Be punctual. I think that speaks for itself.
Settle for a budget and stick to it. Unexpected expenses may arise, that risk will always be around for a freelancer. Don’t charge for extra expenses , even if they’re as little as $20. You’ll probably get your money but it will be at the cost of your reputation.
Be diplomatic in case things go wrong. Cost negotiations may go wrong, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it out on your clients. Again, the only thing you’ll ensure for yourself is bad publicity.
Don’t be a backstabber. Your clients might have been brought to you by an ad agency. Some might try their luck and negotiate future deals with you directly. Resist this temptation as it will terminate your relationship with the ad agency and deprive you of a possibly constant flow of work. Think rationally. It’s not worth loosing a number of decent contracts for that a single one.
Do more than you are paid for. It’s often as easy as a simple gesture. If a shoot takes place in your studio, do whatever you can to make your clients and the people you work with feel comfortable.
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A couple of years ago, I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I knew she had taken up photography as a hobby because she called me some time ago to ask for advice about a gear purchase. She was very excited about signing in for a landscape photography workshop with some hot shot local landscape photographer. I knew his work and to be fair, it was quite good. The event would be taking place in a mountainous region and would last five days. I wished her good luck and a good time and went our separate ways .I didn’t speak to her for another month or so and that was because she posted a tweet, kind of bad mouthing the guy. So I called her up and asked her about the workshop. Apparently, the guy was pretty much a douchebag. Apart from the accommodation, which was far from what had been described to them in terms of comfort, this gentleman didn’t do any kind of teaching the entire trip. He actually asked one of his former students to cover that part and he would only review what the work of his trainees.. He spent the rest of the time drinking and arguing about anything else but photography. My friend came back frustrated and having the feeling of money thrown out the window. Keep in mind, we’re talking about a published photographer who’s work is indeed very good. His clients ended up suing and eventually wining. How many recommendations do you think this guy got for his workshops? Obviously, none. And that would have been fine, except he got a trial and some very bad publicity as well.
The lesson? It doesn’t matter how talented or skillful you are, if you haven’t got a professional attitude, you will not get a second chance in the market. The only way for a long term, successful career as a photographer, and basically as anything else, is to built long lasting, solid relationship with your clients and the people who forward you work.
If you’re a hard professional to work with, people will start avoiding you. This is just one example, but I’ve heard many stories that made me ask myself what these people were thinking when brining that attitude to the table.
It’s not always easy to be professional, we all have our share of personal problems and sometimes we have to struggle to keep a friendly attitude, but if you don’t make that effort, chances are your phone won’t be ringing a lot.
Here are a few steps to avoid being labeled as someone who isn’t easy to work with:
Most clients expect you to be a talented, skilled and extremely nice to be around photographer. At least that’s what they hope for. But if I only had the possibility to be one of those, I would definitely settle for being a cool person. As I said, talent and craftsmanship won’t get you anywhere if people hate working with you.
Image credit: ayo88 / 123RF Stock Photo