“We saw photos of Paris on your blog! So we thought you would be the perfect photographer for our brand! But I’ve heard you’re very expensive. But we really want to portray a ‘luxury’ element in the photographs. You know our product costs 3 Crores, so we want to attract the right customers.”

This happened a few months ago. It was a conversation, in-person. After the meeting, I responded with an email that had details of how I work, tentative pricing, licensing, etc. There has been no response to my email yet.

There is a certain respect that I have for people who use their words. “Expensive” is subjective. What I charge for my photography service might be peanuts compared to what a photographer with experience similar to mine might charge in another country, for example. Or, my charges could be someone’s annual take-home salary. “Affordability” is a function of many things. “We don’t really have a budget.” or “We haven’t thought of the budget.” turn into “That’s out of our budget” after I send in a quote.

Unprofessional communication gives away your background and experience. No matter if you’re the CEO of an international luxury brand in India.

I used to feel disheartened & angry. Now, I use these experiences as memory markers. If I have to deal with the same people again, I clarify my expectations before hand. Instead of assuming that a luxury brand’s CEO will be professional, I keep my expectations rock-bottom and clearly communicate what I expect. ( This rarely works to change their behaviour by the way. I have been trying to take complete ownership of my work – so, if a prospective client doesn’t understand something or refuses to respond to my emails, I try to look at it as “What more could I have done?” and attempt to do that. Sometimes, it works. Most times, I’m a little wiser and that’s that. )

I have also considered doubling my rates. If I have to deal with unprofessional people, I might as well make it worth my time. But most times, if I ever receive an enquiry from the same people, I turn them down. No amount of money is worth dealing with this kind of unprofessionalism.

 

 

More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series.ย ( These are all inspired by true stories. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. )

 

 

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