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Why do so many photographers have clients that suck?

I didn’t get into photography to become a business owner.  I got into it because I loved it. LOVED it.  I loved creating the photos, seeing my clients faces when they saw the photos.  I got into it because it filled that place in my soul that I didn’t even know existed before I picked up a camera. I wasn’t a BUSINESS owner, I was a photographer. Sound familiar?  Maybe not for some of you.

Maybe you fell into photography one way or another and enjoy it, but in the end you think of yourselves as a business owner first, and a photographer second.  You’re probably a numbers nerd like my friend Joy and you actually like spreadsheets.  I am not one of those people. The people side of this business has always come more naturally to me and I’ve always struggled with what I call “The Math Side”. I’ve invested a lot of time and money to teach my recalcitrant left brain to grasp what comes easier to the Joy’s of this world.  Seminars, ebooks… Because at the end of the day time is money and the less time I spend on the “math” and the and the more time spent with “the people side” the  happier I am in my business.


Here was the shocker that I had yet to learn in the early days of my business; Being a “people person” didn’t prepare me for having to be a buisness person who has to deal with people.


So why do so many photographers have clients that suck?

1. They don’t know how to price themselves for profit and become resentful of their clients demands because they feel overworked.
2. They don’t know how to market to the right clients and accept anyone who will give them money.
3. They don’t project authority and let the client dictate what they want (AKA:  The customer is always right)
4.  They can’t take their fragile artist ego out of the equation when things go wrong to honestly appraise why it went wrong.


In a few weeks, Charo and I are going to be speaking at the Dream Bigger Conference on “The Absence of Awesome: Dealing with difficult clients”  In between stories of “Light switch Bride”, “You Made me look Fat”, bride and “You didn’t capture the Light of Jesus” Mother of the Groom, we’ll help you find the words to use when speaking with clients. You’ll be better equipped to identify who needs that extra hand holding before your work with them and how to deal with clients who have problems after your product is delivered.


What you will learn by listening:

  • If you’re having the same issues over and over, what’s the common denominator?
  • How to speak to a client who just doesn’t speak your language
  • When to take yourself out of the equation
  • No one reads anymore: how to get your clients to stop asking questions you’ve already answered

You can listen to the conference live, or you can download to listen later.  The speaker line up is awesome, I can’t wait to tune in for a bunch of them.   Hope to see you there!


P.S Speaking of my friend Joy, she’s starting a new course called “3 Weeks to Pricing Perfection” soon.   If you want a freebie preview of what a freaking Numbers Nerd Genius she is, download her free Pricing for Profit ebook.   More information on her 3 Weeks to Pricing Perfection coming soon!



  1. Kim, I see similar threads all the time. As I’ve told people for years, other people treat us the way we TEACH them to. Through our delivery, our posture, our eyes, what we say and especially what we tolerate, we tell people what they can get away with, and then complain when they take advantage.
    One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned doing portfolio building sessions is to practice not only my shooting skills, but to work on perfecting my sales process as well. Something I learned decades ago waiting tables was to take control immediately and lead my customers to the choices I wanted them to make. When I could do that, they were my happiest customers AND I made the most money.
    I look forward to your pricing lessons!

    • Dave

      I SO agree. I waited tables back in the day and there was one waitress who commanded her tables. I am not kidding you, she was 20 years older than all of us and she easily earned 3 times in an evening what the rest of us did wearing low cut tops and being bubbly. I watched her like a HAWK. While a lot of what she did seemed at first contrived to me, I learned that she really understood what her role was. To this day, I use that measure when I am in a restaurant. I ask the servers ALL THE TIME what they like what they recommend and so many of them just sort of goggle at me like they have not idea WTF I am asking. Recently I went to a (shame, shame) Outback Steakhouse and the server was SO outstanding that I took him aside and said “Dude, you could make so much more bank at a high end restaurant, why are you here?” and he smiled and said ” I’m a student so I can only work 20 hours a week and only 1% of my clients are not repeat clients. I make amazing money here and they let me choose my own hours”. THAT is the kid I would hire in a heartbeat. That is how you have to think.

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