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Author Topic: Business question for all you folks out there  (Read 535 times)

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Offline SakiaWarnerTopic starter

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Business question for all you folks out there
« on: June 19, 2009, 09:44:21 AM »
As some of you might know I am a wedding photographer. Well a situation has come up and I am very very torn as to what to do

I booked a couple for a wedding in September. I threw in a free engagement session for them as a booking incentive (and Ive been trying to do more of those to get more proficient at them.)

They seemed very nice but now Im almost AFRAID to do their wedding.

I shot their engagement session on June 6.. I normally tell clients a 3-4 week turnaround for edited DVDs of their portraits.

They needed a photo for their invitations so I rushed and got them done that day and had their photo to them on June 8th (after they chose the photo they wanted).

The bride texted me on June 13 to ask about the remaining photos. I missed her text.

The bride and groom each called me in a span of 3 minutes on the 15th around 3:30pm. I was not able to answer my phone.

I returned the brides call on the 16th at 10am.

She tells me then that I haven't communicated with her properly. she isn't comfortable with me shooting their wedding because I dont return phone calls and she wants to cancel her wedding with us but wants her engagement portraits.

I tell her Im sorry she's unhappy but the retainer fee is non refundable if they choose to cancel. I also tell her I will have her engagement portraits to her the following day (As I was on my way somewhere).

So then her fiancee calls (now this guy is covered in tattoos and is very menacing) and starts to chew me out about my lack of communication and how they aren't comfortable with me shooting their wedding when they cant get in touch with me. I should be returning their calls immediately.

He says they've tried for over a week to call me every day (Umm.. It was only 10 days since I shot the photos) and I wont call them back. (my phone tracks all calls for 10 days.. she nor he ever called)

I politely tell him that I was working and could not return their call and that I usually will return calls in 24 hours or less and that I don't think that is unreasonable. I called her the next morning as I got in well after midnight the night before.

So he keeps going on and I tell him, if you don't want us to shoot the wedding that is fine but the retainer is non refundable if they are cancelling the wedding. He says a few things to the effect I'll get my money back if I want it..etc.

He then tells me that there better be "No more drama" and I better return his calls when he calls me in a couple of hours. I tell him 24 hours at the most.. I would either text or call them. I explained that I cant just stop in the middle of a wedding or other event and call them back.

I tried to explain that I don't need to talk to my couples every week until their wedding. Usually I talk to them a couple weeks before and maybe the week of if I have more questions but I am always there for them to get in touch with me. I told him they very well could have emailed me instead of texting or calling and they could have reached me that way.

I ran their engagement portraits (they were done) to the bride THAT DAY.. 2 hours later. 2 weeks to the day that I shot the session.

So now... I don't know that I am feeling all that comfortable with shooting this wedding. It might go perfect but it I feel very funny about it.
The groom honestly reminds me of a drug dealer by his actions, the way he always walks away to take calls and the amount of cash he always has on him (Rolls of bills)

So my questions are

A) Do I simply tell them I am not comfortable shooting their wedding and return ALL of the retainer? Our contract states the retainer is NON REFUNDABLE unless WE cancel the arrangement.

b) Do I refund part of their retainer and tell them the remaining is for the engagement session (Since it was a booking incentive and not just me giving them a free session?)

c) Shoot the wedding and pray I don't anger them by missing their calls? ((If I do this I am going to edit their wedding the next day and then give it to them within the first week after the wedding))

Would love to hear your guys opinions as I just dont know what to think at this point.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 10:04:00 AM »
I've often found that those sorts of people are simply the worst clients to deal with, if only because they force me to miss other clients with the attention I pay to them and then turn around and not pay.

What sort of referrals is this guy going to get you? More people like him? You seem to be making enough to not need his business. Your personal safety should come first, I would go with A and let him harass someone else.

Granted, I live in MN where most of my clients were nice people, but still.

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 10:14:44 AM »
I agree with Veks, I'd probably go with A too. Screw the money, sound sleep is more important, at least in my eyes and it's not like you are turning every penny between your fingers to think if you can buy a bake-roll or and orange, is it? You seem a little put off by the guy, so... what are wedding photographs done in fear (or discomfort at best) going to be worth anyway?

Offline Oniya

Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2009, 10:37:44 AM »
Sounds like an episode of 'Bridezillas' waiting to happen.  If you're not hard up, I'd go with A or B (and only then to cover the cost of the film and processing you've already delivered to them).

Offline Serephino

Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2009, 10:40:58 PM »
I agree here.  I'd charge them for the engagement photos since it cost you and you're not running a free service, but tell them you don't want them as clients anymore. 

Offline Elektra

Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 01:52:45 AM »
I agree. If you are not in serious need of the money than cancel and return the funds. If you are in serious need then ask a friend to join you for the pictures. If they have a problem with the extra person you can say she/he is just an assistant.

The thing is I think no matter what happened they were going to try and find something wrong with what you were doing. 

Good Luck!


Offline Sho

Re: Business question for all you folks out there
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 05:54:18 AM »
I'd recommend bringing along a friend with the excuse of them being a helper or something...that way you wouldn't be alone. I wouldn't cancel, though, if it's close to the wedding. That will probably just bring down the proverbial shit storm, if they're left searching for a new photographer with just days to go before the wedding. Just my two cents. It's definitely a tough situation to be in...I don't envy you. Best of luck with whatever you choose!