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I Will Not Be Intimidated

I’ve lost track, but I’ve shot somewhere around 130 weddings. Of those 130, 129 of my clients have been so, so amazing. I’ve cherished being able to capture their memories for them, and have even made a few friends along the way.

But then, there’s the 1.

In recent days, I had to make some very touch decisions regarding a client that had abused my time and resources over the better part of a year.

For the first time in my professional history I “fired” a client.

Because of the threats this client has made in regards to giving me bad reviews, etc., I feel it’s necessary to get out ahead of it and tell my side.

The backstory:

I shot this client’s wedding almost one year ago. I probably exchanged about 3-4 times the amount of emails leading up to the date as I would with any other client. It seemed as though I had to write the same things many times over, as if my previous emails were not being read. But, “That’s the cost of doing business sometimes,” I said to myself.

The wedding day went very smoothly (despite their unpleasantness) and I got some beautiful shots, some of my favourite ever in fact.

I fulfilled all of my contractual obligations to them, and delivered their photos within the designated time frame.

On top of that, I went above and beyond my obligations and fulfilled several rather strange retouching requests that included adding hair to the groom’s head (that was a first). I wanted to maintain a good client relationship and give them great service. At a certain point the amount of retouching requests were getting out of hand, and I asked that I be compensated for any more of my time. At this point, invoices went ignored and unpaid.

They became somewhat infamous amongst the vendors of that day as being one of the most difficult couples of the year, if not their careers. The stories that circulated about their behaviour is too much to get into here, but believe me when I say that was beyond ridiculous and unpleasant.

There are some people who go through life with zero awareness of how badly they treat the people around them.

Several months passed, and I thought the saga was behind me.

Then a few months ago they reached out to design an album. With a sigh, I went ahead with it, still wanting to maintain a good relationship. After I did the draft, it was many weeks before I heard back with their requested changes. There were at least double what is typical, and they demanded it be ready by a certain date, at which point I informed them that it would be impossible to do that because the album creator company can’t do it that quickly.

It was at this point I said to myself that it would be better for both parties if we ended our professional relationship, and I sent a polite email informing them of this. I returned the money they had paid for the album, and cut my losses regarding the hours I put in to design it. I gave them a recommendation for a place that could create the album for them within the time frame they needed, and directed them to a retouching resource that could fulfill their requests.

At some point, a client’s demands so greatly exceed what would be considered within the range of normal, that you have to take a stand not only for yourself and your valuable time, but for the sake of your relationships with your other deserving clients.

And it wasn’t just the time I had to put in. It was the fact that they had no respect or appreciation for the extra work I provided them, on top of the quality images I provided.

They have threatened me since, which I expected. But I won’t let them continue to take advantage of me.

We vendors do everything we can to make our clients happy, we really do. Not just so we get good reviews, but because we understand how significant a wedding day is to the wonderful people that choose to hire us. But at some point, when our time, talent and resources are abused, we have to move on.

I feel that I handled this situation with the utmost professionalism, and stand by my decision. I also encourage any other small business peeps to (very selectively and politely) cut ties when you feel like you simply can’t do any more.

I’d love to hear from any other business owners who have encountered similar situations and how you dealt with it!

comments +

  1. Oh no! I too had this same thing happen to me. I did so much re-editing I finally told the client no more! And of course the threats came that they would never refer me to anyone. I simply said, please do not and goodbye! It’s so frustrating to deliver your work only to have it torn apart…. so sorry this happened to you! Cheers! Tiffany

    • alixgould says:

      Thanks for your comment Tiffany! Seems as though you handled it nicely as well. It’s hard as a business owner to think any of your clients are unhappy, but some people are simply impossible to please.

  2. Jess Rutledge says:

    Glad you stood up for yourself. Mean people suck!
    … and they always get more attention than they deserve because everyone tries to appease them.

    I’ve worked agency-side my entire career and the number of clients who feel they pay for the right to abuse is all too common as well.

    Just be nice everyone.

  3. Maryellen says:

    You handled it with courtesy and respect! And I’m sure a couple of deep breaths! Good for you! It’s tough out there sometimes. ❤️

  4. Vish says:

    Looking back at my short photography career I had a very similar experience. It was bad enough for me to completely stop shooting wedding photography and just enjoy the hobby for my self, friends and family.

    For me your comment of some people living with zero awareness of how they treat people resonates the most because It’s true.

    You and your team are very talented individuals and don’t deserve this nonsense.

  5. Peggy and Nancy says:

    Hey Alix.

    We’ve worked with you. You’ve been with us since our wedding day and now through to our first child. We have nothing but the highest regards for your professionalism, your fantastically easy going personality, your candor, your sense of humor and your dedication. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching your style mature and change over the years. We have also greatly appreciated your timely communications, your on point advice, and your ridiculously fast delivery of your high quality product (in our circle of friends, no one has received their wedding photos as quickly as we had).

    We are so sorry to hear you were not appreciated and so abused. This is entirely a loss for those former clients and a gain for whoever got your time instead! Good for you on standing up for yourself.

    All the best. Love,

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