Forums > Newbie Forum > How to Say No

Model

RobinKate

Posts: 3

Eugene, Oregon, US

What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

*** Thanks for all the answers guys! As I said downthread, I was more just curious as to how I should phrase such a response- not answering isn't really up my alley. I'm very happy to have gotten the perspective of so many photographers and more experienced models. I consider my question answered, but of course you can still weigh in to help other people with the same question. wink ***

May 01 11 10:10 am Link

Photographer

B Browder Photo

Posts: 14635

Charleston, South Carolina, US

Only two suggestions I have is, either tell them you are not interested or do the "no response, is a response" method.   And don't add them if you do not wish to work with them.  I don't think necessarily they would take it as "I want to work with you"  if you do add them.  But it may.

May 01 11 10:13 am Link

Model

GingerG

Posts: 1017

Fredericksburg, Virginia, US

Send them your rates. And tell them why. Politely

May 01 11 10:15 am Link

Photographer

Ed Devereaux

Posts: 603

Portland, Oregon, US

Honesty is the best policy, just not mean. No different than you would if asked a question in person. Not interested but thank you would work for me.

May 01 11 10:17 am Link

Photographer

Tore

Posts: 13710

Stamford, Connecticut, US

Jonell Gottlieb wrote:
Send them your rates. And tell them why. Politely

Sending rates is not the best option when trying not to work with someone.
What will you do when he says he will pay the rate?

People may get "hurt" no matter what you do. The best play in my opinion is to say "No thank you."

As for accepting people as a friend and them thinking you want to work with them if you accept it.....it depends on the person.

May 01 11 10:19 am Link

Photographer

Hollee Brinlee

Posts: 153

Los Angeles, California, US

-Epona- wrote:
As for accepting people as a friend and them thinking you want to work with them if you accept it.....it depends on the person.

Exactly, I'm aware people are out of my league and adding them means- maybe someday we'll be at the same level to work together, and if that never happens, I still have them as a reference for work I'd love to be able to do.

I'm also only on one end of the spectrum, I don't get offended if someone says no, or if they don't respond at all, others at quite the opposite so you'll need to decide what kind of "rules" you have for friend requests and what not.

May 01 11 10:25 am Link

Photographer

Top Gun Digital

Posts: 1273

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

RobinKate wrote:
What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

When you say you have been asked a few times by a photographer you don't want to work with do you mean several different photographers or do you mean the same individual has asked you to work with them multiple times.  If you mean the same person has asked you to shoot multiple times and you have not indicated a willingness to do so it sounds like this person has some issues.  If you mean several different photographers have each asked you to shoot and you are not interested the easiest thing to do is not respond.  In the world of the Internet, no response is considered a response.

As for friend requests, if you really don't like their work it's best to deny the request.

May 01 11 10:26 am Link

Model

KymberlyAnn

Posts: 1384

Waukesha, Wisconsin, US

I just say "Thank you, but I am not interested at this time"

May 01 11 10:27 am Link

Photographer

Bighorn Photography

Posts: 404

Florissant, Colorado, US

I don't know why this has to be so complicated. Just be polite and say no thank you. End of story.

May 01 11 10:31 am Link

Photographer

Harmon Photography

Posts: 261

Maryville, Tennessee, US

I don't usually participate in forum posts, but I have feeling about this issue, so I wanted to contribute my two cents.

I'm assuming from your post that you mean they're asking you to shoot on a TFP basis and you don't think their work would benefit you. Here's how I would like to be treated:

"Hi, Eric!  I received your message and I appreciate your interest in shooting with me. I looked through your portfolio, and to be honest, I'm not sure your current work benefits me on a tfp basis at the moment. I'm always looking for paid work, though, and for what you're interested in shooting, I am available for $x/hour in case that's an acceptable arrangement for you.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and I hope you find someone great for your project!"

This type of response does several things for me:

1) It shows that you're friendly.
2) It shows that you've actually considered my offer. You took the time to look at my portfolio. You weren't blown away or necessarily even impressed, but you offer me an alternative should I be so interested in adding you to my portfolio that I'm willing to pay your rates.

