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Old March 1st, 2006, 11:53 AM   #1
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Should i have done this? PLUS a question about timeliness

Before i jump into the story, i'll just ask the question for fellow videographers/photographers. This seems to especially be a problem here in Utah, but the question is open to anyone who has some input.

If you're doing a photography or videography shoot for the couple in question, what do you do when the couple is ALWAYS tardy?? This of course is referring to stuff that doesn't relate directly to the wedding itself, but things like dating videos, engagement photography, etc. Can you realistically take time away from them if they show up late? ie. if they show up 15 minutes late and they only had 60 minutes of shooting time set aside, can i leave them with 45 minutes of actual shooting time?

Now to the "Should i have done this" section. I apologize in advance for the length of this story. This ties into the question i just asked.

___________________________________________________________

A while ago i spent a lot of time printing my photography. At the print shop i met a guy who was becoming serious about professional photography, so he suggested that we meet up sometime and start setting things up together so we can pump each other up.

We were supposed to meet on a friday at 9am at my place. At 9am, i call him since he's still not at my place and he asks if we can meet at the print shop, which is 25 minutes away from me, 10 minutes away from him. I say yes, pack up in a hurry and take off. He shows up 10 minutes after we agreed we'd be there...

The following week, same plan, we meet at my place at 9am. At 9.10am, i call him to find out if he's showing up or not anymore, he says he forgot that he was supposed to show up at my place at all. He finally shows up at 10am.

On the 25th of February, i'm supposed to do an engagement shoot for him and his fiancee. He hadn't decided on where and when yet. I don't hear from him at all. Ever. I finally crack and just call him myself to find out what's going on 4 days before the shoot on the 21st. He says he still doesn't know when or where he wants the shoot... so he tells me he'll call me at 9.30pm that night to tell me when and where. He called at 10pm.... he was 30 minutes late for a PHOOONNNNE CAAALLL!!!!

The 25th of February gets there. I called him the day before asking him to be on time because i have other plans immediately after the shoot (i didn't, but i was afraid he'd be 20 minutes late or something). On the 25th, he shows up, 5 minutes late. Not bad!

Then, being a photographer himself, he decided it was appropriate for him to tell me exactly what to shoot, where to shoot, how to shoot, etc... Then he proceeded to try a few stunts with his poor fiancee who, like me, was failing to see the point of all these stunts (lifting, jumping, dancing, etc) and was even hurting at some point. I had to actually step in several times and say that it simply wasn't going to look that great. He also refused to stay in one place. I tried my best to capture some good photos, but he kept moving around (since he was in charge anyway lol). I've done just one engagement photography shoot before that, and it turned out awesome. But this guy's photos turned out to look like crap except for about 5 pictures when i finally started pushing to get my way.

I got back home 2 hours late (they had to see a preview of all the pictures at a local printshop and there were just over 200 pictures) to start burning the DVD he would pick up at some point during the day.

He came to my house, checked out some of my photography portfolio work, picked up the DVD and left... then i got phone call after phone call asking if the DVD was still at my house because he couldn't find it anywhere. I looked and looked and even doubted myself more at every phone call, thinking maybe i HAD misplaced it somewhere... turns out he forgot he put it on the roof of his car, so the box stayed on the car until a little further down the road where it got crushed under all the passing cars that day... so he somehow managed the impossible: to lose a DVD box between my house and his car. I had to burn another copy.

I finally caved to my very early initial desire to keep away from the guy yesterday by calling him and telling him that i wasn't going to be able to shoot at his wedding and that my niece doesn't want him shooting at her wedding either but that i'd still be happy to do his fiancee's bridal photography if they haven't found anyone else yet...

He was getting married at a local temple in late April and was paying me $200 for both the videography and the photography and was giving me $200 worth of picture frames for free.

I have NEVER, EEEEEEVER met ANYONE who has been so hopelessly unreliable, forgetful, indecisive and pushy and i just couldn't believe that any of my other clients would be nearly as difficult as him...

I just wanted to see (for those that read this far) if this is something i should expect from clients in the future or if this was just a horrible experience i shouldn't be going through again.

Thanks for reading.

