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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Do you have a 'friends' price?
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01/19/2012 09:53:49 AM · #1
It's taking me forever to figure out how to ask this and the reason behind it.

I'm at a point where I'm confident in my skills as a photographer. I have the equipment, the skills and the experience (I've done several freebie weddings for friends and some paid work at a discount price as I got better). Photography is not my main source of income, presiding over weddings is (I work in several chapels in west Japan). I bring my camera with me to the chapels, do some photography between weddings of co-workers/friends or venture out into the streets during longer breaks etc. The company I work for and my co-workers know I love photography. They visit my website and Facebook fan page. It's a wonderful feeling when you get compliments at work on recent photography you've done.

Through my website I get request for quotes. I turn down some (Can't fit it into my schedule or won't work for the prices they request after receiving my quote). Other work I've done and people have been happy.

Then, the other day I was put in a WTF kind of situation. Basically, with no time to talk about details, my manager asked on behalf of a pianist (Standing next to her) if I could do her wedding photography, for 100USD, for 2 events (She's getting married at two locations, don't know why yet), on 2 separate days. The logic behind this for my manager was "They are going to be during the week so you wouldn't have to take time off from your wedding work on the weekends." Of course I would have to take time off my regular weekday work (Private English teacher) and would end up losing money. The whole awkwardness of the situation was a bit overwhelming. I just finished presiding over 6 weddings, was tired, hungry, wanted to go home, in the elevator on the way to the bottom floor to exit the building while they were going to the 8th floor to change out of uniform (The chapel is on the 23rd floor). I had seconds to think/decide. And I said "I guess..."

Now, the weddings aren't until April which gives me time to think about how to handle everything. While I've worked with this pianist a few times, I don't know her that well, I don't even know her name. Another pianist getting married THIS weekend is a good friend...but I'm there as a guest. I would have been there as a photographer but wanted to enjoy the party and since I'm also known for my consumption of beer, I told her it would be safer to have a photographer there that wasn't drinking. She understood and I helped her find a good photography (Working in the chapels you get to know many of them)

Back to the story, I'm not sure what my manager was really thinking. We have a good relationship as co-workers and friends...so I was kind of shocked when all this came up...especially considering the actual scenario (In the elevator, going home...seconds to talk). Even at a friendly rate, 100USD is almost an insult.

My plan is to move around my work so that I don't lose any money, do the weddings but give her the unedited data on a disk. I'll explain to her that if she wanted more then she'll have to pay more (Editing fees, printing fees, book design etc). And hopefully by the end have her re-think how she will want to handle the photography part of her wedding. I'm still working on how the dialogue will go. I have a feeling my manager will be asking me to 'do it as a friend' for HER and not for the pianist so much...so how do you explain to a friend, that a friend of a friend doesn't always count...

I could write more, but just thinking of all the stuff I could say right now I think this post would be too long for most. My "I guess..." was a bad move. However, how I handle it after and from now on is something I need to work on and hopefully some friendly advice from the DPC community will help...

I should also mention I posted to both my Facebook page and fan page the "This photograph is not free" article...I just wish it were also in Japanese.
01/19/2012 10:51:14 AM · #2
you could just tell her you looked at your calendar and already have something booked that day that you can't get out of.
01/19/2012 10:56:09 AM · #3
Just say no.
01/19/2012 10:59:23 AM · #4
that works too
01/19/2012 11:03:45 AM · #5
You said "I guess". You didn't come to an agreement on how many photos, how many hours, books, or anything right? So that means you still have to work out the details.

You tell her that you will shoot the wedding for $100, but that will only get you shooting at each location for an hour (or half an hour depending on travel time). And that $100 only covers shooting. That put you at $50 an hour for just shooting the wedding and them not getting any photos. Then you quote the pianist the price for additional time, proofs, editing, printing, delivery, books, etc. When the quote is finished it comes out to be about your normal asking price for weddings. That's the best way to do it.