I type faster than most people, but writing a couple sentences shouldn't take too much time out of anyone's life (I realize many models get perhaps dozens of inquiries a day). Plus, when a model just ignores my message, I don't know if:

a) she's still laughing so hard over my portfolio that she can't catch her breath long enough to type a reply
b) she's not serious about modeling
c) she's just not considerate of other people
d) something else, but of course I'm assuming the worst :-)

Just my two cents. When I place a casting call, I respond to every single model who answers it, sometimes more than once. I immediately send a "I received your message. Thanks so much for your interest" message and let them know that I'm going to collect replies for a few days, or a week, or whatever. Then I message every single one of them again when I've made a decision and let them know whether I've selected them or not. That way nobody is wondering what's going on.

May 01 11 10:33 am Link

Photographer

Eralar

Posts: 1778

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Harmon Photography wrote:
"Hi, Eric!  I received your message and I appreciate your interest in shooting with me. I looked through your portfolio, and to be honest, I'm not sure your current work benefits me on a tfp basis at the moment. I'm always looking for paid work, though, and for what you're interested in shooting, I am available for $x/hour in case that's an acceptable arrangement for you.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and I hope you find someone great for your project!"

That would be nice indeed, and can even be cut/pasted with changing the name. Being nice has often been underestimated in business. You can't know where the same photographer will be in 2-3 years. You might be the one then wishing you could work with him. Having been nice in the past will sure not hurt your relationship.

Nice reply

Eric    ;-)

May 01 11 10:41 am Link

Photographer

Jean Paul Cristian

Posts: 22

Lakeland Highlands, Florida, US

Eralar wrote:

That would be nice indeed, and can even be cut/pasted with changing the name. Being nice has often been underestimated in business. You can't know where the same photographer will be in 2-3 years. You might be the one then wishing you could work with him. Having been nice in the past will sure not hurt your relationship.

Nice reply






Well stated. Should serve as a great template for other models. It'll be sweet whe I receive one. :-)

Eric    ;-)

May 01 11 10:47 am Link

Photographer

Eralar

Posts: 1778

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Jean Paul Cristian wrote:
Well stated. Should serve as a great template for other models. It'll be sweet whe I receive one. :-)

A photographer's fantasm...

May 01 11 11:00 am Link

Photographer

Swank Photography

Posts: 19015

Key West, Florida, US

RobinKate wrote:
What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

Thank them for their offer, but advise them that you will be declining it as well, but hope they find someone to work with them that could compliment their work as well.

May 01 11 11:01 am Link

Model

RobinKate

Posts: 3

Eugene, Oregon, US

Thanks so much for all the advice so far!

It's more than one photographer asking one time (usually), not one asking many times (usually). wink

I don't like to ignore any message (except spam or fakes, obvs). I don't want to be dismissive just because someone's work doesn't impress me. Especially when they've asked me politely.

This will make me sound incredibly dim, but providing rates never even occurred to me- I guess I'm really just in "lets have fun and shoot TfP!" mode. I'll have to do some research and figure out what's reasonable. I wouldn't mind shooting with a photographer whose work I'm less enthusiastic about if I would make a little money.

Thanks again. smile

May 01 11 11:03 am Link

Photographer

No One of Consequence

Posts: 2980

Winchester, Virginia, US

RobinKate wrote:
What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

"Thank you for the offer, but I'm not interested."

or

"I don't feel I would benefit from trade with you.   If you wish to hire me, my rate is $x/hr."

Keep it short, simple, and professional.   Ignoring legitimate offers for work is not professional or good business.   

Be very careful about burning bridges.  People's skills improve over time, their financial situation changes, and they have long memories.   in a year's time, the guy you blew off today might have improved so much that you are begging to shoot with him.   The photographer whose trade offer you ignored today might have been willing to hire you next month.  Burn that bridge and you'll never know.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

Personally I only add people as friends if I've met them in real life - either by working with them or having met them at a networking event.  Even if I've set up a shoot with a new model, I don't add them as a friend until after the shoot.

