Jaclynn Wilkinson


How To Stop Shooting For Free



Photographers often ask how they can get their friends and family to stop expecting free photography and I always recall a past post for them (quoted below). JUST TELL THEM. And be okay with not shooting for a while as a result.

By doing a social media blast to all of your friends and family, no single person is likely to feel singled out! I find social media blasts better than email blasts for this sort of announcement. It’s usually these people who see your posts, anyway. Your closest friends and family. If anyone contacts you directly, you can go back and tag them in the “announcement” so they can see it applies to everyone! Email tends to feel more personal which is wonderful for most things, but maybe not this.

After you lose those free shoots that were keeping you busy:

There are plenty of people looking to pay $25 for a shoot on Thumbtack. I’d say that’s a step above picky extended family or friends threatening bad reviews on a free shoot. (Not my family, I’ve just heard the worst stories.) There is nothing wrong or shameful about a $25 photoshoot. At one point, that was exactly what my work was worth. It IS more than free, will help pay for your business expenses, and there ARE clients who are looking for this level of an experience.

Friends and family;

TIP your free friends and family photographer!! I don’t care if “they love it” or “need experience”. Photos are precious at all levels and they are likely giving you more of their time and emotional energy than you know. $10 to a 15 year old with their first camera could spark an entire year of confidence. $20 to a 30 year old trying something new for the first time could mean their first manicure in YEARS or the biggest sense of pride in bringing home milk and bread. Do not treat them like you are doing them a favor. Photography is always AT LEAST a 50/50 street.

If you don’t feel that way, don’t be the one to put them to work. Someone else does and will.

My first head shot taken on Clynn’s Phone in 2015! ♥

My Original Post:

February 15, 2016

“Sorry Friend’s/Family/ all you beautiful people, but Sincerely Jaclynn Photography NO LONGER SHOOTS FOR FREE. Neither do we shoot for “experience” or “portfolio building”.

When SJP shoots events/portraits for free, we now LOSE MONEY and LOSE PAYING CLIENTS.

If you would like to know more about how/why this is, feel free to ask and I will be happy to explain!

I do offer a family discount!

Q: How can I get photos for free? 
A: SJP will periodically run her own styled shoots in which you may apply to a model call and possibly be selected! Keep an eye out for those model calls.

ALSO, SJP will soon offer a “Passion Project Nomination” option. If you know of someone in need of quality photos to preserve something very important, and very special, you may send me an email nominating them for a free photoshoot experience with SJP. We will pick amongst the nominees semi-annually to start! (More on this to come.)

Love to all who helped me get my portfolio started! We are UP, RUNNING, and open for business!!!”

A 2019 Update on that post to make sure nothing gets confused:

That post from 2016 is an example for photographers a year or so into their business (as I was) looking to stop shooting for free. Since then, I decided against marketing Passion Projects (I no longer work with that gallery program/have other ways of donating my time and money) and I don’t do public model calls very often. (Find out Why later this week).

It’s great when first announcing that you will no longer be shooting for free to have options for those who supported you in the past to have a continued relationship with your company. As your prices rise and it’s possible they can not support your business financially any longer, allow windows for them to continue to love on you and what they’ve helped build in some way.

Now, I offer 50% off mini sessions twice a year to my “legacy” clients. They are those who supported me from September 23, 2015 through December 31, 2017. My prices were low for my industry and all of these people showed up to love on SJP. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

This is how I have found best for them to continue to support me, and for me to give back to the trust they gave me when I was just starting! I definitely suggest finding a way to do the same.

Best of luck in this transition! I know it can be a hard one but it is something you will need to do to reserve your resources for a growing business!

Sincerely, Jaclynn

How To Stop Shooting For Free

Previous Posts:

Prints: What is Gicleè?

Personal: Personal Update + Feb Education Goals

Getting Started with Off Camera Flash

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