6 Times You Should Say NO to Clients | Catherine Guidry Photography

September 14, 2022

6 Times You Should Say NO to Clients

Especially when you’re first starting out, it might feel like you should take any client you can get. 

I get it: when you need work and you’re trying to grow your business, it feels like you shouldn’t turn down anything. And maybe you’ve heard it said that beggars can’t be choosers! 🤷🏼‍♀️ 

But I’m here to encourage you to consider this: maybe not every client is the right fit for you – or vice versa!

And that’s ok! 👌🏻

So, what are some common scenarios in which you should say NO to a client? Read on for 6 of them.

1. Budget 📄

Budget is often a differentiating factor when deciding to work with a client.

What do I mean by that? 

A client might have a bigger budget than what you normally charge – and that probably means they’re having a bigger event than what you’re used to working.

A bigger budget likely means multiple days, multiple dresses, and multiple venues 👗👠👰🏻 What they need is a very experienced photographer. 

If you’re in your early years and your prices aren’t in that range, it’s probably better for you to pass on that wedding. 

On the other hand, a client might have a smaller budget than the rate you are charging. It’s ok to pass on this, because your rate should reflect your experience level – and I truly believe there is a photographer for everyone! 

When I was first starting my business in 2008-2009, my prices were much lower. At that time, my clients had fewer expectations of me, and their budgets reflected that. 

Now that I’m at the 14+ year mark, the expectations for my services have risen, and my clients’ budgets reflected that. There are more moving parts logistically and more things that have to get done at the events I shoot, and my experience level to accomplish those things are reflected in my rates.  

So, oftentimes you’ll see different pricing between yourself and other photographers – and that is ok. Price is a reflection of experience… and again, I truly believe there is a photographer for everyone! 📸

2. Style

Know your style! What do I mean by this? 

My images, for example, have descriptor words that come to mind when people look at them. Words like:




Yours have descriptor words, too!

What you should do is spend time asking your friends and family what words they would use to describe your images. 

Have an awareness of the type of work you enjoy photographing and you feel you’re best at, so that when a client comes along and describes a style you don’t produce, you know you can say no… and even better, you can point them to someone who can replicate that style.

The best thing we can do as service providers is make sure the clients who come to us are set up for success. We want them to be happy with their choices! 

So when clients come to me and describe a style they’re wanting that I do not produce, I make sure that I don’t just accept the booking for the money. Instead, I’ll say, “I’d love to work with you – but I really believe in the end, you’re not going to be happy with the images, because the images I produce won’t look like that.” I promise, clients will appreciate your honesty! 

The more familiar you are with your own personal style, the more you’re able to attract clients who align with your work. 🌹

3. Services You Don’t Provide

Sometimes, a client will come to you wanting a specific product, offer, or service you don’t provide.
If they feel really strongly about this service and they’re not willing to budge, then you have to be honest with them that you cannot provide what they are looking for. Maybe it’s a service you’re not interested in or don’t feel drawn to as an artist – whatever the reason, you’ll want to refer that client to someone else.

4. Disrespect or Red Flags 🚩

I have to say that we’ve been super fortunate. 

Over the past 14+ years, we’ve had amazing clients and I’m so thankful for that. Our clients have been incredibly respective, gracious, and kind. 

But if you ever are in a situation where you feel like a client is being disrespectful or is causing red flags, trust your gut. 

Ultimately, any time in life (not just in business!) that I have had an intuition about something, 9 times out of 10… it’s been right! 🚩

The best thing you can do in those situations is let the client know you won’t be moving forward with them, so you can avoid conflicts that might arise in the future.

5. Payments 💵

When a client comes to reserve their date with you – such as for their wedding – they’re going to sign a contract and remit payment. They will need to do both of those things to make their booking official. 

If either the retainer payment hasn’t been sent or the contract hasn’t been signed, then their booking is not actually official… and you should feel free to let them know the booking is not yet official/legally binding.

Either way, you’ll want to be sure you’re corresponding with the client appropriately to get those matters sorted out. 📨

6. Availability

This is the most obvious one… but if you’re not available on the day they need, feel free to say no!

Always refer these clients to other friends you feel like could benefit from the work. One of the best things I’ve experienced is, by referring these clients out to other photographers, they have been gracious enough to refer work my way as well. 🌻

You Need Community

That being said, you NEED a photography community! 

The photography community is ultimately a community of your friends. They will be the ones who are able to identify most with where you’ve been and where you’re going. They’re there to celebrate your wins, lift you up, and talk to you when you have any hardships or questions in your business. 

So, if you’re ready to go all in and truly up-leveling your business and make a name for yourself in the world of wedding photography, I would love to invite you to join our incredible membership of like-minded wedding photographers. 

It’s called the Wedding Photography Society and the community is designed to be for wedding photographers wanting to completely up their game, stand out from the competition, and give their clients the experience of a lifetime. 

Because I want to ensure only dedicated, committed photographers join this group, acceptance will be on an application basis. Get the guidance you need to truly get a foothold in your market and become known as THE go-to photographer running a full-time business.

You will receive coaching from me, access to the community, and monthly content designed to help you grow your business and live a life you love designed for you.

Click here to join the waitlist!