Let me start off by saying that this won’t be the normal happy-go-lucky blog post. As a matter of fact, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to offend a small handful of people who read this, there is also no doubt that those that are offended may very well be guilty.
I like to think of myself, personally and professionally, as a fair and generous person. More times than I can count I’ve given deals to clients who have waited until my schedule opened up, even if it meant 2 months. I do this because 1. I can, and 2. I want to, but most certainly not because I am obligated or feel obligated. I have also given away a fair share of free sessions, products, and even two weddings over the years, again, because I can and because in most cases, I wanted to. It is such a great feeling to know that I made someone feel special or perked up their day with a little freebie or bonus. Nine times out of ten, I get a big thank you back, which is not necessary at all but always appreciated. I appreciate those who appreciate me and my time that I am spending with them.
I have been very lenient regarding payments. My mistake. It just boils my blood that I would even have to write this, but due to situations that have occurred this year, I must. It has always been my standard practice that payment for your session is due on the day of your session. Not after. If we have made a special arrangement for you to pay after, it has also been my practice not to retouch your images until your payment has been made. Please, Please, Please do not contact me to tell me you “stuck the check in the mail” this morning and could I please “start retouching” your images because you’re excited to see them, when you actually did nothing of the sort. I will not be lied to or taken advantage of so please don’t give me the run around for months saying that you’re sending the overdue payment “today” when you are not. Now, I absolutely understand that mistakes happen and people forget their cash at home or whatever, that is totally fine, I’m human and I totally get it. What I am addressing here are those who have no problem wasting my time with back and forth e-mails for several months saying that they’ve sent me their payment time after time after time, when they really have not. From this point forward, if you have an outstanding balance with LKMP, you will not be able to book another session until you’ve paid the balance from your last one, if at all. And if we do decide to book a session for you, it will be with 100% payment upfront, no less than 1 week ahead of time. Thank you for understanding.
Before I go any further, I want to stress how thankful I am for those of you who have encouraged me to grow and develop as a photographer over the years, and to those of you who have popped in somewhere along the way. I have been very, very lucky to have amazing clients who I now call friends come to me for their photography needs. I am overwhelmed at the rate that my business has grown over the last few years alone and I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve. I am grateful to those who go to my website, check out the prices, and know what they’ll be paying before contacting me, or contacting me and asking where they can find the prices for my service. That tells me that whether you a brand new client who found me in a web search, a referral, a returning client, or someone who knows me personally, that you understand I am running a business. I absolutely love what I do but that doesn’t mean I can afford to do it for free, nor will I.
Each time I see a new name appear in my inbox, be it Facebook or E-mail, I still get all kinds of excited! I open the messages and carefully read. Usually, I reply right away, anxious to get something set up, but sometimes, I get so frustrated that I cannot even reply until I’ve cooled down. Here is an example of the kind of e-mail/message that really gets my goat:
I am a friend of XXXXXXXXX. She told me that you’ve been doing her pictures for a long time and she really likes what you do so she told me to check you out. She also said that you’re really cheap because you always give her a special deal. Can you tell me what the deal is so that I can budget for my photo shoot? I’m really excited to hear back from you!
Here is what I would like to say, you know, in a dream world where there are no consequences to my actions…..:
Thank you for inquiring. Your friend, XXXXXXX, is actually my sister, she must have failed to mention that, weird with the two of you being so close and all. The deal that I offer her is special because, again, she is my sister. I also highly doubt she used the word “cheap” because she values my work and would never refer to it as such. If you’re looking for cheap, you may also be interested in it’s friends, tacky, low quality, and mediocre. I would be more than happy to point you in the right direction because I have the pleasure of selecting who I spend my time on, and sadly, it won’t be you.
Am I snarky? Well yes, I guess my dream reply is a little snarky and rude, but no more rude than coming to a business and expecting to pay less than everyone else. Why is it that people think they are entitled? Really, I just don’t get it. Just because you’re a friend of a friend, or even a friend of mine does not entitle you to anything. Am I hitting a nerve yet? If so, keep reading…. The only people who are entitled to my time for free are my husband, children, and parents. I know, it seems like I’m going crazy over nothing, right? Here is a break down to show you how much a free or discounted session costs me:
Session Consultation & Planning 2-3 hours (this includes all communication and brainstorming) billed at a rate of $15 per hour.
Babysitter Time $15-$20
Travel Time and Gas Expenses $15-$20
Equipment Depreciation $10 per 1 hour session (roughly)
Retouching Billed at $15 per hour $60 (Includes basic retouching, not HER retouching which is skin correction, digital make-up, etc)
HER Retouching $30 per hour $120
Disc Packaging $5
Disc Delivery $2.50 if mailed $10- $15 if hand delivered, sometimes more
Now, what a client sees is the time shooting the photos and the two weeks they have to wait to get their images back. There is so much more that goes into it, not just time, but actual money.
When you book your session, please be clear on what you would like to book ahead of time. Indoor, Outdoor, or Both, only your two children, or your two children plus your sisters three. These factors will help me determine 1. How much your session fee will be, and 2. How much time your session will involve. When you show up at the time of your session and let me know that we will no longer be doing what we had planned but will now be going to a different location and, oh by the way you brought your 4 nephews, it kind of puts a kink in my planning and I may not be able to accommodate your needs. If you are the last session of the day, that doesn’t mean that I have unlimited time, I have a “clock out” time just like anyone else who has a job. Please do not come for your one hour session with 25 outfits and tell me that you need to be shot in AT LEAST 15 of them, well, not unless you’re willing to pay the overtime session rate of $35 per 15 minutes.
The time that I spend away from my children and husband needs to be justified. That being said, I’m not saying I’ll never do another free or discounted session again, but if and when I do one, it will be for someone who I feel like values and appreciates my time and would never press me or expect me to give them one. If I gave my friends and family freebies all the time, I would be out of business and divorced. Please respect my time and my craft.
On one last note, my business hours are typically the following, except on days where I have sessions. If you contact me, I will do my best to return a reply with in 24 business hours:
Saturday Sessions by appointment only, all communications sent over the weekend will be answered on Monday.
Thank you for reading this till the end. It is just time that I draw a line in the sand regarding my time. I am so appreciative to my clients who NEVER ask for or expect a deal, those are the ones I want to give the best deal to because I know they would hire me regardless of saving a few bucks or not.