Can I Get Some of That?

Before I get to my post of the day, please accept my apologies for not visiting many of your sites yesterday… I’m having a host of computer problems at my house, and WordPress failed to email me my notifications for some reason.  Weird.  (If you happen to know why, can you please tell me how to fix it?)  Plus with it being my sister’s birthday, we were out late, and the time got away from me.  I’ll catch up with you soon!  And now, back to our regularly scheduled post…

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As I’ve mentioned before, besides being a writer, I’m a professional photographer.  I specialize in weddings, though I also do various types of portraiture as well as other events and parties.  As I wrap up my pet peeves month, one thing that peeves the bejeebers out of me is how often my “friends” will ask me for free portraits of them, their families, and their children.  Sometimes, they’ll even ask me to shoot their parties or weddings and expect me to donate my time and talent for free.  If I offer my services for free, that’s one thing, but many of them come right out and ask (some of them, several times a year).  I think what irritates me even more with these “friends,” is that I never hear from them any other time, except when they need photos.

Furthermore, because we are “friends,” many times they call at the last minute to tell me they’re running late.  Quite often, this means thirty minutes to an hour or more that I sit around waiting for them, despite the possibility that I have other plans for my own day.

Now, many of these friends work at stores, medical buildings, law offices, etc.  I have never once gone to any of their places of employment and asked for free merchandise or services.  (And before you say it, I already know:  The fault is actually mine for not turning away these clowns who never seem to contact me any other time except when they want something.)

While I’m on the subject, another thing that cheeses me about photography is prospective wedding clients who come to meet with me, then need to come back again and waste another hour or more of my time by bringing back their parents, then might even come back a third time so I can repeat everything again.  Then they have the nerve to ask for a discount.

No!  I am a professional!  Would you dare to go to your dentist and ask for a half-off root canal?  Would you ask your gynecologist if he offers a groupon for a pap smear?  No, of course not!

What makes a professional photographer?  Hint: It is NOT owning a “nice camera.”  It is having education as well as experience in lighting and posing.  It’s also owning appropriate professional grade equipment as well as possessing the knowledge of how to use said equipment.  It’s also being covered by insurance which protects us as well as you, it’s having a backup system that duplicates everything we shoot so there will be no danger of a technical difficulty if one of our cards goes bad, and it’s having a sound contract in place which covers both parties.

I meet so many people that are shopping for the cheapest photographer to capture what should be the most important day of their life.  Sometimes they even get so frustrated, that they rely on their “uncle with the nice camera” and don’t hesitate to tell me so when I refuse to budge on my price.  So many times I want to ask them, “Hey, if your aunt owns an oven, is she going to be baking your wedding cake?”  or “Hey, if your cousin owns a pocket knife, will you be letting him do your appendectomy?”

And the saddest thing of all is when this happens and I get the call after the wedding from upset brides that ask me how much I charge to “fix” their photos that turned out awful.  The lesson to be learned is, if you’re in the market for a professional photographer and you insist on a cheap one, you just might get what you pay for.*

*Sometimes there are expensive photographers that are simply awful and either take forever to get the photos to the client or have a horrible personality or perhaps are even unskilled.  Sadly, these are a disgrace to my profession.  Most of us that are true professionals, however, are not like that.

Okay, so I’m stepping down from my soapbox now.  I apologize for the rant.  So how many of you have ever had friends ask you for free goods or services?  How easy would it be for you to say no when that happens?  Did you hire a professional photographer at your own wedding?  Describe the best professional photograph you’ve ever had taken of yourself.

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30 thoughts on “Can I Get Some of That?

  1. When I did cake decorating, I often gave my friends a discount, but it cut into the price so much! I think sometimes people close to you can forget you need to actually make a good profit in order to make a business survive.

  2. Ah the lovely young Rachel. My laptop is working remarkably well presently and WordPress have been a pure joy to post blogs upon. In your brief absence you sadly missed a Golden Age of Blogging – shame really, never mind though! Also I was hoping hoping you could nip across the pond and take a couple of publicity snaps of yours truly – maybe one or two passport ones also (the passport needs renewing next year so better to be safe than sorry I say). Money is tight and plainly I cannot pay you for your services, yet the kind hearted girl that you are I know you wouldn’t dream of charging me at all.

    • LOL! You and Shirl are awesome, so I wouldn’t dream of charging you. I seriously have people that call me 4 or more times a year to photograph their kids for free, and can’t even be bothered to clean the messes their little ones make when they come here. Once, one of their kids opened the baby’s bottle full of red juice, spilled it my couch, then the parent hid it with a pillow and left! Another time, I found a poopy diaper in between the couch cushions after they left!

  3. I understand completely. I was self employed for over ten years, and people never fail to expect a discount. Now I’m off to scrub my brain of all Groupon thoughts for the day.

  4. It is weird how people expect to consume art for free, like photography, videos, books, movies, etc. When my children were young, I asked them if it would be right for me to have a plumber come out and fix a sink and then expect that to be for free? Obviously, the answer was no. This helped put the work effort for the arts into perspective for them.

    And, as someone who worked in TV for a bit, I became the resident videographer for all family wedding events. I didn’t mind it, for the most part, because I didn’t have to buy them a gift. After about ten years and eight weddings, I gave up. I knew it was time when I returned a wedding video to my niece on her first anniversary. 🙂

  5. I’m a physical therapist and I wasn’t even in grad school one month before the questions and favors poured in. Really? It was only one month!
    I still get a lot of people asking for free training, massages, treatment, diagnoses, etc. I guess it’s like how doctors are with their family and friends. Mostly I don’t mind. But it gets annoying after so many people ask. And yes, a good portion of the time it’s people I rarely talk to.

  6. When Mike and I had our Private Investigation business people either gave us a wide berth or asked for free tracing. Didn’t care about the first and got bloody annoyed about the second. None of us are in business in a charitable fashion. Bills, bills, bills!

  7. I feel your pain, I have a degree in criminal justice so when they have disputes they always come to me to resolve them. I live to serve as a mediator for their roommate drama. Sometimes I feel like Judge Judy lol. She would probably be more sympathetic than I would be actually. I also don’t turn them away, even if my advice is very cynical.

  8. Don’t be a pushover, Rachel. Only give out free photography to the great friends who would you wouldn’t think twice about volunteering your time to if they didn’t ask. That would be the way I looked at it.

    To those that do ask, I’d come out with:

    OK, only if we can come up with something equal in trade. How many times will you cook me dinner? Or some such barter. They’d get the message that your time is valuable.

    • That’s a great idea, Mark! I really don’t mind doing freebies for friends SOMETIMES, but my problem is with the people that ask constantly and I never hear from them otherwise. 🙂

  9. I was a hair stylist for many years and had more friends than I could have ever imagined – once they found out I was in the hair business, that is. I was doing more hair at home than at the salon. I was so burnt out that I finally stopped and told people they needed to come to the salon.

  10. That sucks! If I hear that someone I know has been published, I try to buy their book to support them. I don’t ask for a free copy. I don’t understand why when people hear the label “professional” they don’t do the same.

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