Picture your ideal client.

They probably love your work, appreciate your effort, and pay on time. They may even promote your work to their friends and family, and post rave reviews about you online.

While this client is every photographer’s dream customer, the reality is that it is often more common to encounter some less-than-ideal clients on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Read on to see how you can avoid troubles with customers, and see why it is important to turn some clients down.

Two types of clients every freelancer should be cautious of are the complainer, and the barterer.

The Complainer

Some people are hard to please. This may sound harsh, but unfortunately, it is true. You can usually spot these people a mile away. They are the ones who will complain to you about work that someone else did for them. They might say things such as “All photographers are rip offs,” and “Why do you guys charge so much for just pushing buttons on the camera?” If you meet someone like this, watch out. If a client talks bad about someone to you, chances are they will complain about you to someone else.

The Barterer

Don’t let a barterer devalue your work. Barterers usually say things like “The other photographer charges less than you,” and “I can get my photos cheaper at the department store!” While often these people mean no harm, they can have a devastating effect on how you price and market your photography. Don’t give in to the temptation to lower your prices to compete with this person’s idea of cheap work. The problem with lowering your rates is that this client will then associate your work with being “cheap” and of lower quality. Never barter, instead educate clients on the value of professional photography.

So how do you handle a potentially problem client?

First, Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Always treat every client fairly and professionally. Assume the best about people. The client who is complaining about the last photographer, may have indeed had a bad experience. The customer who is bartering, may come from a culture where bartering is commonplace. Always be polite, and accommodating, but never accept rudeness or belligerence.

Try to Educate Your Client

It is not your job to cater to problem clients; it is your job to educate them though. Many people simply don’t understand all that is involved with a photoshoot. Sometimes clients who complain about prices are a bad sign, but give them a chance. Explain to customers that photography is more than just pushing buttons, show then that it involves lighting techniques, equipment costs, and time involved preparing, shooting, and processing, as well as years of experience learning photography.

Let Them Go

You don’t have to drive potential clients away, but you should know when to let them go. Never stoop to bartering, negotiating, and arguing. Sometimes these clients are simply after something that you can’t give them, such as photoshoots that any standard department store can provide. You cannot compete with $8.99 photoshoots, not would you want to! Instead, focus on finding clients who want quality photography, with your unique artistic touch –something that department stores could never offer.

Instead of trying to avoid problem clients, focus on attracting clients you do want.

Here are some tips for finding ideal clients.

Market to Your Ideal Client

Keep your marketing directed towards people who appreciate your style of photography. Promote the value of your photography, rather than your low prices. This helps to attract clients who are interested in your work –not your low prices.

Make Room for Better Opportunities

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You have to let go of things filling up your time, in order to create room for better opportunities. You will not be able to focus on your ideal clients if you are spending your time catering to ones who are not appreciative.

Choose Work That Furthers Your Photography Goals

Don’t let clients pressure you into taking jobs that you don’t feel comfortable with. Not only will the results of the shoot be disappointing to you, the customer probably won’t appreciate them either. Try to find jobs that are in your field of interest, and focus on creating work that you can be proud of.

Do you have any tips for handling problem clients? How do you educate your clients on the value of professional photography?