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Clubhouse Tog Talk Recap: Learning to Say NO

Recap – Learning to Say No

Missed our Clubhouse chat this week, or a snippet of the engaging & constructive conversation that arose?

As always, we aim to please! So if you have a topic that you would love to hear discussed, please reach out! Nothing is off the table.

So this week’s Clubhouse was all about learning to say no in a positive and helpful way. Whether it’s saying no to a job, to a client, or to yourself, setting those rules and saying no can be not only a positive, but very freeing, way to run your photography business.

Why is it so hard to say no?

As creatives, we are sensitive creatures. We aim to please and make others happy, especially when it comes to sharing our talents and gifts as artists. It’s also difficult to turn away a client, or a potential pay check and money in your pocket, but saying no is a way to build healthy relationships and boundaries.

We are here to help you get through some of the difficult “no” situations that can arise being a photographer and small business owner.

Things you can say NO to:

  • Shooting a style or genre that you are not comfortable with
  • Scheduling sessions at a time that is not workable for you
    • Whether it conflicts with your own schedule, or that of your shooting style (say, golden hour)
    • Clients pushing for a time that works for them, and not wanting to budge
  • Clients and who you choose to work with
  • Yourself. Sounds funny?  Sure. But saying no to yourself is healthy, too.
    • Set regular working hours, so that when the clock is “up” you take time for you.
    • Work with a timer so that you take breaks and don’t forget to eat (and drink that water!).

Ways to say NO nicely:

  • Refer out. If you have a subject or genre that you are not comfortable shooting, refer out to another local photographer. This not only helps your client, but also forms a relationship and networking with other togs in your area.
  • Have a set schedule, days and times, and make them viewable and scene.
    • Talk about them in blog posts, emails, and social media posts.
    • This way, you are giving your clients a heads up vs them being/acting confused.
    • Remind clients that you know what you are doing; this is your job. Maybe a particular time of day may not be good for their toddler; however, changing that time (say midday) won’t create the pictures they see and desire from you.
  • Again, refer out. If a potential client feels ‘off,’ go with your gut. It’s ok to send them links & names to other local photographers and wish them well. Just because someone isn’t your perfect fit, doesn’t meant that you need to suffer through the anxiety before, during, and after with a client who isn’t your ‘type.’
  • YES, BUT...
    • Not every NO needs to be seen as a negative.
    • Instead of saying no to something you are willing to possibly do, you can say “YES, BUT
    • Give your client what they need WITHIN the restrictions that you have.
    • Instead of saying no to something you are willing to possibly do, you can say “YES, BUT”…
      • For instance, a client wants an extra image, not included in the package. You can answer with something like: YES, BUT there is an additional fee for that image. So, it’s not a direct no, but still shares your restrictions while pleasing your client.

Now let’s talk about what we learned, and looking forward to how to start setting up healthy ways to stick to your “NOs.”
Make a ME list. Weigh the benefits of saying NO. Write up a physical list, one that you can look at when need be, that includes all of the things that are important to you. What do you want your life to look like, and what criteria will not only make you successful, but also happy on a personal level. Be honest and know who you are. What you want. Things that make you happy and pleased at the end of the day.

  • Some ideas for a “Me List:”
    • Being a parent/having family time.
    • Making money efficiently.
    • Having time for the gym.
    • Date nights or weekend plans.
    • Taking vacations & having “me” time.
    • Sooooo many more, but make your own list and don’t leave anything out.

Remember, you are the artist. Customers do not own you. You do not work for them, and they are not your boss. You are a business owner who offers a service to them. Only you are in charge of your schedule, your work and code of ethics, and who or where you partake in your photography services. We can be easy to forget we serve ourselves and family WAY better when we are happy, relaxed, doing what we love and what matters.

Saying no is HEALTHY. You are important and so is your time. By setting boundaries and using the word “no,” you will increase your productivity, your workload, and your personal relationships.

A special thank you to Nicole York for being our guest host this week, and for the boundless information shared with our Clubhouse club.

Nicole is a professional photographer; additionally, she’s part of the PRO EDU family and a senior writer for FStoppers
You can find more from Nicole here:

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