No is a full sentence. - Setting and communicating boundaries in your photography business.

No is a full sentence. – Setting and communicating boundaries in your photography business.

“No.” is a complete sentence. When it comes to setting boundaries in your photography business there are some more tactful ways to handle client relationships! There are some boundaries every photographer should have. Let’s talk about them and the phrases and responses I use to make sure that I’m building an intentional business but keep clients happy too!

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  1. You’ve probably heard that you should have a niche. While I agree that it’s easier to market if you have one clear audience, it can be rewarding to shoot in a few different genres. What you should have is a list of things you don’t shoot! There’s just not enough time in the day to be excellent at every single thing. Choose your favorites and refer the others out. This is a win-win. You build your photography community by referring out. The person inquiring gets an experienced photographer in the genre they are looking for. I always wrap up the email telling them I’d love to work with them in the future in the genre I do shoot in.

    My response: “Thanks so much for reaching out. I don’t currently offer that service but x is a great option who does. Let me know when you are ready for outdoor family or studio newborn photos! Would love to work with you in the future!”


     
  2. You’ve set your pricing based on your CODB and (hopefully) built your collections to makes buying decisions easy. So what do you do when someone asks for a discount? First, don’t get angry. I know the knee-jerk reaction is to feel offended, but for some clients negotiating is just part of their communication style. Second, determine if there is anything you’d like to offer these clients. I do not budge on my pricing but I might offer a payment plan! Through Dubsado I can even set them up on an automatic payment schedule.

    Here’s how I respond: “I understand that pricing may be out of your current budget. Out of fairness to all clients and my family, I do not offer any discounts. I would love to offer you a payment plan though if you’d like to break up the balance into smaller chunks! We can set up automatic payments and you’ll receive your final images after the
    balance is taken care of.”


     
  3. If you’ve been a photographer for any amount of time, you know your favorite times of day to shoot! For most of us, it’s the golden hour, that gorgeous time just before sunset! You’ve also probably gotten the dreaded “It’s Suzy’s bedtime by then and she’ll be cranky.” I try to stop this from happening by peppering language throughout the client experience before we even get to booking.

On my services page: 

In my inquiry response email: “Sessions typically take place about an hour before sunset to get that gorgeous glowy look you see in the images on my website.”

And then if I do happen to get the “Can we shoot at noon?” question: “Hey! I understand evening may feel tricky, but most kids are able to easily adjust for just one day. We keep your session fun and energetic and kids tend to feed off of that energy.” That’s usually the end of the conversation. If they still insist, I may offer an early morning session, never mid-day!

4. Speaking of time, it’s so important to set yourself a work schedule. You should have at least two days per week off, preferably in a row. And if you’re a parent, make sure one is a weekend day! I always block family days, birthdays, and special events on my calendar at the beginning of the year and schedule sessions around that. I also have work hours set for myself for the computer side of things. It’s a rule that my computer is off by dinner time at the latest, but I shoot for getting everything done while my kids are at school. How does this play into client communications? Two ways: setting expectations, and only offering what fits inside those rules.

  • My inquiry forms let clients know I’ll respond within 48 hours so I’m not constantly checking email.
  • My proposal states “milestone sessions typically take place weekday mornings from 9-1. We can be flexible to fit morning nap schedules” 
  • When I respond to an inquiry I always offer 2 dates that I have available. This gives a direct question for the client to respond to and helps cut down on the back and forth.
  • You can set up a scheduler where people can automatically book based on an availability calendar you’ve set up. I do this in Dubsado.

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