Here is the context: you managed to score a gig on a very nice project. You gathered all of your creativity, worked without counting your hours (for the greater good!), maybe ended up losing money rather than making some but you put your heart on the table and did not regret it. Until…
Until you received feedback. Negative feedback. This is when your client took your heart out of your chest and kicked it like it was just a piece of garbage.
I experienced this in the past and I would be lying if I said that I handled it okay and it did not affect me whatsoever.
This unfortunate scenario happens more than you would think and more importantly, hurts a lot more than you would expect. Because it is your craft. Because we are human. Because our visions are different. Because you were not prepared. Because there was a misunderstanding. Thankfully, learning the hard way can also force you to move forward quickly and efficiently.
Since this feeling is definitely something we would rather avoid, here are some leassons that I learnt from this experience:
Get your client's vision
Congratulations, you made the cut, your client believes you have the talent to accomplish their request and are ready to pay you for it! Now it is time to get down to business and understand what the hell they need you to do. Ask for inspiration photos or other examples. Ask as many questions as you need to, to make sure you understand exactly what they are looking for.
Educate your clients
Chances are that whoever will contact you for your services has no knowledge whatsoever on how to do your job. That is probably why they are reaching out at the first place. Now that you have a more precise idea of what they need from you, you MUST evaluate the time and budget allocated for this project and let them know exactly what they will get for this price/time. Is it very unlikely they will get 500 edited photos for one hour of coverage for their event. They probably won't get a very complicated studio lighting for their corporate shoot for $200.
Have a contract
Sounds simple but it actually isn't, at least for me. I got blinded by the excitement, agreed to work fast, didn't take the time to write everything down and have it signed. Bad, bad idea. This can only backfire. Write something that can protect you in case something out of your control was to happen the day of the shoot that would stop you from giving what you were asked.
Explain the final product.
While it does relate to the previous point, I believe it needs a different paragraph. People need to know prior to shoot what they will get at the end. Edited, RAWs, low res, high res, your watch, whatever. This needs to be set in stone. If you have delivering RAW previews for your clients to choose, it is important to explain that this step is not the final product. Again, they might not know what a RAW photo looks like (and it looks pretty bad usually.). If I REALLY have to show some RAWs - which I try to avoid as much as possible - I like to give an edited example with it to show the before/after process. This also give you a chance to get approval for the editing style you went for.
Charge a fee for additional hours.
Make it worth your time. If after giving exactly what you were asked, you get additional requests, you need to charge for it. This will avoid wasting money on billable hours. And no one likes to waste money.
Let it go.
This is the hardest point for me. And this is still something I need to learn myself. Despite of all your efforts, sometimes it just doesn't work. It happens. If you feel like you gave your best and there is nothing else you can do to adjust the products, it is time to let that boat sail away. There is only so much you can do. It doesn't make you a terrible artist, it just means that people are different. Take what you can from it and move on.
That's it dearest Scandals. Now go work on new amazing projects and blow people's mind, we are right behind you.