By definition, " a professional photographer" is someone who makes an income taking pictures. Yes, it’s something we do for fun, but at the end of the day, it’s our profession. In order to have a successful profession, you have to make a sustainable income.
So how do I go about letting people know that I do not work for free?
The first reason and it’s simply this: I, as a person (i.e. friend, daughter, advocate, etc.) am a separate entity from my business.
For example, say I have a friend who owns a dress boutique. I would never expect (I hope) to be able to shop this boutique for free, to just take any clothes I wanted.
Why not? The business is a separate entity from my friend and subsequently, our friendship. The same is true for photographers.
We wouldn’t expect a free jewelry from a jeweler, free meals from a chef, nor flights from a pilot. But for some reason, photography has slipped the radar on this and it’s a common expectation that we can do our work for free.
With some good communication and armed with a few examples, we can help others to understand that we’re a separate entity from our business and we cannot make a profession out of something done for free.
Make sure you have price lists available, when friends ask you to do a shoot, say sure, I'll send you my prices, what is your email? Of course offer them a discount or something extra, but don't work for free.