I'm with the "it's completely free for friends at least once" brigade, after all what are friends for? Even with that approach, good people will often insist on paying something and I've received $100-200 on average for about 50% of my intended-to-be-free jobs. If they want to keep on having shoots and prints though, explain that they will have to pay cost-of-goods and be ruthless in adding everything to that cost that you will actually use (e.g. tell them it's petrol money plus $10/roll to shoot B&W plus $10 per delivered 8x10" (don't forget wastage, test strips & work-prints!); some simple price that covers your direct costs). Your labour cost is up to you; I still generally leave it at $0 for friends after charging them for materials but for more-distant acquaintances, I charge a nominal labour cost ($50/hour) that will scare off the time-wasters & riff-raff.
You need a written contract specifying price, terms of delivery and most importantly, that you retain copyright and laying out the license that you grant with the prints you supply. Doesn't matter if it's your mother or brother or whatever as customer, rights need to be nailed down (duration, resale, sublicensing, replicas/backups, display, etc) precisely even if you're ultimately generous in what you grant.
If they're strangers, you're competing with commercial studios so you have a responsibility to a) not kill your local businesses by undercutting them with free skilled labour and b) ensure you extract appropriate value from your commercial services, because you are at that point providing a commercial service. Such customers get the full billable rate ($100-150/hour; 30-40% of that will go to paying your overheads like building, vehicle, etc) and 100% markup on materials consumed. If they balk at the total quoted price, let them walk.
People expect photos to be free these days. You don't need to play that game unless you want to be a sucker and/or philanthropist.
Last edited by polyglot; 05-24-2012 at 01:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.