by Carrie Swails guest writer for Rock My Photography
Collecting a deposit or retainer can sometimes be hard and even uncomfortable. When you’re just starting your business and you’re photographing your friends or other people you know you want to build that trust with them and asking them to pay you seems tough. Many photographers are nervous to start putting a price on their sessions and even more, to ask for a deposit before the work has even been started. Here are some important reasons why taking a deposit from a client is so important.
1. Your Preparation Time
Before you have even begun to photograph you spend time meeting with your clients to prepare. You should be paid for this time upfront. Taking the deposit upfront will cover for the time you take to email and figure out the where and when of the photos. It pays you for that hour you sat down and showed them your portfolio and it pays for all the time you spend setting up your newborn studio or packing your car and all those other small details that go into getting ready for a photo shoot. Taking a deposit upfront will make you feel as though your time spent doing these things is paid.
2. Your Clients Could Cancel
It’s not fun when you have a client who you’ve spent the time meeting with, booking, preparing for their photo shoot and then they don’t show up or they cancel last minute. Now you are left unpaid for the time you’ve spent working ahead of time. If you clear your schedule for a photo shoot and the client doesn’t show up this means you’re out the opportunity you may have had to photograph someone else. If you are like many photographers and are still working the ‘day job’ and you may even take a day off to do a session. This means that a cancellation will cost you income from your other resource.
3. Your Clients Could Demand a Refund
Clients book with you, sign a contract, put down their deposit, and then come and have their photos taken. If for some reason they decide they were unhappy with their photos a deposit to reserve your time can be stated on a contract as non-refundable. If they’re truly unhappy and they demand a refund you can refund them a portion, but typically photographers keep deposits as non-refundable for this very reason. It’s up to you. At least if something goes drastically wrong you can still pay yourself for your time no matter how you chose to price your session.
You may also have your entire session as non-refundable. This is a common practice. Your clients have chosen you because they love your style. They are pretty aware of what they will be getting. For this purpose a contract can state that all fees are non-refundable. In the event that the Photographer cancels the session due to any reasons then the deposit will be refunded. Otherwise there are no session refunds for my company ever!
4. Your Clients May Need To Reschedule
If a client has an reason for rescheduling and has already paid a deposit, you WILL get a rescheduled appointment.
Without a deposit this reschedule may not happen or may take a very long time. People are busy, we have families, jobs and a lot is expected of us. Rescheduling appointments are not always done. You do not want to lose a client due to this, you have already put so much time into getting their attention and booking them to begin with.
A lot of us started out by taking photos of our friends and relatives. Sometimes those closest to us are so excited to have their photos taken, but tend to be the ones to not take us seriously as we start out trying to follow our passion. Friends and relatives are often the ones expecting discounts, deals, and freebies when you do your job. To achieve the most referrals and recommendations from your friends to their friends and so on you need to treat your friends and relatives the same way you would treat any client. Require a deposit and a signed contract. When your friends see how you are taking this seriously they’ll take you seriously too!
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