Dealing With Flakes
As photographers we all know that dealing with flakes is part of the job. Dealing with flakes is a part of regular life as well. It stings just a bit more when your source of income and creativity falls prey to these dreaded flakes. As photographers we sometimes expect the worse from a new client but hope for the best depending on initial interaction. Being from New York lots of my clientele are from out of town. Whether they are here to make it as an actor, actress, or model, or have moved here for work – they have all come to the city that never sleeps for an opportunity. Now, in order to capitalize on any opportunity you have to seize it. You never know what is behind a closed door unless you open it and that goes double for photographer and subject.
I know we will never get an inbox completely full of serious, committed, well written emails all day every day, but when we do get that one gem out of ten or twenty poorly written emails that are loaded with errors and vagueness – it’s the best feeling. Why? Because you WANT to work with that person. You KNOW they will be on time. You KNOW that you may learn from that potential experience in an extremely positive way. You also KNOW that their commitment will make for a well oiled shoot.
We need to value serious clients that know what they want.
What I don’t value are those clients that set up a shoot, say how much they are looking forward to it, or that they can’t wait to start their career, send you emails and texts to confirm, and then either no show the day of without so much as a text, email, or call. Or when you follow up with them and they have a pretty piss poor excuse like “I was hungover.” “I forgot.” “That was today?” Or the ultimate “I found someone cheaper.”
“I found someone cheaper?” Jeez, now that’s a real let down. But, you cannot let it get you down if you have not dealt with that excuse before. Why? Well, that excuse is never preceded by “I found someone better.” It also doesn’t mean you should change how much you charge. With anything and sometimes especially in photography – you get what you pay for.
There’s a saying that can apply here on occasion; “Cheap things aren’t good and good things aren’t cheap.” This doesn’t mean you should gouge your customers. All it means is that you should justify your pricing with great work.
Usually I would politely say: “Oh, no problem, do you mind if I take a look at their website?” Nine times out of ten “cheaper” is the RIGHT word.
In this business you will get lied to; “I have shot with magazine photographers around the world and have been modeling for many years.” Really? Well, can you show me your professional photos? I would love to check em out! “I don’t have them right now.” Because THAT’S something someone who is serious about their career would say. Note the sarcasm.
People will try and scam you:
“Come and shoot me because I am an up and coming model and the photos you take will help your portfolio.” No thank you. I have been around long enough to know who I want to shoot and when, and who would be a great asset to my portfolio.
“I cannot afford to pay you now but when I get famous I will.” Thank you for remembering.
“The credit you get for these photos will MAKE your career and lead to more work.” We have all heard that one.
People will try to undermine you while price shopping:
“SO and SO does it cheaper.” OK, and? That’s like being mad at me because my neighbor likes tuna salad and I don’t. Different strokes for different folks.
The best you can do is kill everyone with kindness. Be super awesome and chipper all the time.
We can never stop the flakes. We can only deal with them. We should also take a 25% non refundable deposit up front!
You are going to get mad but don’t stay mad. It’s part of the job. It also has no bearing on who you are.
It’s not you – it’s them. Well, unless you are a big weirdo and no one likes you. Then, it’s you. All you.
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The comment you made about “The best you can do is kill everyone with kindness. Be super awesome and chipper all the time.”, is right on the money. I agree with you completely on that. And yes, just recently I implemented a non-refundable booking fee because of all the “Flakes” I have encountered. Great blog entry!
Hey, Isaac! Thank you for reading. I appreciate the response! You do have to rise above the frustration and treat everyone like you want to be treated and go that extra mile.
Thank you for this thought-provoking article. Truly enjoyed the perspective you brought to light.
Thank you very much, Jim!