I often see humorous-but-really-serious articles about things photographers hate to hear from clients or things you shouldn’t say to a photographer. While they’re hilarious and fun to read, it’s not necessarily the client that’s always obnoxious – that’s not fair, right? Many questions I get that other photographers would consider “annoying” just come from a place of genuine interest and unfamiliarity with our processes or equipment, and I don’t think it’s fair to make fun of or get frustrated with clients when we aren’t perfect either!
A lot of these complaints stem from conversations I’ve had with people sharing their photography horror stories or from other photographers complaining about their own clients.
Not letting people put their images on Facebook
I get it. Any time your work is online there is the chance that someone could steal your work, and it’s something that makes a lot of photographers uncomfortable. Nothing is worse than finding out someone from China stole one of your photos and is claiming them as their own *true story*.
But put yourself in their shoes. These are photos you’ve done for them, and they’re happy with them. They want to show them off: hang them on the wall, and share with ALL their friends on Facebook. With the prevalence of social media, not being able to share photos online is disappointing and will probably cause resentment. Instead of preventing them from sharing them, ask them to give you credit or better yet, add copyright metadata so your information automatically shows up when they upload the photos. Free marketing! Having people upload your photos and giving you credit is an awesome way to reach a huge amount of people.
Making them come in for a sales pitch
Some photographers make their clients come into the studio for an in person reveal before giving them their digital files. The point is often so they can give a sales pitch and try to get them to order prints. This isn’t a problem if the client wants prints, but these days a lot of people don’t want to be bothered with that. I get it, you're trying to make extra money, but it's 2015. There are multiple ways clients can have their photos printed and they may not necessarily want to order through you. By all means make it an option but if it’s not something they want or can afford, coming in to your studio and sitting through a pitch JUST to get their files can be awkward and inconvenient.
Taking forever to get back to them
There is nothing more frustrating than not getting photos back for eight months. Successful, busy photographers definitely will take longer than two weeks to get photos edited and back to them, but any longer than a couple of months is probably too long.
It’s a good practice to give a realistic estimate of when you’ll be able to deliver. Give yourself room and overestimate a little if you know you’ll be busy, and then deliver them on time or a little before. If you are to the point where you're struggling to keep up with editing because you have too much work (good for you!) and you're not getting back to people in a timely manner, it may be necessary to make some changes to your editing process or limit the work you take.
Dress sloppily for their wedding or event
So you don’t need to wear a cocktail dress and heels when you’re shooting a wedding. But jeans, sneakers, and a sloppy t-shirt will make you stick out like a sore thumb, and you do NOT want to stand out at an event where everyone is dressed nicely. Plus, it’s just unprofessional.
Complain about them online
Whether it’s a vague “I can’t believe this certain client I had last week did THIS” Facebook post or a claws out, full on rant in a private photography group, this is just rude. Nobody wants to hire a photographer who complains all the time. It makes a potential client wonder what THEY’RE going to do to ruffle your feathers. Venting is SO needed sometimes - just vent to someone privately…like your spouse. Or your mom. Yeah, moms always care. ;)
While it’s true that we genuinely can’t always make everyone happy, there are some things we as photographers can do better. If you’re just starting out in photography, it’s my suggestion that you consider these things carefully when deciding what your workflow and process will look like. It’s good business to be flexible and provide great value for your clients!