Shooting Family and Friends!

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Nicole, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Last week I swore never to do favours again - to take photos for family and friends - this week it's FINAL.

    The short story was, I booked up a whole weekend for two seperate groups. I even hired a very expensive lens which I didn't have and wanted to use especially - you know - go the extra mile! I double confirmed with everyone the shoots were still on.

    Then each cancelled within two hours of the shoot (excuses like the hot water system broke down and we can't have a shower... :| ).

    Then I got 'roped' into doing one last weekend for another family member (FOC) and the response was "Oh they're ok".

    = Never again free of charge and never again for family or friends!!!!

    People who think pictures are just pictures don't appreciate the effort and the expense that's required to produce beautiful images that are for a lifetime, not just for now.

    I apologise for having a bit of 'yarn' here, but has anyone else had similar experiences?
     
  2. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    I've learned early on in my career as a Pro...get the money "Upfront"...this is the only way to prevent cancellations...that...only is a waste of your time...sorry to here about this...when will clients appreciate our time...:smile:

    Cheers
    Chuck
     
  3. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Family and Friends: IF IT'S YOUR SHOOT MAKE IT YOUR SHOOT

    If you want to do the stiff geometric arrangements of the "pro" portrait studio, well, that's too bad. But look at Nicholas Nixon, at Sally Mann, and... well, most realy great shooters who have family pictures. See any "arrange the children on the sofa while the grownups stand behind" shots?

    Once you've crossed that hurdle then you won't have to worry about such issues as these. Make your own shots on your own schedule. Or make sure it's all billable.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I always get a kick out of people who don't do photography for a living that seem to think that snapshots taken with whatever format are some "high" art form.

    An "informal" family grouping that looks more like hogs feeding time around the ole trough is now "art" because the light is bad, the people look stunned and a person with a camera with a large negative has proclaimed that this "unstructured" look is artistic, usually because he/she is unable to do families any other way.

    Nicole, we've all run into the dilemma that you faced and that is why you need to move as far away from family as you can, and when you come to visit, leave your camera at home. It just all never seem to be worth it.


    Just an opinion,



    Michael McBlane
     
  5. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    A buffer zone is always a good thing...


    joe :wink:
     
  6. Fintan

    Fintan Member

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    dont do it for free, if someone asks, get them to do some child-minding or something in return.
     
  7. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    We had a large family reunion to celebrate my grandmother's 90th b-day this last summer, and half the family wanted me to shoot some photographs. We had planned this very nice, dressy dinner, and they wanted the line 'em up, grip and grin shots. I hate doing those, and I'm not very good at them. (Which is a relief, really.) I would be all dressed up too, and I just didn't want to be lugging a bunch of equipment, so I suggested we hire someone. We got the posed photos that folks wanted, and I did all sorts of b/w shots of all her great grandkids playing during the weekend. It was a great gift, and took some pressure off. I'm with Bjorke, make it your own. At the very least, get a deposit.
     
  8. Max

    Max Member

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    It's sometimes hard to please people whose expectations are shaped by the "proper" studio poses. My mother-in-law has very strict rules about what constitutes a "good" picture: everyone must be looking at the camera, and everyone must have a plastered-on, fake-looking smile. Everything else is right out.
     
  9. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I'm another that doesn't do freebies anymore even family and friends. I wouldn't expect them to decorate my house, service the car, give me a free dental filling, etc. So why should I shoot for free!
     
  10. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    If you're looking for sessions to practice your skills, I suggest not working with family and friends. They only know Friend Nicole -- they don't know Photographer Nicole. When I was starting out and wanted to 1) test my abilities and 2) get a few sessions under my belt, I learned quickly not to be shy about approaching total strangers with cute kids. If I thought a child's personality and look would be good for my portfolio, I would ask the parents if they would be interested in letting me photograph their child(ren) in exchange for a few 8x10's from the session. I asked maybe a dozen times, and got a 'yes' every time. Much less frustrating than trying to get family to take you seriously and respect your work.

    If, on the other hand, you're doing this as a favor to your family and friends, you'll have to absolutely be able to take charge of the situation. Treat it just the same way as you would a "stranger" session, even if you opt not to charge them. If you don't have a contract already, you should get one together, with your policies, pricing if you want, and any other details. This is where you can outline things like copyright (i.e. your images can't be duplicated without your permission) and scheduling policy (i.e. if you paid a session fee, and then no-showed, your session fee is not refunded, yada yada...) They may feel odd being asked to sign a contract, but it will reinforce the idea that you are a professional and they should treat you accordingly.

    Personally, I don't schedule friends and family. I just occasionally take candid shots when we're together, off the cuff and unplanned. That keeps all of us happy, and is a heck of a lot more fun for me.

    - CJ
     
  11. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    A bit OT, but this is unfortunately the case with many people. For my daughter's first b-day my wife and I went to a superb professional photographer to have some photos of our daughter taken. The guy was brilliant, just what we wanted...No formal poses with smiles and pretty dresses. It was all photographs of our daughter in a cotton diaper, in her coveralls, with a t-shirt and a hat...Brilliant stuff...The best one was of her a split-second before she got mad as h*ll...We were over the moon with the proofs and got a bunch of photos for ourselves and family members.
    A couple of months later we were at my wife's grandmother's place and were asking where she had put the photograph of our daughter that we had given her (it wasn't with the other family shots on the mantlepiece). She told us that it was in an album because it wasn't a 'proper' photograph like the other pretty ones from freakin' Wal-Mart!
     
  12. Art Vandalay

    Art Vandalay Member

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    I've been asked on occasion to photograph a family or work-related event and I just tell them that I don't photograph people and have no experience at it. Most people assume that if you are photo hobbyist that you must photograph people and I just let them know that this is not the case and they usually understand. Fortunately there are always plenty of others with their digital snappers who will gladly take up the slack.
     
  13. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi everyone, thanks for all your feedback. I have now accumulated a few nice and good ways to keep the peace. :smile: Most appreciated :smile:
     
  14. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    It is for this reason that we order school pictures every single year, and they are dutifully mailed to all grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — along with some proper Real Pictures. When we visit said relatives, the school heads are always the ones on display in the living room.

    One recent summer (2-3 years ago), we sent the kids off to visit Grandma and she sent me photos that she'd had done of them at Sears "because we needed some nice photos of them."
     
  15. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    You should take a field trip through my parents' house. They've seen the light, and now have almost no "proper" portraits in their house. The walls are covered with candid -- and really funny -- prints, which they value far above that other stuff.
     
  16. bmac

    bmac Member

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    :D now THAT is funny!
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Well what we really need to do is find a way to send my parents, heh. And my Aunt Lucille. And Doris. And Allen & Irene. And the in-laws from Up North. And the Adamses and the Chicago Durtsches and... hmm, maybe a tour bus would be best.
     
  18. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Heh heh. Send 'em to my house. They'd be horrified. :wink:
     
  19. sparx

    sparx Member

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    I've just started trying portrait work and have been taking lots of pictures of my friends kids. They love it and are happy with the results. My family on the other hand, will not be getting my services, been there and done that with other things. It just ain't worth it.