Raise of hands: how many of you have shed a few tears when you find out a former client has gone to (gasp) another photographer for their photos? I’m pretty sure every single person reading this has their hand up, or you’re at least nodding along with me. It sucks. It can really hurt, especially if you’re just getting going in your business, or if you’re on your way up but not quite where you want to be technically.
This has happened to me on a few occasions. The first few times it happened, I was really hurt. Sad. Offended, even. Why did they go to that photographer instead of me? Were my images not good enough? Were they, dare I say it out loud, bad??? All terrible thoughts and feelings. And all of these thoughts are unwarranted!
Stop and think for a moment. You’re a photographer, so you appreciate the artistry and creativity that is put into a professional photography session. If you’re like me, and you have a growing family, you probably want annual family photos (at the least, maybe even a few times a year). Now think back to when you first picked up your camera – think of those first photographs you took, those first sessions you were paid to do. Do you have that image in your head? Ok, good.
Now take that image, that first paid session you did way back when, and compare it to your most recent session. Is the style the same? Is the creativity the same? Is the light different? Is the tone different? I’m guessing you can probably answer these questions just like I would – my style has changed dramatically since I first started, my creativity is different. I use a different style with my lighting and the tones in my images. My style has changed over the years.
In most cases, my clients’ style tends to change with me, and most of my clients come along for the ride. However, there have been those few whose style has not changed from my first session. They are perfectly happy with the style that I used to produce – and that’s OK. I no longer take offense to it – I am not the right photographer for everyone. And although I may have been the right photographer for someone 4 years ago, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m the right photographer for that same person today.
So when this happens to you, and you will likely find out from Facebook or Instagram – you’ll gasp, you may even feel sad and hurt. But just remember, photography is all about personal preference. And everyone has their own unique style preference – and perhaps, that former client of yours just hasn’t changed their style.
So keep your chin up, and direct that energy back into your business. Grow your photography business with those clients whose style matches up to yours! And find out how other professional photographers are doing the exact same!
PS – I know sometimes clients leave for a ‘less expensive’ photographer. And there’s no beating around the bush there, it sucks. But remember, they are NOT your ideal client. And please – don’t use this as a reason to lower your prices. That’s a whole other topic. 🙂
Meredith Gradle is the founder and CEO of Iris Works – a photography studio management program. As a photographer of nearly 6 years, Meredith used her knowledge of the industry to create a simple and intuitive studio management system.