So I wanted my own family photos done. So I hired someone to do it. She had already rescheduled twice due to schedule conflicts. Hmm- that should have been my first sign.
The day of the shoot came. I saw on the weather that it could be rain. She didn't email me to tell me about the weather. So I just showed up with a chance of rain. 10 am came and went and my 5 year old, my 2 year and 1 month old were getting to the "meltdown stage."
We walked around a bit, ate and snack and waited longer. 20 mins rolled by then 30. I kept checking my phone. I realized that in my busyness that she had indeed canceled- last night at 1 AM! There was no way that I would have seen my phone by then! You would have thought that she would have texted me first thing in the morning to see if I got it- nope!
No phone call all day from her. No texts. I even sent her one saying, "I was disappointed that you didn't come." Nothing. She won't get my business anymore.
I wonder how many people that have worked with me have thought the same thing? Hopefully none.
It reminded me to write about some other "NO NOs" that I see other photographers (or business owners do).
The first thing I always see is tardiness! I ALWAYS arrive to a location at least 20 mins to 30 mins early. For a wedding, I arrive 1 hour early. Several times before I have been shooting, I've gotten calls or texts from my clients saying, "We are here early, sorry." Since I am always there early setting up and getting my setting right-it's not a problem and we can start shooting early! The worst is having small children wait around forever!
Not only is tardiness not okay, but being frazzled and unprepared is not okay either. I always try to get into the mental "zone" before each shoot. But there are so may random things that come up as a photographer. But even though I try to prepare- I know that there will be surprises. But how I handle them can separate me from an amateur. Staying calm and at least looking as if you know what you are doing is half of the battle.
NEVER cancel last minute unless it's a dire emergency. And even if it is- always text or call several times to check in. I remember that I had to cancel two sessions while I was in hospital with my third child. But I was communicating as soon as I could with them about my situation. I wanted my clients to be the first to know when I would be back from the hospital. I didn't want them to be surprised by anything. My worst fear is having my clients waiting at a location and I am not there. Because it does happen.
I remember seeing a family reunion happen at the same park that I was at shooting. Their photographer did not show up and the hostess was in tears waiting for them. Of course, I was there to save the day! See that story here: I knew that I had to make up for the fact that the young children were very hungry and grumpy already. I definitely wanted to have them have a great experience with me.
Always have paperwork ready, your calendar organized, your fees processed, your taxes done, your mileage logged- so many things to think about as a business owner. If you are not an organized person- then ask someone to help you. After doing my taxes wrong for three years- we finally had someone do that for us, what a relief!
When you put a shoot on your calendar, put the time, the location, the name, a phone number and the price that you agreed on. This will help you keep organized. I also make notes about any props that I need to bring.
Communication is key! Never leave your client in the lurch! Even if someone has booked me months in advance- I am using social media to let them know that I am alive and that I am interacting with them. A month before, I send them an article about what to wear. About two weeks before- I am sending them a little email to let them know that I am excited about our shoot. One week before, I send them the weather report. A few days before I send them a reminder email about our shoot. Throughout the month- I am commenting on their photos on facebook like: "I love your hair- so cute, can't wait to see it in person!"
Even if your photos are "so-so," but you are organized, prepared, and on-time- you would be surprised how many more referrals you will get!
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