Dear Devlin – I can’t believe I am typing this, but I feel like a victim as unfortunately, another photographer has poached a client from me recently.
They were booked with me, but someone slid into their DMs. They then offered this couple a discount if they booked with them instead. The couple were just straight-up honest with me, and it was truly gutting to hear.
From speaking to a few people, it seems I am not the only one this photographer has done this to.
How do I handle this? Do I approach the other photographer and give them some etiquette advice? I am so upset to lose this booking after working so hard to get where I am, and to make friends in the industry.
It has really put me off trusting other suppliers. I’m now second-guessing myself. What am I doing wrong if another photographer could do this so brazenly?
Enraged from Enfield
Dear Enraged From Enfield,
I am truly sorry to hear about your experience with another photographer poaching a client from you. It’s disheartening and frustrating when something like this happens, and it’s understandable that you feel upset and betrayed. When another photographer has poached a client it can feel very personal.
The unfortunate truth is that the underhand technique of poaching clients has been present in the wedding photography industry for a long time and over the years, I’ve heard of people doing this multiple times. However, in a post-pandemic market, I’m sadly not surprised to hear this when people are being encouraged to ‘hustle harder’ by some.
Building a sustainable photography business requires more than just acquiring clients through any means possible. It demands authenticity, trustworthiness, and a commitment to professional values. The people that go for these underhand tactics are not the ones that rise to the top. It’s often the opposite as they are expelling their energies on things like this instead of respectable marketing methods.
Is ‘Hustle Harder’ Culture to Blame?
This photographer may see short-term gains, but their actions will inevitably damage their reputation and relationships with both clients and fellow professionals. Photographers talk, and it’s only a matter of time until this behaviour leads to a lack of referrals and positive word-of-mouth, making it challenging for them to establish a lasting presence in the industry. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get called out for this – we are living in an age of Cancel Culture.
Undercutting to win clients is not ethical and while offering lower prices might attract some clients initially, it can create a cycle of devaluing your services and attracting price-focused clients rather than those who appreciate the quality of your work.
So what can you do when another photographer has poached a client? Let me offer some advice on how to handle this situation while maintaining your own professionalism and integrity.
Another Photographer Has Poached A Client From Me, What Should I Do?
- Stay Calm And Collected: It’s natural to feel angry and hurt when another photographer has poached a client from you, but try to remain composed when dealing with the situation. Responding with anger may not yield the best outcome and could potentially escalate the issue. But be firm, the chances are they know this is immoral and will be defensive or potentially go on the attack.
- Reach Out To The Other Photographer: Consider having a private conversation with the photographer who poached your client. Approach the situation with a diplomatic tone, expressing your concern about the incident. Avoid being accusatory or confrontational but rather focus on seeking understanding and resolution.
- Advocate For Professional Etiquette: During your conversation with the other photographer, express the importance of professional ethics and mutual respect within the industry. Emphasise the significance of maintaining trust and positive relationships with fellow suppliers to create a supportive community.
- Communicate With The Couple: While it may be tempting to confront the couple who chose the other photographer, it’s best to maintain professionalism. Thank them for their honesty and express your disappointment without criticising their decision. Focus on showing grace and understanding, as this will reflect positively on your business.
Tips for Dealing with Other Photographers
- Learn From The Experience: As difficult as this situation is, try to see it as a learning opportunity. Reflect on your client acquisition and communication strategies, and consider if there are areas where you can make improvements to minimise such incidents in the future.
- Build A Supportive Network: Surround yourself with like-minded industry professionals who value collaboration and respect. Participate in local photography communities or networking events to establish connections with peers who uphold professional standards.
- Trust Your Talent: Remember that this isolated incident doesn’t define your skills or worth as a photographer. Your talent and dedication have brought you this far, and it will continue to drive your success. Don’t let one negative experience discourage you from pursuing your passion.
- Consider Not Tagging Your Clients: Don’t make it easy for your competition to find your couples. Avoid tagging them in the run-up to the wedding or in their engagement photos. It’s sad that we have to do this rather than celebrate our lovely clients but I also do not want to serve them up on a plate to a photographer who would sink this low.
I hope these help with your problem another photographer has poached a client from me. I confess that I would also be Enraged. Most wedding photographers that I know, work incredibly hard. It’s a great feeling to then go on to get a booking. To have it taken from you is as bad as someone going into your bank account and removing money. They are stealing from you and I believe that it is a despicable practice.
Please try to remember that there are plenty of clients who will appreciate your unique style and professionalism. Stay true to your vision. Trust that your genuine approach will attract the right people who value your work and dedication. Undercutting is only ever a race to the bottom and starting a working relationship with someone in those circumstances is unbalanced and ultimately demoralising.
Keep your head held high and be proud of yourself that you are not relying on other people’s marketing to piggyback onto. Continue to focus on delivering exceptional photography experiences for your couples and being the best photographer that you can be. It’s much better to be working for people who feel lucky that they booked you not that they got you as a bargain.