Red Flags From Potential Clients | #36

Mar 13, 2023


Red Flags From Potential Clients

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I love my clients. 95% of them are easy to work with and let me help them in the best way I know how.

I ask this question to learn how to better serve them, rather than to weed people out.

But the law of large numbers (thanks Ozark) makes it that there will be some clients that are just a pain to work with. They have unrealistic expectations, always think they’re right, and sometimes refuse to pay.

This newsletter is devoted to these clients.

How can we identify clients like this before they even sign on to work with us? Here are 3 answers to this question that should raise red flags


Why did you stop working with your previous photographer?


I’ve worked with a bunch of photographers in the past but they all sucked.

If a potential client says they’ve worked with many photographers already, but none of them were good, chances are it’s the client who is the problem. There are a lot of good photographers out there. And yeah, some suck. But if you’ve invested money in a few, you should be getting decent results from at least one.

This client might only be looking for cheap, low-end photographers that can’t produce the work.

The client might not be clear in what they want and don’t know how to communicate it with the photographer. Poor communication = poor results.

Or they have unrealistic standards that only a handful of photographers can fill, and that probably isn’t you (I know it’s not me either).


We didn’t like that they required a deposit.

This is a huge red flag. If a client isn’t willing to give a 50% deposit for a project, don’t work with them. Even if they promise to pay you in full after completion, you’ll probably have to hunt them down to get paid.


They didn’t fit our style. We know what we like and what we don’t like.

This answer is a little tricky. It may not be a red flag. You need to dive into it and find out what their style expectations are. Do they like your portfolio? Can they provide specific examples of what they like? If they can share specifics on what they like, chances are they'll be good.

I’ve had a client who loved my portfolio, loved the mood board I made but didn’t like the final photos. I wanted to make it right and asked them for examples of what they actually like. They didn’t have any examples to provide, they just told me “I like what I like”. 

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