When to Say "NO" As a Photographer
I know when I was starting my business, I wanted BUSINESS! I would say “yes” to everyone that found me through any means! I was asked to do things that I wasn’t comfortable in. I was asked to shoot in places that I had never been. It was excited to try everything.
I started to get calls from Minnesota (I am from Virginia) about doing weddings up there. They said that they found me through google. I even called them back one time and had my dad talk to the “fiancé.” Only to find out that his number and accent was international. Scary. I almost got into a pickle, as a woman and as a business owner.
But then I got smart.
What jobs do you say yes to?
My first rule of thumb is if I know them through social media. That way, I can check out what “kind of person” they are. If they have a family, if they are newly engaged- that type of thing.
If I get a call from a random person on google that found me through Pinterest, I am very hesitant about taking the job unless I have checked them out personally first. I also, always make sure that someone else is with me and we meet at a public place.
My second rule of thumb is that they ask me to do stuff that I not in comfort zone. I got a call, just last week from a gentlemen in Texas that wanted commercial headshots in a studio. All over my website I have written, “Family, Wedding and Senior Photography.” I could say “NO” comfortably, because that wasn’t my scope of expertise. I do food photography and newborns and the occasional headshots, but only for people that I know closely. I don’t put it out there that I do those things.
My third rule is to make sure that the client follows MY RULES! I have a system in place. They need to pay a non-refundable deposit. They need to sign a waiver and a model release. They need to meet with me in person or online to make sure that everything is set up for me to come.
My fourth rule is if they don’t want me share my photos on social media from their shoot. I am very wary about saying “yes” to jobs that won’t let me use their content for my website or advertising. Social media is the number one way that I get jobs! I had one client that didn’t even want me to say that I was at a wedding or to email any of the friends or family after words because someone was in the “witness protection program.”
Just the other day, I got an email that said, "Hi, my name is Smith. I need a photographer.... and you can only text me at this number..." I immediately sent them over to another photographer to deal with. If someone only gives their first name. Then no thank you.
Being a custom on-site photographer can be tricky. I don’t have a “safe” place that is my business. I don’t have a studio! So I have to be really careful about who I say “yes” or “no” too!
This is why the pictures and the information on my website and social media need to reflect my brand, my style and the kind of client that I want to attract as a professional.
I hate it when I finally sit down with a couple- especially for a wedding and they act surprised at my sample images and my pricing. I try to do the leg-work before hand to let them know my style and what I need from them during the meeting. I have wasted countless hours at starbucks and Panera talking to couples that NEVER hire me!
So get a system in place for your paperwork- be picky about your clients and be true to yourself!
To see what paperwork system I have in place for weddings: hop over to my main site: To see what system I have in place for portrait session, click here:
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