Usually I like to focus on what it means to be a better photographer, what the thinking behind it is like and how to better handle the business. This time, I would like to move my attention to the other side of things, our clients. Photography is an increasingly demanded business, despite the hardships that many photographers face, which are partially caused by their large numbers. Most professional photographers know that besides mastering their craft and gear, they must have good communication skills and a lot of patience. This usually applies to all kinds of clients, ranging from angry brides to picky fashion designers. Sometimes though, all the patience in the world seems like it isn’t enough. The bare truth is that many pros have to deal with unpleasant clients on a regular basis. Of course, there are some who can afford to turn down a possible client because they simply feel like they’re not a nice person. But those are the exceptions.
There are obviously a lot of differences among clients, all depending on what kind of work you’re selling. It’s different for a wedding shooter who deals with normal people (by normal I mean not too much time spent in front of a camera) from the working day of a commercial photographer whose models are highly skilled, yet he has to do everything according to an art director’s ideas.
However, I believe in good clients and bad clients, regardless of what you’re selling and what they’re buying. No matter how complex your business model is, how many people you have working for you, it all comes down to a few, basic things. Many of them are qualities you would look for in any person, no matter what kind of relationship you are in. Others are business qualities that have to be developed by both parties in order to have successful agreement that benefits both ends.
So how would you describe your ideal client? Would he or she have to be a photography lover? Would it necessarily have to be your photography? Or would you rather they were untrained in the arts and generous in regard to your freedom of expression?
In an ideal world, the client should do just as good a job of acquiring services, as you do to provide them. In real life however, it happens, but let’s admit it, a lot less than we would like it. In our day to day journey that alternates making art with putting food on the table, we often come across people who put our limits to the test, and by this I don’t mean the creative ones.
A good client is first of all someone you enjoy working with. It might mean having a pleasant time shooting together, if they are the model, or it might be the case of good communication and an open mind. It’s someone honest, who tells you what they want from you right from the beginning. It’s someone punctual, just like you who make sure to meet all deadlines. He or she understands the value of your time and the fact that, just like them, your work pays the bills, and therefore, all payments are done on time. It could be someone you develop a long relationship with, someone who might not always have work for you, but who always recommends you to their associates. The ideal client is someone who understands that they are not posing because it’s a favor to you, but rather because it will be a part of their memories for a long time to come. I could go on for many more lines and probably still not cover it all. We all have our experiences. good and bad, but I think that as service providers we should be grateful for both good clients, as well as bad ones. Why? Because the good need no presentation and the bad always have something to teach you.