This is a un-sugarcoated look into what life is really like when you walk away from the steady paycheck and enter the world of being self employed. I will be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and anything else that comes my way as I navigate the waters of being a full-time photographer. I also hope to interview other full-time photographers to share their experiences with you as well. To see the rest of the articles in the series, click here.
How To Answer Three Tough Wedding Client Questions
Clients, we need them, and for the most part, clients are pretty easy to work with, but every once in awhile you will get “that” client. You know, the client who thinks Photoshop can fix anything; the client who wants all the RAW images; or the one who wants to pay you after you deliver images.
Please note: The couples featured in this article are there to make the article look pretty, and were not “that” client.
While working with one of those “that” clients can be frustrating, don’t take any question or request that makes you upset or irritated personally. We need to remember that most clients are likely not educated in the business or technical sides of photography. While they might be asking questions or making requests that make us cringe, they probably have no idea how difficult, or out of this world, the request might be.
Three Common Questions You May Be Asked
1. Can We Pay Our Final Balance After We Receive Our Photos?
This question will be asked at some point in your career, and the hard part about it is that it will most likely be asked in a meeting or phone call. This means you have to come up with a response on the fly. I actually thought ahead about this question and how to answer it before I started booking clients when I started out, just in case someone asked me and I had to answer it on the spot.
I will be honest with you, the times I’ve been asked this question, I instantly get concerned that I’m not longer talking to someone who loves me and my work, but is a budget-only minded client, meaning they only care about getting the best price, and not the best quality. With that said, that’s not always the case.
I know wedding photography is a very large investment, but I do require all final balances be paid before your wedding day. This is the industry standard and common practice among many, if not all wedding photographers. I would be more than happy to create a custom payment plan to help break down your wedding photography investment into smaller amounts over time leading up to your wedding if that would help you manage your payments better.
Did you see what I did there? I stood my ground, but still gave the client the option to pay their balance over a longer period of time in smaller amounts. I’m absolutely fine with creating a custom payment plan with a client if that means I book them and keep money coming into my business. I require the final payment for wedding photography before I show up to shoot a client’s wedding, but you could even offer to accept a final payment after the wedding, but before the images are delivered. Be understanding and flexible if you would like to still work with the client, but hold your ground. Sometimes clients are just asking you questions like this to test you and see how you react.
2. Can We Have All The RAW Photos?
This question is another common one that we run into as photographers. Personally, it baffles my mind why a client would want the RAW photos, but again it’s a question you need to be prepared to answer.
The final images I deliver are expertly curated and edited to provide you with a final product that is at the highest image quality. This allows you to sit back and enjoy your wedding day photos, rather then curating and editing your own wedding day photos. If you are seeking all the RAW images from your wedding day, I’m not the right photographer for you.
Without going off on a client about why they don’t need the RAW images, I choose to say that the final product is delivered so they can sit back and remember the day with the highest quality images vs. doing the work themselves. I’m also very blunt about stating that if they want RAW images, I’m not their guy. I’m ok with that, because a client who wants the RAW images is not my type of client whatsoever.
3. Can You Photoshop This, That, Oh and That Too?
Photoshop, I love it and hate it. Personally, I think it’s sad that in our society, the saying “Photoshop it” is even a thing. At some point, you’re going to be asked to Photoshop something in or out of a client’s image or images. Deciding what you want to edit into or out of a client’s image is completely your choice. I personally try my hardest to not have to do any Photoshop work after a wedding has been delivered. Meaning, if I see some unsightly object in the background that I missed when framing my shot, I will most likely remove it. I also make sure to clean up any blemishes or wrinkles on all close ups of the bride and groom and family formals. If I have a question about something I notice during editing, I will ask my client during the editing process if they would like me to remove it or clean it up.
I’m cool with making edits during the editing process, but once I have delivered the images and then start to get bombarded with requests, I can become annoyed. Again, this falls back to our clients just not knowing any better. They don’t know it can take an hour or more to do a full portrait retouch. Be professional in your response and don’t be afraid to tell the client you would be happy to do the edit, but you do charge an hourly rate for the work being requested and would be happy to create a quote for them to consider before making any changes to the images. I look at it this way, if you’re a good photographer, you have done all you feel is necessary to deliver final images that follow your style. If a client is requesting additional edits, you should be compensated for the time and effort to make the edits.
You are free to deal with additional edit requests however you would like, but I know from experience, if you give a client an inch they will take a mile, and all of a sudden, you will have a stack of editing work on your hands. If all else fails, outsource the work and bill the client for it accordingly. You could also go the route of just saying no, but I’m one to always find a middle ground where both parties are happy.
On a side note about post production, if you’re looking to speed up your editing workflow, you should really check out the new Version 6 of the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System. It’s full of amazing Lightroom presets, tips and tricks to help you make editing your latest wedding a breeze.
Those are just three very common questions we run into as wedding photographers, and we all have to answer them in our own professional way. The truth is, the more couples you meet with, the more couples you book, and the more weddings you shoot, the more unique and sometimes interesting questions you will be asked. Just remember, no matter how out of the world the question or request might be, stay professional, calm, and know that a great client experience is your best friend when it comes to getting more referrals and booking more work.
Till next time, keep shooting, building your business, and embrace the hustle!