Friends & family or just clients? Where does the line separate the two?

As a photographer, there is always one question that we ask ourselves that almost always ends up in a nightmare- what should we charge family and friends or should be give them a free service?

This is a forever occurring hurdle that we face in the career that we chose. There is a very fine, blurry line that separates friends & family obligations from the ‘business’ aspect of what we do.

I’m not going to lie, it’s unreal the amount of times a friend or family member invites us to come to their wedding or event with the subtle underlying invitation that “your camera will also have a seat at the table”.

Andrew and I are giving people and we love to offer our friends and family a discount, but where does the line between friends end and the line of not friends begin? With our clients we strive get to know everyone and we’ve become friends with A LOT of our clients, so we cannot in good heart treat one different than the other.

Don’t get me wrong, we would love to offer more discounts and free sessions, but where does the work end for us and we get to be a ‘normal’ person for a few hours? Where do we make our income that pays for our bills, rent and grocery bills?

Andrew and I have set boundaries for times such as these so that everyone feels like they are treated equally and there is no favoritism. Granted, we do have friends that are closer than others- but in business, either everyone is your friend/family OR everyone is your client. Being our career, everyone needs to be treated as a client when it comes to rules and protocols, but also as a friend/family when spoken to and conversation and emotional level.

As professionals, we have certain protocol that we need to follow that protocol so that no one gets hurt feelings or special treatment.

Please remember this when booking any professional, whether it be a photographer, a hairstylist, an electrician, anyone- this is the career, their livelihood, and they may LOVE what they do but that doesn’t mean that they are going to or are required to put their family’s well-being or business’ well-being for a discount or free services.

When contacted about a session or event, we make sure we have the date available, then obtain a deposit and have a contract signed. This creates a safe environment for everyone so there are no misunderstandings.

During the session, we only ‘produce’ quality images, using top of line equipment that cost a lot that we worked hard to acquire. Just one event can take months off the lifetime of that piece of equipment. Yes, we have insurance, but if just one of our cameras break, we have months of grief to claim a replacement and paperwork.

Andrew and I have a strong artistic vision for all the images we take. If we tell you that something won’t work or that we cannot do that image, please respect that. Please respect that if a photo isn’t top quality, and we do not feel comfortable releasing it, that we won’t- no matter how many times it is asked.

We take pride editing the images. This takes many hours of our personal time such as date nights, time with friends, taking care of the household and making a simple grocery shopping trip. Please respect that this part takes time and we cannot produce the images overnight.

Yes, we may be your friend or family- or you may be someone we just met; either way, please give us credit. If you painted a beautiful canvas or built an outstanding statue or building, you would want credit- we want credit too.
When we push you to have prints made through our site, rather than just printing them on your printer- there is a slight hint of business mindedness there, but we also want you to get the quality of images that last a lifetime. Home printer ink fades over time, slowly erasing your memories. (but this is for another blog post).

In the end, if we do discount you, please make a small effort of thank you.

-Ask for free sessions or discounts
-Ask for more discounts
-Do something out of protocol
-Don’t complain about the outcome of the images or ask to have them re-edited
-Post un-watermarked images without permission

-Offer to pay or at least give a tip
-Offer to buy us a coffee or offer a bottle of water (on hot days, you have no idea how much we appreciate water)
-Give a sincere “thank you, we really appreciate it, how can we thank you?”.

As a business, we wish we could offer a lifetime of free service to friends, but it’s honestly emotionally and physically exhausting, not not financially possible for us.

We do want to thank everyone who has been our support team and helping us through our tough patches and there to praise us through our accomplishments. We would love to name who these particular individuals are, but we do not want to single them out.

I hope this gives a better understanding into the saying ‘never do business with friends or family’ and gives a different point of view for you.



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