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Thread: How Do I Politely Decline A Request for a Freebie?

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    How Do I Politely Decline A Request for a Freebie?

    Dear APers,

    For the past 4 years, I have been learning DSLR photography and constantly aiming to improve. I am now getting the odd request to do photo shoots for people and these people are more than happy to monetarily compensate me for my time and effort. As I do not feel I should be asking much, I always, so I have been told, under-value what I suggest to people with these requests and I have never had anyone complain about my suggestions. For close friends and family, of course, I am more than happy to offer my time and services in kind, because I'm more than happy to do this for them as a labour of love.

    Now, here's the kicker - I received an email from the sister of one of my close friends, requesting a photo shoot. Late last year, I did do a freebie for my close friend and as his parents and sister were also in the same state at the same time (a rare event), they were also included in on this particular family shoot. I do not consider his sister a friend, more like an acquaintance whom I am polite to when we meet. In fact, well, lets just say we have greatly differing views, ethics and ideologies and just quietly, she really grates on my nerves. In this email she detailed that she wanted this, she wanted that, she was going to use it for promotional purposes in a semi-professional arena, that she wanted numerous costume changes, etc, etc. At the end of the email she wrote "I know, as you're 'still learning' you don't charge for a session, seeing it all as experience", which I found incredibly presumptuous and rude, especially that she is seeking me out stating that my services are good enough for her promotional purposes, she just doesn't want to pay for them.

    Aside from this, I am 8 months pregnant after a very difficult pregnancy. There is every chance I could go into labour at any point and there is the chance that I could be admitted as soon as next week because the baby is measuring two weeks ahead in size and on my 4'11" frame, the doctors are a little concerned about my ability to carry this baby to the planned 39 weeks. I was even ordered to stop working 6 weeks ago because of a few medical issues that had popped up. As a result of my personal situation, I am even LESS inclined to put myself out for anyone at this stage.

    I know this is a common occurrence amongst many photographers, especially those who are not established enough to have those clear-cut boundaries. How does one politely say "No" or "Get nodded" or "Not on your life!" in this situation? I know I can use the impending birth as an excuse now, but there is a chance I may need to use this in the future and I DO NOT plan to be pregnant every time! LOL! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Erin.
    Better known as Erin.


  2. #2
    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    I would answer her email stating that as you are about to have a baby you would be unable to do the shoot until after you have had the baby, recovered and have the time to do the shoot. If she is still interested you would be happy to quote her a price for the job. But from the sound of her she would stick her nose in the air and go off in a huff. If she doesn't you might get a good earner out of it.
    Cheers
    Keith.

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    Sounds like similar (except the pregnancy .. ) experiences I've had in the IT repair, and Web design circles over the last 15+ years...
    People you "know" but aren't family, seem to think, they can get your services for free (or cheap) ..
    I've found that the times I have "caved" and thought "It's all experience", the end result has never been fun...
    I've discovered that the "cheaper" you do a job for someone the MORE they expect, add to that that there's already some "minor" issues between you and that person, the end result ends in someone unsatisfied (although they got your services for free) who goes on bad mouthing you to anyone who will stand still for long enough, complaining they didn't get what they asked for. These people can never be satisfied.....

    If you've been gaining "experience" for the last 4 years, I think it's time you started charging too
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Short of a case of severe photographic amnesia, I can't think of anything.

    OK, just let her know that you don't do them, and that the last time it was just coincidental.

    What can be wrong with making it clear?

    Am(nesic).
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    "Thank you for your email.

    As I am about to have a baby and my priorities are with my family at this time, I am unable to provide the free services that you request. However, once my baby is born and my household is into a routine, I intend to set-up a small photography business from home. Therefore if you are still interested in several months time, I can provide you with a quote for the photography services when I am in a position to provide the services you require".
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maezyra View Post
    ......

    At the end of the email she wrote "I know, as you're 'still learning' you don't charge for a session, seeing it all as experience", which I found incredibly presumptuous and rude, especially that she is seeking me out stating that my services are good enough for her promotional purposes, she just doesn't want to pay for them .......

    Dear so and so, the presumptuously rude person,

    I feel that I must respectfully decline your offer for additional experience and material to my portfolio, just as you have declined any offer of compensation and remuneration for my services, prior to a respectful consultation process.
    I am currently of the opinion that my portfolio is as complete as I require it to be, so any additional photographic material I collect at this moment will most likely not be used.
    Also, considering my current workload, I feel that I will find it difficult to find the time between other photoshoots(that afford me the luxury to pay my bills) to fulfill your request in a considerate manner.

