Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I’m a photographer who absolutely adores her job. Nothing is more awesome than capturing memories with my family and friends. However, this career choice has come at a price.
I now find myself constantly on everyone’s guest list, even for my ‘not so close’ friends. But I think my popularity is only based on my camera. I’m not sure I’d be invited if I wasn’t going to capture all of their precious memories for them, for FREE.
I now wrestle with myself over attending these events. Often times, after I get over myself and just go I feel good about it. I get the photos and really enjoy having them UNTIL the inviter (I may have just made that word up) starts hassling and bugging me nonstop to have copies or a disk prepared for them immediately. I don’t feel like it’s right to charge my friends and family for me to be at their celebrations, but how do I tell them nicely that I’m not here for them to use and abuse?
I’m Gonna Beat Someone With My Nikon
Dear I’m Gonna Beat Someone With My Nikon,
Where did you say you lived? Near Brooklyn? Maybe you have next weekend free and would love to picnic in the park with me and my cuter-than-the-cutest-Gerber-baby son who is in dire need of a modeling contract? Also, can you pick up some sandwiches, a couple bottles of wine, and some cookies for the lunch? I’ll bring the blanket and the photogenic kid.
But after that, I would suggest that every once in a while you show up to a shindig without your trusty film-dependent sidekick. Keep everyone on their toes. They will learn pretty quickly not to rely on you to always have your camera and be their unpaid professional photographer. Unfortunately, I think this will be easier said than done.
It seems to me that part of the problem here is your lack of confidence in your own self-worth. While you may enjoy all the photos you take at these events, you may actually be way more scared that people only like you because of your camera. You are worried that if it’s not with you, they will stop inviting you. And for some of these folks, that could indeed be the case. But honestly, do you really want ‘friends’ who only like you because they can get your services for free?
You are lucky to be able to make a living doing something you love and enjoy; not a lot of people can say that. But part of being successful is knowing when to say ‘NO’. And you’ve got to do that, especially for those ‘not so close’ friends. As for your other friends and family, it’s a fine line you’re walking. It makes sense that you don’t want to charge them for your services, however, how will you continue to make a living? Perhaps you can take some pictures for free, but if they want the whole set they will need to pay something. Or maybe you can offer all of the photos at a reduced rate? No matter what you do, don’t undersell yourself. Take pride in your work, and more importantly, who you are as a person!
P.S. I’ll need 60 8x10s and about 200 wallet-sized photos. Thanks.