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d_felice's avatar

How should I go about discussing money with a friend?

Asked by d_felice (292points) November 9th, 2009

A few weeks ago my friend asked me to take some photos of her. I am a photographer (with both a college education and professional equipment) and she is in need of an updated head shot. She was pretty vague about what she needed so I asked her to get back to me with the details. Today she emailed me in hopes of scheduling a shoot. She has not mentioned money in any conversation about the photos and I’m unsure how to broach the subject. If she is commissioning me for professional work, I feel I should be compensated. But given that she’s a long time friend I don’t know how to say, “what are you going to pay me?” Any suggestions??

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28 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Perhaps consider volunteering your time for your long time friend.
There will be plenty of opportunities to make money later.

It sounds like there’s already a good exchange happening. You get to add to your professional portfolio and you’d be doing your friend a huge favor, like friends do.

I’ve done this before and the only money exchanged was for the cost of consumables.

JLeslie's avatar

She should have asked you in this situation, you are in an awkward spot. Did she send you the “details.” I would say you can reply back to that email with the price now knowing the details. Maybe just say I can do it for $40 is that going to be ok? Or whatever the price is. Are you just looking to cover you costs for printing the photos?

ninjacolin's avatar

She forgot to mention the money. It’s simply your job not to forget. :)

You’re thinking too much. Just be honest: You can’t afford to do it for free. Just tell her how much it will cost.

(remember, it would be dishonest to suggest to her that you could do it for free. don’t be a liar)

d_felice's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic, I see your point. However, I have found myself taking photos for her before (mostly of her children) and then offering a CD of the images just to be nice. I’m wondering at what point do I go from being nice to being taken advantage of?
I wouldn’t charge her the same as I would a client, but I feel a little something is appropriate.

@JLeslie, She’s lives about 30 miles away and wants me to go to her place for the shoot, so that’s an expense to begin with. Time away from other work is also money out of pocket. Also, any CDs/Prints would be an expense as well. She still hasn’t really explained exactly what she wants and I haven’t replied to the email yet because I don’t know how to ask what sort of monetary arrangement we could make.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

Unless you are in need of the reimbursement, do it for free. Friends are important. I, for example, I probably wouldn’t charge a friend for a reasonable and interesting painting commission. If they desired something with dimensions beyond 3’x4’, I might politely refuse, or, if they insisted, then bring up the issue of reimbursement.

<edit> In light of the distance, I feel like gas money or some very small but useful reimbursement is appropriate.

d_felice's avatar

@ninjacolin, I love your answer, but wsill I offend her if I just quote her a price out of the blue?

d_felice's avatar

Maybe I should have called her an acquaintance. I have known her for a long time but I wouldn’t consider her a close friend. Does that change things?

If she were one of my good friends, I wouldn’t think twice about doing it for free.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, the gas money is not why I would be charging, if she is a friend this will opportunity to see her, so I can’t see charging gas money to visit with a friend. If it were me I would just charge for the CD or prints, etc. and if it was taking me away from other work I probably would not do it.

I just saw you wrote she is just an acquaintance. Now I am back to tell her how much it will be. Give her the kinfolk discount as they say.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@d_felice That does change things. I think it’s appropriate to treat her as a client, but give her a discount as you mentioned. Continuing with the personal example, I would not paint something for an acquaintance without some reimbursement. If she’s reasonable, she shouldn’t be offended, and if she changes her mind, it’s her loss.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

You should definitely be paid for your services. My fiance’s friend does photography on the side. We asked him to do our wedding and he agreed to only charge half. Just because you’re friends with someone doesn’t mean you assume you won’t be charged for a service they’re providing for you. Maybe casually name a price, and ask if that price seems fair? Make sure you don’t charge full price. Just enough for your troubles and having to travel so far.

allergictoeverything's avatar

I agree with Beta_Orionis, give her a discount

d_felice's avatar

Thank you @Beta_Orionis, you sound like you’ve got a lot of experience with these things.

@ItalianPrincess1217, I really appreciate it! I was beginning to think I was a bad person for thinking of money!

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@d_felice No problem! You’re not a bad person. Time and resources are valuable!

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with most of the above, or… ask her “Did you want a professional shoot – this is my price, or for some casual shots, just reimburse me for my gas and time.”

Lacroix's avatar

If being a person’s friend meant never having to pay for services…let me tell you, we’d all be a lot more chummy with our car, plumbing, and electric repair men. I do have a FEW friends in those fields, but never once have they offered to do something for free. They would offer reduced, but both they and I knew that a reduction in money was, itself, a great kindness, and that they should be compensated SOMETHING.

After all, if she doesn’t think you should have anything in return…then SHE’S not being a good friend, is she?

Judi's avatar

I would email your price list and tell her that since she’s your friend you will give her a % price break. Mot businesses will give 10% to close a deal, I would give a friend 10% if it were me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’ve shot model/actor headshots for the past 30 years. Thousands of them. 80 different people in the past 9 days. Take @The_Compassionate_Heretic‘s advice and shoot her for free. A great reference from a trusted friend is priceless compared to $150 bucks. You’ll sell her prints, disks and retouching and make a dime.

She will show the images to her agency and let them know how easy you are to work with.

Just remember, this business is all about them, and not about you.

Confucius says:
“When serving your master, make your service the primary concern. Compensation will naturally come to those who do”.

Judi's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies ; Are you in LA? I am you’re friend and I need updated headshots!~ I went brunette.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Used to be in LA. Now in St. Louis.

Judi's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies; I used Mark Robert Halper He was amazing. I never thought I would cry so much in the “get to know you” period of a photo shoot. The cost of the head shots was worth it for the therapeutic benefits!!
It makes me happy that he used my photo’s on his website too, even though he put my serial killer pic on there. The purpose of a head shot is to get a job. I got way more calls from that serial killer pic than from my pretty pic!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There are great opportunities for serial killers in today’s marketplace.

Stop by if you’re ever in STL.

sending link privately

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You make the trip… and the shoot is on me.


Free shoots are one of the photographers best promotional tools. Just shot a fashion show for Nina Ganchi (designer for the Matrix movies)... did it for free. Bam! She sends me a G and refers to me as her friend, to her friends. Shot a friends wedding for free (I don’t shoot weddings) Bam! They send me a G and their friends blow up my phone. Shot a charity event for the YMCA for free. Bam! They hand me a two year contract for all their work. Shot portraits of orphans for free and Bam! The Philanthropists are coming out of the woodwork to get my services.

Shooting for free is a great networking tool. It builds prospective client confidence and separates you from the other shmucks who nickel and dime them to death.

d_felice's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – LOL, Awesome! Thanks for the time and insight!! Great advice! I appreciate it.

Jeruba's avatar

“My usual rates for this sort of work are $xx. As a friend I can give you a break to the extent of $xx. But I can’t afford to do this work for less than that. It’s my bread and butter.”

ninjacolin's avatar

you might offend her or you might not. that’s not your concern. ;)
your concern is being honest. you don’t have to be rude about it. just say it plainly:

“See you saturday! Will you need a receipt? Regular rate is $200 dollars, but with the Jenny-discount it will be just $175. Also, how will you be paying, cash, cheque, visa?”

replace “jenny” with her name, obviously.

@d_felice, if she doesn’t want to pay you, would you still want to work for her?

JLeslie's avatar

10% does not sound like a good enoug discount for a friend to me. She is going to help you with word-of-mouth advertising I would guess. When I sold my brother in-laws house I did for 1% instead of the typical 3%. I know he is family, but I have done similar for friends.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba. One of my friends is a photographer on the side and she’s given me discounts, but she charged me for her services as well. I thought that was fair.

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