Photographing Friends & Family: 3 Solutions To Prevent Getting Burned By Your Nearest and Dearest

It’s 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and you’re hunched over your desk editing your mother-in-law’s veterinarian's discounted family session. You’re drained, over-booked and hoping to muster up enough energy for your long lost, second-cousins’s free newborn session in the morning--and, oh wait, it is morning! The session wasn’t supposed to be free, but, as usual, you caved when it became awkward over the phone. Now you’re just doing your best to not let it bother you.

Honestly, you shouldn’t let it bother you, because you shouldn’t even be in that sticky situation to begin with. And if you are (more frequently than you’d care to admit), you must be a repeat offender of some pretty serious booking mistakes which can be detrimental to both your business and to your closest relationships.

We’ve compiled three common “friends and family” booking mistakes so you can identify which of these culprits might be leading to your sleepless nights and (perhaps) newfound feelings of frustration. 

1.) Thanks to Social Media, Everyone is Friends and Family

That’s right: The world just got ginormously smaller, thanks to asynchronous communication (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter). And just because you were in band camp together back in 7th grade doesn’t entitle those happy campers to a discount today. Take the time to thoughtfully define who should be included in your inner circle and then weed out the rest. (Your mother-in-law’s veterinarian should be a pretty easy disqualification.) Really, be cautious: adding even one wrong person to your tight-knit circle can render this crucial step ineffective.

Keep your inner circle comprised of the people you don’t mind working your butt off for and that...wait for it…. would do the same for you. We know this may be a lot tougher than it sounds, so let’s take that weight off your shoulders and show you the way with our Photographer’s Friends and Family Kit. Through some seriously savvy and thorough advice you’ll be creating your tier system with corresponding price-lists and appropriate discounts for literally every discount hunter you know.

2.) Set Some Boundaries

You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right? Don’t let your friends and family run the show by allowing them to take advantage of an already discounted session. The best way protect your business is to take the initiative before they even inquire, and send details on what exactly you are offering. You can accomplish this with a well-crafted “friends and family” newsletter or savvy marketing piece.

Make sure to include restrictions, such as capping discounted services to one session per year. If you don’t already have a “friends and family” newsletter created, save time and get both seasonal editions in our Photographer’s Friends and Family Kit. We’re glad to help!

3.) The Goods

So just how generous should you be? Keep in mind, Mother Teresa was not a business owner, and your friends and family are likely not living below the poverty line. You, however, are a business owner and this is your livelihood (keep giving it away for free and you might be the one living below the poverty line). We offer an entire system for creative pricing and incentives your friends and family will truly value, all while you still maintain a profitable business. And, best of all, no frustration or resentment is included! Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Photographer’s Friends and Family Kit shares a tier-system and divulges all pricing details regarding what to offer immediate family, your neighbor’s podiatrist (you met one time at that one thing) and everyone inbetween (including your second cousin’s newborn session).

So from here on out, don’t be that over-tired photographer staying up all night working for practically free. Be a generous professional photographer who knows where to draw the line. Your true friends will want you to be successful (and stay sane), so don’t be afraid to create some smart policies which keep your most important relationships happily intact.


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