Free Yourself From FREE


A good friend of mine is a professional photographer. When I say professional, I mean he has dedicated his economic earning efforts and committed his family’s stability to taking pictures for people or companies at their request, with expensive cameras, lighting, a commercial studio, and a talent that he has acutely developed to capture moments, events, smiles and human essence. He makes the magic--and he is very, very good at what he does.

I want my friend to take pictures of my family, my kids and do my corporate head shots. I want him to edit and finish these photographs and deliver these captured moments to me in a way I simply can’t do myself with my level of photographic expertise with my iPhone or my expensive camera. When my friend takes pictures for me, I receive a valuable service and benefit. I understand this value and know that I should pay my friend. In fact, I should pay my friend more than he asks (and I do). He tells me stories however that other friends and family tend to want free shots or extreme discounts. Why not get something for nothing? I’m like all the rest of the guys in this world. I like it FREE. Free is very good! So what is it about the human spirit? Why do we feel we can sponge off of people for free? Not only does this devalue our relationships, but more importantly it also risks jeopardizing the relationship altogether.

Let’s be clear here, I am suggesting that you do negotiate the best deal possible. But with certainty, I can assure you that FREE is almost never the best deal possible... you know the saying, nothing is truly free. There is always a cost. It may not seem so at the time, and you may be elated when you get something for nothing, but eventually the relationship will wear thin. All relationships, including the ones in front of us in this industry, need to be two-sided. Both parties have to win.

I will admit, I have asked for FREE  in my life and, in some cases, even maybe even demanded it. Looking back on this, I realize most of the time I was always wrong. When a service provider made a mistake, I used to go for the jugular.  My way of asking for restitution was to get it FREE.

But, that was the old me. Since then, I’ve learned some lessons. I’m making smarter choices and negotiating from a position of strength, not power. I’ve learned to share in the cost to correct a problem with my client or supplier/service provider/vendor and work really hard to let them know that I value their remedies and contributions to the fixes. Try it. You’ll be surprised by what unfolds through your actions. Relationships grow and they get stronger. And, the next time you need a favor again, you’ll have a supporter willing extend a hand who might even be capable to help you out of the next pickle you are in.