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Do You Pay Your Photographer If They're A Friend?

The short answer... yes!

If you would forego working for your employer for free, you should not assume that because your photographer is a friend, that their services are free too. Nip the awkwardness up front and ask them what you will owe them for your session. If they want to give you a discount they can offer one at that time. That said, don't expect a discount. Photographers are paying bills too!

The long answer - it depends.

I would be remiss to say that I have photographed many sessions for friends at no charge. That said, nothing really comes free. Just because I shot it for free does not mean that I was not still reimbursed for my time. A great way to still 'pay' your photographer without exchanging cash is to:

  1. See if you can do a service or product swap. If you have your own business, possess a set of skills, or charge for your own services, see if your photographer is interested. Pro tip: exchange them at the same time! Waiting months to use your favor makes it much harder to honor.

  2. If #1 does not apply to you still give them a tip. I recommend 20%+ of the total bill they would have charged.

  3. If your photographer outsources editing, perhaps they would be receptive to photographing your session at no charge but having you pay the editor for the images that you will be receiving.

  4. Give them an immediate referral who is a paying client. They will feel supported and encouraged by your kind words and may be more apt to share their gratitude.

Regardless of what you decide in your photographer friendship, always express your appreciation and gratitude. This will help ensure future services.

Remember, sometimes we just don't do business with friends.

Some of my friends do not use me as their photographer. Maybe they want their photos to possess a different editing style. Maybe they want to keep "church and state, separate" so to speak. Whatever the reason,I respect their decision and love their photos anyway.

To that, my friends know that if they are unhappy with work taken by another photographer that I will not:

  • "fix" or alter another photographer's work to better align with their vision. That would be copyright infringement.

  • listen to them complain about another photographer that they hired. Though my friend may be angry, oftentimes it is a failure of both consenting parties that things didn't go as expected. Encouraging them to open lines of communication is best.

  • pester them to book with me. If they don't approach me first, I don't offer. No one likes to be sold to constantly. I'm also of the belief that when people seek out your services that they are more invested in the outcome and put more effort into the experience.

I will:

  • encourage them to better research the photographer's editing style, read the contract, or better prepare for the session.

  • help them find someone who can help them accomplish their vision while within their budget.

  • consult them on the best place to get prints or products.


I hope you enjoyed this blog on doing business with friends! If you made it this far, maybe you would like to keep reading...

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