Wednesday, May 19, 2010

stood up...what would you do?

I offer no-cost sessions, so as to not limit my clientele.  I genuinely want to be a photographer that makes photo shoots worth my time away from Jonas but also want "ordinary" people to afford professional photographs.  Is that too much to ask?  I go to shoots on faith that clients will show up and will order pictures.  Sometimes clients don't order enough to cover a babysitter, or not enough to be worth setting up my backdrops.  Very rarely this occurs.  I've even had one family not buy anything at all.  I personally think that is very rude.

The point of this post was to vent a little and also ask some advice...
This weekend I was referred by a mutual friend to a couple who wanted beach pictures.  I live in Savannah now, so a one hour drive gets us to the beautiful ocean.  I was to go yard sale-ing that morning but since I booked a shoot, I cancelled that and afternoon swimming with friends.  My husband had to give up his Saturday plans as well, so that he could watch little Jo-Bro.  No big deal, right.  Well, we drive all the way to Tybee (one hour each way, plus $$ to park).  They didn't show up.  It is four days later and they have not called me back.  So what would you do?  I don't normally charge session fees, but that was an expensive day for nothing.

Deep down I want to send them a bill for gas/time.  I was thinking at least $50.  Seriously.  I have since decided to revamp my pricing.  I still want to be affordable for anyone, so my philosophy now is to charge a $75 sitting fee, and once your shoot is over, you will get a $$ credit for prints.  I was thinking $50 of the sitting fee would be "refunded" toward photo purchases.  It basically guarantees a $25 sitting fee and $50 worth of photo orders.  Unreasonable?  I think it is pretty cheap!  This is mainly for on-location shoots where limited travel is involved. 

I have to keep my prices competetive with the mall/instant print labs out there, but I offer much better pictures on location, so there will obviously be a higher cost.  I am getting tired of "giving my work and time away" so I need some feedback.  What would you do?

1.  Should I bill those clients who stood me up?  How much?
2.  Should I insist on a deposit for photoshoots?  Is $75 too much (even with getting $50 credit)?
3.  Would it be better to charge by the mile?
4.  Is it best to just create different prices for different type photoshoots?  (baby, maternity, beach, etc - each getting their own sitting fee more tailored to what is involved)
5.  Is it bad to start charging sitting fees after not for so long?

I feel like the past 6 months of business were a learning experience and now that I've invested so much in equipment and such, and improved my skill level, does that warrant a change in rates?

Your input is appreciated! :D


  1. that is more than reasonable. You know how I feel about it (this is Kim S from church). I'm proud of you & I think you are doing the right thing

  2. I think you should go with the sitting fee (at the time of booking!!) and photo credit. And if they don't show, no refund!! And, YES!! Send the couple that didn't show an rude! Your time is worth that!

    Let me know closer to Christmas when you will be in the Monroe area again, I will gladly give you my $$ up front! Love you M!