Giveaways vs Giving It All Away

Dear Stefanie Shutters,

I have a client that won a giveaway that I was doing over the summer for a basic session valued at $150. But she wanted to do an extended family session with 10 people which is costs more but I agreed anyway. She wanted a specific look with a barn, but there aren’t any barns near me so I agreed to go to her which is a two hour drive one way. We were originally supposed to shoot at 6pm but she messaged me a few days ago and asked if we could adjust it to 4pm instead. I agreed.

The session is today and it’s raining here and at her place.  I wrote her at nine this morning and suggested we reschedule – the forecast calls for rain all day.   She’s refusing to reschedule.  I have family in the shoot location area and they say it’s storming all day with no signs of letting up.

I do not want to drive 2 hours away just to have to reschedule because it’s still raining or everything is a muddy mess. Do I just suck it up and go or do I insist on rescheduling?

~Regretting I Ever Ran the Contest

Dear Regretting,

We teach our clients how to treat us. She’s learned well.

For the future:

If you give a gift certificate for $150 they ONLY GET $150.  AKA, she can pay the difference in travel fees, session upgrades, etc.  You gave her the equivalent of a blank check.

There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries and having policies and then sticking to them.  The rules are there for a reason. She is that reason.

There’s a difference between being accommodating (moving the session time) and being a doormat (travel 2 hours each way with no additional compensation to you or making it an extended family session at no additional charge).

For the now:

It’s going to be a muddy mess even if the sun comes out.  If it’s raining, you can’t shoot.  I would very clearly write her back that if you come up to do the shoot today, when its your professional opinion that the conditions are unfavorable to impossible, then she forfeits her right to reschedule from this point on and you have fulfilled your obligation. Her Gift Certificate balance becomes zero.  You will not shoot in the rain.  Thus she needs to have a rain plan in place (and hope the inside of the barn is dry and well lit?) before you agree to leave that will allow you to shoot.  Failure to have that means you don’t go.

I understand that getting 10 people from different families together on one day is near impossible some times. It’s why she doesn’t want to reschedule.  But you’re a photographer not a miracle worker (say it with your best Star Trek Scotty voice to yourself) and you need to make sure that if you’re wasting your day you’re only wasting it once.


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