The Threat of Client Badmouthing


Dear Jasmine,
I’ve been in the industry over 7 years now and honestly, it’s been a relatively pleasant experience. But sometimes; however, you end up in a situation where there’s a clash of personalities. Although I’ve never had this happen with clients, I’ve had it happen when interviewing potential second shooters. Not every second shooter is the right fit for the primary and vice versa too. I’ve recently had a potential intern/shooter threaten to “badmouth” me across their blog and any other platform they can find because they simply weren’t a fit for the position they were applying for.

Have you ever been in a situation like that? How do you respond to that kind of person? People fuelled by anger are so unpredictable.
Clash, Smash, Boom

Dear Clash, Smash, Boom,
I think angry people should be shipped to an island just off the equator line and served frosty beverages until they find their happy selves again. But since that won’t happen (because angry people will find something wrong even with frosty beverages), let’s get real about the scenario.

I was in the exact same position…but it was a bride who threatened to ruin my business (her exact words). We corresponded via email for two days and during that time, I realized we weren’t the best fit (amongst other things, she wanted two hours dedicated to family portraits and sent instructions on how to capture her bridal photo…nothing is wrong with this, but it doesn’t play to my strengths). I carefully crafted an email stating I believed I wasn’t the right match for what she requested and even sent over a list of photographers who would be better suited for her requests. I breathed a sigh of relief, then hit the Send button.

And, boom, my world exploded when she responded an hour later.

If it was possible for emails to spit fire, hers would have been a dragon. She threatened to ruin my new business (I hadn’t been a photographer for more than a year) by going on every wedding forum and saying how awful I was…and update her social media outlets to complain about my services…and warn brides to stay away from me. I was crushed. I immediately panicked and asked JD what I should do.

The advice he gave me is what I’ll pass along to you: Who cares?

Does it sound way too simple? Well, yes. But it’s true. If the bride (or the assistant shooter in your case) were to badmouth me, what could she say? That I refused her? That I was selective? That I sent her better suited alternatives? If anything, that would prove I’m a photographer who wants only what’s best for both parties. If I don’t think I’m the best fit, I’ll be honest.

Likewise, CSB, if a prospective employee bashes you because s/he wasn’t hired, then the only person it makes look bad is her/him. Really. And guess what? I searched online for a month after that bride threatened to ruin me…there wasn’t a single post, thread, or word about how “awful” I was. I wish the same for you.

Shine On,