Beware of these four red flags in photography clients
Most of us have heard of “red flags” in the context of romantic relationships. But what about client-photographer? Oh yes, your potential clients can have some red flags as well! In this video, Scott Choucino of Tin House Studio shares four major ones to be aware of before you take up a photography gig.
Red Flag #1: “I Have an Opportunity for You”
No matter how attractive it may sound, this phrase is usually a code for “We want you to work for free.”
Once you’re well-established in your field, the term “opportunity” generally translates to earnings. However, if you’re new to the photography game, it’s often a euphemism for exploitation. Remember, if a brand has the clout to offer you valuable exposure, they should also have the resources to compensate you financially. Steer clear of the pitfall of working solely for exposure.
However, if a potential client approaches you with a minimal budget but an idea that genuinely captivates you, collaboration could be worthwhile. On the flip side, if it’s obvious that they want a bargain or free service, it’s best to walk away.
Red Flag #2: Undefined Briefs
When a client vaguely asks about the cost of a “photo shoot” or a “day shoot,” it’s another red flag. What’s more, it can sometimes even be a sign of a scam! They need to give you a clear brief, including visual examples and a shot list. If the client doesn’t even have the product they want you to shoot, that’s “a disaster waiting to happen,” as Scott calls it.
He advises you to steer clear of vague briefs like “let’s get creative” or “let’s play it by ear on the day.” Work is work, and play is play, and these kinds of projects are unmanageable and usually turn into a disaster.
Red Flag #3: The Lazy Client
Some clients will ask you to shoot at their location. Depending on your area of expertise – this may not be something that’s manageable. This is especially true if you do food, product, or still-life photography. So, if a client insists on shooting at their location without a good reason, walk away. Otherwise, you risk compromising the quality of your work, which will only complicate things further.
Red Flag #4: Clients Who Complain About Previous Photographers
This is one of those red flags that works in all human relationships. If your client speaks negatively about their former photographer, the odds are good that they were the problem, not the photographer. Take it as a major red flag especially if their complaints revolve around petty issues, such as the photographer’s lunch preferences or specific end-of-day timing. In cases like this, it’s quite possible that the actual problem stems from the client’s unrealistic expectations, not from anything the photographer had done.
As he admits, Scott recognizes these red flags because he’s said yes to all of these people at some point. Sadly, sometimes we have to learn the hard way, from our own experiences. But hey, this is why it’s great to hear from others who’ve already been through it, so we can avoid wasting time and getting frustrated and hurt. In personal and business relationships alike!
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.