    I am sure that you could endeavour to organise and effect a photoshoot on your own behalf, based on your assumption that the time and energy required to successfully complete a photoshoot must be of little value to those that do so for a living.

    If you feel that you may one day enlist the services of a professional photographer, I will refer you to my website for the service schedule I have made accessible to the public.


    I thank you for your generous offer.

    regretfully,
    Xxxxxx(insert name here)



    Don't use the pregnancy as the excuse, use work as the excuse. You simply don't have time between work to do freebies.
    Use the pregnancy as the fall back ... guilt trip backup reasoning.
    If you decline the offer in a carefully considered professional manner, she should(hopefully) get the gist that you do photography for work not freebies.
    If she complains of you to other mutual acquaintances, and they know you're so late in your pregnancy, it will look less favourable on her.


    This is all on the assumption that you don't owe her any favours(which I'm sure you probably don't).
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Well, that part I didn't know. Just tell her outright - even more so.
    Make it short and to the point. It will NOT be impolite. You do not have to be "Nice" to be polite.
    Am.

    PS: Don't use ANY excuse at all. You don't h ave to.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 29-08-2013 at 8:14am.

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    when people ask me to work on a cashless basis, I ask them what they do for a living and depending upon how they answer I ask them if they will fix my fridge/build my house/pave my driveway/do my taxes etc and do it for free...
    Greg Bartle,
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    Ausphotography Regular livio's Avatar
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    Erin I have to go with Ricks response to this one, It takes account of your current situation and then sets the tone for the future. It also makes it clear that you are not willing to do it for free. It is professional to the point and non offensive

    Kind Regards
    Livio

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    Well from the sound ofg it you shouldn't care whether or not you upset her, so I would just decline stating that you don't do free work any more. Who cares if she gets huffy.

    Short and to the point.
    Cheers

    You don't have to be dead to be a donor.

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    It's all about the Light!
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    How does "bugga off" sound?
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    Member GerryK's Avatar
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    There are a couple of great examples of letters above which would deal with it.
    I (being an insensitive male) would probably do one of the following:
    1: ignore the request
    2: be overly gracious, acknowledge the complements and then say 'no can do' and point them to a full price pro.

    When she replies post your babies delivery, acknowledge your world has changed, freebies are off the table, and provide a quote that you feel you would be happy with. (here I am thinking the cost of something you want for either your camera or your baby).

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    I am with Kym,

    I would be replying along the lines of, "No Thanks" and leave it at that
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    Thank you everyone for these great response ideas!! I have to admit, I was left flabbergasted by her request and this was a way of venting, checking I wasn't out of line, as well as requesting the above information. I thank you all immensely for really giving me the strength to say no.

  15. #15
    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    To be honest you need to be honest. I just state that my time is precious and that I don't do freebies. I got sick of the guilt trips, i realised this very quickly once when I got no thanks or anything for a freebie for someone and they still want more photos.

    My favourite line is if I am going to do photography for free I would rather be birding, for you it would be photographing your baby.
    Last edited by Shelley; 29-08-2013 at 7:59pm.
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    I'll do photos for people for free... But only when I want to, and only the people that I like. And the word "Free" may mean "Cost Nothing". But to me it means payment for something they did for me. Or I know their friendship and loyalty is more than money could buy.

    If someone sent me an email like that, I don't think I'd be that polite. I'd think "bugger Off" and delete the E-mail.
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    If you don't need to make money from her, no is a good answer (though it may be satisfying to somehow get her to pay for your services).
    More importantly, hope all goes well for you and your soon to be born. That's what's important at the moment.
    Last edited by Mark L; 29-08-2013 at 9:19pm.

  18. #18
    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    As per Rick's suggested message.

    While I like the concept of "bugger off", it may be too subtle for some

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, and congratulations Erin.
    Cheers

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  19. #19
    It's all about the Light!
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    Seriously, depending on your relationship with the party concerned, 'bugga off' might be appropriate.

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    Thanks everyone. She is one that grates on my nerves. I love her brother and his wife to bits, but her... She seriously annoys me. She won't be paying me... I have reason to believe that she will never have any intention of paying, no matter what is suggested to her, she isn't that sort of person. I'll just be honest - I am at a point now where I am charging for my time and effort, albeit a nominal fee (and hope she doesn't ask my Dad, who is also in the same group that she wants this for, whom I am doing a freebie for {he's my Dad, he's more than paid his dues} how much I charged him!).

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