- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- How to Create Stunning D igital Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group Portraits
- Selling Your Photography: Ho w to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photograp her
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liab ilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
In Part I, I discussed the base requirements of what it takes to become a freelancer. In Part II, I talked about the obstacles that every freelancer faces, such as money and motivation (or lack thereof), and how to overcome these. Part III is about one thing and one thing only: dealing with clients. This is a huge deal for any kind of freelancer and it can make or break your business. Sometimes clients can be fun to talk to, sometimes they can drive you crazy, and sometimes they can put you in very difficult situations. So here are a few problems you might encounter and some ways to properly handle the situation.
Client Changes the Type or Amount of Work They Want
This is one reason why communication is key. You want to get a perfect understanding of exactly what the client wants from you. Lay out everything that they want from you including what kind of shots, how many shots, the medium of the delivered photos (print/digital/both), when the final images will be delivered, if they client can order more prints and at what cost, etc. Put these terms down in writing and figure out a price. Only once you have all of this information do you have a base on which to debate the client should a disagreement come around about the type or amount of work the client wants. Sometimes clients will be vague in their descriptions of what they want in order to haggle for a better price. Once the price is set, then they will often give you the full details and that's when you find that you're in a lot deeper than you thought and you completely undercharged. Asking for more money at this point would look bad on your part. So again, get all the details to start out with. Everything from any backdrops or props needed to if you or the client is paying for your lunch during the day of the shoot.
Client Wants Unedited Copies of All Photos
This is a common issue that most freelance photographers encounter sooner or later. Despite what you may have discussed with the client, they want digital copies of all the unedited original files they you took during the shoot. Again, simple communication can avoid this. This is something that should definitely be in your contract. If you don't have a contract, make one. The point is to lay out what you do and provide so that the client's expectations aren't misled and arguments don't occur. Most photographers don't like the idea of giving all their photos up to someone else for them to edit. The rationale behind this is two-fold. Either through the editing process the photographer's credentials are “lost” and the photo becomes the work of the editor instead, or the photos are edited horribly or in a style unlike the photographer's and his or her name is kept along with the images, displaying a false representation of their work. Either way, this is not good. So make it clear what your client is receiving and have them sign something that says that they agree to this so that if they do demand more afterward, you have a tangible way of proving that they are not entitled to more.
Client Keeps Canceling
This seems like a small problem, but it can quickly become a very big issue, especially when you have a tight schedule. The problem with a client canceling is that you don't get paid, and, if they cancel at the last minute, then you don't have time to fill that slot with another shoot. Plus, you may have to reschedule the client, who now you're afraid may cancel again. One solution is to put a deposit fee clause in your contract. The client pays the deposit fee upfront before the shoot even begins. Once the shoot is over, the client gets their deposit back. If they cancel however, you get to keep the deposit fee. This ensures that you're not losing money for lost time. The fee needs to be reasonable though or potential clients may be scared off.
Communication is Key
These are just a few of the many problems you will encounter as a freelancer. As you can see, the key here is clearly communicating with your client. Having a solid contract, clear and constant communication, and signed proof of you and your client's agreements will help ensure a smooth journey throughout the relationship.
Written by Spencer Seastrom