As photographers, we are all subject to the “I saw this photo on Pinterest” or “I love this photo of my friend” requests. Below are three tips on how to handle these requests without killing your creativity and keeping your client happy.First off, there is no need to be offended by these requests. I used to be offended, but ALL photographers deal this with this no matter how talented they are or how long they have been in business. It has nothing to do with you, some clients like to “help” and give creative direction. Keep in mind the customer is always right and you should strive to make them happy. The key is knowing how to handle these requests without comprising your brand and creativity. Below are three phrases and conversations I have used to help handle these requests.
“I want to give you something different, not something someone already has.” That’s right; it is our goal to be different. We want to be different than other photographers and we want our images and photo-shoots to be unique. We wouldn’t use the same poses, props, and locations for every client. Take their ideas and run with them! Truth being, they may have a really neat idea, instead of forgoing the image completely take steps to make it your own. Ask your client what it is that they like about this image, maybe it isn’t what you are thinking and can be something as simple as light or location. You may surprise yourself on how taking a concept can inspire something different and beautiful to your client and your work.
“I will definitely keep your style and ideas in mind, but I am more creative without a list of images.” Take the time to explain to your clients what a list does to your shooting style. I see so many people complain on social media and private groups about this request. There is a really simple answer, communicate, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell them that this will disrupt the flow of your shoot and the images they will receive. Don’t get emotional or read more into this, just tell them the facts. As photographers, we are normally offended by photo requests, but our clients don’t know or understand that. They assume this is something they are supposed to do and that every client gives a list of images. I firmly believe most of the problems we have as photographers is the lack of communication we have with our clients. Be transparent on this situation, and say something up front with all of your sessions or weddings.
“Copying someone else’s image is plagiarism.” I believe re-creating an exact image of another artist is the same as stealing someone else’s words. I know there is a lot of grey area and that may be harsh, but I know how I would feel if I saw another photographer do the exact same picture I created. Sure, there is always going to be some overlap in what we do and create as artists, but everything should be your own. Explain to your clients that it is morally unacceptable for you to do an exact replication of someone else's work. Explain to them how this is essentially stealing; this will give them a different way of looking at the situation.
When speaking with clients about photo requests stay level headed and professional. Communicate and educate them on your profession. There should be no reason you can't work with their requests and create something unique to your brand. Remember, in our profession, all that really matters is our clients happiness.