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How I Overcame Free Shoot Requests In My Photo Business

I wanted to talk with you guys today about how I overcame having people ask me to do free photo shoots.

It has seriously been so long since someone has even had the guts to ask me to do a photo shoot for free. Here is my tip for you. Back in the day when people used to ask me this, it was because I was transitioning out of just getting started, building my portfolio and really it was mostly just friends and family that they would be like, “Hey, I need photos done for this or that. Do you need to practice for your website or whatever?” Really it came down to the fact that they didn’t know that I was maybe good enough at that point or they thought they were doing me a favor.

What I would say to them is, “Oh, I’ve actually been doing this professionally for three months now or whatever it is. Here’s my fee. But tell you what. If you book in the next 24 hours, I’ll give you some kind of a deal.” Normally I do a $300 session fee and then my packages start at a thousand dollars. I would say for them, “Hey, I’ve been doing this professionally. This is my full-time job now. I would absolutely love to photograph you. Normally it’s $300 to book. But I’ll photograph you for $99 and give you a hundred dollar credit towards your order. Our packages start at $997.” That’s exactly what I would do. If they say, “Oh, well. No, thanks.” Don’t be hurt by that. This is a transitional period and you need to get the word out there that you don’t work for free. This isn’t a hobby. This is your full-time career.

Really it just comes down to asserting yourself, being confident, not being afraid to tell people that this is your job and you charge for it. You don’t have to get offended. They just didn’t know. Just simply explain to them and that’s really all you have to do. Then over time people will start to know.

My family does not get free photo shoots from me. My family pays for photo shoots from me. You guys might think that that’s cruel but this is my business. Yes, I will give them an incentive but they do pay me. My mom just booked a boudoir shoot with me and she paid me for that. My stepmom and her girls booked a photo shoot with me and they paid me for that. I just want you guys to know you don’t have to get discouraged if people are wanting to do free shoots. Just be assertive, be confident and tell them how it is. You don’t have to be mad about it.

I hope that this helped you guys, this scenario and these tips helped you. Go ahead and comment “career” below if you enjoyed this.

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.