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How Aspiring Photographers Can Avoid Getting Scammed by Clients

How Aspiring Photographers Can Avoid Getting Scammed by Clients

Freelance photography is a booming industry for talented go-getters. But even the most ambitious and savvy freelance photographers can occasionally get scammed by clients who demand free work or take advantage of no-deposit deals to get free photos before fleeing without paying a cent.

Fortunately, you can learn how to avoid getting scammed by clients by following a few key practices.

Do Research On Potential Clients

One great way to avoid a potential scam is to do your homework on any potential clients. When someone approaches you for a job contract, do a quick Google of their name and check out the source of their email address. Even this basic information can give you a clue as to whether they are a legitimate potential client or are trying to take advantage of your skills.

This is doubly true if they provide information about a supposed business they want you to provide photos for. If the business doesn’t exist on Google, they’re trying to trick you.

Always Use a Written Contract

It’s also a great idea to use a photography contract template for all of your client agreements and job proposals. A photography contract is a basic template you can use and adjust for all new clients. It should include basic information like:

  • How much you will charge for your services
  • The deliverables a.k.a. the photographs and other services you will provide to the client
  • The timetable for the job to be done
  • And other specifics that need to be hashed out before any job starts

By using a written contract, your client won’t be able to demand extra work from you or claim that you promised something you never discussed. It’s a great way to protect yourself from legal liability and ensure that you don’t do work you aren’t paid for.

Ask for Deposits

Furthermore, get into the habit of asking for deposits upfront if you want your professional photography business to be taken seriously, not seen as a hobby.

You don’t necessarily have to demand your full asking price for a new job, but asking for at least a percentage of the total price – such as 20% or 50% – forces your client to put some skin in the game and makes it less likely that they will try to scam you since they’ve already spent some money.

Plus, it’s a better way to make sure your bills are paid on time when you are just starting out as a freelance photographer. If the client refuses to make a deposit, pass. There are always more jobs out there just waiting for your skilled touch.

Ask to Get on a Video or Phone Call

If you’ve researched a potential client and still have a weird feeling about their legitimacy, ask them for a phone call or face-to-face meeting with video chat. Either of these options will require a real person to get online and converse with you as you hash out the details about a future job.

It’s very unlikely for any scammer to agree to this demand, but anyone legitimately looking for a good freelance photographer will likely be happy to have a face-to-face meeting or talk on the phone. It’s a great way to get the measure of your potential client and make sure you can satisfy their needs, as well.

Learn to Say No

This last tip is simple, but it’s incredibly important for new freelance photographers: learn to say no. Practice it in front of the mirror every night before bed if you have to. You have to learn how to say no to potential clients (and potential income) if you suspect they are trying to scam you or they are demanding too much.

The power of “no” is important for your mental health and your self-respect. Practice it until you’re a master at refusing absurd requests and you’ll be a happier freelancer in the long run.


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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.