One of my acquaintances who recently started freelancing with a friend of him, asked me if he could borrow my camera. After some thinking I'm not sure if I'd like to lend him my camera because he has one himself, and he will need mine for a freelance job.

On one hand I'd like to help him out because he hasn't a lot of money and is struggling to start as a freelancer. There aren't much jobs available for him. On the other hand he is asking me for help frequently. E.g. if I could make a website for a very low price. When I dropped a reasonably low price ('discount for friends'), he said he didn't have the money and that he would stick to a free self-made website and maybe ask me to create a 'real' website later on.

We're both in the creative field and I did/do some freelancing as well, so even though we can help each other we can also be competitors. And I wouldn't like my camera to be damaged or broken, even if they would pay me back some of the value I'd still have to buy a new one (and spend money).

Question: If I decide to lend him the camera for his freelance work, what arrangements are reasonable to propose?

Location: Europe. I'm not seeking legal advice, only what would be reasonable to propose.

E.g. if they break the camera they have to pay back the amount of money I bought it for?

Nowadays it's worth less, but if I have to buy a new one I'd spend money I wouldn't spend (and like to spend) otherwise. I'm satisfied with this camera.

Should we write down some agreement? I don't think he has the money to pay the amount right now. How to handle this matters for acquaintances/friends? I don't want this to influence our relationship.

  • Without any indicator where you are located, you will not get any reliable answer for your location. It might have legal implications you need a lawyer for, it might be common knowledge. Only you can clear that up.
    – nvoigt
    Dec 12, 2016 at 14:31
  • @nvoigt Thanks, I'm in Europe. I'm not sure if it's weird to put arrangements on paper for an acquaintance if we're both freelancers, although I live in an individualistic country.
    – Luchadora
    Dec 12, 2016 at 14:34
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    I'm afraid "Europe" is not a single jurisdiction.
    – nvoigt
    Dec 12, 2016 at 14:38
  • Really not certain what this has to do with freelancing either. Borrowing between friends is not really business related. You wouldn't loan anything to some other freelancer that asked, you're merely considering it because its a friend.
    – Scott
    Dec 13, 2016 at 17:16
  • @Scott Read my main question. I asked advice on what arrangements are reasonable to propose when lending tools to a friend that will use it for freelancing. Since I'm a freelancer as well and the camera will be used for his work, I suppose it has something to do with freelancing
    – Luchadora
    Dec 14, 2016 at 7:44

4 Answers 4


to add a bit of a freelancing spin to it - theoretically you could charge him to use the camera. If he were to need a special camera for a shoot, he would need to rent it and pass that cost on to the client. Your situation is not much different. Under these circumstances you would be best served by having a written agreement to cover the hire + what happens if the camera breaks. You would also need to declare the extra income.

Moving to a philosophical angle:

Of course, he's your friend, so you'd like to help...

Or would you? You say "On the other hand he is asking me for help frequently", so perhaps you would prefer to say 'no' but feel guilty about it?

My grandmother also had a saying: "You teach people how to treat you". If you're feeling taken advantage of in this friendship, perhaps it's time to set some clearer boundaries.

Combining the two, perhaps you could ask for a non-financial return, say get him to buy you a few drinks / lunch / take photos for your personal use in return. That way your help is being acknowledged and valued and you avoid the complications of a financial transaction.


My Gran always had sound advice for this circumstance,

Never a lender nor a borrower be

Basically means don't lend or borrow or anything. I know you want to help your friend out, but this could turn nasty if you are really not careful. This is expensive equipment your are lending out and unless you cover your back, your friend could break it, not have the money to pay you back and leave you in a difficult space. That doesn't allow for a better friendship to foster.

It's a hard thing to do, unless you have some contracts written up, but you need to protect yourself. Don't put yourself in that situation, it's really not worth it.


Depends on the acquaintance I suppose and how valuable the camera is.

Also, most European countries (from Europe myself) insist on people having a liability insurance for exactly this purpose: if you break someone's stuff by accident, the insurance pays.

Regarding Grandmother's advice in the other answer: never lend money. Totally true. But regarding objects or tools I disagree. I lend stuff regularly and so do my friends. And that actually feels quite nice, to help out and to know someone will help you out. Bit of a philosophical question as well I guess:

  • relying only on yourself, and expecting the rest of the world to do the same (the bastards!)
  • relying on your friends to help you out, and in turn you help them out

Also important: I am assuming there is a friendship of sorts and no history of him breaking your stuff, I wouldn't lend my stuff to just anyone either.

  • Thanks! Helping each other is good, the 'bastards world' is a lonely world in the end. You're right about the insurance, but here most people only have an insurance for breaking their own stuff and the insurance won't pay if you break stuff belonging to others (except for cars).
    – Luchadora
    Dec 13, 2016 at 7:57
  • Which country are you from? Because in NL, BE, LU, DE I'm pretty sure this is mandatory and includes breaking other peoples stuff. E.g. I'm in a friend's house and drop his laptop by accident, that's insured. Dec 13, 2016 at 8:29
  • I'm in one of those countries :) But it depends on the insurance and also if something happens outside of the house or not. Most insurances have 'nasty' conditions and will only pay a small amount or nothing at all. I'm quite sure he wouldn't get paid, also because my camera is a few years old (so the value is less).
    – Luchadora
    Dec 13, 2016 at 8:37
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    True, and probably lending stuff to a friend who then takes it with him is one of those exclusions. Unless you both say it happened at your place of course, but I suppose that is insurance fraud... Dec 13, 2016 at 8:44
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    It might be related to the fact that most people have come across an insurance firm that found some obscure clause in the contract to deny their claim even though it would be reasonable to expect the insurance to cover it :) Dec 13, 2016 at 8:51

In some countries this can be considered as something you have pay taxes on. If you are a proffesional and helping out for free with something your business is delivering, it can be considered as something you need to pay taxes on as it was a regular customer.

If that is relevant for your country, be carefull with doing "free help" as it might end up you have to pay taxes on money you never charged any customer for.

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