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Photography

Quick Tip: Learning When to Say "No"

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This post is part of a series called Freelance Photography.
10 Critical Points for Strong Photography Contracts
Are You Ready for the Worst? Insuring Your Photo & Video Kit

Depending upon whether you see photography as a hobby, or work for clients, you may have differing views of when to say "no". Much of your day may be spent agreeing to the demands of your clients, and possibly taking on projects that you'd rather let pass by.

No more! Learning to say "no" is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a photographer. This Quick Tip will be looking at a few of the circumstances when you should turn someone - or some thing - down.

When Taking on Work

As you start to become proficient and well-known in your field, offers of work will undoubtedly start to roll in on a regular basis. If you’re lucky, you’ll have more work than you can realistically handle yourself.

There are two dangers in this situation; (1) you take this work on, and find yourself overloaded, and (2) you find yourself working on shoots that don’t provide a great deal of reward or inspiration.

This is when learning to say “no” becomes important. Even in your early days as a photographer, don’t be afraid to turn down work that you don’t expect to find rewarding. Of course, there will be times when you need to work on slightly dull and mundane assignments to make ends meet, but there’s always a way to inject something new and original.

Taking on too much work to handle yourself is dangerous. If the quality of your photography and relationship with clients is suffering, you need to cut back - or take on someone to assist you. If you do decide to turn down work, it's useful to have a network of fellow photographers who you're able to recommend.

Feeling Proud of Your Portfolio

If you’re working on shoots that don’t fit with your creative vision and style, you’ll be unlikely to want to include them in your portfolio. As a photographer, your portfolio is the main way to sell yourself and illustrate your experience. It needs to be up-to-date, filled with inspiring images, and appeal to the type of client you’d like to work with. If you feel that a project wouldn’t have a place in your portfolio when finished, you’d be wise to think twice before taking it on.

Never Feel That Work is “Beneath You”

I’ve worked with photographers in the past who, after starting work on a shoot, loudly complain that it isn’t what they “want” to be doing, doesn’t push their skill set, and is generally beneath them. This negative attitude it something to avoid at all costs.

By deciding to commence and take payment for a project, you’re accepting that it’s something you want to be doing. The time to object and say no is before you sign a contract!

Share Your Experience

Everyone has different opinions on this topic, and I’d love to hear yours. Are there any times when you’ve regretted taking on a project, or do you prefer to gain experience by taking on any and all work that comes in your direction?

Photo by avantard

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