The Funniest Client Request I Will Have All Year. I Hope.

The Funniest Client Request I Will Have All Year. I Hope.

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.

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Previous comments
NOTGOD's picture

you are nothing but modern day working slaves.... face it.
you work so you can watch stupid TV shows and have the latest smartphone and some fancy clothes. nothing that sets you apart from 4 billion other humans in the industrialized world... but you think you are special.

humans today are just a sad bunch of drones.

get your life a meaning, protect the nature, help the helpless.
don´t be a capitalism drone.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe he is the guy that sent the email in the first place :)

OhBoy's picture

He's the guy who's not making any money and is really bitter about it.

jo thomas's picture

Says the guy on a computer wishing they knew something about photography. Nice trolling.

Johannes Granseth's picture

I once had a potential client asking for a quote for an eight hour long event job. Upon receiving my quote, they emailed back asking for a lower price, arguing that I wouldn't be shooting the whole time I was there. They said that I would also be walking around, finding good angles, talking to people, changing lenses etc, and therefor I wouldn't actually be taking photographs constantly for the whole eight hours of the event.

I emailed back, politely telling them that it would be very difficult to keep track of this while working, and that it off course would be necessary for me to charge for the whole time I was there, available to them.

They emailed back asking why I couldn't just add together all the shutter speeds from the pictures I'd be taking... .. ...

Peter House's picture

HAHAHA!!! Bill by shutter speed, there's a new concept.

Chris Pickrell's picture

Thank god for equivalent exposures :)

Stephen Melling's picture

I had a similar thing happen. I was working for a wedding videography company and the owner proposed looking at the amount of hours of footage everyone had taken to work out how much to pay. Needless to say I didn't offer my services again.

Eric Duminil's picture

Sure. Just use a 10-stop ND-Filter, exposure bracketing from -10 to +10 in 1/3 stop increment and Branizer method with a 200mm lens to shoot HDR panoramas.

Shariq Siddiqui's picture

That's just brilliant! Can't argue with that.

Edward De la Torre's picture

Amazing concept. If you shot at 1/4000 shutter speed you could bill for one second if you shot 4,000 photos.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

LOL! I bet they'll freak if they hear that! hahahahahaha But maybe we should try that some times to make a point!

David Arthur's picture

Some of the comments on this post make me scratch my head as much (if not more) than the crazy request of this sketchy "middle person"!

Graham Marley's picture

I had a meeting with a potential client for ongoing event photo gigs. I loathe event photography, but a friend had reached out and said it would be the perfect networking situation, and so I thought "Well why not?"

The meeting started with the company's owner's assistant, who was sent to "prep" me to meet the owner. She said "Sally (not real name) is the craziest client ever. You need to show absolute confidence to be able to execute any request she has, no matter how unreasonable it might seem to you."

I almost wanted to ask if she had just heard the words that came out of her mouth.

So I meet Sally and I ask her what are some of the things that previous photographers have done that she would like to see done differently. She said "I don't like how photographers have to change lenses when I need them to do something different."

.... Oh.

Turns out, she wanted two things: She wanted advert-quality images of the set-ups of the events that they plan, as well as candids and grab-and-grin shots of the guests. Ok, I get that. I asked how long I would have with the set-ups alone to be able to shoot them before transitioning into shooting the event itself.

"Oh, no time. You'll be shooting while the caterers are setting up and as soon as they are done the guests file in."

"Huh... well, I suppose it would be possible. We also need to talk about how the advert images are going to be licensed."

"Oh, we just give you 200 dollars per event. We don't have a marketing budget, I think that's a waste of money."


Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Well, obviously a pro could carry two camera's with two different lenses. That's a given, wedding photographers do this all the time. (Saves the sensor dust pilings).

However, next time someone says that to you, make sure to point out that the "advertising budget" is directly related to how many "clients" they get to have!

More on licensing here:

Graham Marley's picture

Yeah, I shoot with two cameras, I get that, but that doesn't mean you never have to change a lens. And I also know how to license a photo, but she wasn't interested in licences at all: I'm not going to do advertising work without one.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Ohh, I get that...(in no way could I "not" change a lens if the situation demanded for it) That was a VERY RETARDED comment to make on her just shows how much "ignorance" is flying around when we're regarded these days! I think (my opinion), that everyone who is looking to work in the photographic field full time or part time, should really promote and talk about how photos are or should be licensed.

I lost over 1000 photos to a local client who signed the licensing agreement and contract, and yet he did the exact opposite when it came to respecting the contract he signed.

Graham Marley's picture

True that! I'm in an argument right now with a guy in a different thread who claims to work for an ad agency, but refuses to believe that photo licenses differ in price based on scope and usage/medium. He seems to think that a brand like coca cola just pays a photographer a couple thousand dollars and can then do anything and everything with the photo with no additional costs. He's either a liar or an idiot.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Invite him to join ASMP. He will get really clear cut answers regarding licensing. Licensing has to do with circulation, the larger the circulation the larger the fee period.

Graham Marley's picture

I directed him to the Getty pricing calculator. I'm dying to hear how he gets around that one.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Have you ever seen an ASMP estimate? They have some posted from various photogs just to see what "should" be charged...

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

You have to remember one thing: "Thanks" to camera manufacturers making "photography" look like "piece of cake", most people who are NOT directly involved in this business "assume" that "just because" it's "piece of cake" photographers no longer need to be paid.

Now, "photographers" also need to join ASMP and other organizations to learn HOW to LICENSE their photos, and present clients with a clear cut printed black and white piece of paper that clearly states their terms. BUT first, they need to learn the terms, and how to license. Photographers NEED to ask where is this printed, and also, clearly STATE that IF the image shows up elsewhere/not mentioned in the contract there will be fines to pay. Flat out. Otherwise, these stories will increase rather than decrease in numbers.

John Yu's picture

love this photo, the 70-200L does not have a camera attached to it.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

I was showing the strap not what you can put on it...mine can hold a mini tripod's awesome, you should try it...very comfortable having the weight balanced!

greg tennyson's picture

Did they actually want you to use a typewriter?

OhBoy's picture

I get a few emails a week saying something like 'I really like Terry Richardson's photos, can you do a photoshoot like that for me?' Sure, no problem, here are my rates. I had a model today specifically request to duplicate certain photos from a Terry shoot with Jessie Andrews.

Ben Meir Ohayon's picture

this is the best you can come up with ?

unless your client is a 500 pound whale, this photo session can be quite fun.

OhBoy's picture

Never said it was bad! Just funny! It's what I shoot 24x7.

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