I am often asked in mentoring sessions whether I give my best friends a discount or charge them at all. Yes, I charge them full price. Every cent of it.
It's not because I'm stingy. It's not because I'm trying to prove a point. It's because I know it ultimately helps both of us for a long-term relationship.
Let me back up. When I first started out, I was building my portfolio and learning all about the ins-and-outs of family photography. I had a handful of very good friends who helped me along the way (either letting me test out a concept on their family or just patiently allowing me to bounce ideas off them when they probably wished we were talking about breastfeeding or other baby-centric topics!).
Then, fast-forward a few years.
Each of these friends has another child. And possibly another after that. They want newborn photos taken...and 6-month photos...and 1-year photos...but can't possibly ask me because they know how much time and effort I put into each session, yet they also know I won't accept their money. So they are stuck either not getting photos taken, or they feel like they are putting me out by asking me. They aren't "allowed" to hire another photographer because I would be offended and upset. They are my besties, afterall!
They are stuck. And I put them there.
So I changed my ways a few years ago and I now charge every single person that hires me. I treat them as a client and they can hire me as often as they want without feeling guilty or greedy. There are no "homie discounts" - as that too goes back to them feeling like they are allllways asking a favor, and to me feeling like my work is not respected.
Do I still do extras for my besties? Absolutely. That is the joy of working for myself and having a skill that is "giftable". Perhaps it means I send them an unexpected print in the mail. Perhaps it means I create an accordion mini that I know their parents will love. I always like to do something that shows them, in turn, how much I appreciate them choosing me. I am not their default photographer, I am their chosen photographer.