Should You Turn Away Clients?

POSTED IN : Branding & Marketing

Remember that seriously cute children’s book, Are You My Mother?

The one where the lost baby bird wanders around asking everybody – and EVERYTHING – if they’re his mama?

“Are you my mother???” he asks on every illustrated page.

He asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, a boat, and a giant scary back-hoe construction truck if they’re his mother.

I, of course, was a wise little five-year-old and kept shaking my head. “No, silly bird. That thing doesn’t look like you at all!!”

Duh. It was SO obvious….

Why couldn’t the little bird see that these animals were CLEARLY a terrible fit for him?

There was a point in our business when I was that little bird.

An inquiry would come in for a wedding, and I would ask myself, “Are YOU my ideal client?”

Then another inquiry would come in, and I would ask again, “Are YOU my ideal client?”

With every phone call, client meeting, and shoot, I was asking the same question:



I had no idea how to identify if an inquiry was a good fit for me or not, and it meant that our brand was unfocused and scattered.


The problem is that I was asking the wrong question.

We’re Asking the Wrong Question

My friend, you already know that not every single client you come into contact with is going to be a Dreamie – especially if your business is NEW.

However, that doesn’t mean you should turn away EVERYONE you meet because they aren’t EXACTLY perfect.

Reality doesn’t stop for us whenever we want – sometimes you and I just need to pay the bills!

So when an inquiry calls, the question isn’t, “ARE you my ideal client?”


Instead, the question is, “HOW are you my ideal client?”


Every couple that inquires with you with might have a certain PERCENTAGE of ideal qualities. And some couples are going to have a higher percentage of those qualities than others.

One couple might only be 10% ideal for you. Another one might be 50% ideal. And another one might be 90% ideal. (LOCK THAT ONE DOWN!)

Obviously, the higher the percentage, the more ideal they are.

You can also think of it like a giant target on your wall and the bullseye in the middle is your perfect client.

Not everyone that inquires with you is going to hit the exact center of the bullseye.

Instead, some clients are going to get closer to the bullseye than others based on different factors, and your job is to understand where an inquiry falls on your particular target.


Do they only have one or two qualities about them that you love? Stay true to your brand and deliver your amazing experience by ruthlessly connecting with them on THOSE values.


Ignore the rest.

When it comes to your voice, your personality, and what you love, don’t be afraid to lay it on thick. What you think might be obnoxious or overbearing is actually just the right amount to get your message across.

[clickToTweet tweet=”With your brand, lay it on thick. What you think is obnoxious is the perfect amount to get your message across.” quote=”With your brand, don’t be afraid to lay it on thick. What you think is obnoxious is the perfect amount to get your message across.”]

In the first five years of building our business, Jeff and I booked a lot of different types of couples and their weddings were ALL OVER THE MAP.

I’m talking weddings in church reception halls and city parks to nice hotels and swanky restaurants.

While many of them weren’t super ideal and their weddings didn’t look like what we ultimately wanted to shoot, Jeff and I would make a big effort to connect with them on the one or two values that we did share.

Values like community, authenticity, and family. The values that truly mattered to us.


Then we were ruthlessly committed to shooting their weddings in our style and blogging them to fit our brand to attract our true Dreamie couples.


It wasn’t always easy.

Sometimes it was really challenging to shoot a wedding in a way that we were proud to show it on our blog, but we remained insanely committed to building a strong brand for the future of our business.

Today, all of those years of hard work has paid off. We can proudly say that most clients that walk in our door get really close to our bullseye because our online brand clearly speaks to our Dreamies!


What if an inquiry has NO ideal qualities that you can identify? Then they are definitely NOT the right clients for you. The power is when you KNOW they’re not the right fit before they book you!

What are some basic ideal qualities and values that you can identify in your favorite couples? How can you photograph your next wedding in a way that will remain ruthlessly true to your brand?




We teach photographers to build life-giving businesses that they absolutely love.

About Us

We're Jeff & Erin

We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren – and it’s our mission to help you thrive not just as a wedding photographer, but as a business owner. It’s time to set aside the stress and comparison of a hustle mindset, and build a life-giving business instead.

We met in college, got married, and started corporate jobs before we discovered (and fell in love with) wedding photography. But like many creative entrepreneurs, we were booking anything we could, strapped to our laptops and living dangerously close to burnout.

So we dug in and learned how to build a thriving business that supports our dream life – instead of a joyless business that runs a stressed-out life.

Today, we photograph only 10 Dreamie weddings per year, but we also run two other wedding brands plus a commercial studio in San Diego, CA. And we do it by only working the hours that fit into our life. The other hours? We spend those living a joyful life raising our two beautiful sons, James and Samuel.


Jeff and Erin

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