Are you afraid of bad photography clients? Frustrating clients are everywhere and as easy (and admittedly) as it is to give them that finger, it’s not what we should reach for. In fact, I’m presenting my own independent research on this. 98% of the people deserve a response from the cards below. 1% deserve no response at all, and then the final 1% deserve your middle finger.


I’m going to expand on each one and give you more perspective. The goal is to help you manage difficult clients. You’ll never avoid difficult photography clients, and they’ll surprise you in unimaginable ways. But you’ll have statements in your back pocket that can act as tools to help you navigate difficult waters.


Sometimes clients will forget to mention the rate, only because they are new. Maybe they’re not sure when to present the budget. Then there are the clients who have the intention of getting free work. Either way, it’s a difficult position to be in when you’re left to guess the potential job.


It’s important to share your excitement and show respect to the client. Show that you want to give their presentation or idea a fair thought. Listen and see if they mention a budget anywhere. Take notes on the details and see if you can hold on to anything as an opening for the budget conversation.


If you find that the budget conversation never comes up, consider saying the following:


When they’re upfront about the unpaid opportunity (I even cringed when I even typed “opportunity” after the word unpaid). It’s important to be polite about it, to hear them out. Once in a while, there is an opportunity that may make the free work worthy of your creativity, but that’s a rare moment. You want to be polite because we avoid bad photography clients, and we don’t want to be a bad photographer either.


You have to give people credit for assuming their projects warrant free labor, right?


When they assume you’ll work for free, it’s key to remind them you’re not unavailable for that type of work. It’s key to remind the industry you are unavailable for free work, and you are going to remind the universe that you’re unavailable for this type of client.

Saying NO strengthens your career. Your career is often defined by what you reject and I want you to remember that.


How often are you asked about how you do something in your DM’s? How often are you asked for a quick bit of advice that took you years to gather? How often are you helping someone with their business and they don’t find the urgency of paying you?


One great way of squashing this inquiry is by asking people to perform. It’s done in a respectful way, where they understand there’s room for them in the equation for success. They deserve more time for a more thoughtful answer. You deserve to get paid fairly for your product, which is your time and experience.


There are times the potential client approaches you with demands, including timelines and requirements. They often move fast and don’t allow much time for haggling or any form of cross-conversation. They understand the new photographer or creative has insecurities, and they move fast. They understand there’s a chance the younger creative may not have the courage to reject their offer.


For those people, it’s best to apply the words posted here. Just send them a polite note and a list of your fees. You don’t need to exchange a lot of dialogue. You simply need to protect yourself ASAP.

How do I Find the Perfect Photography Client?

Now that you have a better idea of how to manage a situation with a bad client, I would like for you to look into finding the right client. In this blog post, you can hear my conversation with another photographer. It’s an important conversation to hear about finding your ideal client avatar. 


If you want to learn more about photography and how to make money, sign up here. It’s my photography survival kit and you get a lot of cheat sheets. You get worksheets and first offers. You’re welcome!