Professional photographers deal with all sorts of clients, from the easy-going to the downright difficult. While it’s impossible to please everyone, there are a few things you can do to minimize the stress of dealing with difficult clients while still ensuring the success of your project. Let us share with you a few tips in this blog on how to deal with difficult clients: a guide for professional photographers.
1. Set Clear Expectations From the Start
It’s vital to have a written contract that outlines the terms of the agreement. This helps to ensure that both the photographer and client know what to expect and that there are no surprises down the road. As such, confusion and disagreements will be minimized.
Take the time to verbally go through the contract with clients. Don’t assume that they will read or understand everything. Talk with them about the hours of coverage and the timeline for photography service. Let them know specifically when to expect their final images, how they will be delivered, and what is included in their wedding album.
Additionally, it’s important to communicate your creative vision to the client upfront and get their feedback, so you can collaborate and combine your ideas. Show them samples of albums and design styles so you can gauge what their preferences are. This may even help inspire you creatively while photographing their event.
2. Be professional and courteous at all times.
Even if a client is being difficult, it’s important to maintain your composure and professionalism. Avoid getting emotional or defensive. Instead, focus on staying calm and finding a solution that works for both of you. Be prepared to compromise and allow some creative flexibility.
Weddings and events, while happy celebrations, can bring on stress and anxiety. Stay positive and level-headed to avoid emotion getting the best of you.
3. Listen to the client’s concerns.
Despite the existence of a contract and a pre-agreed-upon concept, your client’s preferences may change halfway. Not meeting these could lead to conflict. Clients may also feel bad about something that’s not entirely your fault but affecting their perspective toward your service in one way or another.
For example, if the florist was late with the arrangements and bouquets, and that affected the pictures that were done pre-ceremony, the client may express dissatisfaction with the images. The only way to know why the client is upset is to talk to them and truly listen. Once you understand their concerns, you can start to work on a solution.
4. Be willing to compromise.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes, the best way to resolve a conflict is to compromise. Be willing to meet the client halfway, but don’t compromise your values or professional principles. Even something as simple as offering additional images in their album or a complimentary cover upgrade may be the gesture needed to smooth things over.
5. Document everything.
If a client is being difficult, it’s important to keep a record of all communications. These include emails, phone calls, and text messages. Doing so can protect you in case of any legal disputes.
6. Have a support system.
Talking to your team, family, friends, and other photographers about your experiences can be helpful. They can offer advice and support, and give you tips on how they themselves deal with difficult clients.
7. Take breaks.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from dealing with the client. Come back to the situation with a fresh perspective.
8. Know when to walk away.
If a client is being unreasonable or abusive, it’s okay to walk away from the project. It’s better to lose one client than to damage your reputation or sacrifice your mental health. Remember, you are not obligated to work with every client.
Here are some specific tips for dealing with common types of difficult clients:
This type of client wants to control every aspect of the photo shoot, from the poses to the lighting. While it’s important to be respectful of their input, you also have to set boundaries. Respectfully let them know that you are the expert and that you will use your creativity and judgment to create the best possible photos.
This type of client is never happy with the results. No matter how many changes you make, they will always find something to nitpick. The best way to deal with this type of client is to be clear about your expectations from the start. Set a limit on the number of rounds of reshoots or edits that you are willing to do.
This type of client schedules a photo shoot and then doesn’t show up. This can happen during portrait and engagement sessions. Indeed, this can be very frustrating, but it’s crucial that you stay professional. To avoid missed appointments, collect a deposit in advance and have clients sign a booking agreement that goes over rescheduling, cancellations, and missed appointment policies.
Dealing with difficult clients can be challenging, but remember that you are not alone. Every professional photographer has to deal with them at some point. By following the tips above, you can minimize the stress and maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
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