PhotoChat; Standing Up For Yourself

PhotoChat is a weekly conversation between Photography Pro’s and Amateurs that takes place on Thursdays at 1PM EST hosted by Prime Social Marketing. To follow the conversation or take part use #Photochat on Twitter.

This blog post covers my longer answers to the questions that are condensed then put into tweets for the Photochat.

Q1: Is confrontation a realistic concern for photographers? How often do you have to stand up for yourself?

I think in any profession there is a chance of confrontation. Depending on your type of photography can depend on where confrontation can come from. As a landscape photographer it may be from people not wanting you on their land or taking a picture of a building, it could even be clients of advertising or portrait/wedding photographers who are unhappy with the work produced or did not match their expectations and it can be a photojournalist dealing with confrontation with the authorities. There is always the possibility of confrontation.

I don’t have to stand up for myself that often, usually if someone asks me what I am doing I don’t get defensive and just say taking pictures and show the person what I am taking a picture of. I have found that when people ask, “What are you doing?” it can be easy to get defensive. Going on the defence can put people on edge, because it can be that they have noticed you and want to know what you are up to, they are curious not accusing you of anything. In being open and showing people what you are doing and how innocent it is, can reduce the possibility of leading to confrontation.

Q2: What do you do with a client who has a problem with your pricing? How do you justify your worth?

Price is something I explain straight off the bat, once I know what somebody wants. I usually also explain the basis of where the price comes from; shooting, potential editing time, printing/web optimization/presentation, legacy cost (gear/programs/computer), accountant, taxes for example.
I also give one price that is simple and easy to understand. Clients in my opinion get frustrated when they feel that they are being cheated, and this come from having multiple pcies that then need to be added together; a price for shooting and then for prints, this can confuse them and even you. In giving one price it is clear and simple what it is going to cost them. If they then want to change something, then you give a new price but I would never go to them changing the deal. If you have quoted a loss making price, suck it up, you won’t do it again.

When dealing with someone who has a problem with the price, is to ask “what is your issue with the price?”. If someone has approached you in the mind of confrontation, listening to them is the best option. Ask questions, listen and try to understand what the issue is. This does not mean that you have to change a price but you can try to understand their problem and use that to make them understand why the price is what it is. It could be as well that you have got your pricing wrong and in having this conversation (confrontation) you can adjust what you charge.

Q3: Have you run into photo-related trouble with the authorities in the past? How did or would you handle it?

I have not really had problems in the past and I could talk about how I would handle a situation if it turned hot. I would not hand over my camera or my memory card as those photos are mine and authorities (generally speaking in western countries) don’t have the right to delete or take your work.
There have been a few photographer/police incidents in the States and the UK in recent years. I think it is important for photographers to know the law where they are and to abide by it, if the police don’t you have the law on your side to back you up. Don’t become confrontational or become aggressive, stay calm and state facts clearly. If you shout it is more than likely that the person you are speaking to will shout back and raise the level of the confrontation.

Q4: If you’ve ever been threatened or intimidated by an individual(s), what did you do?

In my life I have been threated and intimidated especially when I was a lot younger. I could say that I was subtly threated and intimidated by indirect pressure in the recent past. In the end I called their bluff and saw that they were not as strong and powerful as they were presenting themselves. In calling their bluff I could also see more clearly why certain things had happened, which gave me an opportunity to manoeuvre my way out of the situation.

Q5: What’s a good rule of thumb for handling confrontation?

Taking a cue from a training I went on about confrontation, I would say a rule of thumb is to listen and understand. By understand I do not mean, I heard what you said and I understand what you said, really I mean empathise with them, try to understand their point of view. Empathising with something is not the same as agreeing with it. Usually what the person is confronting you about is more than likely not what they are angry or frustrated about. In empathising with them you can get you closer to what the issue is and moving towards a resolution.

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I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

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One thought on “PhotoChat; Standing Up For Yourself

  1. interesting post Ben…I’m very new at taking photos and thankfully I’ve never had anyone confront me, nor ask me what I’m doing, but I do try to be careful about what/where/who I’m photographing. I take photos at our local Market every Saturday, but the vendors know what I’m doing…as for the customers, I don’t take a shot full face…it can be tricky.

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