We've all had 'em. Absolutely AMAZING clients. Clients we talk about with our fellow photographers....clients we wish we could clone....clients we think fondly about even years after their events or sessions.
The BEST clients.
You hear a lot in the social media stratosphere about "nightmare clients" (there's even the ubiquitous websites and postings like Clients From Hell). To read these items you'd think working in the creative realm is chock full of nutters and we all must struggle to deal with these nightmares on a regular basis.
No, no, a thousand times no.
In reality, 99.9% of my clients are really great, reasonable people (and I think I've learned enough to avoid the tiny percent of out and out crazy after 9 years).
There's some nuances that make clients super-memorable, kick-ass, OMG THAT WAS SUCH A BLAST type clients.
Here's 8 ways to join the ranks of awesome:
1. THEY MAKE THEIR FIRST IMPRESSION A GOOD ONE
Yes, we are out to impress you on first meeting. We want you to find us fun, funny, responsible, and, above all, creative and professional. But, we are sort of "interviewing" our clients upon meeting as well.
It doesn't take a lot to make a good impression. Make your initial email personal. Nothing is more disheartening than getting a canned "Your work is amazing!" email only to find out you send the exact same "your work is amazing" email to 100 other photographers....just copy and pasting their names in the "to" box. We work REALLY hard to set ourselves apart....to make ourselves appealing to your particular tastes....and it means a lot when people take a moment to recognize that.
I get people who will email me and say "AH! I love Doctor Who too!" or "Potatoes are my JAM!!"
I get super excited to meet them, because I know we already have something in common.
2. THEY HAVE REASONABLE AND REACHABLE EXPECTATIONS
It can be frustrating to meet with someone only to find their expectations of what a wedding photographer can provide for them are completely out of whack.
The best wedding vendors can manage your expectations and explain to you what is do-able and what is not. They won't promise the moon and the stars if it cannot be feasible.
The best will underpromise and overdeliver to ensure your happiness with the overall job.
The best are HONEST.
Much the same, the best clients are honest with themselves. They know what they look like, they know what photography can (and can not) do. They know a human being cannot be in 2 places at once or possibly know things not told to them.
They know, at the end of the day, we are human beings doing the best jobs possible for them....not magicians. :)
3. THEY PUT THOUGHT INTO THEIR OTHER VENDORS
It's awesome when a client puts a lot of thought into the cohesive vendor team they're building. When we all work together well, it means a better wedding day overall.
Ask your initially booked vendors for referrals! It's the best way to get a team that works well as, well, a team....and avoids the issue of videographers on power-trips or handsy DJ's.
4. THEY READ THEIR PAPERWORK
This seems like a given.
I know a 4 page contract full of common sense type stuff can seem a bit daunting....but it's important to know what we are giving you and what is expected in return.
Know your turn-around times....know your rights with the images....know when your balance is due.
And ASK QUESTIONS....seriously, I love questions! Ask away!
5. THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH AWESOME PEOPLE
This can be hard. I've said it once and I'll say it again: weddings bring out people's latent crazy. That includes friends and family. From the Mom-in-Law who can't stop criticizing everything to the best friend who is so wildly jealous of your big day that she has a perma-stank-face.
Secure and happy folks typically have secure and happy friends and family....they attract that kind of love and acceptance. This is such a great environment to work in. And believe me, I've been among some of the BEST families and the BEST friend groups. It makes my heart happy.
There's nothing like walking away from a wedding with the thought that "Man, I wish these people were MY friends....how AWESOME were they?!?"
Have good people on your support team....it makes your day SO much better!
6. THEY KNOW HOW TO BRING THE FUNNY
I'm a girl who appreciates humor. Dark humor, gallows humor, dirty humor, childish humor, cerebral humor...I run the gamut. I love me some South Park, some Tom Segura, some Eddie Izzard, some Monty Python.
I appreciate a sharp sense of humor above most other personal attributes.
So, it makes me happy as a clam when my clients are straight up FUNNY. When I can joke around without worrying that they're thinking I'm not concentrating on my job (I am, I'm serious about work....at all times! Even when joking about other stuff).
I appreciate it when folks just don't take themselves TOO seriously (time and place though, folks! Time and place! Probably not best to be cracking jokes at the altar during high mass).
Life is funny. LAUGH!
8. THEY'RE MADLY, HOPELESSLY, CRAZY IN LOVE
I don't care WHAT kind of wedding you have: small or large. Ornate or simple. Expensive or shoestring budget. When a couple is crazy, madly, can't-even-hardly-breathe in love with one another, it makes the day so enjoyable and memorable.
I can always recall those couples who are just nuts about one another. I may not be able to remember their centerpieces or what her dress looked like. But I can always remember the FEELING.
This makes couples such a joy to work with....the LOVE at the base of it all.
8. THEY'RE NICE PEOPLE
It's simple....be NICE. I know weddings are stressful...and some folks just don't handle stress well. But, taking a step back and just being nice to the folks around you makes you a memorable and incredible client.
I remember the small gestures, believe me. Something as simple as calling me by my name (thought it's been a long time since someone has called me "Hey You".....lol) Treating your vendors like human beings who need to eat....sometimes sit....maybe drink a water on hot days.
I always love to come away from a wedding thinking 'Man, they were so NICE. Their families were SO NICE."
Nice. It may seem like a lost concept to some, but there's still room in the world for it.
So there you have it....ways to climb the ladder and reach the upper echelon of client-dom.
People will never forget how you made them feel, and being a great, gracious, and fun client gives all of us vendors a great feeling: about our jobs and people as a whole.
And that's a good thing!