How To Handle Friends & Family & Free Session Requests

Aug 28, 2019 | Business Tutorials, Tutorials

This is something that happens to all of us this time of year…..friends start asking for photos.  And what do you do?  You don’t want to upset your friends, but you also have to run your business like a business!  If a friend owned an electronics store, you wouldn’t expect her to give you a free iphone.  Your business is no different.  You simply cannot work for free – your time has too much value!

As such, it is essential to hold firm to your pricing policies.  Too much time spent photographing friends for free is time spent away from income generating activities.

So here’s my advice:

Think about your circle. I keep my “free” circle really REALLY small.  The reality of this business is that you will have either a direct or an indirect relationship with so many of the people you photograph. Don’t get caught on the slippery slope where you are doing too much work for free.  So keep your “free” circle to only your family and your very very closest friends.  Everyone else falls under your “Friends & Family” policy.  The women you chat with at the bus stop?  Friends & Family Package.  Your daughter’s teammates’ moms?  Friends & Family Package.  Your old high school acquaintances?  Friends & Family Package.

Have a formal discount or special package that you will offer as part of this policy, such as 10% off or a “digitals only” package, and stick to it.

This is the key right here: Your “Friends & Family” package needs to still allow you to hit your minimum order requirement. (Unsure what this number is for your business?  Join for my September run of The Profitable Photographer!)  So maybe these won’t be your most profitable sessions, but at least you know you are covering your costs and paying yourself your minimum hourly rate.

You can help friends understand the value of what they offer by offering them the chance to be “treated like a client” by purchasing your complete package in which they will get to experience the complete depth of your service and offerings.  They can select this option, or they can purchase your “Friends & Family package” that has restrictions, such as mid-week dates only, pre-selected locations, digital downloads only, etc.

When offering Friends & Family Discounts, make sure you:

  • Make it as easy on yourself as possible. For example, have clients pick from your favorite shooting locations rather than letting them pick the spot.
  • Only offer the shoots midweek or other times when you are less likely to book a full session.  You want to be sure your discounted sessions are not taking up valuable session spots that you could fill with full-paying clients!

With the right policy in place, you create the potential to turn what was a drain on profits into a boost.  It can feel intimidating at first rolling a policy like this out, but your friends will understand.  I’m sure they see how hard you work and how many hours you but into your business.

Speaking of that……a great way to ensure your friends know how much you hustle with your business is to share blog posts, images and recognitions not just on your business social media pages but on your personal feeds as well.  This isn’t something you have to do all the time, but  from time-to-time it’s a great way to gently remind friends of your commitment to your business.

Hope this helps!


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