May 01 11 11:05 am Link

Model

KymberlyAnn

Posts: 1384

Waukesha, Wisconsin, US

"I don't feel I would benefit from trade with you.   If you wish to hire me, my rate is $x/hr."

Just an FYI, SOME (not all, or a large percentage by any means, but SOME) photographers will take this, or basically any "NO" as an insult, and may come back at you with "you don't deserve to be paid, you are a joke, all models benefit from shooting with me, stop being stuck up, blah blah blah I'm a mean person blah blah blah"

Just prepare yourself, and if someone does respond negatively after you have been as polite as you can, ignore them and move on to the nice photographers smile

May 01 11 11:11 am Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

I say to them (but this may be different than others situations) that I'm taking paid work and to let me know if they're still interested. I don't explain why and no one (for the most part) gets offended. I have had some cases where people went bananas and completely blew everything out of proportion. Then what you do is block them and forget about the situation.

I always accept friend requests.

May 01 11 11:11 am Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

KymberlyAnn wrote:

Just an FYI, SOME (not all, or a large percentage by any means, but SOME) photographers will take this, or basically any "NO" as an insult, and may come back at you with "you don't deserve to be paid, you are a joke, all models benefit from shooting with me, stop being stuck up, blah blah blah I'm a mean person blah blah blah"

Just prepare yourself, and if someone does respond negatively after you have been as polite as you can, ignore them and move on to the nice photographers smile

Amen. Dude, it's happened to me. I had someone who was not very experienced essentially tell me they get paid $1000 a day to shoot and I wasn't worthy, etc. It's just them talking out of hurt. Most of the time, it's not even true. I wouldn't want to work with someone for trade unless I felt like they were worthy of being paid.

May 01 11 11:13 am Link

Photographer

No One of Consequence

Posts: 2980

Winchester, Virginia, US

Top Gun Digital wrote:
In the world of the Internet, no response is considered a response.

Yes, it's a response that says "I'm a self-absorbed, unprofessional little twit who thinks you're so far beneath me that I don't even need to acknowledge your existence.   Delete me from your address book and never consider hiring me for anything ever again, no matter how much you're paying."

If that is the message you want to send, please, feel free to ignore legitimate offers. 

That's not to say that you can't safely ignore spam, scams, or otherwise unprofessional correspondence -- those are the people you DO want to send that message to; unfortunately, they're the ones who are least likely to understand it.

May 01 11 11:13 am Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

Clyph wrote:

Yes, it's a response that says "I'm a self-absorbed, unprofessional little twit who thinks you're so far beneath me that I don't even need to acknowledge your existence.   Delete me from your address book and never consider hiring me for anything ever again, no matter how much you're paying."

I don't know about that. Some people go crazy when you turn down tf* even politely. In fact, it doesn't happen much now to me, but when I was younger, it happened a lot. I actually had an internet stalker as a result of politely declining TF*.

May 01 11 11:17 am Link

Photographer

Harmon Photography

Posts: 261

Maryville, Tennessee, US

Clyph wrote:

Yes, it's a response that says "I'm a self-absorbed, unprofessional little twit who thinks you're so far beneath me that I don't even need to acknowledge your existence.   Delete me from your address book and never consider hiring me for anything ever again, no matter how much you're paying."

Correct. The Internet is not a world; it's simply a tool we use in the world we live in, much like the telephone is a tool. Go back 20 years or so, before everyone on earth had access to the Internet. If your phone rings and a photographer asks you if you'd like to shoot tfp, I suppose you just hang up, rather than answering the question? ;-)

May 01 11 11:21 am Link

Photographer

No One of Consequence

Posts: 2980

Winchester, Virginia, US

Bad Charlotte wrote:
I actually had an internet stalker as a result of politely declining TF*.

To be fair, you'd probably have had a stalker if you had accepted it, as well.

There's not much you can do about crazy, unprofessional people except to ignore them after they show themselves as such.   Always conduct yourself as a professional, never sink to their level.   There's almost never a downside to taking the high road.

