Flakes are a part of life. Everyone loves corn flakes, snow flakes and a delicious flaky croissant. Sometimes you have to deal with nasty dandruff flakes (Head & Shoulders, baby.) But, there are also human flakes that seem to live to make other people’s lives just that much harder. We all know them. These are the folks who really have no idea how to conduct themselves in social and more importantly in professional situations. As photographers we encounter these types of people more often than not. And that’s ok. When it happens for the first time, it sucks. You could be excited for that awesome gig and then boom someone no shows or sends you an extremely lame excuse that you KNOW is a lie, and that will BURN you up. I can tell you from personal experience that nine out of ten excuses are just completely lame. It’s like blaming an accident on the cat. You may not have been there to see what happened, but you know what happened! But, you can’t take it personal. The first couple of flake outs sting a little, but after that, all you need to do is keep a positive mindset and realize that it’s not you – it’s them. Boy, is it ever them. Sometimes you will be appalled by lame excuses but that is the nature of the business. Sometimes you will laugh at some of the more creative ones. On fact remains and that’s when you are dealing with someone who is serious about their craft and wants those great photos to support that craft then it makes for a wonderful shooting experience.
Lots of photographers take their clients flaking out personally. However, as much as you want to hoot and holler and even call them out online, the best course of action is to let the anger subside and move on. If it makes you feel better, depending on the scale of the gig, there is no harm in asking for a deposit before shooting. That way you know your client is serious and you can lock in a date. This also weeds out those clients who are just price shopping and aren’t committed, which is sort of a major issue when it comes to booking a photographer. Clients have the privilege of paying for an art form and those that don’t understand that will just keep pissing people off along the course of their crappy life. (too harsh?)
Flakes get under a photographers skin in more ways than one. First, it’s just plain rude to flake out on a set appointment. Secondly, the flake costs a photographer time and money, which can be a deadly combination depending on what point you are at in your career. You can be friendly when setting up a meeting for a shoot but you can also be stern and let your client know that you mean business. At the end of the day, the people that no show do not take their craft or project seriously, and should not be counted as a failure. They do not know what they are missing out on.
As a photographer you also have to maintain some kind of integrity to yourself and your business. Now, one example of how a client can try to play a photographer is by them telling you close to or right before a shoot that they got a cheaper or lower price from someone else and that they STILL want to work with you IF you meet that price or come in under it. I can feel your hands tightening in a strangling motion. Now, that’s just plain BS all around. Much like in life – in photography you get what you pay for. If you are charging X amount for a great service and your client chooses someone for lower than X who has no track record then they will end up with a shoddy product. The rule of thumb is when you pay an unproven amateur you will end up paying more in the long run. I have personally heard a ton of horror stories from clients who went with the cheaper option and were so unhappy that they had to go out and spend more money than they thought as a whole for a good product. How much a photographer charges is extremely relative to time, location, situation, style, client needs, and output. However, once an agreement is made there should be no backing out from either party. I have also heard from clients that photographers have flaked out on them tons of times as well. To those photographers: Shame on you. This is an art and should be fully enjoyed. Always keep shooting! Sometimes photographers have to learn that the free wheeling artistic devil may care lifestyle needs to come in second place to their business. Like in any sport – always follow through.
But, when you have been dealt with the hand of flakiness, you should make the most of your freed up time. You can work on some personal projects that have been put on the back burner or maybe even offer a discounted rate to a former client if you really wanted to put some monetary work in that particular day. Work on your website. Follow up with clients. Experiment with new ideas. Other than that take the time to coalesce, chill out for a bit, and release the stranglehold.
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Article by Richard S.
Image credit: dimedrol68 / 123RF Stock Photo