You’ll get many opportunities to photograph someone for free or to offer you work for less. You don’t have to take all of them or any of them. As a successful photographer, you’ll need to learn to say NO more often than YES and how your career develops depends on saying NO to the wrong people. This blog post will guide you through the different scenarios and how to protect yourself.
If the Photo Client Asks:
Your photography client asks for free photographs because it would help your business grow:
In their opinion, they feel that a free photoshoot would help you build your business. While this could happen in some cases, it’s unlikely to move the needle in 99.9% of the real world.
I would mention that you’re a for-profit business and while you support charitable contributions, you are not a charity. I would further add, “with the help of my paid clients, I am able to support some of my favorites charities like charity A, charity B, and charity C”
You’re proudly a for-profit business and at no point would they ever demand free groceries, free gym memberships, or a free car in exchange for promo. Why would a professional photographer be any different?
Influencer wants to “collab” on a photo shoot:
Let’s be honest, the term “collab” has gone from a collaborative effort to meaning “unpaid work to benefit them”. Influencers are great people, a real business too, but they have become accustomed to working with photographers for an unreasonable exchange, free work.
You’ll need to determine if this said influencer has an influence on your genre. If they work with automotive, you’ll likely get the attention of automotive clients. That’s great if you like cars but if you’re into food photography then that’s a giant waste of time.
If they pass the influence test, then let’s see what they could mean by “collab” because it’d be important to define the intentions. Here are the steps I think you should follow:
- Ask if they have a budget in mind for the particular job. Call it a job, not a shoot because that’s what it would be. If they name the budget, then it’s about negotiating. My Pricing Course is a game-changer in this dept.
- If you find they were looking to “collab” – then it’s still OK to say YES (but with a catch). Here’s how to work this scenario:Say “Yes, I’d love to work with you and I have some great ideas already!” – this shows your interest and keeps it positive. It allows them another opportunity to prove themselves.
- Once you’ve shown your interest, you can say “…how about we reconvene in a couple of days so I can show you, my idea board! And while I’m doing that, would you be able to take a couple of days and show me a reference list of other photographers who enjoyed a career boost after they photographed you for free?”If they are truly influential, they’ll have no problem providing this list. If they had dishonest intentions, then the photograph below is a perfect depiction of the situation. It’s a professional burn, savor it.
Here’s a story for you: I had a person who once said “you can practice on me if you want” and really thought that would get them somewhere with me. Not only are you suggesting my work requires more practice but you’re making sure it benefits you. It’s rude and it’s passive-aggressive. Let me say, I will always be practicing my work. However, that’s on me and never a method you should use to take advantage of me or my skills. Clients like this deserve one of a couple of options:
- Option 1: No. Say NO and say it with a firm but polite demeanor.
- Option 2: You don’t owe them anything, not even a response
When the kind client wants a discount for the future work you may do together:
It’s understandable that people may want a discount on their photography requests. This is normal there is always a polite response that can serve both of you. The simplest way to say this would be:
“I can appreciate that you like the work and are hoping for a bit of price reduction. I’m also excited to be working with you! I always look for ways to reward my repeat clients because I value loyalty. And I look forward to putting you on that list of elite clients to receive a future loyalty rate!”
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Knowing when to ask for help is a powerful position to be in. The way I see it you can either spend years figuring it out alone. Or you can spend a few weeks learning from someone who has already had success and start making money sooner, much sooner!
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If you want immediate action, and want to learn how to start pricing your photography… click here. I have my new course called STEP PRICING and it’s so good! STEP stands for (Secret to Easy Photography) PRICING!