How To Handle Unhappy Photography Clients
When you are just starting out as a photographer, you aren’t going to know everything about the business right away, and you aren’t going to have the answers to all the client questions. Most of that comes from years of experience. As well as when you unexpectedly come across an unhappy client. If you have never dealt with an unhappy client before, panic can definitely set in, causing you to not respond in a professional manner.
For example, how would you respond to a client that wasn’t happy with the final images you delivered? First you would try to get as much information from the client as you can about why they were unhappy with their images. Sometimes it may be that the client is insecure and possibly certain poses weren’t too flattering. That can happen to all of us. Or, maybe it was a family session and if there were younger kids in the family, they may have been acting up. That is normal, and unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to get their attention or try to make the little ones happy, it just doesn't work out. Whatever the case may be, how are you covered in your contract? Your contract can serve as a backup to prevent you from either having to agree to a reshoot, or a client giving you a bad review on social media. Do you state in your contract that you are not responsible for a clients choice in outfits? That has definitely happened to me. The mom thought her final choice of outfits for the family would work best. Turns out that after I delivered her final images, she was extremely unhappy with how her images looked with the outfits she chose. Thankfully I was able to refer to my contract to remind her of this. As a photographer, we can give suggestions and guide them on clothing choices, but ultimately it is up to them.
There are situations that are out of our control. But when it comes to a client being unhappy, you need to know how to calmly and professionally, respond. Here is an example of a response if a client is unhappy with the way they look in the images:
I am sorry that you are not 100% happy with your images. It is my goal to make sure you are completely satisfied with the images I deliver. As far as you being unhappy with the way you look, I do understand how you feel because we are all, our own worst critic of ourselves. I am more than happy to offer you a reshoot. I will go over every detail you are not happy with, and change some poses accordingly.
Just so you know, this exact situation is covered in my contract that you signed. I am attaching that particular section to this email.
Please let me know if a reshoot is what you are wanting. Per my contract, a reshoot fee is $$$. Let me know what dates you have available and I will get you scheduled as soon as possible.”
What if you photographed your first wedding, but ended up having a corrupt SD card and losing all the images? With weddings, a reshoot is not an option. You need to be aware of the many risks you take when shooting a wedding, such as technical malfunctions, acts of nature, and all of the different variables that are coming together for one event, that could go wrong. Most of these risks can be added into your contract and it is better to have them there, than to face legal issues if they aren’t.
Here is an example as to how you should respond in the event that an SD card becomes corrupt and you are unable to recover the images.
This is one of the most difficult emails I have ever had to write. Due to an SD card malfunction, I am unable to recover XXX amount of images. I have exhausted all options to resolve the SD card issue. I fully understand the magnitude of this situation and how upsetting it is that those memories have been lost.
I am prepared to send you a full refund
Per our contract, I will be refunding you a portion if the paid amount.
I understand your anger and frustration and I am truly sorry for this.”
All businesses have ran into an unhappy client from time to time. What sets them apart from the rest is their ability to professionally handle, diffuse, and rectify the situations. The 75 Hard to Write Emails from BP4U, covers the examples above, as well as 73 more situations that will arise in every photography business, especially if you are still new to photography.
Have you ever had a hard situation in your photography business that you just weren’t sure how to handle? Tell me in the comments below. I would love to hear how it all turned out!
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