Custom portrait photography can be very, very expensive. Even the “cheap” sessions aren’t really that cheap. Some people have plenty of discretionary income to spend on photography, but many don’t have any “extra” money (or very little), which is why so many people end up with bland, low quality pictures from mall studios, or worse, nothing at all.
But I think it’s possible to create a world where photographers can earn a healthy living and still be able to donate photography to those who could never afford high end portraiture.
When I was 12 years old, I lost my mother and step-father when our house burned down. Everything we owned burned in the fire, too. Because of that, I have almost no photos of my mom. I think of that every time I give portrait sessions to a new family. Memories are all we have in the end, and having lovely photos to help you remember your loved ones shouldn’t be out of reach just because you don’t make a lot of money.
How do I get free portraits for my family?
Just join the TFPI email list and you’ll be notified whenever I offer free session days. No verification required, no sign up process, no need to “prove you’re poor”. If you’re reaching out asking for free portraits, I’ll take your word for it that you’re struggling. Sure, some people will try to get free sessions when they can actually afford to hire me, but that’s OK. It will all balance out in the end. 🙂
If you don’t think you need free portraits but my full $500 sessions are too expensive, I also offer a $150 and a $250 session. Just email or call me and let me know which session you’d prefer.
In order to make it more cost-effective for me, I shoot multiple families on the same day. I send out an email blast when I’m doing a free session day. Once you get the email, you can reply with a time slot you’d like on that day (time slots are first come, first served). Then all you do is show up and shoot! Free sessions are around 15 minutes long and you’ll receive digital photos in an online gallery in a day or so. Most shoot days happen on-location in lovely outdoor settings between Santa Maria and Pismo Beach.
There are no fees for you at all. It does cost me a lot of time and some money to provide these sessions for so many people and I’m currently living below the poverty line as well, so if you are financially able to, you are welcome to tip me any amount you like, but tips are not required and don’t feel bad if you can’t afford a tip.
You’ll get at least 5 gorgeous, custom images, but often more! There are no prints included, but you are welcome to print the images anywhere you like. I shoot these sessions with the same care and professionalism I give to clients paying hundreds of dollars, so you’ll be sure to get shots you’ll love.
Below are the photos that started it all! Not long after the pandemic was announced, I joined a Facebook group dedicated to “sponsoring” kids with gift baskets – many of them had to skip graduation ceremonies and were feeling down because of the pandemic. I didn’t have the money to sponsor kids, but I knew I wanted to do something to pitch in. It didn’t take long for me to realize I could help in a big way – I made a post committing to donate portrait sessions to every family in that group. The response was huge and immediate, and after seeing all the happiness and smiles these new photos were causing, I knew this was something I wanted to offer forever.
If you are a non-profit organization that focuses on under-served or at-risk youth and their families, I’d love to offer your organization free photography as well! Whether it’s portrait sessions for the people you serve, staff photos for your organization or event photography (when the pandemic ends), I’m happy to help where and when I can.