Ever had this scenario?

“Hi, I love your work! I’d like 10 hours of wedding day photography, two photographers, at least 3,000 images shot, a large album, engagement shoot, a 16×20 gallery wrap, everything on a disk and your firstborn child. Can you do all of this for $1,000?”

Client negotiations can be difficult, but it is an essential part of our photography business. For us working photographers, having the business acumen and knowing how to communicate effectively with our clients can make the difference in whether we will still be in business next year or not.

John Mireles‘s article on The Best Response to Lowball Clients is an excellent source of how to handle clients and what we, as photographers, should do and not do.

What the Duck 1293
WTD 1293 : “Duck You” © 2011 Aaron Johnson

One thing we should remember is that just because a client throws out a low number, it doesn’t mean he or she is being cheap; rather, it just may be that they just may not know the value of photography. Also, it doesn’t always mean that the client is trying to insult you, either.

I really enjoyed John’s approach of not trying to smother the client with how much time you have to put in to edit and retouch, or how much your equipment costs. You wouldn’t want to hear from your doctor how much his medical school tuition or equipment cost, right? Remember, it’s not the client’s concern or problem that we have to spend so much on our gear.

What John suggests instead to think of what the client wants and why you were chosen in the first place. Your talent, unique vision, and ability to create amazing, memorable images should be the main reason you worth the cost. Remember, you are a professional, your time and dedication to your craft on top of your creativity is worth something to your clients.

Also, rather than negotiation only on price or drawing a hard line, offer options in your services that can match the client’s realistic budget. No need to include that videographer if the client simply doesn’t have the budget for one.

Best of all, he concludes saying that even if a client low balls you, you still want to be professional about it. Whether or not he or she ends up becoming your client, you can still have your reputation intact.

Be sure to read more on how to deal with lowball clients.

About John Mireles
I’ve been a photographer now for the past 22 years. In that time, I’ve shot big-budget ad campaigns, weddings of all shapes and sizes, portraits for families rich and not-so-rich and traveled the world photographing fantastic people and places. One lesson that I’ve learned over and over through the years is that the challenges of being a professional photographer often have nothing to do with photography. Rather they come from running a business and all the complications that arise from trying to get paid to do what you love.

I am also a photographer’s business coach at photographersbusinesscoach.com