If you own a camera, your mother, brother, uncle, bride-to-be cousin, and high school graduate next door neighbor, all want to make use of your skills. While it’s great to serve your friends and family with your talents, sometimes it feels more like a job than any paid gig. Here is what it’s really like working with your friends…
When your friend asks for a favor…
“Hey, can you take my graduation pictures? I’ll take you out to lunch.”
Ladies and gents— this is not an even swap unless your lunch is about to be the best meal you’ve ever had. Even then, a check is better than a grilled cheese, am I right? A lunch date doesn’t pay your bills. It’s great to serve your friends, but know your boundaries.
If you feel someone is taking advantage of you, you will grow to resent them. And neither you, nor your friend wants that!
When your friend lacks professionalism…
“Hey, I’m running late. Can we push back the time? Or can we cancel? I just have so much going on.”
Considering you’re likely doing your friend a favor, he or she should respect that your time is valuable. Being a photographer may come off like a hobby as opposed to a profession, but in reality, plenty of people make a career out of it.
You can too, but only if your clients take you seriously. Friends may fall into being your pal instead of seeing you as a professional. If you set the standard, they will likely follow suit. But in the future, if your friends reach out to work with you, maybe only consider working with those who see your time as money.
When your friend doesn’t like a single image…
“Ugh! I look terrible in all of these! Can you photoshop them? Or can we do another shoot?”
At this point, you are majorly regretting your commitment to this favor. This is about when you make the mental note (that somehow gets erased every time): DO NOT WORK WITH FRIENDS. Harsh? Not when you’ve spent countless hours of your spare time editing out figments of your friend’s imagination.
Instead, consider reassuring them that they look fabulous, but offer to make additional edits for a price. On the other hand, if you feel you did not capture him or her well, you can offer to re-shoot. Otherwise, lose the ego, laugh it off, and let it go.
When you and your friend have a blast and a half…
Finally, there’s good news! You don’t have to have the worst time ever. You don’t have to regret every shoot with a bestie. The truth is, how much you enjoy it, is up to you! You can take on a friends as clients or do shoots as favors, in hopes to keep you humble.
Regardless, remember that your craft is a skill and you are a person. You and your efforts deserve to be respected and valued. Choose wisely and choose joy. If your friend is unhappy, do the best you can, but don’t let his or her energy bring you both down!