The relationship between a client and the service provider is always quite complicated. The complications get… further complicated when you are an independent, freelancer type service provider, particularly in a field like photography.
Okay, maybe it is difficult in any field, but let me talk about what I know.
Firstly, you hope for references and repeat customers because that’s where the bulk of your business comes from, particularly if you do not want to advertise.
But these references and repeat customers often become a problem with themselves, given the fact that they do not think of factors like inflation, expenses and the very fact that these are different events they are engaging you for and different circumstances in general.
I often wonder what to reply to questions like “why did you charge me xx then and xx now?”
Or when client simply assume that your costs would not have changed and keep the old amount ready even before you have sent your invoice. I do appreciate the promptness, but I never know what to say in the awkward moment when we realise one of us goofed up.
Or when the client refuses to pay, or disappears after the shoot is done.
There are unprofessional people in the world. And we deal with them every single day.
You cannot turn a hobby into a business and expect the same level of happiness even in the business side. Maybe some people can… but I cannot keep up a happy face when I’m doing my accounts, or my taxes.
I’m yet trying to figure out answering these clients without hurting them, annoying them and walking that tight rope where they would still want to come back to you for more of your work.
And your work sometimes isn’t just enough to draw back these people.
Of course, you could be the eccentric photographer and say to hell with those who don’t appreciate art and I shoot only for myself. There was someone who did that.
And then the bill arrives in the mail.
I guess we are settling for swapping these funny stories over coffee to tide us over.
Here’s to 2013… whatever it might be.