They are out there. Lurking in the shadows and deep recesses of the internet where common sense is not welcome and logic has yet to be invented. I am speaking of course about every small business owner’s worst nightmare. The potential client that has no potential. Nothing I had encountered before could prepare me for the hilarious email I received one fine Monday morning.
It all began two weeks ago on a Tuesday. It was a fairly cold day up in Toronto which is not unusual and offered a rather unsurprising start to my day. I wasn’t particularly looking to leave my office where the trusty Tassimo machine was dispensing plenty of warm beverages at a furious pace. My caffeine addiction was to be cut short however, at least for the time being, as I had scheduled a meeting that day with a new prospective client. Luckily for me it was at a coffee shop.
The client in question was actually more of a middle man. In today’s politically correct world I suppose they are a middle person. I work with a lot of these. This particular middle person was a marketing agency that had their own roster of clients. As campaigns developed across their roster and if there was a need for a photographer I would naturally step in to place. Sounds like a pretty good place to be. So we scheduled that meeting and off I went on that cold Tuesday morning to make my presentation.
I have always considered face to face meetings my absolute best strength. I usually know that the job is mine if that is what it comes down to. In fact I make it a point to move my potential clients as fast as I can to a face to face interaction. As predicted, this one went as well as all the ones before it. We discussed our respective selves and the work that we do. I was informed that this marketing agency already had a client in mind for me and that the project would include some fairly simple product photography on an ongoing basis as well as corporate headshots. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary to note and I left the situation feeling great. Coffee in hand.
Fast forward to Monday of this week and a lovely surprise waits in my inbox first thing in the morning. It is an email from my new friends at the marketing agency. They had finished discussions with their client and were ready to proceed with the project. Yippee! This is what their email read:
“After talking to the client, they would like to have you come by to see the facilities, and do a couple tests for us. It would take about 2 hours for the whole thing to take place.
The tests would include:
1. Typewriter: Gauge words per minute and average typing speed
2. Mouse Reaction: Used to test mouse and keyboard reaction speeds
3. Cognitive: Basic math and English assessment (15 minutes to complete the test)
4. Photo: This may involves taking both studio and product shots, and editing them
If you're available, we'd like to have you come in this Saturday, February 15th, 2014 at 10:00 AM.”
Have you ever taken a brick to the face? Neither have I but I imagine it would make me feel about as stupid as reading this email.
I still have no clue what any of that had to do with the job I was being hired for. In a day and age where we hear about frivolous lawsuits against photographers, and a constant downward pressure on the price we are expected to provide our services for, it seems that client expectations might also be getting increasingly creative and ridiculous. Gone are the days when your portfolio meant something. Prepare yourselves people. As of today we are starting mandatory mouse reaction tests.
I don’t know if this is an anomaly, but I will say, as funny as this email was it did have me a bit concerned. Is the perception of our industry SO horrible that we must be subjected to such degrading tests in the eyes of the client? Have we become so competitive with each other that we are no longer rising above the competition but rather taking down the entire industry? Have we thrown so many of our fellow photographers under the proverbial bus that the path to success is littered with vultures?
The next time you receive a ridiculous request from a client take a moment to think about that. Then remind yourself that you probably don’t have it nearly as bad as some poor shmuck up in Canada furiously testing his mouse reaction skills to land a photography gig.
Think you can top this story? Share your client horror stories in the comments section. I look forward to reading them all.