Guest Post: Early Warning Signs of a Difficult Client

So if you missed the original post on how to handle difficult clients then be sure to check it out right HERE.

Today I’m going to be identifying some warning signs that can help you spot a difficult client early on in your consultation process. As a wedding photographer in Lagos and having been in business for a few years now, I have developed an antenna for brides (and grooms) who are likely to be difficult clients – so, I’m hoping sharing my experience will save you the drama, tears and excessive chocolate consumption that a difficult client can bring on.


Red flag no. 1: The “Why Are You So Expensive” Client

Now there is nothing wrong with a client asking how much you cost – budget is an important factor to consider when planning any event. But once you have educated them on the value of your product or service and they are still asking: “Why are you so expensive?”, “XYZ is so much cheaper” or start asking for huge discounts or a lot of add-ons, it is clear that the client is only interested in getting the cheapest deal available. Understand that this is not your client and move on. Experience has also shown that the clients who pay you the least tend to be the most high maintenance – it makes sense because they don’t value your time or what you do!


Red flag no. 2: The “Know-it-all” Client  

This client basically thinks they can do your job as well or better than you could if only they had the time. As a wedding photographer, I run, not walk, from these clients because they are an absolute nightmare to work with and incredibly difficult to please. The whole point of hiring a professional is to find someone you can trust to execute your vision with minimal input from you. The way I see it, if a client doesn’t trust me to get the job done, they really shouldn’t have hired me in the first place.


Red flag no. 3: The “Bully” Client

Some clients feel that because they are the client and are thinking of paying you – they have the right to treat you anyway they like. It can start as simply as them being rude or constantly cutting you off at the consultation and degrade towards aggressive behaviour thereafter. As a professional, I treat my clients with respect even if I don’t agree with their position and I absolutely expect the same from my clients. Next!


Red flag no. 4: The “Over-demanding” Client

You know the client – she’s sent you 30 emails in 24 hours and text you to let you know she’s emailed you and then called because it’s been an hour and she hasn’t heard from you. She tweets you and then chats to you on Instagram to complain she hasn’t heard from you although you’ve just posted a picture to show you are in the middle of an event. And this is all before she’s booked you. These clients are exhausting – too many emails, special requests, revisions and complaints – and you can usually see them coming a mile away. They generally have a completely unrealistic sense of urgency and ridiculous level of expectation that your calendar revolves around them and their needs. No, thank you!


Red flag no. 5: The “Inflexible” Client

As a business, it is important to be flexible enough to respond to each client’s unique circumstances. However, it is equally important to have set boundaries and policies for your business to ensure you are able to offer each client consistent service. When clients have issues with most aspects of my contract (from payment terms to delivery of images) or insist on their vision completely disregarding my recommendations in spite of my experience, it put constraints on my ability to do my job to the best of my ability and these clients tend to be better off with another photographer. Having clear policies will ensure that you are able to identify when a client’s requests begin to impact your ability to do your job.


So these are just some of the warning signs you should look out for – sometimes all I have is a “bad feeling” about a client and I’ve found I’m always better off when I listen to my gut and usually regret it when I don’t. Not every client is right for me but they may be perfect for another photographer and that is when your referral network comes into place. It can still be a win-win situation if handled professionally and with some common sense.

Any of these ring a bell? Any other signs you look out for when deciding to take on a client? Leave a comment below or take the conversation over to Instagram with @nosurprisesevents



About the contributor:


Wani Olatunde is the lead photographer and creative director of Wani Olatunde Photography, a top wedding and portrait photography outfit based in Lagos. You can get in touch and see more of her work on the following platforms:


Instagram: (@waniolatundephotog)