We’ve all heard the excuses. Here are some great ones from my Photog friends:
- It looks like it’s going to rain.
- I didn’t have time to get my hair cut.
- I didn’t have time to get outfits together.
- (last minute)….Kids are still sleeping.
- (a week prior)…His face is swollen we will have to cancel.
- I didnt lose the weight I wanted to lose, could we reschedule 20 pounds from now?
- Mr Grumpy Butt is keeping us from meeting today… No, My son is fine, its my husband…
- We don’t have the money this week. (But we did have the money to pay someone else.)
- October – “we haven’t bought clothes yet”. Reschedule. Two weeks later- “we forgot”. Reschedule. Early November – “we forgot to write it on the calender and scheduled something else”. Reschedule. Late November – “we forgot”. SERIOUSLY? September of the next year – “can we book a session with you?”
- Something came up and money is tight right now.
- Looks like there won’t be a sunset tonight. I don’t want flat, overcast pictures.
I’ve seen it over and over in my Photography Groups. You want to know how to handle it, how to avoid it, how to charge for it, and just how to respond to the client.
I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been the client that wakes up the morning of the shoot and is not feeling it, and I went anyway, because truly I never feel like herding the family and then having my picture taken.
Here is the honest truth. There are two parties involved. Not just the photographer, and not just the client. And BOTH could have a reason to cancel. I am always struck by any business that mandates some sort of fee-based cancellation fee for ME, but there is no cancellation fee for THEM!
That might be hard to swallow, but my recommendation in adding a cancellation clause to your contract, is to reciprocate with what you will also comply with if you are the one who cancels. It actually shows the client that you are a real person with integrity, and intend to comply with the same standards of courtesy that you expect from them.
Here is my sample wording for adding cancellation protection to your contract:
Cancellation and Rescheduling Policies
Everyone’s time is valuable…and can be variable.
Weather Policy: Session will be rescheduled for weather at the discretion of the photographer.
Cancellation Policy for Client: Photographer requires 48 hour notice of cancellation and client may reschedule. If client chooses not to reschedule, the entire deposit will be refunded. If cancellation is within the 48 hours prior to the shoot, client will pay an additional $100 fee to secure another date, with the full remaining fees due on session date. If client chooses not to reschedule, the entire deposit is forfeited.
Cancellation Policy for Photographer: Photographer will provide 48 hour notice of cancellation and client may reschedule. If client chooses not to reschedule, the entire deposit will be refunded. If cancellation is within the 48 hours prior to the shoot and the session is rescheduled, a $100 credit will be applied towards the remainder of fees due on session date. If client chooses not to reschedule, the entire deposit is refunded.
Here is the bottom line…you have to collect money in advance of your sessions in order to have a Cancellation Policy. Some of you, I know, are not requiring payment in advance. But this is a foundation of creating the ability to hold someone to their agreement. And a Contract, of course! (smack you if you are not using a Contract!)
Last, I am not an Attorney and cannot give legal advice. I can give you suggestions of how to protect yourself in specific situations like this, but I do like to recommend the services of Rachel Brenke, The Lawtog. She has many resources for sale that will be legally binding, and help you to streamline your Contracting processes! Check her out!
And seriously…this one rain session was one of my favorite sessions…EVER!