Helpful Advice for Approaching Your Photography Clients

At some point in any photographer’s career, I am pretty sure you will at some point come across clients who will just send in inquiry with zero context asking how much you charge for a photoshoot. There is no way we could have possibly been able to provide an accurate project cost estimate without having any information on a project scope to establish the parameters. These types of clients are those that keep me awake at night, not because I am incapable of delivering but because these clients will have unrealistic expectations of what we can deliver.

Next thing you know, both parties end up in an unhealthy relationship. As this kind of situation has happened more often now than before, I will be addressing this article to both photographers themselves and people who might hire photographers or creatives from any field in the future.

As most of us photographers are working in a one-person band,our time is priceless and we have to constantly be very careful with who we serve. In order to yield the best outcome out of every shoot, it is essential to foster collaborative partnerships between photographers and clients. Clear and effective communication will be the main key to fostering such relationships. Remember that neither party can read minds, and ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings. It is the responsibility of both sides to bring up the gray areas that should be discussed so that it can be agreed upon prior to any job. While it is difficult to put most visually creative things on paper, it is still essential to document and sign off on critical decisions like style choices, deliverables, schedules, and pricing to protect both parties’ interests. The goal is to produce images that represent your client’s brand and our quality work.

The logical next step would be defining your client’s needs. It is crucial to have a vision or at least a rough idea of the kind of image that you are required to create. Believe it or not, most clients today are unable to decide on what they want. They would hire a photographer and then expect them to produce an image of another style. Style may vary depending on the photographer and ultimately define our approach. We need to guide clients through or at least get them to provide examples of what they are looking to get. While having examples may be helpful, it is even more important to have a clear end goal defined before the start of every shoot. Remember, a successful photographer is the one who truly adds value and can understand the client’s vision while translating it into an image. After all, clients pay us to solve their issues.

This naturally leads to the next topic, budgeting. Always address the financial matters upfront. This will ensure that both the client and the photographer are on the same page. Photographers should always provide a clear breakdown of fees and expenses in a project estimate so that clients can approve and make necessary adjustments to their budgeting to meet in the middle. After all, our goal as professional photographers is to produce a set of images professionally to meet client’s requirements. In order for this to happen successfully, we as photographers should also guide clients to be as specific as possible on their requirements so that we can provide an accurate quote.

As artistic choices are relatively subjective, we as professionals must respect client’s preferences. That being said, it is still our responsibility to guide them through the visual process to make the right creative decision to fit their needs and budget using our expertise. That being said, we should not give out technical execution and controls of the shoot because there are right and wrong ways to approach each shoot and that will directly impact the outcome of the image, regardless of how strong the creative concepts are at the beginning of the shoot.

Managing client expectations before shoots is essential to avoid confusion and ensure consistency with the initial creative vision. It’s vital to communicate potential limitations due to budget or resources, even encouraging clients to consult with other photographers for realistic perspectives on what can be achieved.

Successful collaborations hinge on education. Professional photographers have a responsibility to educate clients about the creative process, just as clients should be open to photographers’ insights regarding business decisions. A deeper understanding leads to better image production and strengthens working relationships.


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