Friday, March 1, 2013

Toe the Line

I have never considered myself a quitter.
I'm stubborn.
Ask anyone.
I dig in my heels and will not let go.
However, there are some things in life that really, REALLY tempt me to throw in the towel.  Over the past year, photography has been one of those things.
More specifically, rude clients. And fellow photographers who e-mail me out of the blue, griping about MY business.  Really? Who the fuck are you?
Let me give you some examples - welcome to my rant.
Example 1:  last year, I had not one but TWO fellow photographers e-mail me regarding the services I offer and my respective rates.  Their complaints were about newborn photography (THEIR specialty) and MY rates for MY services. The didn't like either, and apparently felt it was their duty to lodge a complaint with me, lecture me about how I was "devaluing" the photography business here in the valley. My bottom line responses were (a) I don't give a shit what you think; (b) I'm not asking YOU to adopt MY fee schedule; and (c) there is more than enough business here in the valley - you mind yours, I will mind mine. End of story. I eventually got an apology out of the person and she went back to the land of newborn photography.
Example 2: shopping around versus requesting a booking. Look, I understand that people shop around. I have no problem with it whatsoever. BUT, there is a big difference when you are requesting quotes and shopping around, versus saying "ok, that quote is great, let's get together for a booking." When you say those words, I draft up a contract under the assumption that we are getting together, deposit is being paid, contract is being signed, and we are in business. I think everyone is aware of what a BOOKING is versus what a CONSULT is. The majority of us have brains, we get it. A few weeks ago, I dealt with a 19 year old (who the hell gets married at 19?!), and, like above, she requested the booking. I got everything together, the booking was a couple weeks out. Then, I received an e-mail from her stating "I have selected a different photographer so I need to cancel our meeting." I sat on the e-mail for a day before responding. I finally responded to her and thanked her for her notice, but questioned what she was doing because she requested a booking with me. I told her the move was very unprofessional, reminded her that SHE requested the booking, and that I had prepared all of the necessary paperwork for her (contract, checklist, etc.). She then sent her mommy after me, via e-mail. The mom laid into me, telling me that out of ALLLLL of the photographers they interviewed, I was the only one who had a rude response. I apologized that she felt I was being rude, and also pointed out that her daughter had been very unprofessional in the handling of the situation as well. She reminded me that her daughter was only 19 and maybe didn't understand booking versus consult. Well, then maybe your 19 year old daughter has no business getting married either. Anyway.....several e-mails were exchanged and she ultimately told me she was reporting me to the BBB. Go ahead, sweetheart. Let me know how that goes for you. She also wrote a nasty, anonymous, review for me on  I disputed the review and the website sided with me and removed it.
Example 3: High-maintenance clients are very difficult. Back at the very beginning of January, I had a lady e-mail me about a big family shoot. I kept telling her "let's get together for a consult so we can go over the specifics." Nope. She felt the need to go through this massive e-mail exchange. 30 something e-mails later, no joke, she finally had every detail she apparently needed and THEN told me "ok, well I need to get the deposit money from all of the other family members, so I will let you know when we are ready to book."  Jesus Christ. Okay lady. A few weeks later, I had totally forgotten about her, her e-mail rolled in. "Ok, I have the deposit money, we are ready to book." Awesome. Can't wait. The booking was a nightmare - she went to the wrong location and then insisted that I drive out of my way to come to her. After the booking, about a week before the shoot, she sends me a laundry list of specific poses she wants. I only get lists like this for wedding clients. This thing went on for an entire page. And on top of that, I received 23 additional e-mails with pictures of poses she wanted. Seriously. This shoot was shaping up to be a nightmare. The day of the shoot comes (last Sunday). I show up at the Depot (my least favorite place to shoot). We had planned for an indoor shoot. The Depot is supposed to open up at 11 on Sundays. No "gatekeeper" to be found. I tried to convince her to get some outdoor shots while we were waiting, but it was "too windy" and "no one will cooperate". Awesome - good effort, folks. So at 11:30, the doors are FINALLY unlocked and we can get inside. The shoot went fine - she was extremely unorganized. I pulled out the list she sent me, along with the pictures of poses. She wouldn't even look at them. Why bother sending them in the first place? I always tell my non-wedding clients to give a week for editing. It doesn't take me a week, but I like to have that extra time to go through the initial loading, cropping, etc. before I get to the more in-depth editing in Photoshop. Today is Friday. It has not yet been a week. However, I received an e-mail from her asking when we are getting together on Sunday for her discs. Um....sorry, don't recall sending you an e-mail letting you know everything is ready to go. But thanks for that assumption. I replied and told her that I wasn't done editing and I would let her know when I was done. It was as polite as I could possibly be given what I have dealt with thus far.
Bottom line......times like this make me want to throw in the towel and be done with photography. 95% of my clients are awesome. I love them, we have great shoots, they come back year after year. THEY are the reason I'm in this business.  The other 5% are the pains in my ass that make me want to quit and never look back. I don't NEEEEED the money. Sure, extra spending money is nice. But sometimes, it's not even worth it.

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