Therefor you did not lie..you would shoot the wedding for $100, but you aren't selling yourself short.

And technically the "friend's" price is supposed to be when you shoot for a friend...not the friend of a friend.
01/19/2012 11:25:43 AM · #6
What kind of "friend" would put you on the spot like that? If this person is your friend she would realize that you do photography semi-professionally and would just get you and her other friend together to work out the details.
01/19/2012 12:58:54 PM · #7
Be very very careful. Offering a 'friend' rate is a double-edged sword. One friend may wonder why another friend got a better rate than they did.
01/19/2012 01:16:24 PM · #8
With "friends" like that...well, you know the rest
01/19/2012 01:19:16 PM · #9
Whenever I do something for a reduced price, I always write up the invoice for the full value and then deduct whatever "discount" is necessary to get to the final price.

This sounds like a bad deal, but if you were asked by your boss I can see the problem. I would maybe risk asking "Do you know what I usually charge to shoot a wedding at even one location? And did you know that I have another job during the week?"

If you are stuck with this I think I agree with the suggestion that you inform the bride that you'll have very limited time at each location, and that you'll only deliver unedited images (with permission to edit/print them), or she can pay you your regular rate to process them.

If someone can afford two weddings, you'd think she could afford a photographer. :-(

Note: If the two weddings turn out to involve two different grooms, you may have the potential for making a LOT more money in the future ... ;-)
01/19/2012 01:26:59 PM · #10
Originally posted by heavyj:

Basically, with no time to talk about details, my manager asked on behalf of a pianist (Standing next to her) if I could do her wedding photography, for 100USD, for 2 events


For a future response, how about: "I don't think so.
Lets sit down soon and talk over the details.
We can see what we can come up with that you can afford."

Some version of this might work for your present predicament.
April's not far away.
Better get back to her soon so she doesn't have big expectations.
01/19/2012 02:14:22 PM · #11
Originally posted by snaffles:

Be very very careful. Offering a 'friend' rate is a double-edged sword. One friend may wonder why another friend got a better rate than they did.


I know, that is a real tricky spot. I shot my wife's cousin's wedding as a gift who I knew quite well, and now I have another cousin asking me what I charge that doesn't know the other cousin very well thankfully. I just worry about the future possibility of it ever being brought up.
01/19/2012 02:17:22 PM · #12
Originally posted by heavyj:

...I had seconds to think/decide. And I said "I guess..."

In reality, I would've laughed at the suggestion, even if it were from my boss. My counter offer would've been that if there were an open bar, I'd show up with my point-&-shoot and take a couple of shots only if it didn't interfere with my drinking.

But if I ever did find myself in your situation, I'd play it like George Costanza and just pretend like the elevator trip never happened.

The simplest solution is always the best.

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01/19/2012 02:38:45 PM · #13
Another way to approach is to do it for the hundred bucks, but do it the way you want. Me, I've always thought about shooting a wedding with a pinhole camera...

Or show up early for drinks with your PnS in tow.
01/19/2012 02:58:25 PM · #14
Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you are stuck with this I think I agree with the suggestion that you inform the bride that you'll have very limited time at each location, and that you'll only deliver unedited images (with permission to edit/print them), or she can pay you your regular rate to process them.


I'd even be leery providing the unedited photos for that price. Did you see the thread about the guy getting sued because he missed the last 15min of the wedding? Do you really want that risk for $100? Like I said you agreed to shoot the wedding...you didn't agree to anything else....hey show up and shoot with an iphone... (okay don't really do that, but that would be hilarious!).
01/19/2012 04:30:41 PM · #15
problem is there is this thing called honor and you don't want yours trashed by some hime who didn't get her pictures.
01/19/2012 04:38:25 PM · #16
Originally posted by albc28:

Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you are stuck with this I think I agree with the suggestion that you inform the bride that you'll have very limited time at each location, and that you'll only deliver unedited images (with permission to edit/print them), or she can pay you your regular rate to process them.


