When to Say No to a Client


Clients and their demands are sometimes tricky to deal with. Chandni Gajria lists a few situations where one should simply refuse rather than regret.

Being photographers, we look forward to new ideas, concepts and assignments that come our way. Sometimes in our desperate attempt to land a project, we don’t realise how far we agree to everything, just to please the client. ‘No’ is a pretty strong word, but it is better to refuse beforehand rather than regret later. We list out a few predictable situations wherein it is better to walk away.

When the Job is Not Creative Enough
Most people will not turn down a project based on its creativity, especially if the money is good. In the beginning, photographers often take up any assignment that comes their way—whether this satisfies their creative hunger or not.

Photographing something that you do not really believe in can reflect in your portfolio. Moreover, you will start receiving more offers for similar jobs. If you really wish to do something that has your label on it, you will have to start thinking and analysing the offers you get. Turn down jobs that do not excite you or help you grow as a photographer.

When the Client is Difficult
The root cause of most problems is not knowing what the client is like in the beginning. A lot of times, the client can be arrogant and unpleasant to deal with. While setting out to meet the client, always remember that the job you do may also depend on the client’s personality. The client should respect you but if they come across as rude, stand up for yourself and explain to them, why your work commands a certain amount of respect. There will always be a few disagreements between the client and you. You will have to learn to tackle these in your own way.

When You Are Offered a Job You Can’t Do
“A glamorous photoshoot abroad? With a classic vintage feel?—Wow, sounds exciting, I could do that.” Just because it sounds exciting and that you want to try something new, don’t jump into things that are not your forte. While it is good to expand your horizons and learn new things, you have to remember that your reputation is at stake. You can always experiment in your free time.

In such situations, stress on the fact that this would be your first attempt at an assignment of this nature and that you are not sure of how the outcome will be. Sometimes, honesty works like a charm.

Don’t always say no. You can negotiate to reach a middle ground with the client.

When More is Added to Your Plate
You are determined to deliver what the client wants and do not mind a few additions that they demand in your deliverables. However, once you receive the list of additions, you realise the extra number of hours you have to put in. Some of the added services may not even be a part of your contract. You must simply point this out to the client and hope for them to see the disparity too. Refusing can be the solution, but it is better to explain to the client that you will need to charge extra for any extra deliverables.

When You Are Asked to Alter the Contract
Suppose you have already agreed upon an assignment, taken an advance and about to start the assignment in a few days. The client suddenly demands a few things are not mentioned in your contract. In such a situation, hear what the client has to say and see if their demands are something you would be comfortable with. If not, then the only way out is to return their advance and wait for something else that is worth doing.

When You Are Refused an Advance
It is foolish to not ask for an advance before you start an assignment. To confirm a booking for a shoot, you must always ask the client to pay an advance. This shows that you are serious about your approach.

The advance will also help cover the costs you incur during the shoot. For instance, if you hire a team of people to help you (assistants, make-up artists, videographer, etc.), you will still be able to pay the team their dues even if the shoot gets cancelled. In the event of non-payment, dispute or any other circumstances, the advance also acts as a security.

Never leave a job halfway. It will leave you with a bad reputation.

When There is a Dispute Over Copyrights
Copyright always seems to get in the way of our work. Who owns the pictures you have made? The client or the photographer? If the client insists on the copyrights of the photographs you have shot, decide if that is something you want to give up. You can give the copyrights to the clients and get usage rights to help promote your work.

When Your Principals Are Compromised
Each photographer has their own style and way of working. For instance, if you shoot weddings in a documentary style, a client might ask you to try a different approach and shoot in a way that is completely different from what your style of photography stands for.
Though the client is not wrong in asking for a particular style of photographs, it is upon you to see if you can actually match up to what the clients needs. You could try convincing them to stick to the style you know best.

Resist the urge to accept clients that do not understand your style of photography. You will end up with an upset client once the shoot is over. Turning down offers is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you are not getting a lot of assignments. But on the upside, you will be appreciated for your work when you reach the right kind of audiences. Moreover, if you want complete control over what you do and how you do it, you will just have to learn to refuse a few to gain a few.

Tags: Chandni Gajria, market sense, November 2013, Clients, Offers, Photoshoot, Contract, Copyrights