Peter Stevenson is a director at InFocus Insurance
, a specialist insurer for professional photographers across the UK. He often encounters photographers who are prone to letting their professional pride come before a financial fall. Here, he provides advice and tips on how to avoid this.
Professional pride is both one of the greatest, yet often most destructive traits a business person can possess. I often find myself giving advice to photographers who are hurt by insensitive comments they receive from clients - they feel that their professional skills and integrity are being questioned. This is often caused when clients think only about what they want and are oblivious to the photographer’s skills and business ethics. It is usually born out of unintentional ignorance and tactlessness that can be addressed with positive education rather than negative reaction.
Unfortunately, challenging clients are a given as you go through your professional career. Some may be rude, or insult your work or judgement, but it’s important to realise that in most cases, they are simply displaying a lack of knowledge about your business.
Educate Your Clients
Educate them a little and their attitude is likely to change a lot. Recently, I’ve provided advice to a wedding photographer who has clashed with the mother of the bride. After spotting all the photography work needed to be paid in advance of her daughter’s wedding, she questioned the photographer about what would happen if they were dissatisfied with the service received. The photographer in question was insulted by the comments, feeling her ability was being questioned and was left unsure how to respond.
There are a couple of things I’d suggest. Firstly let your client and the mother know that you are great at what you do; educate them through the process and explain you have never had a dissatisfied client before. Don’t waste time going back and forth with e-mails; situations can be solved far more amicably face to face. You also need to make the client aware that this is standard practice of any wedding service supplier, from the cake company to the wedding band.
My inclination when asked this sort of question though is to suspect there may be trouble ahead. I would urge the photographer to ensure they were contracted to just the bride and groom, avoiding any agreements with the mother of the bride.
Commercial Negotiation And Compromise
Recently I was contacted by a photographer who was stuck in a debate regarding copyright. A sporting event the photographer worked at for many years suddenly decided that any images taken at the event would be owned by the organisation. The photographer was unsure of his rights. Here is a traditional case of a photographer stumbling over commercial negotiation and compromise.
My advice would be to research Copyright Law in the relevant country and understand both your rights and the event organisers’ rights. In this situation you need to negotiate and reach an agreement with which both parties are happy.
The event organisers need to know this is how you make your living. Using your pictures without permission and removing Watermarks is no different to walking into a shop, erasing the artist’s signature from one of his pictures and then walking out of the shop without payment or permission. It is theft and fraud.
In this case the photographer also needs to take on board the fact sports event organisers are providing the platform for great pictures.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done but it’s important that you don’t let professional pride lead to a financial fall. Acknowledging the problem and not being overly defensive is the key to reaching a mutually beneficial outcome.
On occasions photographers need to dig in their heels, but more often than not compromise is the middle ground where most quibbles are solved quickly and easily through a calm face to face conversation. This is usually less fraught than imagined and more likely to achieve results than swapping increasingly irate e-mails and phone calls.
For more information on InFocus Insurance visit www.infocusinsurance.co.uk