I'd even be leery providing the unedited photos for that price. Did you see the thread about the guy getting sued because he missed the last 15min of the wedding? Do you really want that risk for $100? Like I said you agreed to shoot the wedding...you didn't agree to anything else....hey show up and shoot with an iphone... (okay don't really do that, but that would be hilarious!).


Keep in mind the OP is in Japan and not lawsuit happy US
01/19/2012 04:44:20 PM · #17
Originally posted by Spork99:

Originally posted by albc28:

Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you are stuck with this I think I agree with the suggestion that you inform the bride that you'll have very limited time at each location, and that you'll only deliver unedited images (with permission to edit/print them), or she can pay you your regular rate to process them.


I'd even be leery providing the unedited photos for that price. Did you see the thread about the guy getting sued because he missed the last 15min of the wedding? Do you really want that risk for $100? Like I said you agreed to shoot the wedding...you didn't agree to anything else....hey show up and shoot with an iphone... (okay don't really do that, but that would be hilarious!).


Keep in mind the OP is in Japan and not lawsuit happy US

True, it would end very differently.

' . substr('//www.pbw1.com/harikari', strrpos('//www.pbw1.com/harikari', '/') + 1) . '
01/19/2012 05:03:04 PM · #18
Too late now, but I've learned the socially acceptable way to handle the situation is to give a very, very general thumbs up to the idea when you are trapped and then later, when cooler heads are prevailing, graciously back out.

"Hmmm, that might sound like something I may be able to do. I'll have to look at my calendar, talk it over with my (wife, assistant, dog), and get back to you, but I might be able to help."

The next day bring up that you would be taking off work and losing more money than you are making and that you think it isn't a good idea for you to participate.

Even now there is no way I would feel compelled to consider your acceptance as an agreement that integrity needs to honor (forget about legality). You can easily explain you felt put on the spot and now that you have thought about it you realize it's a bad idea.
01/19/2012 06:45:55 PM · #19
George quits his job, regrets it, and shows up as if nothing happened.
01/19/2012 10:44:44 PM · #20
My photography is not a business (Yet...fingers crossed) so if I went there, no contract would be signed...nothing legally binding.

What could happen is if I don't do well by the bride, my manager may catch wind and think 'All he cares about is making money'. We've had similar 'fights' in the past. By 'we' I mean the 'foreign staff'. Japanese tend to bend over backwards for their companies (And when they don't, they quit/get fired) whereas we foreigners don't let the companies take advantage of us. It's a cultural thing. I just don't feel like getting into a fight either...I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Lawsuits wouldn't be a concern.

I think when the time comes to sit down and go over the details with the bride that I will say: "Usually, I do a friends wedding for 500USD. Since you're a friend of the company and looking to save money, I can help you out for 100USD per wedding (Not for both). But this would only be for unedited photos. No albums, no editing, just photos up in a private gallery on my homepage for you to download and edit on your own. Of the photos for download, I'll only upload the photos that are 'quality' or photos that I would have considered editing. Nothing with eyes half open or harsh shadows/lighting etc. You can download them all onto your computer. You have to understand that the quality may not look professional or anything like what I have on my site. That's because the editing process is what takes some time. (Here I'll show her a couple of examples). Because it takes a few weeks to a month, depending on how many photos you may want edited, I need to be paid in advance so that I can clear time on my schedule to do the work. The first 10 photos for editing are X and for every 5 photos after that Y. You can then buy your own album and put it together. However if you want and album like this (This is where I would show her what I've done in the past) then Z would be the final price. In the end, it would be more cost effective for you to go the more traditional route of ordering a 30 page album and I will reduce the cost by XYZ - friendly discount (Which would make it worth my while to shoot editing and present the bride with the album) or it would have the bride thinking maybe she should go with someone in house (I can always refer her to photographers).

Anyone think that this is a bad/good idea? Ways to improve on it? How to handle my boss (Although I have an idea for that already).
01/19/2012 10:56:14 PM · #21
Too complicated.

