The Rules

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 2 Comments

Have you ever watched the Transporter?  Fun movie, and the sequels pretty much stunk on ice.

One thing I liked from the original movie was Frank’s simple rules.  3 points.

  1. The Deal is the Deal.  Never change the deal:  Once you’ve reached a deal with another party that is the deal.  Don’t change it.
  2. No names:  Well, that wouldn’t work in my business, but still pretty cool.
  3. Never open the package:  I think that’s great advice for folks working at UPS, USPS, Fed EX, DHL, etc.

Rule number one sticks with me, and has since I first saw the movie.  I like it.  The deal is the deal. Pretty concrete and it helps all parties involved.  I know, sounds a little inflexible.  But really, if you’re changing the deal constantly it can really drive you crazy.

Why am I thinking about rules?  Small incident came up yesterday that’s left me troubled.

A little more than a month ago a client came to me about doing a photo shoot today, May 5th.  No problem, I was happy to help out.

The particular shoot needed to be planned in advance.  An outdoor location, unknown lighting, some indoor work as well.  We’d agreed to go over needs prior to the shoot.  The clients were to call a week before today’s event.  We’d arrange the shoot, payment, etc., at that time.

Last week I heard nothing.  Nada, zip, zilch…….no communication.  Bummer, but what do you do?

Having heard nothing at all I decided to take a ride out to the Promised Land with a magazine editor / photographer yesterday to give him a tour.  We spent a while walking the canyon and discussing a few business opportunities.  Pretty productive day.  Pretty quiet too……my phone only works in certain sections of the canyon.

After returning from the Promised Land I hit the gallery to do a little work.  An advertisement that had to be sent out for an upcoming show.  While there my phone rang and I missed the call.  3:30 p.m.  A message was left, and I got tied up with what I was doing.  Checked the message last night……..

The clients……they wanted to have me come out to the location at 5 to get a look……

You gotta be kidding, right?  I figured I was totally blown off.  Maybe another photographer was hired, maybe the event was off, maybe……I’d made no arrangements for coverage at the gallery, had no time to work with the clients beforehand, and had no assistant for the shoot as I told my assistant on Sunday it looked like they would not be needed today.

Just fantastic.

So, I called the client last night and let them know I was not available.  I let them know they were supposed to communicate last week as we’d agreed.  I didn’t get coverage for the gallery as I’m not willing to pay an employee to work a day that I could work.  The event didn’t seem to be including me, and therefore paying someone to be in made no sense.  I’d only have money going out, none coming in.

Seriously, what are you supposed to do in a situation like this?  Continue planning to do a shoot for people who haven’t communicated at all until 2 hours before they wanted to see you?  Plan on spending money on a maybe?  Wait by the phone and not continue on with what you need to do?  Is that good business practice?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally inflexible.  But I need a little lead time to get my planning done as well.  Respect for plans and people’s time goes both ways, right?  See, “the deal is the deal” does work.  I could be scrambling today, racing around like a maniac, closing the gallery, and bending over backwards to try to make this work.  Do you think the pictures would be good in that situation?  I don’t.  When would I get paid, and how?  None of this was worked out in advance as it was supposed to be……….

Like my learning experiences with printing for clients I’ve now learned a lot regarding shooting for clients.  Contract up front on first discussion.  Deposit up front, otherwise you don’t have a deal.  The deal is made when a deposit and contract are in hand, not any point prior.  Anything prior to that is just talk.  And for all I know in this situation they might have found someone else, had it fall through, and then called me.  I just don’t know, but I do know that I’ve got an extremely firm lesson for future shoots.

Comments 2

  1. To consider yourself a serious business, you need to make rules and then follow those rules. I think there are certain situations where you can be flexible, but if you make rules and then constantly change them…how can you or anyone else take you seriously? Sometimes it may “feel” bad when you have to stick to your rules…but usually that is coming from someones reactions to what you’re doing.

    A photographer for a wedding is a very significant part of what is usually a very significant day. I would consider finding and then retaining someone to take your photos just as important at the dress, the cake and the location…It is certainly not the photographer’s fault if he has communicated clear precise directions and the couple doesn’t follow them. I refuse to believe that there is a couple on the planet that would “forget” their wedding photographer until an hour and a half before one of the main events. That’s totally nuts.

    AND…I certainly thing that if the rules “must” change, do like the airlines…charge a rather large fee to change anything. This will make them take you seriously.

  2. I agree completely. That’s why we don’t start a job for a new client unless we have a deposit (50%). Established clients can establish accounts. For the first 3-5 years they are net 10 days. After that they get net 30 days.

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