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How To Be Your Photographer's Favorite Client

December 11, 2013  •  1 Comment

How to be your photographer's favorite clients

(aka how to not make us want to pull out our hair)

 

There are clients we love getting to work with, there are clients we can't wait to finish up our duties with so we can put it behind us, and then there are the potential clients who get under our skin immediately and disrespect the way we run our business (and generally never end up booking anything anyway). There are a few things you can do to make sure you're one of the clients we love to hear from:

 

  • remember that we are people too
    • Respect us, and we will respect you right back. When we work with clients who respect our career and us as people, we will bend over backwards to make your experience with us the best it can be. Whether it be scouting the perfect location or rearranging schedules to fit a last minute session in, we want to see you happy. None of these things are in stone however, and if you disrespect us and our craft, you'll find very little flexibility in what we're willing to do outside the scope of taking photographs. "Please" and "thank you" go a long way.
  • read your contracts before you sign them
    • I know this sounds like a "duh" piece of advice, but the best way to start off on the right foot with your photographer is to be aware of what you're signing. This will help prevent any confusion over what is and is not included in what you're paying for. Getting snarky with your photographer because you didn't read the contract will not win you any bonus points in the "super awesome clients" category. Along those lines, if you read something that doesn't make sense please speak up before both parties sign the contract. Going backwards and refusing to hold up your end of the contract because it wasn't clear after the fact won't make anyone happy.
  • we charge what we charge for a reason
    • There is a better than average chance that our services will cost more than places like Sears or The Picture People. But you know that old adage about "you get what you pay for"? It applies to photography services as well. We are artists and spend a lot of time honing our craft and working on our style and vision. We take time with each of our clients to bring you the best we can. Please don't question why our prices are higher than (fill in the blank). For each place whose prices are lower than ours is a place whose prices are double what we charge. Outback and McDonalds both sell hamburgers. Outback's prices are higher, and we all know why. McDonald's burgers are ready immediately, and we all know why. Some people may prefer McDonald's, and that's fine. But don't expect Outback to charge what McDonald's charges or be ready as quickly. Just like any business it's a combination of quality, service and demand. However telling us that you think we charge too little for the quality of our work is always welcome! (don't feel like you're shooting yourself in the foot there -- yes we may raise our prices, but we'll always remember the people who saw our talent for what it's worth and will be more likely to throw around some special discounts here and there)
  • if you want your session outside, listen to us when we tell you what time of day would be best
    • This is a case of let the professionals do their job. We know what times of the day look best for outdoor pictures. Yes, when it comes to weddings and events we have to work around it, but sessions and portraits are a different story. If we tell you what times would be best, try to hit as close to that time as possible for the sake of your photos. If it didn't matter then we would say "we can take them at whatever time you would like". I one time had a potential client say to me after I answered her question of what times would be best "Does it have to be those times? What about midday?", listen -- if midday was an option, I would have said that to begin with. If you go against our time wishes, don't expect your session to turn out as good as the ones you've seen in our portfolio.
  • creative space
    • You hired us for our vision, creativity and artistry -- because you liked the work you've seen from us. From time to time that may mean trying something out that might seem totally bizarre or random. Giving us the creative space to experiment with a prop, pose or location will go a long way with solidifying your relationship with your photographer. We'll remember you as the clients who had the patience while we tried a few new things that (may or may not have) worked. Aside from your photographer loving to work with you, you may also get to be part of a great piece of art.

 

  • trust us
    • This is a super important step to make sure your photographer loves working with you. Remember you hired us because we know what we're doing. Please don't spend the session or shoot questioning our decisions. Curiosity is one thing ("What does the orange thing over the light do?") but questioning our judgment is another ("Shouldn't the flash be facing the other way?"). If you hired us because you like our natural/lifestyle/photojournalistic style, it's going to mean getting creative with on location shooting. We have learned how to deal with many different situations that may pop up "in the field" that wouldn't in a studio with traditional lighting and backdrops.
  • we know how awkward that pose feels
    • Again this goes back to trust. There may be times we ask you to move or stand a certain way that will make you feel like a deranged action figure, but you need to trust us that we will not make you look bad. Relax. Distrust and confusion will show on your face in the photos and no amount of Photoshop can remove that. Don't forget, we're people too and have also been in front of the camera wondering what was going on. We know it's awkward, but that's how you get flattering and unique photographs.