May 01 11 11:22 am Link

Photographer

Harmon Photography

Posts: 261

Maryville, Tennessee, US

Bad Charlotte wrote:

I don't know about that. Some people go crazy when you turn down tf* even politely. In fact, it doesn't happen much now to me, but when I was younger, it happened a lot. I actually had an internet stalker as a result of politely declining TF*.

True, some people are going to throw a hissy fit. I'm not sure that's a reason to assume they all will, though :-(

I'm sorry about the stalker issue you had, and this isn't at all meant to make light of that, but I wonder if you wouldn't have had the same stalker issue if you had just neglected to respond to his tfp request...

May 01 11 11:24 am Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

Clyph wrote:

To be fair, you'd probably have had a stalker if you had accepted it, as well.

There's not much you can do about crazy, unprofessional people except to ignore them after they show themselves as such.   Always conduct yourself as a professional, never sink to their level.   There's almost never a downside to taking the high road.

I did ignore them. They would go to different sites I was on and attempt to start drama with me.

May 01 11 11:24 am Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

Harmon Photography wrote:

True, some people are going to throw a hissy fit. I'm not sure that's a reason to assume they all will, though :-(

I'm sorry about the stalker issue you had, and this isn't at all meant to make light of that, but I wonder if you wouldn't have had the same stalker issue if you had just neglected to respond to his tfp request...

Depending on how the request is worded (I've had people be creeps before), sometimes I don't respond and have never gotten a bad result from that, but I'm sure it could happen.

May 01 11 11:25 am Link

Photographer

No One of Consequence

Posts: 2980

Winchester, Virginia, US

Bad Charlotte wrote:
Depending on how the request is worded (I've had people be creeps before), sometimes I don't respond and have never gotten a bad result from that, but I'm sure it could happen.

An obviously professional message deserves a professional response.

An obviously unprofessional message does not.

The world is not black and white, however.   There are lots of nice, well-meaning people who sadly have the writing skills of someone who failed third grade.   If it's not blatantly unprofessional or crude, give them the benefit of the doubt.

May 01 11 11:30 am Link

Photographer

Eralar

Posts: 1778

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Clyph wrote:

Yes, it's a response that says "I'm a self-absorbed, unprofessional little twit who thinks you're so far beneath me that I don't even need to acknowledge your existence.   Delete me from your address book and never consider hiring me for anything ever again, no matter how much you're paying."

If that is the message you want to send, please, feel free to ignore legitimate offers. 

That's not to say that you can't safely ignore spam, scams, or otherwise unprofessional correspondence -- those are the people you DO want to send that message to; unfortunately, they're the ones who are least likely to understand it.

Just remember that some models, especially in places with tons of photogs (like in SoCal) might get tons of requests, and be very busy already. Even a simple answer takes time, so many simple answers take more time.

I believe that when a model starts putting more time saying no than actually shooting, photogs should understand the "no reply is a no reply" policy. The same should apply to anyone, not just models.

May 01 11 11:36 am Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22618

Salem, Oregon, US

send them your rates!

i don't stress about the friends thing. just approve almost all of the requests (unless it's something way out of my comfort zone).

May 01 11 11:52 am Link

Photographer

Jay Farrell

Posts: 13144

Nashville, Tennessee, US

Bighorn Photography wrote:
I don't know why this has to be so complicated. Just be polite and say no thank you. End of story.

This. Just be professional.

May 01 11 12:03 pm Link

Model

Bad Charlotte

Posts: 664

Modesto, California, US

Clyph wrote:

An obviously professional message deserves a professional response.

An obviously unprofessional message does not.

The world is not black and white, however.   There are lots of nice, well-meaning people who sadly have the writing skills of someone who failed third grade.   If it's not blatantly unprofessional or crude, give them the benefit of the doubt.

That's what I meant. Blatant or crude or somehow disrespectful.

May 01 11 12:08 pm Link

Photographer

Studio MD - Casting

Posts: 1213

New York, New York, US

RobinKate wrote:
What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

"Thanks for the request however I don't feel we match up right now. I'll keep you in mind in the future. Best of luck!"

