Ready to set healthy boundaries in your photography business? Whether you just barely survived your first overbooked wedding season or a sticky situation with a client has led you here…welcome. You’re in the right place!
It’s important to set business boundaries for your clients and yourself. These may feel uncomfortable, unattainable, and downright unimaginable to you right now. That’s ok.
Everyone will have unique needs and preferences, but there are a few boundaries every photographer must have. These four boundaries are ones I have in my own business and that I have worked with clients to set in place.
How to set boundaries as a photographer
1. Have a set availability
An exhausting catch twenty-two many new and seasoned photographers fall into is spending all their time working. Between working to get clients and then erving those clients, the hours add up! Working all the time, while financially rewarding, will burn you out. That’s why it’s so important to set healthy boundaries around when you work.
For starters, choose what 2-4 days of the week you’ll hold sessions. Maybe you only shoot Thursday through Sunday. If you have kids, maybe you only shoot during the day while they’re in school. Let your schedule fit your life. Once you have your “photo days” then you need to decide what hours you will work.
2. Set communication expectations
This one may feel uncomfortable for you, so stick with me! You need to have clear boundaries with your photography clients on how and when you’ll communicate. Many photographers give clients their cell phone numbers to call or text. If that works for you, keep doing it.
But if we’re being honest, I don’t recommend this. In all the years I’ve been working with photographers, I’ve found that the ones who regularly give their phone numbers out to clients are the ones responding to calls and texts after business hours.
That’s fine when you’re still building up your clientele. It can start to feel overwhelming quickly once you have 30 expecting moms a year texting you and sending your DMs in the middle of the night when a new thought pops into their head.
Pick a main means of communication and set the expectation early that all your communication leading up to the week of their shoot is through that. Once it’s almost session day, then you can give them your phone number if you don’t trust Instagram DMing.
How do you tackle consultation calls if you’re not communicating via phone?
That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? It’s ok to still call people on the phone to do consultation calls. However, you can still set the expectation that email is the main way to get a hold of you. If you’re worried about clients still calling or texting you, simply say something like this:
“To be honest, if you need me the best way to get me is to email me. I rarely answer my phone or texts because I’m always driving, in sessions, or I unplug. But I always, always respond to emails in my inbox!”
Clients will relate and understand.
I prefer my photography clients to call me. Is that ok?
Of course! Like I said, if giving your number out to clients works for you then don’t change that. Or maybe the idea of having to comb through emails makes you cringe. Shape business boundaries around your preference. If the phone works for you, set the expectations that clients should always call or text you first.
3. Put a limit on the number of sessions you do
Once you get to a certain point, clients will start coming to you more easily. You’ll start to have the (amazing) problem of having more people wanting to work with you than time. Saying yes too many times can be great for your bank account, but detrimental to your mental and physical well being. You’ll fall right into the catch twenty-two we talked about earlier.
This is when you need to set a boundary with yourself. Put a limit on how many photography clients you take a year. By putting a cap on clients, you’ll leave yourself space to recharge your batteries and keep doing the tasks that run your business. (Things like creating new Instagram reels or taking time to uplevel your skills.)
If you’re just starting to hit this point, take a moment to calculate what your cap should be. Make sure you’re taking into account your cost of doing business. Check out my plug-and-play photography business calculators to help you skip the math and go straight to the answer.
4. Always use a photography service contract
A photography contract is the one boundary every photographer needs in their business. Never agree to work without a contract! Photography contracts are there to protect you and give your clients’ peace of mind and accountability. It’s the ultimate list of business boundaries.
Your contract should include everything we’ve mentioned so far plus a clear breakdown of what’s included in the service package. Include other boundaries like deadlines, payment schedules, timeline approvals, a termination clause, gallery expiration dates, etc. Put all of it in writing and clearly define the penalties for breaking those boundaries.
If you’re missing any of these clauses from your contract, update it now or click over to the shop to purchase our attorney-drafted contracts for wedding and engagement photographers, portrait photographers, and newborn photographers.
Something led you to look up setting boundaries as a photographer
You don’t have to tell me what it was, something led you here. Trust me, we all Google it at some point. You’re a lot more likely to bend and make accommodations in the beginning of your business. Answering emails in bed, squeezing in sessions every weekend…I get it.
At some point you need to put your hand up and draw a line. It’s not selfish or unprofessional. And if you need to hear the extra encouragement, just know I support your moves.