 

  • yes the reflector is hot, yes the light is bright
    • Sometimes with natural/lifestyle/on location photography we need a little help working with what available light we have. Everyone is used to flashes, but sometimes that ruins the soft look we're going for, those times we may rely on reflectors and/or a continuous light source. Reflectors are usually used to bounce sunlight onto an object, so after some time it will become toasty having additional sunlight beamed at you. Continuous light could be something like an LED light helping fill in some shadows, and they frequently are very bright. We know it's hot and super bright and will work as fast as we can, but they will give you a soft light and golden glow where one might not be accessible. We will do what we can to keep you from squinting, but please start by not looking directly at the light source. It will be bright (and sometimes we can't quite believe we have to tell people not to look directly into the light. You don't stare directly into the sun, do you?)
  • let your kids be kids
    • We will work as much as we can to get a nice group or individual shot with everyone looking at the camera and smiling, because we all know those are the pictures that families like to use on Christmas cards. However lifestyle photographers also like to take pictures of the family interacting and having fun with each other. Those are the touching, emotional moments we love to capture to save for you for years to come. So when we're taking you or your child's picture please don't stand behind us parroting "look at the camera look at the camera look at the camera". If we want them to look at the camera we will ask them to -- if they don't listen that's your cue to jump in and tell them to look at the camera. If they make a few silly faces, let them! It may frustrate you now, but 20 years from now those will be the photos that make you laugh and smile. I give plenty of credit to my mom during our childhood with the photos she took. Mom took pictures of what was happening, the faces we were making and things we were doing as kids. I don't have memories of my mom saying things like "no Brianna smile nice; no look at me; stop making that face" (she may have, I'm just saying it didn't come with every picture). The outcome? Adorable and silly pictures where you can clearly see our personalities like these: I've found some kids do better if I tell them to make some funny faces and take photos of those before asking them to give me a nice smile. Take your cue from things we're saying. If we're not giving your child specific directions, chances are they're doing a fabulous job on their own.
  • we can't change people's personalities
    • If you have a child/spouse/sibling (or even if it's you yourself) who refuses to smile for photographs, we can't change who they are. We will try our hardest to get them to smile, even if it's just a crack of a smile, but please don't expect a giant beaming smile from your teenage son if that's not his personality just because we're professionals. And it's cool, we get it, some people just aren't smilers. Just let us know ahead of time so we can try for 5-10 minutes for a smile instead of half the session because we're freaked out we're doing something wrong or going to disappoint you. I one time did a family session where the 12 year old son was just not having any of this smiling business. The parents told me at the beginning that it was how he was. I tried my hardest for a few minutes but the kid was as stubborn as I was! So I switched gears and got some serious model-type shots like these:

Since the family knew that it was his personality, they adored the pictures I got of him, which made for one relieved and happy photographer in the end.

 

  • we may occasionally show you a photo we just took on the camera, but don't ask to see every one
    • From time to time when a shoot is going well, we may show you an image or two after we take one so you can see how they're turning out. This way you can relax and continue to trust that what we're doing is working. Please don't ask to see every one we take the second we take them though. As awesome as we are, not every shot we take is a masterpiece. Even the pieces we do consider masterpieces need a little post-processing to get them to become the masterpieces we see in our head. Not only that, but it slows down the flow of taking pictures and takes away from time we could be taking even more.
  • please don't challenge our policies
    • There are reasons we make the decisions and policies we do for our business. We get that you may have questions about them, but please don't try to haggle with us to convince us to change them just for you. We're not street merchants. It comes across as rude, and a lack of respect for our art and business. Plus it just starts to annoy us after a while.
  • don't ask for cd's of unedited files or the full resolution files.
    • To put it simply, when you ask that we hear "I don't respect what you do for a living", "I don't trust you", "I don't like your vision" and "The work you've done isn't worth anything". These are shots that we carefully composed or moments we caught because we're professionals. We spend lots of time going through the images to get them to look just right for you, and asking us for the work we've done so you can print them out other places isn't fair to us as artists. We also then lose control over the quality of the print job that is done, which can reflect poorly on us to potential clients.
  • give us time
    • We know you're excited to see your pictures -- we're excited to go through them too! But we do have other clients who are just as excited to see their pictures as well. We do what we can to get some sneak peeks up for you to satisfy some immediate gratification, but messaging us everyday won't get them done faster. It will probably make it take longer. However if you're looking to purchase a product for a present or something else for a specific date, please let us know (we can't read minds!) and we will do what we can to get you some photos to choose from in time. Just don't demand all the pictures be done in a week because you wanted to give an elaborate photo book to someone as a gift.

Comments

Liana Bassin(non-registered)
Well said. I totally agree with you and a lot of the same goes with the cake decorating business. You are in the business of capturing a special moment and it takes talent otherwise everyone and anyone could do it! And girl, you've got talent!
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