I recently wrote a post on ShootQ’s blog, The Photolife, about how to marry your client (…not literally). In it, I gave a few hard-won tips of mine about how to romance and ultimately have a fulfilling, long-term relationship with the clients of your dreams. This time, I’m coming at it from another angle: 4 ways you can totally mess up your relationship with a dream client.
Imagine you just landed a great gig/client. You’re excited. Your mom is excited. Your dog is excited. Cheers all around! So you take to Facebook and broadcast to everyone you know (and some people you don’t!) that you’re about to shoot Beyonce! In all your excitement, you may have just blown your confidentiality agreement. Many high-profile clients have agreements like this to prevent exactly what you just did. Maybe you just leaked a secret project, or exposed a sensitive business transaction. When in doubt, ask someone first! Don’t let your fervor get you fired. Along the same vein, don’t ever bash a client publicly on Facebook/Twitter. Someone will see it, and someone will fire you.
In the ideal world, every client you get should lead to bigger and better clients via referrals. That’s not always how it works, but when it does, it should happen naturally. In other words, don’t take on a client for the express purpose of exploiting their connection to someone you actually want to work with. Building a business relationship based on dishonest or at least misdirected interest doesn’t serve either party in the end. You’ll end up doing work you don’t like for a client you aren’t genuinely interested in, and that’s never a good recipe for success.
I completely understand the impulse to try to ingratiate your client to you. If you do extra work and throw in all kinds of special extras and don’t charge them for it the first few gigs, won’t they be so grateful and recommend you to everyone? Maybe, but good luck getting them to pay you your real value when the next gig comes along. Now, you’ve created a situation where your client will be disappointed either way; either you charge them more for the same level of service they’ve come to expect at a lower price, or you step-down your time and effort to match what they’re paying you. Angry client, broke photographer. Nobody’s happy!
Especially with large events and high-profile clients, everything is in flux to the last possible moment, and sometimes even after that. Put simply: You’ve gotta be cool. Be patient, flexible, and understanding when things are changing all around you. I’m not saying to be a doormat with your clients, but you have to understand that in order for you to do your job– which is to document the wedding or event or whatever– everyone else has to be doing their jobs first. Don’t take it personally and get angry when schedules and arrangements change last-minute. Just let it happen, and then be the amazing photographer you know you are. Always try to be the hero when you can by just being cool about things.
Longtime Animoto client Brian Friedman started out as a road manager for the legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes. It was during Haynes’ 20-city tour, that Brian began photographing Roy and discovered his passion for image-making that put him on a road to a new career. Since then, he has sharpened his skills and his eye to become recognized as a photographer of choice by noted entertainment personalities, politicians, corporate leaders, event planners and of course, brides and grooms from all over the world. Brian shoots regularly for iHeartRadio, 20th Century Fox, and NBC among others, and lives with his white miniature schnauzer Kennedy in Great Neck, NY. Check out Brian’s concert and corporate work and his wedding work.
Brian will be teaching his WPPI 2014 Master Class “Shooting Stars: A Guide to Landing Your Dream Client In Any Area Of Photography” on Sunday, March 2 from 11a-1p (class ID MC03).
Bio photo: Todd Owyoung