Give away pictures for free???

AggieBecky

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I've been taking pictures for years but just really started getting serious about becoming a professional photographer. All my Facebook friends think my pictures are great and can't wait for me to take pictures of them and their kids. Because I admittedly am still learning and because I take care of my two young girls (ages 2 and 6 months), I am not going into business yet. A number of friends on Facebook want to set up photo sessions with me. My husband thinks I should take their pictures free of cost, only charge them at cost for prints, and give them a CD of their pictures. I just think this would be a bad start for my business and that I should at the very least charge something above cost for prints and not just give away CDs of my photos. I would be upfront with my friends about the costs and would let them know there is no pressure for them to have to order prints. What do yall think?
 

cgipson1

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!
 

sm4him

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I've been taking pictures for years but just really started getting serious about becoming a professional photographer. All my Facebook friends think my pictures are great and can't wait for me to take pictures of them and their kids. Because I admittedly am still learning and because I take care of my two young girls (ages 2 and 6 months), I am not going into business yet. A number of friends on Facebook want to set up photo sessions with me. My husband thinks I should take their pictures free of cost, only charge them at cost for prints, and give them a CD of their pictures. I just think this would be a bad start for my business and that I should at the very least charge something above cost for prints and not just give away CDs of my photos. I would be upfront with my friends about the costs and would let them know there is no pressure for them to have to order prints. What do yall think?

How could it be bad for your business, if you're not going into business? Sounds like what you mean is, you think you should make money at it, without having a "business."

I can really only relate MY experience and thoughts here: I'm not a pro, and I'm really not interested in becoming one (at least as far as portrait photography). Therefore, when I do "shoots" for family or friends, I don't let them pay me. They can reimburse me for any costs I incur (CDs, prints, or maybe if I need to rent a lens for the event), but I don't charge anything above that. Some have practically insisted, but when I explain my reasoning, they're generally okay with it. My reasoning--I'm NOT in business. If I start charging, it's a business. And THAT means I gotta have a business license and pay taxes, and deal with all that comes with a business. And I don't wanna do that, I just want to practice my skills and get better and have fun. Sometimes, I may let someone "pay" me by treating me to lunch, or something like that.

If you are not in business, don't charge. If you're going to charge, then set up your business first. That's MY opinion.

As far as whether you SHOULD be "in business"--well, Charlie already addressed that quite well. :D
 

jwbryson1

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Howdy from a fellow Texican. I'm a "T Sip" (or so my Aggie wife tells me). Welcome to the forum!

Post pics as Charlie suggested and let's see what you can do with the camera! :mrgreen:
 

12sndsgood

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one thing to keep in mind is that those people who are lining up for the free photshoots might not nessicarily line up for paid shoots. I think you just need to decide what you want to do. start a business or not.
 

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In my opinion, you should generally not charge (other than maybe costs) for your first couple of shoots in order to build up a portfolio. This is only fair, because the clients don't really know what they're getting, so it is pretty unreasonable to charge them for blindly trusting you (whatever you have on facebook may not equate to a legit portrait shoot).

But once you DO have a portfolio, then people DO know what to expect, and it is perfectly reasonable to charge for your services. If people are willing to pay based on what they see, then great! You have yourself a business. If you don't get anybody interested, then your portfolio is probably not as good as you thought. Change your prices and/or go back to square one and try to get some new photoshoots for free or at cost to practice and improve (and ask for help places like this forum). Then trash your old portfolio and put up a new one and see if you get any bites, etc.
 

Derrel

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Don't think of it as "giving away pictures for free". NO. That's not the way to mentally frame this. Instead, think of it in a positive manner, an uplifting way. How about thinking of it as selling photos, but with a 90% discount on all orders? Those WalMart printing-out machines can make short work of entire discs full of .JPG files that you take in for printing.
 

amolitor

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If you're in business, or will be, money should probably change hands.

The direction is up to you. If you're building portfolio, it's not unreasonable to pay THEM to be models for you. This makes it crystal clear, even if there's a token dollar amount, who owns the pictures, who's in charge during the shoot, and so on. You needn't even make it a cash transaction, you can do "time for prints" -- but make it clear that They are working for You.

When you're working and working FOR someone, then money or at any rate some valuable consideration should pass the other way.

The murky business in the middle where nobody's getting paid is a problem, and there can be huge misunderstandings.

This has nothing to do with photography, really.
 

Gavjenks

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It would also help to get yourself a model release form (there are many great generic ones online). Make one with fill in the blank spots for what each party receives from the deal.

If you're paying them to be models, you would fill in "$X" to them and "modeling services/2 hours of time" to you. E.g. for a magazine or an art print you want to sell to a third party.
If they are a portraiture client for family photos or something, then you would fill in "X many finished prints or digital photos" to them, and "$X" to you.
If no money is changing hands (friends, or building up a portfolio), then typically, it would be "X many finished prints or digital photos" to them, and "modeling services/2 hours of time" to you.

You also need the document to say who has what copyright or license for the photos. You could print off various copies with different possibilities, or use fill in the blanks again. Examples:

If you are photographing a model and paying them for it, like for a magazine or an art print that you intend to sell to a third party, then you would retain full copyright, and they would get no license at all. In such cases, you may not even ever give them any prints, but if you did, they would only be allowed to put them in their portfolio as a model, not sell them OR modify them.

