Red flag wedding clients

I’m a member of a number of photography forums and groups and guilds and people will often talk about the “red flag client” which can mean anything from the stereotypical bridezilla with unrealistic demands and expectations to (in my opinion) a couple who are simply overwhelmed with the wedding planning process and confused about hiring a photographer. Knowing some of the reasons why clients appear to be unreasonable can help with better communications and a more efficient process:

– The client may have a legitimate concern/question that you haven’t done a good job of explaining or answering. If you’re on email #27 then try picking up the phone and gently asking if there’s something else worrying them.

– Clients are overwhelmed and confused. Try to put yourself in their shoes. A wedding is a pretty huge event. Most couples are not event planners. They’re getting (good/bad) advice from friends, family, magazines, blogs etc etc. If they take some of the advice literally they don’t know that it can be annoying when they show up with a binder of “100 questions to ask your photographer” and a shot list of “500 pictures your photographer must get or your day will be forever ruined”. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

– They may have a close friend or sibling who has had a bad experience with another photographer – this is sadly quite common. It leads to excess concern and wanting to document everything in minute detail

– They’re spending a considerable amount of money and want to know what they’re getting for it.

– They have been told they must negotiate with all wedding vendors – see this post on negotiation and discounting for wedding photography or this post on saying no

That’s not to say there aren’t clients that you should run walk away from, here are a bunch of things that don’t usually work out so well:

– Client insists on emailing portfolios from other photographers – explain that they should hire a photographer whose work they love

– Client wants to change considerable portions of your contract without good reason – explain that any changes have to be approved by your attorney who charges $X/hour

– Client is just a mean/demanding/thoughtless person – explain you are no longer available for their date:)

I was recently going back and forth on email with a potential bride and her questions were getting longer and longer, she was asking the same thing over in different ways and the level of detail seemed a little unusual. Had I posted about this on one of the many forums I’m on, my guess is that I would have gotten a lot of advice along the lines of “Whoa! Run away! Tell her you’re no longer available or that you’re not the photographer for her!” ¬†However, after taking the morning to think things over I decided to simply pick up the phone and speak to her. I found out that her close friend had had a very bad experience with her wedding photographer hence the concerns to document everything in minute detail. I think she felt relieved to talk about the situation and that I was happy to listen and answer her questions.

Have you had “red flag clients” that have turned out great to work with? Cool couples who’ve later turned into red flag clients? We’d love to know some of your solutions for working with more demanding clients….

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