Bear with me …
Confessing my screw-ups in public does NOT come easy at all. Yet, I have to do it.
I have two of them to offer you. Two quick lessons that will save you from a similar fate and will likely make you more money down the road.
Last week, I got myself into trouble. Real trouble. Business trouble, and not the criminal kind.
A vendor (let's leave his specialty out of the conversation for now) contacted me a few months ago about a date and an event he wanted photographed. He and I had had a gentleman's agreement. All was well and then he went on an extended vacation without exactly telling me when he would be back.
I held the date for him and then emailed him twice, attempting to confirm the timeline for the shoot. All I heard back were … crickets.
Then a frantic email arrived last week from him: “Seshu, why aren't you on the schedule?”
I was flabbergasted.
I had held the date as long as I could but I had another client call in during the time the vendor was away.
Business is business, right? So I booked the portrait session but made sure it was at the tail end of the same day (just in case I had to photograph the event anyway).
I told myself that I will be done photographing the vendor's event and then be able to make it to my own client's portrait session.
But that didn't sit well with the vendor. His expectations were different and because we hadn't discussed the details or put them down on paper, it was all very ambiguous to both of us.
And he got mad. Then I got mad. Well …
Don't Give Miscommunication A Chance
Ambiguity kills relationships. So, last Thursday after going back and forth on email about the snafu, miscommunication or what he perceived as me trying to “double book” (which I never do), we broke our ties.
Yeah, I should have picked up the phone and just called the guy right? That's another lesson for another day.
It wasn't the the loss of revenue that has troubled me the most since the incident. What aches my soul is now his perception of me has changed … forever.
Good news travels fast and bad news, faster.
Where I Failed
In a world of amateurs, I failed to be the professional. I didn't produce a contract that spelled everything out for the vendor so that he knows what to expect – arrival times, departure times, the number of photographs (enhanced or not), delivery time for the final photographs and the delivery method etc.
Being a professional, I have learned, is about having agreements that everyone, well, agrees to. Having it in writing makes it legally binding, in the end helping everyone involved. Having a contract brings clarity and business peace for all.
Contracts are intended to set the bar of expectations and inform the clients of the photography relationship process. – Rachel Brenke
Rachel Brenke's Contracts
If you haven't heard of Rachel Brenke, she is a photographer AND a lawyer who publishes one of the most helpful websites called The LawTog.
To celebrate her birthday, this week alone, ALL of her contracts are on sale right now. If you don't have a contract specific to your situation, I would urge you to seek her's out.
It is awfully tempting to “Google” photography contracts and just swipe one from the Internet.
My advice: Do not do it.
Foremost is the reason that those other contracts aren't guaranteed to have been written by a lawyer (much less seen by one for accuracy and veracity). Secondly, you have no guarantees that the lawyer has truly your best interests in mind.
This is where Rachel shines – not only has she gone through law school, she is a photographer who for years perfected her contracts.
So, you are probably wondering, if I knew about Rachel's contracts why I didn't use hers, right?
That was screw-up number two. And it totally stinks.
The Sale Ends Soon
Don't wait too long to snag Rachel's photography contracts. Whether you are a wedding photographer or a portrait photographer, there is something in there for everyone.
The sale ends on October 7th. Use the code: mybirthday20
Yes, I make a small commission when you buy using my link, but that's not why I am mentioning Rachel's contracts. She has helped hundreds of photographers and I believe she will be able to help you out too.
Would you want clarity and peace of mind versus confusion, chaos and lost opportunities? The choice is clear. Get the right photography contracts here.