I WAS RECENTLY FIRED
. . . as a photographer by an "agency". I'd worked as an outsourced photographer for this web design company that called itself a marketing agency for about 3 years. When our working relationship began, I noticed that the owner of this company would do slightly odd things like want to be at EVERY shoot. That's fine. But he would also add/change scope on the fly ... in front of the end client. Which is also fine, but when I come to a shoot prepared to shoot X and you're asking me to add shooting Z, one of two things are going to happen. 1) I'm going to explain to you that I don't have the proper planning and gear to accomplish shooting Z and 2) If I am properly equipped, I'm going to need to charge more for this scope change.
About two years into the working relationship, I began noticing the pattern of the "agent" trying to "nickel and dime" me to death. Over the course of the three years, my rates had increased, but this agent expected to not be held to my new pricing. To the point where a portrait shoot was scheduled for one person for 30 minutes and two people showed up with an "I'm so sorry they didn't tell you". Additionally -- and far more importantly -- I started getting negative feedback on my work from the end clients. In my own informal forensic study on why these end clients weren't happy, I came to the conclusion that what was being communicated to me by the "agent" regarding scope and product expectations did not match the expectations of the end client. I went to college for marketing, so I have a deep and unique understanding of how to marry clients expectations and their marketing and branding needs. So I explained this gap that I was noticing and offered a solution in how to fix it.
You see, from the beginning of this working relationship, I'd asked to meet with the "agent" and the end client for one creative meeting before I commenced work. This is the standard. I was denied that opportunity and had to shoot "cold". The "agent" would get annoyed that I would take the first 20 minutes of a shoot getting to know the end client and talking to them about their goals for the work I was creating for them. I was once "taken to task" because a team member of an end client reached out to me directly to book her drop-by headshot (which I abhor shooting, btw). This team member and I already personally knew each other.
The straw that apparently broke the camel's back happened while I was on vacation. The "agent", knowing I was on vacation, asked for rush delivery on some work and to schedule an "open house" of sorts over the course of number of days in subsequent weeks... wanting me to be set up and available just in case team members from a certain end client company happened to show up. Now, I'm a mom and I have other duties. Not only that, but my studio space wasn't just my own and other jobs had to get done in there over the course of the requested time by other members of my team. So I declined that request and offered an alternative.
Now, here's the kicker. This client only spent $5,030.11 on photography services from me in 2021.
Let me say that again... THIS CLIENT ONLY SPENT $5,030.11 ON PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES FROM ME IN 2021.
So when the owner of the company said they were going to abuse ... I mean use ... another photographer, I was all too happy to let them go. I can make that amount of money on one shoot ... with a client who's incredibly happy to have me there ... rather than fighting to have my time and my expertise protected and respected.
Since then, I've had some of THEIR clients reach out to me asking if I would still shoot their work. Of course I will! I'm happy to! But in the course of those conversations, I've learned that I was spot on in identifying the gap between the end clients' expectations and what was communicated to me that I thusly delivered. I literally have heard words like, "I feel like he has never really known my business".
I'm saying all of that to say that sometimes it's OK to get fired by a client. Sometimes it's OK to get fired. Period.
Because it's NEVER OK to allow clients to take advantage of you, of your time, of your talent, of your family's time with you. Decide what your boundaries are and protect them. Protect your peace. Be kind about it. But be firm.
And if you need some borrowed courage for that, I'm here to help. I have a really great system I can walk you through that will help you develop your boundaries and will help you protect them.
It'll be OK.