My guess is that almost every photographer and creative has probably come across a client that’s either tried to lowball them or just couldn’t afford them. These situations can be tough, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. In my experience I’ve made a mess of a few negotiations but, these things come with time and experience.
In a recent video by The Futur, they discuss this exact subject. Knowing how to handle these types of conversations is incredibly important. My favorite point from the video is how they distinguish between charity and paying clients. Charity work is important, but a “client” that wants you to work for free or can’t pay your actual rates isn’t the same as a charitable organisation. Their motive is entirely based on developing their own business.
As you develop within your craft and get more comfortable with who you are (and what your brand is), it gets a lot easier. The confidence you build becoming more sure of yourself, really impacts the discussions you have with clients.
I highly recommend you check out the video linked above and make sure you subscribe too. They have brilliant content specifically around the creative industry and I think they offer valuable and important advice.