There’s no escaping it. If you run a business that involves directly interacting with clients on a face-to-face level, you’re going to encounter some difficult individuals from time to time.
Event photography is no different. In fact, you might even be a little MORE likely to run into those potential nightmares thanks to the stress that comes with planning events and the client’s desire to capture a potentially once-in-a-lifetime event.
While most clients will (hopefully!) be a pleasure to work with, it’s important to know how to respond if you do happen to find yourself faced with a bridezilla or unreasonable event manager at your next photography gig.
So how can you prepare yourself for such an event?
1: Effective Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of any successful client relationship. This goes for all clients, not just the difficult ones. Be transparent about your costs and services from the very beginning to avoid misunderstandings later on. If there are any limitations to what you can provide or if any challenges arise, communicate them upfront so that your client isn’t left in the dark.
Pay attention to your client’s concerns and needs, be patient, and show empathy and understanding. The more they feel like you support them and value their opinion, the more calm and comfortable they will feel throughout the process.
2: Manage Expectations
Difficult clients often arise when there's a gap between what they expect and what you deliver. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding this, set up a detailed contract outlining all deliverables, such as turnaround time and the number of edited photos they will receive, as well as your preferred payment schedule. This way, your client will know exactly what to expect from you - and what you expect from them.
It can also be beneficial to discuss creative ideas with your client before you get started. Show them examples of your previous work to give them a realistic idea of your style and capabilities, and ask them about any specific shots they’re hoping for so you don’t accidentally miss a crucial moment on the day of the event.
3: Stay Calm and Professional
It's natural to feel frustrated when dealing with difficult clients, and keeping calm is often the last thing you feel like doing. But word gets around, and ultimately you want only good things to be said about your business if you want to secure future customers.
Aim to avoid confrontation, even if the client becomes emotional or challenging. Instead of arguing, focus on finding solutions and compromises to address their concerns. Which brings us to our next point…
4: Offer Solutions
If you can find a solution to your client’s problem, then hopefully the conflict will be resolved.
Remember that your solution should always benefit BOTH parties. It’s important not to give in to a difficult individual and end up doing a whole load of extra work that’s going to cost you time, money, or another job. Adapt to their needs as much as you can, but always stay within the boundaries of your capabilities and contract terms. If what they asking for isn’t reasonable, try meeting on a middle ground that you’d both be comfortable with.
5: Document Everything
To protect yourself and your business, maintain detailed records of all communications, contracts, and agreements. This documentation can be valuable if any disputes arise.
6: Deliver Great Work
The best way to keep a client happy? Deliver results that they can’t complain about! This means going above and beyond (within reason, of course!) and giving them the best experience possible. Think thoughtful candid shots they may not be expecting, reassurance throughout the event, and lightning-fast delivery times. A great way to speed up the process is to use Snapify, an AI-powered solution that will edit your photos for you in real-time, allowing you to reduce post-processing time by up to 90% and deliver fantastic results to your clients in just hours instead of weeks.
7: Know When to Walk Away
In some cases, despite your best efforts, a client relationship may become too toxic to resolve. If somebody is consistently unreasonable or disrespectful and you feel uncomfortable with the situation, it may be best to part ways professionally and amicably.
Hopefully, challenging clients are few and far between, but keeping these tips in mind will help navigate such situations should they ever arise. Remember that every client interaction is an opportunity to learn and grow, helping you move forward with the knowledge and experience to create an even better experience next time.