1. Not being prepared, creatively and technically.
“Winging it” is not an option if you're going to do this for real. I have tried, sometimes it worked and others it was a complete slow motion train wreck. So about three years ago I started being intentional with my preproduction. I would sit down with the clients requests and put together a solid creative brief outlining the setups/looks we would do on shoot day. I would take that brief and review it with my DIT and my producer to make sure we had thought out everything we would need in gear/location/logistics world. The other thing I started doing was having a backup for literally everything. Lenses, bodies, computers, hard drives, locations, even personnel. If you're not doing these two things right now, then I would encourage your to put together a preproduction flow that works for you. You want to be set and ready come shoot day.
2. Failing to be firm on your rate and production needs to execute the shoot.
I get that budgets are budgets. Sometimes they are pretty tight and others they are wide open based on the needs of the shoot. Bottom line is that you have to decide based on the budget and your rate (while considering the production expenses) if it is doable. Here’s a secret, it’s ok to say “no”. I have done shoots where the budget was maxed out but we needed additional people or gear to really truly do it the “right way”. A while back I told myself and the team that if we find ourself in a situation where we are limited by budget or time, and cannot execute the shoot to the best of our abilities and offer the client our best work, we simply say “no” to the gig. This upholds our production quality while also aligning with our core values. Some may say, “but you're losing business” - maybe so, but this is the nature of growth. At the end of the day, if we do a shoot and cut the corners to fit in a unrealistic budget or timeline, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, because chances are it will show up in the end product. Now you tell me whats worse, saying “no” and losing the business, or saying “yes” and it not be the best we could have offered the client. Saying “no” is ok and is necessary to build your brand integrity.
3. Not serving the client as you would want to be served.
You all know the golden rule right? This is the photographer golden rule: “Serve the client as you want to be served.” I don't have a whole lot to say here other than, how you act on set, treat people on your crew, and communicate with the talent sets the tone of the entire shoot. I personally want an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration. I want the shoot to be energizing and positive for the client and talent. Think of how you approach the client and your team on set, are there ways you can improve? Always.
4. Trying to be someone you're not.
You are an artist, be who you are and not like some other photographer you have seen on set or in a video. No client wants to work with a poser. Look at some of the most amazing artists out there and they all did one thing: be true to themselves. That action is what made them and their work remarkable. Think of Andy Warhol, truly a unique individual with a specific approach to art that will always be revered. This wasn't because he looked at someone else and tried to emulate, this is because he followed his heart and knew who he was as an artist.