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who do you think you are, anyway?

Mike, Ellie and I just got back from an impromptu lunch date with former wedding clients who happen to be in town today.  They live a few hours from us, and have a newborn.  In the weeks leading up to their due date, she started calling and emailing around to portrait photographers up there, hoping to secure an at-home session when they brought the baby home from the hospital.

NO ONE CALLED BACK.

After her disappointment at being ignored by at least three different portrait photographers whose websites all indicate that they’re DYYYYING to photograph her new little one, she happened upon a photographer who actually DID call her back, and let her hand over some money for a (lovely) portrait session.

The point is, it shouldn’t have been that hard for her to get a call back.  We’re not talking about ignoring the call from the power company here.  The worst thing that could happen when you get back up with a potential client is, they don’t hire you.  The best thing that could happen?  Fucking MONEY.  Staying in business.  Having a great experience, creating beautiful images, meeting new people, getting referrals, making even more money.

What is wrong with people.

We’ve experienced this ourselves.  Not so long ago, we were planning our own wedding.  It’s downright depressing how many vendors just won’t bother to respond to inquiries.  I have every idea that no one in the industry – family portraits to weddings – is too busy for a simple return email, but they sure do act that way.  Recently we reached out to a family photographer whose work we fell in love with, hoping to secure a date for a session in the future.  This photographer is based about six hours from us, so it would take some coordinating – but we were 100% up for the trip and expense involved, in order to get our family photos from this wonderfully talented woman.  We have yet to hear back after two attempts over a month’s time.

I have heard a lot of photographers say that they simply won’t respond to an inquiry if it isn’t worded “just so”.  Like, if the inquiring client doesn’t fall all over themselves complimenting their work, it’s not worth the five minutes to bang out a response or pick up the phone.  I’m here to tell you that some of the crappiest initial emails have resulted in some of the best bookings I’ve ever had, while (typically) the gushiest emails end up falling off the face of the earth.  If you’re “screening” your inquiries that way, you’re digging your own grave.

Not to mention, it’s just BAD BUSINESS to ignore emails from potential clients.  I don’t care if they give you a lowball budget in their initial inquiry.  I don’t care if every third word is misspelled; I don’t even care if they’re asking you for a service you don’t provide.  RESPOND TO EVERY INQUIRY, or risk being badmouthed around town as the photographer who was “too good” to respond to a simple inquiry.

Wait a minute.  What am I doing?  You know what, y’all just keep on keeping on.  Leave those inquiries unanswered, so your potential clients eventually end up emailing me.  I’ll write a thoughtful response,engage them in conversation, and probably get the job that you would have gotten if you’d bothered to pretend to be interested in new business for a few minutes out of your day.  It’s all good.

cheers,
charo

2 Comments

  1. Are you sure you aren’t living in my head? Love all your posts and how grumpy you are! Thanks heaps from us down in Australia :-)

  2. Right on. I have clients react shocked when they hear back from me the same day – I quite often hear “THANK You so much for getting back to us”. And here I thought this was common courtesy. Apparently not so common as it’s been two weeks that I’ve been waiting to hear back from a “too good to respond to your email” family/dog photographer that I was looking at. Guess who is not getting my business if they ever get of their ass to respond and guess whom I’m not going to recommend going forward? Yup, Mrs. No-responding-to-your-email.

    If Jerry Ghionis can respond to emails, so can you. 😉

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