Raji
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:02 PM   #2
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Just shake it off and move on. Stuff happens, you know?
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:04 PM   #3
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sure, but what i think i need to know is if i did the right choice by deciding not to put up with this kind of behaviour anymore, or if i'm going to see more of this as i book more weddings.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:13 PM   #4
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I would have politely bowed out too. That's kind of grief just isn't worth it.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:16 PM   #5
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ok cool... just had to make sure i wasn't being unprofessional

what about tardiness? I've rarely come across anyone here in Utah that shows up on time. Not sure how it goes outside of Utah. It's not a huge deal if it's 5-10 minutes i suppose, but where do you draw the line and how do you deal with it?
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:24 PM   #6
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What I would suggest (having not much experience doing photography but from experience teaching music lessons) don't book them for an "hour" (or whatever) just book them "from 3:00-4:00" that way if they show up late it's not your problem, it's their problem. BTW you did the right thing in my opinion.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:28 PM   #7
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nate, thanks, that's an excellent suggestion.

i discussed this whole mess with my wife several times, but she always takes my side no matter what i'm talking about... so it helps to hear the opinion of people who do this kind of thing for a living
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:34 PM   #8
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From what you wrote, this guy was just plain jerking you around. Trying to do more work for him would have been an exercise in futility. You probably did your neice a huge favor too. I like the suggestion of booking a time slot, rather than an amount of time. That just went in my mental note file.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 12:49 PM   #9
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Yeah, looks like he wanted a lot done for little. I was shooting engagement photos for a couple once who were like that, except they wanted the photos shot inside a green house in the evening (DARK!). Not only was it dark, there wasn't really anything pretty in there and it was pretty boring visually with about 4 plants and a couple of benches, not really very pretty in that kind of light and looked more like a deep dark jungle, but that's a whole other story. They were supposed to arrive earlier but ended up coming later costing me more light. I ended up shooting some pretty good pictures, if you take into account the light. I suggested waiting for another day and taking the pictures outside, but they refused. They had already agreed to have me shoot at their wedding, but shrugged me off (should've asked for a deposit) when they got the pictures which were pretty boring because of the light/scenery - but they did pay for them, so it's not too bad.
Bottom line is, people like the ones you mention just aren't worth it in the long run.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 01:01 PM   #10
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I suppose you could have said that you book your time very carefully, made him sign a contract that states you bill from the agreed time and watched him turn into johny on the spot.

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Old March 1st, 2006, 01:03 PM   #11
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hehe, i noticed the same kind of dissatisfaction with the guy i was talking about! The guy kept directing me and then ended up sounding unhappy with the work... then he takes it out on me for what is essentially HIS work turning out like crap
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Old March 1st, 2006, 01:06 PM   #12
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This probably wouldn't have avoided the problem that was described by Raji at the beginning of the thread, but is sort of indirectly related to the discussion.

It can really help, to qualify prospective clients. "Qualify" is a term used by sales professionals, that basically means sizing up a prospect, to see if they're someone you've got a reasonably good chance of doing business with, or someone you'll just be wasting your time chatting with.

One of the things I pay particular attention to is the first thing they say to you. If it's along the lines of "how much does it cost" I get rid of them pretty fast. If it's along the lines of "I'd like to get..." then we're talking.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 01:24 PM   #13
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Did he ever pay anything? This kind of person could be a pain to collect from.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 01:50 PM   #14
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The expenses for the shoot are an income tax write-off.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 02:10 PM   #15
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he took forEVER to pay, but he payed... I was mostly worried about his payment for a tripod i had let him take with the promise of him paying me back for it... big mistake. He said he'd pay me the $55 that it cost me "really soon"... that was in January. I finally got the payment on the day of the engagement shoot at the end of February. $55 for the tripod plus the $50 for the shoot, $105 total. I was relieved as soon as i at least got payment for the tripod.

To be fair (this is more negative stuff against this guy), it was the bride's family that was paying the $50 for the shoot, so that happened instantly. Before we even started with the shoot, she just turned to me and handed over the check. I'd never even met her before that day. The guy on the other hand, was so disorganized, careless etc etc etc that it took him almost 2 months just to hand over $55 for something i should never have given up in the first place. Oh AND he managed to not mention payment for the tripod before and during the entire shoot. I had to remind myself not to forget to ask for it before we parted or i'd never see that money...

what a pain in the ass... I'm glad it's over. He actually caught me off guard when i called him. I'd planned what i was going to tell him as an excuse to get out of everything (none of it was true but it was the only thing i could think of doing without resorting to pointing out all the things about him that i felt were beyond unacceptable). He came back with "well could you maybe do some videography a few days before the wedding and my fiancee could put on her wedding dress and everything?". I told him she'd been firm on him not seeing her in the dress before the wedding and that it probably wouldn't work, but that if she wanted to do it then i could see if i can help them... he's supposed to call me, again, "real soon" so that i can be sure to have some time set aside for him. Either he'll take forever and i can say i had to book other people, or i'll come up with another lie (i feel horrible about this) to get out of doing anything.

I just want to completely and permanently sever the relationship at this point without being brutally honest and potentially very rude.

The lessons i learned: Always write contracts, do what Nate said with setting aside a timeframe and never let yourself get pushed around. It's not professional, it just gives the impression to the client that they can get away with whatever they want and you'll still just sit there and take it.

I hate all this drama and usually never have any of it in my regular life, so i hope this thread can serve as an example for people just starting out. You don't have to put up with a living hell for those first few jobs.
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