If you're doing family photos for a client, then I would by default give myself full copyright, but them an unlimited license to resell or whatever, in most cases. This lets us both have rights. If they complained about me having the right to sell their photos, then I might offer to give them exclusive rights (with the stipulation that I choose the photos to send and edit them first) at a slightly higher price instead, to offset my potential loss of income for not being able to sell to a third party.

Or whatever, blah blah. (Note that if all they are giving you is "modeling services" then you NEED to retain copyright in some degree, otherwise you aren't getting anything of value from the contract, and it may be legally invalid. Consider $1 as your payment instead, if you don't want to retain copyright)



Point being, if you have a nice document like this, it makes everything crystal clear to everybody. Who is getting what out of the shoot? Who owns the photos? What can each party do with the photos?
Use a document even when shooting family and friends, to avoid misunderstandings and bitterness later on. If it's your family, you might just give them prints in exchange for their "modeling services" or "1$" or something, but still use a document, for clarity.
 

slow231

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!

lol. i totally get where you're coming from, but man does this sound more than a bit pretentious. it seems like the majority of members on this site are hobbiests and low level semi-professionals. not exactly an expert jury on what customers want or are willing to pay for imo.

it seems to me what really matters is the opinion of the paying customer base. so ironically even though facebook may not a good measure how good a person is as a photographer, it may be actually be a better gauge as to how well someone will do as a business since it more closely relates to the opinions of your customer base (to some degree). i've see plenty of so-so photographers get plenty of paying customers through facebook or other customer networking. none of that necessarily relates (or correlates) to the opinions of those more involved in the field.
 
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jwbryson1

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!

man does this sound more than a bit pretentious.

Charlie?! Say it ain't so! :headbang:
 

KmH

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Here in the USA, you own the copyright as soon as the image is written to the camera's memory card.

It is uncommon for working photographers to sell or otherwise give up control of their copyrights. However today, retail photographers do usually grant non-commercial, private use only, reproduction use licensing rights to their retail clients when providing digital image files on a disc.
A use license is like a rental agreement. You still own the property (copyright) but contractually agree to allow someone else to use your property in some well defined way or ways.

While a model release clause may be included in a contract, the model release would only be part of a more extensive document- the contract.
Also model release law varies by state, so using generic ones online may not be advisable.
The prudent approach when starting a business is to consult with an atorney.

Giving your work product away sets a bad precedent. I agree with Derrel that presenting a invoice that shows what would be a full charge, less a discount as an introductory offer or for portfolio building, is a better way to approach getting started.

Topics | Texas.gov
Starting & Managing a Business | SBA.gov
www.score.org

The business of doing photography is very much more about business skills than photography skills.

Charlie repeatedly requests people new to or contemplating the business of photography to post photos. There are many successful retail photography businesses out there that make less than high quality photographs, because the business owner has business acumen, like salesmanship skills.
In other words the quality of the photos isn't necessarily all that important.
 
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cgipson1

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!

lol. i totally get where you're coming from, but man does this sound more than a bit pretentious. it seems like the majority of members on this site are hobbiests and low level semi-professionals. not exactly an expert jury on what customers want or are willing to pay for imo.

it seems to me what really matters is the opinion of the paying customer base. so ironically even though facebook may not a good measure how good a person is as a photographer, it may be actually be a better gauge as to how well someone will do as a business since it more closely relates to the opinions of your customer base (to some degree). i've see plenty of so-so photographers get plenty of paying customers through facebook or other customer networking. none of that necessarily relates (or correlates) to the opinions of those more involved in the field.

If you say so... lol!

Considering most facebook types couldn't / wouldn't afford me anyway... I guess it doesn't really matter! SO you probably consider Craigslist a good marketing tool also?
 

cgipson1

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!

man does this sound more than a bit pretentious.

Charlie?! Say it ain't so! :headbang:

Obviously I have no clue what I am talking about... I will just have to assume the past 40 years have been wasted! I didn't learn a thing! ;)
 

HughGuessWho

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I would suggest you post some of your best images for C&C, and let us help you determine whether or not you are at a level where you should even consider starting a business. Most people on Facebook are clueless about photography, and that is not necessarily a good way to judge your potential.

We do teach here, if it is needed or wanted.

In general, if you are good enough to charge... then you should charge! If you are not.. then you shouldn't be charging (IMO)!

lol. i totally get where you're coming from, but man does this sound more than a bit pretentious. it seems like the majority of members on this site are hobbiests and low level semi-professionals. not exactly an expert jury on what customers want or are willing to pay for imo.

it seems to me what really matters is the opinion of the paying customer base. so ironically even though facebook may not a good measure how good a person is as a photographer, it may be actually be a better gauge as to how well someone will do as a business since it more closely relates to the opinions of your customer base (to some degree). i've see plenty of so-so photographers get plenty of paying customers through facebook or other customer networking. none of that necessarily relates (or correlates) to the opinions of those more involved in the field.

Trust me, when I tell you, with all due respect, you will not win that arguement on this forum. Save yourself some time and go take some pictures.
 

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