5 Tips on How to Handle a Difficult Client

There is no avoiding it: there will always be that ONE CLIENT that will ask for the impossible, make you do things you don’t want to do, make you change nearly everything, only to scrap the whole thing and go back to what you agreed to in the first place. It’s just one of those universal truths.

In our business, we’ve inevitably gone through our fair share. But we have found ways of trying to make the best out of a tricky situation. You need to make sure that you try and take the little control you have in the situation and make it better for everyone.

  1. Make sure you are present on pre-production meetings. It’s important that you know what your client wants and you get to discuss all the details on these meetings. Busy photographers usually send their reps but it’s a must to attend especially when you are dealing with a potentially difficult client. Discuss all the details needed for the shoot even the very minute ones that may get overlooked. Make sure to present your pegs for the shoot: lighting, the food, props and background, etc. 
  1. During a shoot, stress levels can be high when you and your client are not seeing eye to eye when it comes to style- after all photography is an artwork and what may look good to you may not impress your client. Ask for specifics on what he or she wants: Is it the lighting? Maybe the background is too dark? Or the food is already getting dry? Small changes can actually make a big impact on a layout. All it takes is a lot of patience and open communication, and because it is your work on the line, the openness should ideally come from us, the photographers!
  1. Be flexible. Sometimes, as artists, we already have a fixed idea on how we are going to tackle a particular shoot. But somewhere in the middle of it, the client wants a total change from what you have agreed on, and you are stuck between getting a mental breakdown or giving in to their wishes. So what do you do? Shoot it your way and shoot it the way they want it. This can prolong the shoot a bit but both parties are happy and who knows, maybe they will it see your way once the photos are side by side.
  1. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of education. “Elementary my Dear Watson!” There can be difficult clients only because they are not used to your way of shooting, or it can be their first time to hire a professional. They may not be aware that it takes a very long time, hours and sometimes even days, to create and produce amazing photographs. We have the responsibility to educate them about these things and what to expect before the actual shoot date. Again, attend your pre-production meetings and make it count.
  1. And when all else fails, accept your defeat for the day, GRACEFULLY and PROFESSIONALLY. We have had shoots when we weren’t too happy about the results and simply take it as part of growing in the business. We can’t always impress everyone but we should always learn from the experience.


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