DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way meant to be condescending. I love my clients, as anyone who has worked with me will tell you. On the contrary, this post is supposed to show, in brief, some of the ways photographers use to book clients and a brief peek into the world of the professional photographer. IT IS INTENDED TO HELP CLIENTS. My hope is that it will help clients find the right photographer for them. I’d love for it to be me, but if it is not I would like to offer advice to find the right one.

1. AVAILABILITY For obvious reasons, the first reason why a photographer might not book a client is simple availability issues. Photographers have extremely busy schedules sometimes. When this happens to me, I will most-definitely recommend a photographer who I believe will do a good job. One thing to keep in mind is that good photographers book quickly, so it behooves you to make that call and turn in a contract and a retainer fee (if applicable) quickly in order to ensure your time slot gets reserved. It is probable that I might get other inquiries about that time slot. I hate telling people that I booked someone else while they were deciding whether or not to sign the contract and pay any applicable retainer fees.

2. PERSONALITY CONFLICTS Other photographers may disagree with me about this, but a personal requirement of mine is based on personality. It is important for me to be able to establish a good business relationship with a client, and because I’m an artist, that is achieved through personal interaction IE personality. It may sound harsh, but let me show you some examples of clients I turned down in the past, and hopefully you will understand. 1) a client who said that he wanted traditional photography and wanted to tweak my style - he also wanted me to use his camera instead of mine 2) a client who was always very short with me on the phone and demanding in e-mails - used curse words to describe his wife 3) a client who demanded that I take photographs on a military base where there was a “no photography” sign posted 4) a client who a friend had booked and then not received payment from for months 5) a client who called numerous times with condescending questions about various aspects of my photography, credentials, etc. (For the record, I do not false advertise. Everything in my credentials is true.) For obvious reasons, these clients would not have been a good match for my business, so unfortunately I had to turn them down. LET ME QUICKLY CLARIFY THESE AS WELL: I love it when people ask me about my credentials, photographic style, and ask questions. Understanding these things about me ensures that the client gets what they are intending to pay for and helps me create work I am proud of.However, if a client is going to tell me that they do not think I did something listed in my credentials I do not want to work with them, and chances are they don’t actually want to work with me either. I will list other photographers for them in this case. If a client states that they do not like my photographic style, then they do not want to work with me and I will suggest someone else whose work they might prefer. If a client calls every day for a week with two hours of questions but never pays a retainer fee or submits a contract, I will tend to try to direct my time toward someone who is ready to pay and commit to hiring me and suggest someone else to that client.

3) FINANCES (We live in a capitalist country, so this one gets more than one paragraph) Budget is a big issue for most Americans these days, and everyone is feeling the heat from the economic crisis that has befallen our wonderful country. That being said, I don’t understand why certain people seem to think that they can negotiate with me about price. Nobody negotiates at the gas station or at restaurants or at the grocery store. I am self-employed and there are very good reasons why I charge what I do. My rates are based on the equipment I am using / wear and tear on such equipment (which is why I charge more for shooting at places where my equipment might get damaged), commute to on-site locations (gas is not getting any cheaper), insurance, taxes, shipping if applicable, other employees I may need to hire for your shoot, and the amount of time I will spend on the photography, which includes shooting time and editing time. As artists, most photographers are not greedy people and live a minimalist lifestyle. For example, I live within my means – but I also do not drive a Ferrari (I drive a 1997 Toyota pickup that has 185,000 miles on it. I bought it when I was 16.) For this reason I find it insulting when I get clients who ask me to discount my rates because they feel they are too expensive. THAT BEING SAID, if I do not fit inside your budget I would be willing to help you find an alternative that does fit – whether it be a different photographer or a new idea – and you are more than welcome to ask me.

(HERE IS A GEM FOR A POTENTIAL CLIENT WHO IS ON A BUDGET AND PLANNING A WEDDING: I am really worried that if you “Walmart” your photographer (see below) you will end up with a photographer who does not do work that you are satisfied with. My MOST COMMON recommendation to people in your situation is as follows: don’t hire a photographer. Instead do this: go to the grocery store and use your photography budget buying disposable cameras. Put them on the pews of the church with a sign “fill this camera with photos and then leave the camera here.” Put one at each table for your reception. I suggest this because I have considered doing this for my own wedding – and even if you do hire a photographer it would be cool to see the photos from all the people in the audience. You might end up with thousands of photographs from simple disposable film – and some of the people in your audience might even be photographic hobbyists / artists.)

I have been seeing something happening more and more lately, and I like to call it “Walmarting Photographers.” I sometimes get e-mails addressed to several other photographers besides myself simply asking for a price of the photography and a CD. This tells me that the client is shopping for a photographer based on who will roll back their prices and offer the lowest deal. I don’t like to get into price wars, and I’ll tell you (additional reasons) why: 1) it has been noted that clients who shop off price are more-likely to be unsatisfied with the photographic work. 2) It has also been noted that photographers who lower their price lower their work accordingly as well. I am proud of my work, and will not lower my standard, which is why I do not lower my prices. I am looking for clients who want to hire me off my artistic talent and body of work and not-so-much for having the lowest prices.I hope this helps my potential clients. Feel free to post comments / questions to this post if you would like. Please be nice, as this is intended to be a nice gesture / tool for your use.
 


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