Opinion: The “Photographer Friend Rate” is Sacred and Should be Treated as Such

I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about with the “Friend rate.”

used to have a roommate who was the stingiest of people and no matter what sort of favors he was asking for, always asked for the friend rate. It didn’t matter if he didn’t personally know the people he was speaking to, he always tried to haggle and ask for a lower price instead of respecting a price point at face value. There’s a time and a place to do this; and there’s also an obvious intent on doing that.

By the way, there’s a big emphasis on used to have. We don’t speak anymore.

The friend rate is a price tag or sometimes a favor that is done for just friends by photographers. But it applies to more than just photographers; growing up my Real Estate broker mother used to get extra house sales for the plumber who often worked at our house and in return he did services for her for free. It’s an idea that’s based off of mutual benefits. There has to be some sort of connection and in my opinion, it shouldn’t be through a third party. If someone wants you to shoot their wedding, that person should be a pretty darned good friend and not ask for your friend rate just because their friend referred you.

Of course, you’re obliged to do as you please. But you should never let the world walk all over you and the talents that you’ve worked hard to craft and improve on. It’s about a whole lot more than just the fact that you’ve got a great camera, lens, and perhaps lighting (good God do I hope that you have lighting.)

Let’s also get something straight: absolutely no one is entitled to your friend rate even if they’re your friend. You have to want to give it to them. But if you’re in need of money, then a good friend will want to help you in those times. I’ve quoted a higher price for friends and those artists that I like in addition to providing them with tips. It’s called good Karma and it comes back around to help you out later.

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With that said, you should know that even though someone is not entitled to your friend rate, you are also not entitled to theirs. Instead, you provide the privilege to someone. Someone, in fact, anyone, is privileged to your friend rate. If you want to provide it to someone, then do it. But at the same time, you should never feel like you’re being bullied into it. When you provide a friend rate, you should weigh the pros and cons of it.

It’s important.