The Troublesome Client: Vol. I – The Bailer

There are many things you can do to really make a photographer feel disrespected and upset.  I’ve had my fair share of moments where I have felt like I wasn’t appreciated as a photographer and just as a person, in general.  I’ve had clients “steal” my work, edit it, claim it as their own, and then get mad when I approached them about it.  Yeah, it’s happened, more than it should have.  I’ve had clients before who try to tell me what to do WHILE I’m shooting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love ideas!  But I don’t care so much for someone who is trying to tell me how to do my job.  That’s just disrespectful and makes me feel like you don’t trust that I can do the job right.  That’s why you hired me, ya know?

But here recently I have become a victim (as well as another fellow photographer) of clients just bailing altogether.  Our session was set up, the client had my phone number just in case they couldn’t make it and/or needed to reschedule.  I went to our scheduled location at the time we discussed (AND I even went out of my way to find WiFi just to make sure that the client hadn’t emailed me at the last minute) and the client never showed.  I sat there for thirty five minutes waiting to see, because you never know what might have happened, but….NOTHING.  This client just flat out never showed up at all.

So what do you do when your clients ditch you like that?

Now being a photographer, I only have a set amount of time during a day to schedule sessions and once I am booked up, then that’s it.  Any other potential client after that has to be turned away due to me being booked.  That’s business walking right out the door, RIGHT THERE.  So how does that make ME feel when YOU don’t show up and don’t bother contacting me any time after the session to apologize or anything?

That makes me feel like a fool.

Like a BIG FAT FOOL.

Do you not realize what kind of time goes into preparing for a session?  An awful lot.  Taking phone calls, answering emails, filling out paperwork and contracts, scouting out locations, and actually fitting you into my busy schedule.  And that’s only the half of it.

Phone calls – 1 hour

Answering emails (varies, but averages) – 2 hours

Paperwork & Contracts – 3 hours

Scouting out locations (can vary, but averages) – 6 to 8 hours

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That’s just the basics and that alone comes out to 12-14 hours of work.  That’s time I could be taking to spend with my family; My husband and my daughter.  That’s also time I could be taking to spend with a client who actually appreciates my time and work.  And those many hours will not have gone to waste….but guess what?  They were.  That time is gone.   Oh and don’t count driving out to our location, spending money on gas to fill up my car to COME to the location that we discussed.  I mean, the list goes on and on.

It’s really hurtful to have this happen to me and a fellow photographer.  Not only did you do this to me, but another photographer in the community.  Have you ever heard of the term “Word of Mouth”?  Photographers use it to network with each  other and gain visibility as a business, as well as friends.  Photographers communicate and befriend each other.  So, when you do one photographer wrong, you’ve wronged ALL of them.

If you think that a photographers time isn’t valued, then you’re dead wrong.  If the list above doesn’t speak for itself, then I’ll happily keep going.

 So, how do you, as a photographer, deal with this client(s)?

Well, first, if they’ve made any payments to you, (unless the payments that have been made are nonrefundable) then you have to refund any money paid, UNLESS they never signed a contract.  If the client never signed a contract, well technically, they weren’t committed to the session in the first place, plain and simple.  If you’re like me, and sometimes can’t get to the client to sign the contract beforehand, email them the contract a few weeks before and have type out an e-signature.  Or, if they have an iPad, you can use an app such as DocuSign, Adobe Reader, etc. to actually apply their signature and email it back to you.  Problem solved.  Either way, MAKE THEM SIGN SOMETHING.  I’ve had clients cancel on me the day before we were suppose to meet to go over the contract  and I could not legally do anything about it.  It’s disappointing, but that’s why you have them sign something to ensure that you’re not completely wasting your time.

Try to make sure that there wasn’t a family emergency and they just haven’t had the time to contact you.  If you personally know the client, try to contact them through phone, email, Facebook, what have you,  to make sure everything is okay and if they want to reschedule.

If this is one of those clients who just flat out refuses to respond to anything you may have to say, then honestly, let it go.  If they really wanted your services/business, they will come to you.  Now I’m not saying, don’t go out there and search for your potential client, absolutely go and do that!  But if a client is showing you that they are not interested, then leave them alone.  Assure them you would love to work with them someday and offer them a free print or so for choosing your photography business, discounts, something to bring them to you.   Incentives people, incentives. 🙂

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When it comes down to it, if you noticed some issues when you were first discussing about the session, you weren’t the right photographer for that client in the first place.  But if multiple photographers have the same issues with that client as you, then that client isn’t right for any photographer, in my opinion.

To conclude this post, I’m interested in knowing if any of you would like to hear more  in the troublesome client series.  If so, leave some comments below, post on the JMP Facebook page or shoot me an email with your thoughts and I will do my best to showcase what I can 🙂

Until next time 🙂

2013 handwritten jenn copy

2 thoughts on “The Troublesome Client: Vol. I – The Bailer

  1. I know that I’ve had to cancel several sessions that we had set up before and i’m truly sorry. But if i’ve made you feel disrespected or that I didn’t value your time i’m very very sorry! I think that you do amazing work and no one should ever take credit for the time you put forth to make your photos so amazing.

    1. No, no sweetie! Not you at all! You’ve had legit reasons on your cancellations and you’ve actually had the decency to let me know ahead of time. This is not about you at all, so don’t worry 🙂 And thank you very much! I really appreciate that so much 🙂

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