Sunday, March 1, 2015

Good Client Bad Client

It's been a while since my last post but as most of you photographers probably know, in the world of freelance/professional photography it's either enough time to write 3-4 blog posts a day or not enough time to even check your email on your iPhone for the week.

I wanted to share my experiences about clients once again.  Recently I was lucky to work with a great one.  However, you might ask what is a great client?  Isn't that subjective.  Well, true in a way but I think most photographers will agree with the following:

Characteristics of a Great Client

(1) Respectful
They respect you as an artist and not just someone with a snappy finger.  They give you time to think.  Photos are not just captured but created with your expertise.  They ask and no demand.  They take the time to hear you out. 
(2) Honor
This may sound very game of thrones but yes, clients must honor.  They must honor their agreement.  Honor the agreed schedule, honor the agreed payment terms and honor the terms of usage.

(3) Honesty
Whether it's about feedback, late payments, etc...  A good client should always be straight forward.  Sometimes straightforwardness sounds a bit direct and blunt but I would always take that than the "well-mannered beat around the bush and never hear from again."

Professional/Commercial Photography definitely requires communication and cooperation from both the client and the photographer.  For you clients out there, photographers are muses and they can't read minds.  Especially with the more experienced photographers, they have done a lot of work and gone through many ideas.  Vagueness is fine if you are expecting something  generic in return but if not, take the time to carefully explain things and make sure your photographer truly understand what you are looking for.

As well, if you hire a photographer and not just a snapper (not the fish), give him/her the creative freedom and space needed to do their job.  Don't go looking over their shoulder every shot and don't interrogate the poor guy every time you see something clipped.  Hey maybe the sun changed position last minute.  If that's the case, even Mario Testino would have gotten the shot clipped.

In the year of the goat (yes that is the present Chinese lunar year),  I have decided to take on less work from "bad" clients and take on more work from "good" clients.  The way I see it is that you won't get good work thus good photos from these clients/jobs anyways so why bother?  Most of the time these jobs pay shit anyways (what is considered a shitty job is when you minus the avg price of the equipment rental you are using for the work and you practically have nothing left that you can call a wage for your services.  Basically your client is renting your gear and getting the technician for free).

Don't be afraid to say no when your gut feeling tells you to decline the offer.  You will only get where you want from being able to do the best you can offer.  Work for clients that allow you to the best you can be and not substandard so you can meet their budget and quickly pass on your work to designers to get it over with.

Gi Yue

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