Photo business question - fire the client?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by TheFlyingCamera, May 18, 2014.

  1. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Several months ago I engaged a potential client in discussions about shooting some product photography for his business. We discussed the requirements, I informed the customer of my day rate for shooting such a job, and gave an estimate on the length of time. We came to a casual agreement about the job, and were waiting on a mutually agreeable time to schedule the shoot. I just got a new email today, saying that the customer had found several models, and had a location lined up, all of which was fine with me - I'm happy not to have to deal with hunting down models and bearing the responsibility of them flaking. The kicker? "I will have you and another photographer there. He is my sisters fiancée and he owns a photography business". This was NEVER in the original discussion, and frankly, I find it a bit insulting. My initial response was to reply, 'What is your address so I can send you a contract, which you can return along with a check for the 50% non-refundable deposit". I think that will kill this gig anyway (if this was done in an effort to save money, he's not going to want to pay my day rate), but should I pre-empt and just say, "on second thought, NO, go with your sister's fiancee and let him do the job"? This may have been done out of ignorance - this is to the best of my knowledge his first time hiring a pro photographer - and as such I'm inclined to cut a little slack and explain why what he did was unprofessional and rude, but maybe it's just best I turn down the gig with no explanation and save the kerfuffle.
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Just send a new estimate of the project cost reflecting the addition of another photographer. Something along the lines of the signs found in repair shops;

    Cost per hour: $45
    Cost per hour if you want to watch: $65
    Cost per hour if you want to help: $90
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

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    I already quoted him a day rate of $1500/day. So I guess I'll have to factor in a "supervising second shooter" fee. I think I'm just going to rescind the offer and say thanks but no thanks I don't work with a competitor.
     
  4. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    That, nothing more and walk away. The second part of your sentence merely wraps up the deal as you see it. :smile:
     
  5. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Fair chance the fiance is there to learn from you so you won't be needed more than once. If you don't want to consider your day rate a price for a workshop educating this photographer, don't do it. If you want to get paid to educate this guy, it's up to you.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Some clients appreciate being educated.

    Talk to the client, and explain the problem.

    If that doesn't go well, then fire the client.

    If it does go well, they are a good client.
     
  7. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Never do business with friends and family.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    It feels to me like the old problem when dealing with models of the model's boyfriend/girlfriend coming along on the shoot and then deciding to tell me how to run the shoot. I sent a follow-up email saying that I thought it was unprofessional, that it was the equivalent of bringing your car to the shop to have it fixed and then telling the mechanic, "oh, by the way, here's my in-law; he's going to be doing half the job while you work". I do teach - but teaching is a VERY different mindset than working. If I'm there to shoot a job, I'm there to shoot a job, not to teach someone else how to work with strobes and set lighting ratios (I have no idea how much this other guy knows, but that he agreed to do this shoot this way says that he's NOT the "professional" that my customer claimed.
     
  9. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I also think that it's very likely he doing this as a favor for his sister and that the other photographer is no real professional.

    And while I think your view (post #8) is valid, your email is one that should have been written - then revised when in a calmer mood. A response along the lines of "too many cooks in the kitchen" and "this inevitably results in more expense and a poor product" would have been more appropriate. You could have finished with something like you don't feel you could provide the results he wants with this arrangement and suggest he utilize his sister's fiancees services.
     
  10. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    I would reply with an email saying something like this.

    Your last email mentioned you plan in having another photographer at the shoot as well as me, I foresee that this will show down my work therefor I am updating my quote to add an additional day of shooting. Here is the estimation with the additional day (give them a number doubling your original estimate. Please make arrangements with the models and location for additional day.

    I agree with the others that it's rather obvious that she is doing a favor for her sisters fiancee so that he can learn from you. A response like I sagest is a good way of telling saying if you want me to play teacher it is going to cost. It's doubtful she will be willing to pay double for the shoot just to do her sisters fiancee a favor.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2014
  11. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    hard case

    As a professional photographer I was a bit of a hard case. In this situation my thought would be to say thanks but no thanks. But you may have another read on the situation. It seems to me that you are asking for a world of trouble with this other dude poking his nose into things. And, yes, you need to learn how to fire clients. Another person might try to sit down with the client and outline why having another photog along is nothing but a disaster in the making. Maybe he will get it. If not, then you can fire him. Just a thought.
     
  12. vdonovan

    vdonovan Member

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    I agree with Matt here, it's worth an explanation. I would say that as a professional, I'm responsible for the quality of my work, and I can't guarantee my best work if there is another photographer on site because I can't concentrate 100% on what I'm being paid to do. The only way I could do this shoot would be per our original terms. If that doesn't work for the client, then I would respectfully decline.
     
  13. blaine.minazzi

    blaine.minazzi Member

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    Howdy!

    Maybe something along the lines of;
    =======================
    Dear Client,

    I appreciate the opportunity to serve you with regards to the photographic shoot on such and such a date and address. I must however bring up an issue that is somewhat uncomfortable to discuss, as I certainly value our business relationship and would hate to have anything damage that relationship.

