How Can I Charge My Friends for Photography?

PIN charge-friends-photographyIn the previous article, I talked about the #1 easiest way to start bringing in photography customers so that you can begin building your portfolio.

But when friends and family are your first customers, how do you go about charging for your time, services and products?

You will of course have very close friends and family members that you would never charge for photographs, and that’s fine. It’s a little hard to charge the friend that’s always there for you when you need them.

But as you branch out and begin photographing less close friends and acquaintances, it’s okay to charge and begin making your first dollars from your photography!

We like to break down “Portfolio Building Pricing” into three distinct groups so that you will have an easy time determining what to charge who. Let’s take a look at the Three Tiers of Portfolio Pricing:

Tier 1: Immediate family & very close friends


For people so close to us, it will be hard to charge in the beginning (or ever!)

It is up to you, but we would suggest photographing the people closest to you for free, and perhaps giving them a free printed portrait as well.

If they want more portraits printed, you could offer to get them created at cost or a little over cost.

Tier 2: Extended family and friends


With people not considered “best friends,” but who are still close to you, such as cousins and coworkers, I would suggest offering them their session for free, and then perhaps offering a complimentary print of their choice, say an 8×10″.

You can offer a certain discount, maybe 60% off, on any other portraits they would like to order.

Tier 3: Acquaintances




For people who you are not so close to, such as a friend of a friend or a sibling’s coworker, you still want to offer a discount in return for them helping you build your portfolio.

You may want to offer a free session plus that complimentary print, but then offer less of a discount than that offered to group 2 above – say 40% off.

Or, perhaps you offer 50% on both the session and prints, plus a complimentary print. This way you still make a little money in case they decide not to purchase any prints.


In all cases, it is very important that you state what your regular prices are upfront, and then offer the freebies and discounts as “Portfolio Building Specials.”

This way, if any of these clients come back in a year or so, they will not instantly expect the same major discounts that they originally received.

They key with building your portfolio is to ensure that you offer discounts on regular prices rather than start with low prices. As mentioned in our service pricing series, it is much easier to remove a discount as you grow your business than it would be to raise your prices from starter prices to professional prices.

So, are you ready to start bringing in your first clients? Let us know how you feel about this pricing model below!


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