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How to Decline a Wedding Client: Advice for New Photographers

When you’re a wedding photographer who is new in the industry, it’s understandable that your wallet will be screaming “fill me with money! I’m empty!” but you have to trust your gut when it comes to working with your clients.  The idea of declining a wedding may be seem bizzare to you but just as every client needs to find the photographer who is the best fit for them, every photographer needs to ensure their clients are a good fit, too!  Knowing how to decline a wedding in a polite, professional and courteous way will help ensure that you’re working with clients who you feel a connection with, who respect you as a person and as an artist and will help ensure a positive working experience with them in the future.

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I’m sure there’s a million people right now who have just spit their coffee at their computer monitors while reading that last paragraph.  Before anyone goes writing emails to me or making nasty comments, please know this: declining weddings is not the norm for me nor is it the norm for any of the professionals I know.  The vast majority of the clients that come to me already feel a connection with me through my branding, postings and correspondence with them and it’s always a pleasure to work with them.  They’ve done their research in terms of my pricing and packages, viewed my portfolios, recent blog posts and facebook page and feel like I’m a great match for them.

So what are some of the things that can cause a photographer to decline a prospective client?

  • If the person is rude or disrespectful during the consultation
  • If the person is asking for unreasonable services at unreasonable prices (we’re talking super unreasonable)
  • If the person never even took the time to look at our portfolio and just wants to talk “deal” (yes, it’s happened!)
  • If the person is asking for us to edit or photograph in a style that is not our own (ie: asking a modern photographer to produce vintage image)

So how exactly do you decline a prospective wedding client?  Three things: Be honest.  Be polite.  Be understanding.  If you’re really not feeling the jive with the client you’ve just consulted with let them know:

“I understand your needs for your wedding day and I also understand how important it is for a client to have all those needs met, especially in terms of their wedding photos.  At this point in time, I feel like my business cannot meet all of the expectations you described and I wish you luck on your search for your perfect vendor.”

So how often does this happen?  Well, if your style and branding are cohesive and strong, you shouldn’t have to do this very often at all – maybe once a year.  Declining a wedding is difficult, but with honest, understanding and some good old fashioned manners, you can still leave your prospective clients happy while pointing them in another, better suited, direction.  After all, it’s their wedding – they do deserve to have it captured to their expectations.

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