Finding the Right Clients
At EVERY consultation, with a potential Bride and Groom, the last thing I say to them is "It doesn't matter how much you like my photography.... if you don't 100% think we get along, don't hire me for your wedding, because you're going to spend all day with me and it's so important that you like me and the photography I do." I shake hands with them and go our separate ways.
Having the right client is EVERYTHING when shooting a wedding! If your client doesn't understand how you work and the kinds of pictures you end up with, then you're going to have a miserable time taking pictures of them, because they won't believe in you and you'll end up shooting a list if pictures they already have in mind.
Fortunately, it's a 2 way street and the Photographer needs to be responsible enough to know when they need to walk away from a client. Not to long ago, I met with a Bride who was super nice at the beginning, but at the end of the consultation, she started showing me all the pictures she wanted on her Pinterest board (which is no big deal), but she was very insistent that she had to get ALL of the shots and that I was not to miss any of them! If you know me, that's not the way I work. First, I don't like people who push other people around. Second, I'm a very "spur of the moment, make something out of nothing photographer". This was a huge red flag for me.
When I got home that night, I talked it over with my wife and decided I didn't want to shoot her wedding. I sent a very polite email explaining she would be much happier booking someone else to shoot her wedding. Is it hard to do that? YES!!! It took me an hour to write that email, because I wanted to make sure the Bride wasn't offended by me not wanting to shoot her wedding. For all I know, she felt the same way, but I wasn't going to wait to find out.
Is it hard to turn down $4000? ABSOLUTELY!!! But. I've been through this before. I know how someone can make you feel when they take complete control over your creative process! It sucks!!! I've had clients make me want to quit photography for the rest of my life! I totally remember thinking, "there is no way I can do this every day" after shooting one particular client. I once took a 6 month break from photography (before I was full-time) because a client made me feel like I was the worst person on earth. When someone does that to you, it's depressing, because this is your way of expressing yourself. Photography is something you're hoping to do for the rest of your life and here is someone who says you suck at it. For some reason, when you hear that, you forget about all the thousands of people who said you're good at it.
That's why you see so much stress placed upon finding the right clients. I honestly feel that you will never completely understand what I'm talking about until you go through it yourself. 5 years ago, I would have never turned down $4000, let alone $1500! Today, it's no problem at all, because I've been through all the crap that the wrong client can put you through. It's made me stronger and smarter. It's made me focus on being a better photographer and person. It's made me want to go out of my way for the clients that understand how I work!
I LOVE working with the right clients!!! Now that we got all that negative stuff out of the way, I want to let you know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! After you go through a bad experience like mine, you start to treat everyone differently. You have more respect for the right client, because you know they understand you! What you need to do is find out what your "right client" is. For me, it's someone that loves my photography, wants to take a chance on something different, is excited about the photo session to come and doesn't mind doing whatever it takes to get a cool new shot! When I sense that in my clients, I go all out for them! The right client lets you do your thing, because they have complete trust in you. It's an amazing feeling!
Finding the right client doesn't happen over night. It takes years of figuring out who you are as a Photographer and what you like to shoot. Your "right client" today, may be completely different next year! Sometimes you have an amazing experience shooting one thing and decide that you're going to be a baby photographer for the rest of your life, only to find out, that baby was the most perfect baby ever and no other baby in the world could ever be as awesome to take pictures of as that last one was! HAHA, I've been there ;)
It take time... you need to be patient.
Look for the the things you love shooting and ask yourself, why do you love shooting it so much? Is it because it's easy? Or is it because it challenges your skill? Do you like it because you're in a studio and you're geeking out over all the lights? Or do you like interacting with your subject? There are thousands of questions to ask yourself and that's why it takes so long.
I hope more than anything, this blog helps you to find out what it is that you love shooting! I hope it gives you the courage to go out and find the right clients and treat them great! Over deliver to the ones that you fall in love with, because that will make them want to talk about you more! Chances are, they're friends with more of the "right clients" for you ;)
If you have any questions or comments, leave below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love to hear from you.