photo by: s_falkow

I usually love nothing more than to grab my camera, head out to some beautiful epic landscape and shoot. Most of the time it is calming and it gives me a chance to clear my head. I can work, learn, grow and relax all at the same time. It’s great. The nicest thing sometimes about shooting landscapes and other personal projects is the fact that the landscape doesn’t talk back. You don’t have to worry about the mountain liking your photographs. This is a very opposite reality with people. Many times people are harsh critics of how they look or what they want to look like.

I remember in one of the earlier weddings I was shooting, the mother of the bride was standing besides me saying “you better get amazing photos”. On top of that I had about 3 people telling me how they wanted the shot to turn out. I just about wanted to crumble. Not only I am responsible for capturing possibly the most important day of someones life, I am expected to do it with absolute perfection. The pressure can be overwhelming. You can’t re shoot a wedding.

Once in a while, you get that client. Most of you who have been shooting for a while know about that client. You get the client that has a perception of what they want and they will do anything whatever it takes to get what they want. The worst part is when they don’t have a clue what they are talking about but they try to tell you how to set up the lighting, background, ect. Even worse than that is what I like to call “committee photography”. This is the instance when a group of people decide they know how it should look so each of them give you different opinions of what “needs to be included” in the final product.

When you get clients like this, it can make the working environment very stressful. As you grow, you will learn how to navigate these situations with easy but I usually follow a few simple things to make the circumstances easier.

1: Compromise on something.
I know some people may think that their job as a photographer is to capture the exact image in their client’s head but that is not right. When you have a client that has a crazy demand try your hardest to capture their vision but don’t lose the vision you have for the shoot. If you compromise fully, most of the time you will produce really bad shots, lower your quality and most likely never get the exact image that the client has. The key to this is to give them some of the things they want but keep your style. Sometimes if a client absolutely want’s something I don’t want to offer then I will refer them to someone else.

2: Confidence
When you are on a shoot, people will watch you. I have done my fair share of committee shoots and I find that when I don’t like the work, I start to lose confidence and in turn, those around me begin to lose confidence in me as a professional and they feel the need even greater to give their “two cents”. Even if it takes a small amount of confrontation, in order to produce great shots, you need to direct the details of the shoot. You are the one who has taken your life to learn the craft. In the long run, your client will thank you.

3: Be honest
When someone is telling me how I need to do something and it’s not going to work, I tell them. Sometimes I will even go as far to take the photograph and show them why. Sometimes they want you to shoot something from a specific direction but when you show the port-a-potty growing out of the brides head, most people understand. If they think that 5 different lighting white balances is good for the white dress, I take a photo and (kindly) show them why that wont work. Nine times out of ten, it works. I usually bring out some of the technical speak to try to educate them a bit. When you explain to them why something won’t work then they will almost always trust you.

4: Show them how awesome you are
Once in a while, show them the shot that you just took. This will just reaffirm to them that you need to be the one directing the photos. A lot of times, when they see how great your photo is, they will realize you are doing a better job than the photo in their heads.

I’m not saying to ignore your client’s. In fact, many times I have gotten great shots because a client has suggested something. There is a difference between taking suggestions and becoming a slave to someones demands. The more you keep your style and the more you develop a name in that style, the more success you will have.


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5 Comments to “A Few Tips To Dealing With “That” Client”

  • Thats some very sound advice, well said.

  • Great advice Aaron! I’m not a professional photographer, but a professional graphic designer… and your advice can be used there as well!

  • @ Eric. Thanks man. I try

    @ Lindsay. It really can. Especially the “committee design” part. I can’t stand it when you show your client something and they show it to 10 other people and if you design it like they want it ends up looking really really bad. Talk about some awkward moments!

  • I especially loved the part about taking shots and showing the customer why it didn’t work. Remember that you are the expert not them, so sometimes you have to speak in a language that they understand, like a concrete example. Good job aaron

  • good insights

    Send me the PSDs for iKnow

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