Quality Clients & Industry Practice

For my fellow photographer friends that may be working pro’s or just getting into the industry, we all have our pet peeves – things that people say and do that just get under our skin.  Its caused by a lot of things – ignorance (they just dont know any better), arrogance (they do know, but they just don’t care that they are disrespecting you or taking advantage), and/or a combination of numerous factors like social conditioning and consumerism (they know just enough to cause you grief).  Portrait shoots and weddings are a common setting for silly comments that drive photographer’s crazy.

Some fellow photographers on Google+ posted this list of common things we never like to hear:

Attracting Quality Commercial Clients

Common Points of Misunderstanding:

Planning photoshoots involves a lot more factors then most people consider – including coordinating with locations/venues, modeling agencies, makeup artists and hair stylists, clothing designers or wardrobe stylists, and more! Each one of those parts comes with its own contingencies – usage rights on the photography, modeling, AND the venue.  Even most experienced commercial clients do not realize that modeling agencies have restrictions and pricing based on how the photos are used and most venues involve their legal team to approve photo content for use in advertising not to mention fees.

A trend that I’ve been seeing is that we as contracted professionals are working directly with business owners or upper management rather then creative/marketing managers, or photography directors that have experience and understand those processes involved. Usually that group falls into the ignorance category and are simply not aware of whats involved or the details.  Sometimes its a matter of informing them, and some are more open to listening then others.  The more stubborn ones have their own ideas of how things should be done regardless what you say its their way or the highway – its up to you whether you follow their path or not.

Be warned that letting your client define your ways of business practice sets precedence, and they will soon expect more for less and push you around because you’ve allowed them to do so in the past. 

You might see dollar signs in the beginning but long-term you will regret it.


This also has a reciprocity affect or I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  If photographers stood their ground on these points and operated in a professional manner and following smart legal practices then these pushy types would have to learn or they’d have no one to work with.  Instead whats happening is they are hiring people willingly to work for less and willing to accept their ways.  Typically what happens is that everyone else involved (models, hair stylist, makeup artists) work for trade only because the photographer nor the client can afford to hire them or understands usage restrictions that professional Agencies enforce. Mutliple things can happen after that… someone involved will likely use them for advertising without having the necessary documentation (usage contracts and model releases) and someone that worked for trade will probably feel cheated because they are making money off of them without compensation and they will get sued – rightfully so!  In the end, no one wins in that scenario.

Compromise & Sound Business Practice

So what do we do to avoid some of this mess and make the best of it, still get hired, and keep things legit…

For starters, be straight up, honest, and detailed with clients during the initial consultation.  Money can be awkward to talk about but usually because people avoid the topic rather then being forward – its a business transaction, no need for awkwardness.  The hard part is when people play games and wont divulge any budget because they’re waiting for you to quote a lower price.  Do not quote a price without all the details or you may end up doing a lot more work then you planned on and committed to the lower price. Usage is a key point – if a company is using these photos to make money on product sales or to promote their services then the price will automatically be higher for everything – photography, models, and location – its only fair.

Attracting the right people…

This is a hard one but I am a firm believer in referrals and networking.

  • Surround yourself with good people they wont refer clients that will try and screw you.
  • Recognize when to walk away or price yourself out of the job – if they come out lowballing you or failing to communicate from the start – put some feelers out to test their responsiveness to improve and if it doesnt then its time to move on.
  • Dont seem desperate – dont accept work for less then you are worth and show them you ARE worth it.
  • Show them the benefits of hiring you: for instance when I shoot for a business I push the content as much or more then they do sometimes and they get viral lift and new fans/followers and referral links. Advertise for them from your fan base.


About the Author:
Ryan holds a Bachelors in Marketing from Grand Canyon University, graduating on the dean's list. He has been providing professional photography services starting in 2003 and internet marketing services starting in 2007. His experience in specific industries including e-commerce gift/retail, aftermarket automotive industry, and Beauty/Cosmetology education and salon, and high-end designer fashion market provides him with unique insight for practical application of photography as it applies to modern advertising mediums and business needs.

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error: All Images © 2016 Ryan M. Walsh