Either back out, or DO the damned weddings for 100 bucks EACH, give her the pictures, and say sayonara, that's your end of it fulfilled, and write the whole thing off as a lesson learned. Your post immediately previous reads like a manual for resentment and disaster to me. Just give her your time for 200 bucks and be done with it.

R.
01/19/2012 11:10:02 PM · #22
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Too complicated.

Either back out, or DO the damned weddings for 100 bucks EACH, give her the pictures, and say sayonara, that's your end of it fulfilled, and write the whole thing off as a lesson learned. Your post immediately previous reads like a manual for resentment and disaster to me. Just give her your time for 200 bucks and be done with it.

R.


Agreed. This sounds horrible, and very much like they're trying to leverage you for purely their gain. Are you gaining anything for prostituting your ability? Will you walk away better for this? I've done some shoots with folks I know, and that's why I gave them a super cut rate. That's the same reason why people on model mayhem meet up- photographer gets images for potrfolio, model gets portfolio shots too. Both benefit. Where's your benefit for offering a SUPER low cost?
Case in point-
I shot some band photos for a friend, who liked my work and asked me. I told him, I've never done band photography, but I'm willing to show up and take photos if you give me access. You'll get X photos you can select depending on usage and more than that, I'll charge. We both walked away happy, because I got experience, he got photos that he can use for promo. But are you walking away from this with much?
01/19/2012 11:44:06 PM · #23
Originally posted by heavyj:

My photography is not a business (Yet...fingers crossed) so if I went there, no contract would be signed...nothing legally binding.

What could happen is if I don't do well by the bride, my manager may catch wind and think 'All he cares about is making money'. We've had similar 'fights' in the past. By 'we' I mean the 'foreign staff'. Japanese tend to bend over backwards for their companies (And when they don't, they quit/get fired) whereas we foreigners don't let the companies take advantage of us. It's a cultural thing. I just don't feel like getting into a fight either...I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Lawsuits wouldn't be a concern.

I think when the time comes to sit down and go over the details with the bride that I will say: "Usually, I do a friends wedding for 500USD. Since you're a friend of the company and looking to save money, I can help you out for 100USD per wedding (Not for both). But this would only be for unedited photos. No albums, no editing, just photos up in a private gallery on my homepage for you to download and edit on your own. Of the photos for download, I'll only upload the photos that are 'quality' or photos that I would have considered editing. Nothing with eyes half open or harsh shadows/lighting etc. You can download them all onto your computer. You have to understand that the quality may not look professional or anything like what I have on my site. That's because the editing process is what takes some time. (Here I'll show her a couple of examples). Because it takes a few weeks to a month, depending on how many photos you may want edited, I need to be paid in advance so that I can clear time on my schedule to do the work. The first 10 photos for editing are X and for every 5 photos after that Y. You can then buy your own album and put it together. However if you want and album like this (This is where I would show her what I've done in the past) then Z would be the final price. In the end, it would be more cost effective for you to go the more traditional route of ordering a 30 page album and I will reduce the cost by XYZ - friendly discount (Which would make it worth my while to shoot editing and present the bride with the album) or it would have the bride thinking maybe she should go with someone in house (I can always refer her to photographers).

Anyone think that this is a bad/good idea? Ways to improve on it? How to handle my boss (Although I have an idea for that already).


Too complicated. Your calendar is full those days and impossible to clear.
01/20/2012 01:12:28 AM · #24
This isn't to give you any advice, just a possibly irrelevant anecdote. My nephew married a Japanese girl and there were two wedding ceremonies. A traditional Japanese one in Osaka, and a traditional western one in Geelong, Australia. I hope they've told you exactly where the two venues are.
01/20/2012 02:00:07 AM · #25
Both venues are in Osaka. That much I know.

I guess I'll be adding some more photography to my portfolio.

ETA: And I'll be having a discussion with my manager about future referrals.

Message edited by author 2012-01-20 02:00:38.
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