Why you must always take the blame and learn from your mistakes when your clients get upset
It was Wednesday afternoon, and my bride for Saturday had just text-messaged me to confirm a couple of details. After going back and forth a few times, I reminded her that my wife would be coming to the wedding as my second shooter and assistant.
She replied – confused and surprised – asking if it's standard for me to cover her meal. After some lightly heated back-and-forth, we resolved that my wife would indeed be coming, but I could tell that my bride was not happy about it.
My default reaction (and perhaps yours) is to get defensive about this. How could my bride expect me to cover the meal for my 2nd shooter on a 12-hour wedding day who was there to help me? Didn't she understand that this is how I photograph and that I need my 2nd shooter and assistant to do what she hired me to do?
But … I had to stop myself.
Every time there is a misunderstanding like this, I like to look at it as a learning opportunity. I like to assume the blame and ask myself what I did wrong. Where did I fail my client? How can I avoid this in the future?
Obviously, I didn't communicate clearly enough. I obviously assumed my client knew I'd be having a 2nd shooter coming. I obviously didn't set expectations very well.
It was my fault, not my clients. I can't blame her for being upset.
This image – I couldn't have made it without my wife there assisting me. I was 25 feet away using a 35mm lens, and my wife was up next to my bride and groom with a speedlight on a lightstand with an umbrella. Without her, the light would have blown over, I could never have gotten the angle of light I got here, and by having her as a voice-activated light stand, I could perfect the shot and light quickly, versus constantly running back and forth.
I can only get shots like this (and dozens of other examples from the wedding day) by having my wife (2nd shooter and assistant) with me. I get that. You get that. My client didn't, and I can't expect her too. I did wrong by not educating her properly, and I learned from that.
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She told me at the end of the wedding that she was happy my wife came, and that she now understands why I have her come with me. Even though we have a happy ending here, it was a simple misunderstanding that could have been avoided with better communication from me.