May 01 11 12:09 pm Link

Model

Kitza

Posts: 30

Columbia, Missouri, US

RobinKate wrote:
What's the best way to say no to a photographer who asks me to shoot? A few times I've been asked by a photographer who seems very nice, but I don't like their work or I don't think it will add to my portfolio. It's an uncomfortable conversation for me because I don't want to be rude or unprofessional.

The same discomfort happens when someone whose photography I really dislike adds me as a friend. I don't mind adding them, but doesn't that imply that I like their work?

Hey, I'm in Missouri too smile.

Just reply the way you're comfortable with, hun.  If not replying is your style that's OK.

Surely it's not their first day on the internet that they can't handle being ignored by someone who doesn't have anything positive to say or reciprocate.  I see no point in even saying "no thanks" since the person sending the message can see that the message was read but unanswered.

May 01 11 12:29 pm Link

Photographer

Eralar

Posts: 1778

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Bottom line is, wether you send a polite reply or use the "no reply means no" policy, if the photog gets back and insults you, he does not deserve you feeling bad for him. Just ignore him, and if it gets worse, CAM him.

You can control what you say/do, not how other people react. Just don't feed the trolls.

May 01 11 02:01 pm Link

Photographer

alessandro2009

Posts: 7540

Florence, Toscana, Italy

Not interested but thank you.

May 01 11 02:15 pm Link

Photographer

jonaswahlin

Posts: 1158

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

If you want to be pro, tell them no. OR send rates.

May 01 11 02:21 pm Link

Model

Fur Elise

Posts: 1814

Seattle, Washington, US

Harmon Photography wrote:
"Hi, Eric!  I received your message and I appreciate your interest in shooting with me. I looked through your portfolio, and to be honest, I'm not sure your current work benefits me on a tfp basis at the moment. I'm always looking for paid work, though, and for what you're interested in shooting, I am available for $x/hour in case that's an acceptable arrangement for you.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and I hope you find someone great for your project!"

This is right on the lines of what I say when I come accross that situation. Sometimes I get someone who is insulted, but I know no better way to explain my position to them, if their panties are getting all bunched up in a knot I know that I am glad for passing up shooting with them.

May 01 11 02:28 pm Link

Photographer

William Kious

Posts: 8841

Delphos, Ohio, US

Just say no.

And be prepared for the asshats who want to bitch at you for saying no.  There are a lot of them around here.  If they start to get pissy, just delete their messages and move on.

May 01 11 02:34 pm Link

Model

Nadeshiko Yamato

Posts: 1324

Alexandria, Virginia, US

Thanks for your interest, but I feel at this time your work/project does not benefit my portfolio at this time. If you would like to hire me for this shoot, my rate is XX/hour. I wish you the best of luck with your project and hopefully we can work in the future on another project.


That is what I mainly say, or that I cannot be available at the time. Only a small handful of times has that backfired on me, but it was either bruised ego, or they're just pissed they don't get to see my awesome bewbage. lol

No matter what though, unless there is no other recourse, stay as professional as you can in messages and conversations as well as on shoots.

May 01 11 02:41 pm Link

Photographer

No One of Consequence

Posts: 2980

Winchester, Virginia, US

Eralar wrote:
Just remember that some models, especially in places with tons of photogs (like in SoCal) might get tons of requests, and be very busy already. Even a simple answer takes time, so many simple answers take more time.

I think that's BS.   Answering business correspondence is the #1 most important thing you can do as a freelancer / independent business owner.

My day job is computer consulting.   I get FAR more inquiries than I can ever take on.  Many are for work I'm not interested in doing, or that's outside of my specialty, or that I'm just too busy to take.   I have a set of stock responses that I send out -- mostly cut-and-paste, fill-in-the-blanks type of stuff.    If it's something that I want to do but don't have the time, I tell them when I will be available.   If it's not, I refer them to one of the other consultants I know who would be interested.   If they're an idiot or obvious cheapskate or time-waster, I give them a polite blow-off, but you NEVER throw away a legitimate sales lead. 

Even doing cut-and-paste, it can take me an hour or more to make it through my in-box, but that is one of the costs of doing business when you are self-employed.   If you are your own boss and don't realize this, you need to fire yourself.

May 01 11 02:41 pm Link