Client Photo Requests - How To Communicate And Educate

Client Photo Requests - How To Communicate And Educate

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. 



Lindsey Pantaleo's picture

Lindsey Pantaleo is a wedding and high school senior photographer based in Central Missouri.

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Customized services?! That's crazy! lol..

I wouldn't mind Customized services other than it's aligned with my brand like I don't want to hear something like "Selective Color all of my photos", this would be a no. I'll of course try to educate them as to why this will not work. Even if I was paid 400% over my rate, I'd be traumatized if I had to do that.

But question, how about those certain requests they ask while the shoot (on-location) is going on that requires certain specialized equipment such as lenses or a set number of light sources or certain type of modifier you do not have, of course this would depend how elaborate the request is we photographers can adapt and provide the best we can with what we got on hand but there is a line I'm sure.

Would you advertise Customized services available? Which will mean a sit down consultation and then providing a customized quote which may likely be much higher than your average package rates due to the level of customization and complexity of what they're asking? I know depends, especially the markets we're in, commercial vs. non-commercial 2 completely different worlds where Customize from a non-commercial client cost me/the photographer more than the package cost.

I don't mind doing this for the right targeted audiences who can actually afford this type of service, and don't mind to sit down with them to discuss every detail and costs even, but it would be tough to get much volume on this, which isn't a bad thing but just saying dependent the geographic market you're in, like myself I'd get 1 request in my area per year at most even if I advertise it.

Personally I like it when a client comes to me with an mood board that is complied from a hand full of different images from different photographers. It almost always becomes a composite of all the different images, and really truly an image of our own. Plus I feel like it gives us a clearer vision of the end goal.

But if they came to me with one image from one photographer I would have to look to one of your goto lines for help. I would defiantly encourage them to look a little deeper creatively and as well as try to steer there expectations away from one narrow image.