Client Insists: No Payment till Images Seen

Dear Stefanie Shutters

How do you handle it when a potential customer doesn’t want to pay upfront for the portrait session?  It’s really three sessions and includes 2 adults, 5 kids and three babies.  I told him my price and he said “That’s not right!” He insisted that no one charges before the service is done.

My studio requires payment up front. We have a no refunds policy, but we do reshoot. I’ve been in business more than ten years. It’s always worked for my clients and my business.

But he wants me to do the job and if he doesn’t like it, he wants a full refund. He doesn’t care that I’ll be out the time for the session, the editing, the cost of printing my proofs – if he doesn’t like the end results he wants his money back.

I told him “that’s now how we work, I’m sorry.”  Am I wrong here?

~Second Guessing Myself


Dear Second Guessing,

No you’re not wrong. It’s your business and if you require payment up front, then you require payment up front and they can go suck a pacifier if they don’t’ like it.

You are under no obligation to change up your long standing business practices and policies for anyone. And if its worked for you for ten years and this is your first demand of this nature you’re both incredibly lucky and doing something that works. Don’t mess with that for one entitled potential brat of a client.

Because this client sounds like a real VIP. And when I use that term, it actually means Very Irritating Person.  They haven’t even hired you and they’re already insisting on changing everything about how you do business.  I’m not psychic but in this case I sense that if you take their money you’ll then be in for a list of demands – from delaying when they actually pay you (not when they pick their images, but after they arrive from the print lab) to demanding that they get digitals for free and their refund too.  If you give in to their initial demand for change, then nothing else you do is off limits for them to change.

If ‘no one else’ charges until after the work is done, they can go to ‘everyone else’ if that’s how they need to do business.  You didn’t deny him a heart transplant. So don’t let him make you feel bad. Not everyone is your client. And that’s okay.


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