goodwill. It was rejected. the right thing and match what you did with the brother. .. so in a situation that will have no pressure... ...Look at it as an opportunity to experiment... will be Easy to close the door on doing this kind of free job and your relationship with the neighbors is solid and they become a referral source for you...
    Mary cannot match what she did for the brother. That was an impromptu situation where the brother did not arrange for a photographer. The results could have been substandard or even failed but fairly excusable as the whole thing was on the fly without responsibilities and obligations. Here, there is a clear expectation of obligation and results so there will be pressure. Mary Ann may even forgo other work in this scenerio.
    Experimentation might have been suitable at the brother's wedding where one is newer to the field and there are no real expectations as to how the end results should be. If there is shock that the work is not free, no sign that there will be any appreciation for all the effort, no appreciation for the huge discount, then we can surely predict complaints to ensue if results aren't up to full specs (see Kris' recent post "what I got was complaining how she didn't like the angle").
    It will not be easy to 'close the door' on future free work in this arena. There is already an expectation for free work. There is already a culture social pressure. It will be well known that work is being offered for free. It will already be known that pressure can be given to compel free work. There will likely be no referrals for paid work. There will be expectations for free work for those in this social group and when the situation arises again, Mary Ann will face the same issues yet again.
    Volunteering to help is not something that comes about from coercion. Mary Ann's generous offer was rejected. She can either respond by renewing the offer for however long she is willing or tell the sister that she does not feel comfortable being obligated without having a shared responsibility between the two.
    I think that last line might be good to use in fact.
  58. Accept her invitation to attend as a guest, and leave your camera at home.
    She's an advantage-taker, with which the world is already oversupplied,and she's playing your for a chump.

    Forget her and move on.
  59. I find it incredibiliy rude and presumptious of her to assume you would take photos for free. Growing up next door to each other doesn't mean you are blood brothers.
    Apparently she doesn't realize it's work to photograph a wedding. That instead of relaxing, drinking, and dancing, you having to make sure you capture all the right moments.
    Definitely don't do it for $100. She'll just wait for June.
    I just would skip the wedding. Say you got a booked appointment for that day and in this economy you can't turn it down. Because of what transpired, I'd be too uncomfortable to go and say you forgot your camera. This also will avoid creating any tensions between the families.
    As for Ray's comment: What do you want your tombstone to say, ..."generous friend". When in doubt, err on the side of goodwill. What about "doormat"?
  60. I'm no pro here so take this for what it is worth. I don't have a problem with her request, although two years later raises eyebrows a bit. What worries me is that after your genourous offer she still wants you to shoot it for free. That seems like an ominous sign. Goodness knows what more requests (or demands it seems) she'll have for her free photographer.
  61. That's why I leave my camera at home when I go to any event as a guest. If you weren't planning on attending the wedding, just tell her you are already booked.
  62. I too don't have a probelm with her intial request. There is no law against asking for a favour. But her response after your generous offer, indicates to me she is trying to exploit the fact that you were once childhood neighbours to get your work for free, which is not very nice.
    You could explain that you are a professional and as such you need to keep the day open for another booking as that is how you pay the bills but offer to do it for cost if available. You might also explain that you shot the photos for the brother as favour but have since stopped doing work pro-bono for friends because the constant requests were getting out of hand and undermining your business.
  63. While I understand how you got here, I would not feel obligated to shoot for free by any means.
    If this is your livelihood, you charge for it as normal.
    If you want to give this away for free, then do so by all means.
    However, the route of a heavy discount is a bad one IMO. It leads to the same expectations as if they had paid full price, and then some added expectations since they "know you".
    If you make a bed, prepare yourself to sleep in it.
  64. "When he got the disc he never called or wrote a thank you note. It was a big lesson for me ."
    Apparently not big enough. Otherwise, there would be no question in what you should do.
  65. My stock answer is:
    "Gee wiz, sorry, I have all the free work I can handle."
  66. "no"
    or if having a pang...
    "No I am allready booked that weekend"
    If you shoot for free, you are actually turning away paid work. Its a double blow. If your neibour works for walmart, then if they help fix a fence on their day off, then it costs them nothing. Ask them to take a days holiday for it... to do it when it is convient for you.. different story

    Essentially, they are asking you to take a days unpaid holoday, whilst you are essentailly going to work..
  67. Once you have made any offer for a large discount you have just proclaimed, "I am a professional photographer but I'm not worth it because I overcharge". Doing a freebie for a relative or close friend can be a possible scenario but it is not recommended. If I was a good enough friend I would expect to be invited as a guest. Then I would recommend a good photographer to them.
  68. The first wedding may have been you doing a good deed, this second request is trying to capitalize on your good nature. "Growing up next to each other" doesn't warrant free services. Why, it didn't even warrant an invite from her: she's only inviting you as a guest for you to take photos for free. She's using you. She doesn't want to pay you. She didn't even really think to have you as a regular guest. She just wants you for your camera. Why bother discussing it with her, you think you're going to change her with words?
    I have boundaries in my personal and business life. This one crosses a boundary - she's trying to use you - and I'd simply break off all contact with her. That sends the biggest message of all, and keeps your life simpler, rather then get involved in pointless further discussion with that type of person.
    If you must talk to her at all, just tell her a concise "Sorry, but I can't do it. Hope you have a great time! Good luck and good bve!" If anyone has a problem with that, it's their problem, not yours. Make no room for Users in your life.
  69. If they ask for it free or with a large discount, tell them you're booked. There will be times when you will do things for free: immediate family (not cousins), very close friends (not acquaintances) or maybe a donation to a school or church. Beyond that, you have no obligation to anyone else.
    Don't be guilted into doing anything and don't take any gear to the wedding (if you are still invited). Drink their liquor, eat their food and wish them well.
  70. I donated two weddings for photography coverage to a breast cancer silent auction benefit. It will be held in February. This is my second yr. of participating. It's a pretty fancy affair. It's a way I can give back. One wedding I donated is 4 hrs. coverage the other is 7hrs.
    Is it worth it? That's not my objective.
    I want to help in my own small way because so many others have helped me.
    You have to decide how to give back.
  71. Lots of good responses here. I think Sven sums it up nicely, more of a psychological issue rather than business. I often wonder if doctors, dentists, lawyers, automechanics, plumbers etc. get the same response from their neighbors as this situation.​
    Some with a sense of entitlement do. This behavior is becoming more prevalent in the US, unfortunately.
  72. Duh she must be a cheapskateeeeeeeeee!!! :D

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