Having a creative job is fun and inspiring, but every once in a while, you’ll run into a difficult client in your photography profession. So, what’s the best course of action when you’re being threatened with a lawsuit, slander, or simply a client who is demanding far too much of you?
This article will walk you through some steps you can take to both avoid these problems and deal with them if they arise.
Preventing Potential Issues with Photography Clients
The best way to avoid issues is planning ahead for any potential complications and working to prevent them. Here are a few ways to get ahead of the game and save yourself and the client a lot of hassle:
1. Use a Contract
It’s extremely important for you and your client to be on the same page as far as what they expect of you and what you offer.
The simplest way to ensure that this is the case is a contract that both of you will sign.
You can create your own contract or hire a lawyer to make one for you, but either way, make sure the final document has been approved by a legal professional.
2. Price Appropriately
Another way to avoid potential headaches or misunderstandings with your clients is to price your services appropriately. You’ll want to consider your experience as a photographer, how much your competitors charge for their services, and the quality plus the costs of equipment you’ll be using.
If you’re still having a hard time coming up with a specific amount, here’s a helpful guide to help get you started. Also, check out how much your competitors are charging to get a ballpark number.
A lot of problems can be avoided by clearly communicating with your client before you work with them.
You can do this by asking them directly what they’re looking for and clarifying any questions you might have ahead of time.
Try to meet with them in person or on the phone, so you can get a feel for them and their preferences. Open communication from the start is a great way to build trust with the client and helps set the proper expectations for both parties.
4. Keep Records
If you communicate with your customer over email, keep the records of your conversations on hand in case any issues pop up later where you need to prove what was said. You should also keep a copy of the contract you both signed, in case you need to refer back to it later.
5. Get Insurance
You might encounter some client-related mishaps or accidents that will be much easier to handle if you have photographer’s insurance. This can cover anything from damaged property to client injuries, to court costs from a lawsuit.
Handling Client Expectations
Many photographers make the mistake of assuming that something about their policy was obvious or implied, then end up regretting it later. Save yourself some time and don’t make assumptions about what your client knows or expects.
Here are some topics to cover, in addition to pricing, before you begin working with them:
Deadlines: It’s best to let the person you’re working with know how long you expect different aspects of your agreement to take. This includes how soon they can see the photos, along with how long the editing process will take, and other time-related issues.
Mode of Contact: Outline for your client the best way to contact you, so you can avoid any misunderstandings related to that. Your business phone may be more appropriate than your personal Facebook profile for reaching you, for example.
Availability: Tell your client when the best times are to reach you and be clear about setting up appointments and meetings. Be as professional as you can with this to show that you respect their busy schedule.
Photography Concentrate has published a helpful guide on managing client expectations.
How to Handle Pricing Complaints
This is an issue you might run into no matter how long you’ve been in the photography game and how much you’ve mastered your craft. There will always be people who love to complain about the price, even if you haven’t officially decided to work together yet.
Depending on how the client words their complaint, it can be shocking or disappointing to receive this kind of criticism. So, what’s the best way to handle pricing complaints as a photographer? When someone gets upset over price, it’s usually because they aren’t aware of the specifics of what goes into your work.
You can start by addressing their complaint in a professional manner and explaining how much time and effort goes into each step of your job. Oftentimes, this is enough to clear up the misunderstanding and prevent the issue from escalating.
Avoiding Client Complaints
You will probably always receive complaints, to some degree, for as long as you decide to have a job that involves working with the public. But thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help this problem. Here are some tips for avoiding excess client complaints in the future:
1. Aim for Repeat Customers
If you’ve already worked with a specific client and everything went smoothly, you’ll likely have an easier time working with them in the future than someone unknown. You can send your clients from the past a friendly email every so often to remind them that you’re there should they need a photographer.
2. Explain the Process Ahead of Time
Another option for preventing an excess of customer complaints is outlining the basics of all that goes into your photography process before the client complains to you. This can be covered in your first meeting, or even put on your website. This can include mentions of the editing process or the quality of equipment used.
3. Show Testimonials
Testimonials from past happy clients is a quick way to ease your potential customer’s mind. You can include these on your Facebook page or website.
4. Make Yourself Available
Many customers get frustrated and make assumptions because they haven’t yet learned more about your services and how they relate to your pricing. You can make your contact information available on your website to show potential clients that you’re available to answer their questions.
How to Handle Bad Reviews
One of the dreaded possibilities with an unhappy customer is online slander over social media or review platforms. To stay on top of this issue, check out your online reviews every so often and reply to complaints in a respectful, courteous tone, offering to address their concerns. You can give them a way to contact you or suggest a method for fixing what they’re upset about.
Here’s a great resource with tips for responding to negative reviews online:
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do to deal with difficult photography clients is to show that you’re willing to hear them out, act respectfully, and come up with a solution together. Dealing with conflict isn’t exactly fun, but if you approach it with a level head, it will go much smoother.
Again, the most favorable way to handle any problem is preventing it from coming up in the first place, but that’s not always in the cards. Some clients just might be incompatible with your business model, which is totally fine. With others, you might be able to fix whatever the problem is with a conversation or, in some cases, even a refund.
Your best bet is remaining open to doing whatever you can to keep your reputation and dignity intact as a professional. While it can be hard to keep your cool when you’re dealing with someone particularly challenging, you’ll be glad you did after the fact.
Follow the tips given to you above and you should be able to coast through any client complaint with ease and prevent a lot of future headaches.