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How To Respond to Requests For Free Photography? What Can You Do About It?

My guide on how to respond to requests to doing photography for free.

Let’s face:

A lot of people don’t really take your photography passion seriously. To the point that they don’t consider it a profession, regardless of whether you already make money with it or not.

If you are an enthusiast photographer, you likely had people who requested for free photography.

How do you respond to them? Are you going to say yes or a no?

Today, I’ll give you tips on how to deal with this situation. 

How To Respond To Free Photography Requests


The majority of clients will pay for your services because they value your time and skills, but there will still some who will ask for free services or discounts. 

What to do about it and how to respond?

  • Learn to say NO

A lot of photographers would agree that this is a hard situation to deal with.

Saying no is more difficult than saying yes because you fear that the other person may feel bad about it.

However, if you feel that it is impossible to give them a discount or offer a free service, be brave enough and respectfully decline their requests. It’s up to you to decide what kind of reason you give but just remember to respond nicely.

Truth is…

Those who do not have an idea about how photography works don’t always understand or appreciate the effort that is involved to have a high-quality finish product.

Making them realize that it doesn’t only revolve in taking shots and printing it out but it also involves your time, equipment, and other expenses that you have to deal with.

A little off topic but in the video below Joel Grimes offers great tips on pricing:

==> Check out our review of Joel Grimes’ courses.

  • Know the reason behind

If you declined your client’s request but still they insist, better ask them for their reason. I’m sure they have a valid reason why they ask you to waive your talent fee.

Perhaps they actually cannot afford it, but they really need it or maybe they love your work and they are just trying their luck with you.


Regardless of their reason, strive to listen to them. They may have a good reason you had not thought of or you haven’t educated the client of your policies and the boundaries you have set beforehand.

Their reason will help you judge whether or not to give in to their request. Who knows, maybe you both can come to an agreeable arrangement.

  • Trade

This could be a win-win situation for both of you. This works well if your client is an expert on another field that you need help with.

For example, if the client is a technician who is knowledgeable on how to fix gadgets and it so happens that you have a broken camera or tripod you can have some arrangements so there will no longer money involved. 

If it is your client who proposed for trade services, make sure that you are decided to do it so you will not feel lost.

  • Negotiate a small discount

If by any chance you realize that it is somehow considerable negotiating a discount in certain circumstances, you could always say “I can offer you a discount, if…”

Whatever the exchange is or the reason, if you choose to offer a discount, be sure to set forth the parameters you’re willing to work with for yourself so that you can negotiate without surprise, and there are no misunderstandings and regrets.

  • Offer to reduce their package or quality of service

If you are torn between giving in to their request and your need for funds, you may still offer to give them your services but with limitations and restrictions on the services, you normally provide.

For example, if your overall package includes printing the photos, maybe you can just give them a soft copy and they’ll do the rest.

You can also decrease the number of hours of service in a package or maybe downgrade to a smaller album with fewer pages.

This is a friendly way to say it to them:

“If the price is too high for you, then maybe we could remove this from the package…”

A Request From A Friend Or A Family Member?


As a rule of thumb, don’t mix business with family or friends.

It is almost certain that when your friend or family have events, they’ll try to hire you for your photography services expecting that you’ll render your service for free (or do it at a discount).

This is where you need to prepare yourself to give them an explanation of why you can’t agree to this.

You may start by telling them that you appreciate the support they have given your talent but inform them the reason why you cannot do it free of charge.

But of course, since they are close to you, you may consider giving them a flat-rate discount. This is usually what other professionals offer as a gift.

Or you can simply tell them that you don’t mix personal with business.

Why Photographers Can Agree to Free Services?

  • For exposure

Your clients can remember you if you are generous in giving free services and discounts to ensure their return business. 

Offering your photography services for free for the first time is a great way to build a network of clients. This is also a way for you to build your profile and portfolio.

If you are still starting, building a portfolio is the right thing to do to increase the chances of landing potential clients for your reputation.

  • For practicing

If you are still a beginner, one way to hone your skills is through taking actual shots. There is less pressure if you do it for free because most likely, your client will not be picky about its quality. 

You are not only practicing your skills but you are also getting used to communicating with clients.

If you are more confident about your skills, that’s the time that you can charge your services.

==> If you’re a beginner, consider taking online courses from Photography Pro.

  • For passion

Volunteering to do a certain task if you have the time and opportunity is a good thing.

Not everyone can afford a good photography. Your passion for your doing your craft also allows you to do good deeds that will benefit other people.


Before deciding to agree to their request, ask yourself, are you really willing to do it or you are just pressured and obligated.

Reasons Why Photographers Can’t Agree To It

Let’s face it:

As a photographer, there are a lot of factors involved in why you come up with your ratings or prices, from the equipment involved, utility bills, studio rent, etc.

These are just the payment for external factors but how about time and effort?

How can it be compensated?

It is not easy to reject requests from clients especially if there is money involved but always do it politely and direct to the point.

These are some of the reasons why considering their demand seems impossible:

  • It is your bread and butter

If photography is your business, you cannot just give in to offer your services for free because you also have to consider the things or requirements you need to run it smoothly by having a budget to upgrade your equipment or hiring workers, etc. 

  • Your time and effort can’t be measured

Taking a perfect shot can be time-consuming because you have to be accurate in getting the right angle, be precise in lighting exposure, etc.

You have to exert much effort to have a top of the line finish product. You will be more motivated in doing your craft if you will be rewarded and compensated accordingly. 

Final Thoughts

Here’s my piece of advice:

Accepting or rejecting your client’s request for free photography delivers positive outcomes to your career.

It still depends on the situation.

If you are a beginner and your focus is to build your profile and enhance your skills, then it can work in your favor. However, if doing photography is your means of living, you have all the right to turn down such requests. 

Most of these requests can be stressful, but it may always be resolved through well-mannered communication.

Now, I’d like to hear from YOU:

What would you do in this situation as a photographer? Let us know in the comments!

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