    I have a policy of not working alongside other photographers unless I have a pre-existing relationship with them. I may employ methods and techniques that I do not wish to share with other photographers, as they provide me some of my competitive advantage. I only allow those on site whom are necessary for me to complete the assignment. I therefore must ask that no other photographers be present while I am working on this assignment.

    I am quite certain that if you had a potential business competitor show up to your business you would be hesitant to give them free access to the inner workings of your business, or allow them to see your processes and procedures.

    I am confident that as a business man, you understand my position.

    I look forward to your positive response, and confirmation that we are still a go on such and such a date.

    Warmest regards,

    .sig
    ====================================

    That's how I would do it - But - please consider not possibly throwing the baby out with the bath - Sometimes having a good strategic partner / photographer can be better for both of you. One of my best friends was a "competitor" - another commercial photographer ( Dennis, has it really been 20 years since we last talked? http://image2.findagrave.com/photos/2011/362/82551616_132517522339.jpg )

    When we all lift each other up, we all come out ahead.

    So, yes, I would let the client know - but I would be ever on the lookout for a mutually beneficial relationship. You never know where they will pop up. But they do take some time to develop.

    Hope you find this helpful.

    Blaine
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2014
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  15. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    well your client has been up front with request.

    training people like having an assistant is not that bad but you would need to be the principle photographer and photo director to a avoid any three way acrimony.
    Explain it is like a wedding 3rd parties get to take candits but don't get to interfere no cost delta,... ie.
    invisible gag. Everyone at wedding has at least a camera phone but the mum is paying and bride well behaved...

    An assistant is ok if they

    don't kick over tripod
    don't open a blad back without winding to backing or F2 withough rewinding
    drop memory card into storm drain
    ...

    customer should understand concept of stills photog at cine sound stage shoot.

    it is good training for you but warn about dialogue is potential overrun,
    a second day of shoot doubles the cost less obviously risk of a second day stops you booking it for another shoot you won't charge for 2nd day if not needed but you would need to adjust contract for contingency as will the models...

    punch line is bride is not going to delay honeymoon flight?

    don't email instead phone or visit...

    customers have always understood about paying the piper

    multi day shoots good $...

    If you don't work on Sundays mention that... I've had multi week jobs overrun it was money in bank.
     
  16. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    If you have to walk into a job with a secondary thought or responsibility in your head, then you're a poor man at work grubbing out a living. A prosperous man doesn't want or need those kinds of jobs. Being a "jobber" is not a particularly great life in the first place. It's wearisome. Some jobs, you've just got to let go, thousand dollars a day or not.
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    And sometimes you have to do things you don't like in order to earn a living.


    Steve.
     
  18. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Talk to the client. Communication will end speculation and the situation could be resolved to your satisfaction.
     
  19. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Yeah, don't I know it.:smile:
     
  20. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    Weren't you going to do that anyway?
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    if there is trouble in the beginning, there will be trouble all the way through
    unless this job is absolutely necessary to survive i would just not bother with it.
    sounds like a potential nightmare
     
  22. M Stat

    M Stat Member

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    Don't burn any bridges with acrimony. After the second "photographer" botches the job completely, the client will be back with a renewed appreciation for your professionalism.
     
  23. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Yes, I was, and I did send him that email. Further reflection upon the "I have a second shooter" brought out this topic.
     
  24. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Don't try to sort this all out by email with the client. You can probably figure out the situation better with a five minute phone call and have better results.
     
  25. edcculus

    edcculus Member

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    This kind of reminds me of my sister in laws wedding. Her wedding came...well somewhat earlier than expected and was sort of a rush ordeal. My mom and I decided a great part of our present would be to hire a photographer to document the day.

    So on the wedding day, unknown to us, one of my sister in law's friends (you know one of the ones who thinks they are a photographer because they went out and bought an expensive DSLR and zoom lens) shows up and keept getting in the (paid) photographers way. She was even shooting over his shoulder when he was doing portraits of the bride, groom and wedding party. I kept trying to redirect the errant "photographer". In the end, I felt so bad that I went ahead and bought a bunch of prints and got his "cd" package on top of the fee we had already paid him.

    If I were you, I might tell the client that their photographer friend is welcome to come and observe, but you don't need them getting in the way with another camera. That would get you off the hook of actually having to teach, and get rid of the problem of a 2nd photographer shooting over your shoulder and essentially "stealing" your work.
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

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    The working arrangement for the moment (which still goes out the window without signed contract and deposit) is that I will work with 2 models, the other photographer will work with 2 other models. This ought to be good enough to keep us from stepping on each others' toes. But I'm still skeptical of the ability of one of us or both of us to get the volume of shots completed in the time the client thinks they'll be completed - he wants to get the shoot done in 6 hours, photographing 75 items each (150 items total).