I’d wager that you have absolutely no problem saying no to your kids. Or your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. Right? We say no ALL THE TIME. But tell me…when was the last time you said no to a potential client? When was the last time you said “that’s not what I do”?
I’ve said no three times this week.
I’ve felt growingly unhappy with newborn sessions. For about 2 years, I’ve been pretty sure that this isn’t something I wanted to be doing. I took the opportunity to go to an amazing workshop to view newborn pros in action and while I felt empowered to do it, I didn’t feel as warm and gushy inside as I see many newborn photographers do. As I near a newborn session, I get nervous for days. Not excited nervous, but like…”I don’t want to be doing this” nervous. Now, I’m no baby hater. And as you can see from my past work with newborns, I’m not half bad. I just, for some reason, really don’t revel in or enjoy the process.
Newborns make me feel so totally out of control. You can’t take a newborn outside climbing trees. You can’t make them laugh with jokes about the boys in school. You can’t even offer them jelly beans for crying out loud.
So for the last couple years, I’ve been trying my darndest to make it work because I love the final outcome of the sessions and I love giving the parents something that moves them to tears, but I’ve just had to buckle down and decide to finally start saying that I don’t do newborns because I personally don’t enjoy the process.
How do I say no to a newborn? First of all -and this HURT- I took them off my website. Yes, all those beautiful little soft babies who I’ve grown to love, whose photos I captured when they were so fresh and new. I retired those posts. And I removed the newborns out of my stack of MOO Cards. I took the newborn pricing off my site, too. And then I waited. Sure enough, a day or so in, I got a lovely glowing email from a woman about to give birth. DEEP BREATH. I started typing. I thought “this is IT! This is the first day of the rest of my life”. What I told her was this: For a host of reasons, I’m no longer doing newborns. However, I recommended another photographer in the area who I’ve already had a conversation with so I’m not leaving people hanging. And then I told her that my favourite baby age to photograph is around 9 months because they can sit up but can’t yet run away. I calculated that this age would be in the spring and I pitched her a concept for a spring session. I don’t know that I’ll ever hear from her but I felt about 9 feet tall after that email. I felt like a conquered the yes giant. That giant in my head that used to bully me into saying yes.
Another job I said no to was something offered to me for the purpose of “exposure”. It was a very sweet offer and I’m always honoured when people think to ask me, but I just had to say that I’m “no longer portfolio building or working for exposure”. Now, if this had truly been exposure in the ways that would grow my business, there’s a slight chance I might go along with it, but these weren’t even my target clients.
You have to keep your eye on the prize. You have to stay centered on your target because if you get swept away with every kind of job that comes your way, you will never become that specialised photographer you’re hoping to be.
If you find saying no hard, if you have photographer’s ADD and jump around like a jumping bean, then try this practical tip which just popped into my head:
When you have to say no to something that doesn’t fit your brand/style/goals/genre then turn around immediately after and do just ONE THING that’s good for your business.
For example, say “no sorry I don’t do newborns” and then immediately go and email your favourite client to say hello. Or compose an email blast to your community. Or post something fabulous on your Facebook page. Do something that puts your mind back on the task at hand and gets your eye centered on that goal of being the town’s premier tattoed bride wedding photographer or whatever nieche you’re trying to carve for yourself.
You’ll thank me when you’re older.
Saying no to clients who aren’t a good fit from Psychology for PhotographersPin It