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Photographers often get hired by clients for specific assignments. While some clients may be more accommodating than others, every professional knows that meeting the demands of the client is easier said than done. So how does one deal with demanding clients? Proper and timely communication is one of the keys to great rapport but there's a lot more to it. Here are some tips to help you.
Explain the Limits and Possibilities
Clients often have just the right picture in mind, and they think that you, as a professional photographer, will portray perfectly anything they wish in a picture. Problem being, this is the real world and stuff don’t really work that way. You as the person who is going to do the job need to explain to them the limits of the photography and what can and can’t be done before you take on the job. If they don’t know what is possible and what isn’t, they will expect you to achieve the exact thing they had on mind, and when you fail to do so, the hell begins. Failing to explain the limits and possibilities will eventually result in getting paid less or not paid at all, not to mention the negative advertising, as well.
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“Can you make this more stylish?”
This is one of the many phrases you will hear as a photographer. Clients will sometimes have weird requests – requests which probably even they don’t fully understand. They will tell you to make “the blue bluer” or that the photo isn’t stylish or smooth enough. You will encounter clients that don’t really know what they want so you’ll need to do few variations and throw around some technical terms in and hope for the best.
You don’t want to spend a day or two shooting images and have your client tell you that the framing is wrong, thus they can’t use the photos for their magazine or e-book. Clients can sometimes fail to mention details which can be crucial to the way you frame, light, and shoot photos. That is why it is good to ask beforehand. Ask everything that you need to know in order to avoid those situations and potentially avoid redoing the entire shoot. When you are making the contract, make sure you write down everything: where and when and for how long the client can and can’t use the photos you make (same goes for you as a photographer). Make sure everything is written simple and clear. Before they sign, make sure you explain every single thing to them. This is for your and their protection. You don’t want misused photos, lawsuits and so on.
You Can’t Always Win
Brace yourself, you can’t please every single client you have. There always will be the type of client that won’t like anything you put on the table, even if you have already spent great amount of time photographing, editing and maybe even printing. What you need in situation is damage control. You’ll need to sell to them whatever you can sell, and make sure that they don’t feel scammed. Try to be as assertive as possible, never raise your tone and always look for a solution that will somewhat please the client and that will still benefit you at least a little bit. Sometimes, simple things like throwing an extra print or two or few more photos can solve the problem and prevent further conflict. You will need to evaluate every single move they make and know how to counteract. At the end of the day, the client needs to leave as happy as possible, since that will reduce the negative things they say for you.
At the end of the day, every single weird request you get from a client serves as an experience for the next client. Sooner or later you’ll learn the weird and unique requests and ideas clients tend to have and you’ll recognize the result they want. It is all a matter of entrepreneurship – you’ll need to be able to satisfy their needs and be able to convince them that your product is good without them noticing that. You can always use the technical knowledge and experience you have as a leverage to your point of view.
Your Attitude Matters
Most important thing there is – your attitude. You can’t allow yourself to raise your tone, reject, offend, insult or just chase away a client because you got angry. You always need to be assertive, polite and be at your clients service (or let them think that it is that way). It is a cruel world and you will need to manage everybody that will require your service and make sure they are happy at the end of the day. That will mean that your pocket won’t be empty, your portfolio will be full,as well, and you’ll have the good word for recommendations from the clients.
Oh, one last thing. Don’t ever say “I don’t know how to do this.” and “I can’t do this”. It will make you look less professional and it drives your price down. Propose a different solution and advertise it as a better solution for their request.