it's free, but it'll cost em

Feb 2, 2009
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Phoenix, AZ
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Fellow Photog Folkses,

I've tapped a couple to photograph for practicing some techniques and have offered to do it for free. We've been playing tag in terms of pinning down a day for us to meet and then the actual shoot, so we've yet to discuss terms and such.

My question is this, at minimum, I will be giving my time for free but want to leave room to sell them on something (i.e., prints, books, framed work, etc.) should the experiment prove positive. While we will thoroughly discuss everything ahead of time, I don't want them to feel as though I took the time to take some great photos of them but that they can't have any of them without paying. However, I do not want to hand over a CD and rob myself of any selling power either.

What do you guys think would be an appropriate balance...? That is, how to give them enough to let them feel as though they've walked away with something reasonable for their time yet just enough to get their appetite whet for more. I think this is a little different than doing TFP with models since they're using those prints/digitals to build their portfolio; a couple is potentially interested in so many more things. What's the limit to what you would offer?
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Sorry for replying to myself but I feel the need to clarify based on comments received on another forum. I only stated the scenario of only donating my time for free as a most extreme case on one that I, without a doubt, wouldn't present to them. The fundamental question I am posing is how little is too little to give (in the mind of someone hearing the words "I'll do the session for free"), and how much is too much?
Part of the issue (as I'm imagining it) is that you say you are shooting them for "practicing some techniques". If this is the case, then they are giving you their time, as much as you are giving them yours. You get the photos out of the maybe they should as well.

I think I know what you are asking though. There is the potential for more here but what should you give and what should you offer for sale?

I think that a set of 4x6 prints would be a good start. Maybe a CD of images but with watermarks.
I agree...Couple weeks ago I set up a few shoots w/ some (former) coworkers and their pets. They knew I was "practicing" but everything came out really good---it was basically to just get some more shoots under my belt w/ pets. To balance their time offered I gave everyone a free 5x7 of their choice, except for one family who I gave digital files to, which we both had previously agreed to. Everyone loved all the shots, and one says she will be ordering more from her session, but overall everyone seemed perfectly happy getting just the one print. Gave me alot more confidence in shooting, so to me it was a good trade, even if no sales come of it.
I've tapped a couple to photograph for practicing some techniques and have offered to do it for free. ... What's the limit to what you would offer?

I consider this an "invitational session." I'd give them a print... oh... 8x10.

If they need/want more, I suppose I'd do it very discounted... enough to cover my cost of prints, folders, etc.

While I may be providing them with a rare opportunity, they are doing me a favor. I would want to return a favor in kind.

I'm with Pete on this one. They are doing you a favor and would likely feel that you were being disingenuous if you started trying to sell them your wares.

I offer the best shots on CD in web size and resolution. They get to use them for desktop slide shows and facebook/myspace photos and I then put the files on my fulfillment site should they want more.

Having them available to use electronically has been fine so far with everyone I've 'practiced' on. I've sold a few prints from these but at discounted prices.

When looking for paying customers, if that's what you are doing, why not try a free 8X10 and sitting. If you can get them in, you can generally sell enough extra to more than make up for the original expense.
I'd say a 4x6 with small watermark for all of them.
I wouldnt emphasise the practice part, perhaps tell them your building a portfolio.

Let them know ahead of time that you will give them a free print for their time, and they will be given the oppotunity to buy additional prints if they wanted to, but there wouldnt be any pressure to do so.

Perhaps get them to sign a model/property release in exchange for the print as well.

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