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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> How do I get a bride to sign the contract?
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08/28/2008 09:58:09 AM · #1
A while back I saw an ad posted on a local board for somebody wanting a photographer for a wedding. They wanted somebody just starting their business to get a reasonable price. So I worked with the bride on what she wanted and we finally agreed on everything. I sent the contract to her and then things seemed to slow down, and after about a week and another email from me she replied and said that all looked fine.

Part of the agreement was that I would shoot their engagement pictures and we discussed shooting them after the contract was signed and planned for sometime in August. She then asked if we could delay it because it was her finance's 21st birthday and then school was starting on Aug 25 for her. I agreed because I really do want to work with her and not pressure her.

So then I email yesterday and late last night I get a reply stating that there's a family emergency and she has to go to Texas because her dad's best friend is dying. Now she wants to sign the contract in late September and do the engagement shoot then.

So I don't know what's going on. She really does seem honest and I know she put a lot of time into working out the details. I know she's young and I think a bit naive (she offered to pay entire fee upfront). Or I'm guessing that maybe she doesn't have the retainer fee or hired somebody else and is afraid to say.

I'm leaning towards giving her a drop dead date to sign the contract. But if she is honest about the family emergency, I don't want to let business get in the way of something much more important.

So what should I do?

Message edited by author 2008-08-28 09:58:58.
08/28/2008 10:05:29 AM · #2
LIE.

Don't be naive yourself.

It's business, your a business man.

Sure, the customer is always right....after the sale, but, first you need the sale.

Sounds like she is yanking your chain....yank a little back.
08/28/2008 10:05:33 AM · #3
Ken, gently remind her that until you have a signed contract she has not reserved the date. If you were to get another request for that date and the B&G sign their contract first, she will have lost out. "It is VERY important that you get the contract signed and deposit made in order to reserve your date on my calendar"
08/28/2008 10:10:41 AM · #4
I can remind her that the date isn't reserved until she signs, but in reality I doubt anybody else will want it. I'm not itching (yet) to start up a fulltime wedding photography business where I need to fill up my calendar.

Thomas - what do you suggest I tell her? I don't want to lie but am willing to yank back if that's what it takes.

Message edited by author 2008-08-28 10:12:44.
08/28/2008 10:12:45 AM · #5
IMO, until the contract is signed, don't commit yourself to doing anything for them, and make sure they're aware that you won't shoot until it's signed.
08/28/2008 10:13:22 AM · #6
Originally posted by Ken:

I can remind her that the date isn't reserved until she signs, but in reality I doubt anybody else will want it. I'm not itching (yet) to start up a fulltime wedding photography business where I need to fill up my calendar.


THEN....relax.

Don't lose sleep.

Open up a beer, watch football, get a haircut, just don't let the client get you down.
08/28/2008 10:21:18 AM · #7
Good advice from everyone - thanks. But for now it's a cup of fresh coffee and some "real" work.
08/28/2008 10:22:38 AM · #8
But she doesn't know that you are not filling up your calendar. So it can't hurt to remind her that something else could take her dates.

To me it sounds like one of them, from what you've told us I'd guess the groom, is not overly anxious to get on with all of this.

If I had to bet cash money, sorry to say, I'd bet that there isn't going to be any shoot and she is either in denial or hopes you will move on.

Either you have the worlds worst case of coincidences, or she is not playing straight with you. I'd make this the last go around. If there is another emergency, or other excuse after this one, then I'd forget it. She is starting to sound flakey enough, that you might want to reconsider doing the shoot, even if she does sign. If it is this big a hassle for her to set a date and sign a contract, how much grief is it going to be for picking and ordering pictures?
08/28/2008 10:25:41 AM · #9
Wait until the last minute and threaten to overexpose her for what she is.
08/28/2008 10:35:22 AM · #10
It can be hard to get some people to commit. She seems a bit flighty. But then again, maybe there really are a lot of things going on for her. Tell her very clearly that if she doesn't sign, there are NO promises. Make sure you she understands this. Then occupy your time doing other business things (there are plenty of them). If you waste time worrying about her all the time, your going to lose money. It's perfectly fine to want to help her out, and you should, but there is a limit to this. Your a photographer and a businessman, not her personal assistant. Personality means loads in this business, but you can't let people drag you along with their every whim.
08/28/2008 11:07:23 AM · #11
I think flighty is a good way to describe her. Later I'll reply and give her the reminder that somebody else may reserve that day, but that I am unwilling to do any more work until the contract is signed. I like ambaker's point about reconsidering taking the job, and if there is another "emergency" she won't hear from me again.

As far as contracts - what about putting a date on it? I've seen them before on quotes we get at work, such as "This quote is valid until 09-15-08."
09/22/2008 01:07:02 AM · #12
Update:

After this thread I emailed the bride and told her that I couldn't do any more work for her and the day wasn't reserved until the contract was signed. She replied right away said we'd set up a date. A few days later she emailed with a date (Oct 13), time, and location to sign the contract. At this point I thought it was going to actually happen.

She emailed last night stating that would have to cancel because "something came up" and she has to get married halfway across the country. I expected this earlier but not after we setup the contract signing. I don't really believe her story and am tempted to tell her so, but know I don't have much to gain except the satisfaction of letting her know that I don't believe her. I still think she chose another photographer but I'll probably never know for sure.

I've certainly learned much about the business end of photography. In addition, I've already read a couple books on wedding photography, learned and practiced portraiture, workflow, became more familiar with my camera, am setting up a professional website, etc. I have confidence I can get the job done and deliver what is expected. So I've learned a lot, but at this point none of it makes me feel any better.
09/22/2008 02:40:01 AM · #13
Just watch for the wedding announcement in the paper, then show up with your camera to take a pic of the look on her face, of you being here with a camera then leave laughing. Maybe a good challenge for that when it happens. LOL
09/22/2008 07:25:40 AM · #14
Originally posted by dacrazyrn:

Just watch for the wedding announcement in the paper, then show up with your camera to take a pic of the look on her face, of you being here with a camera then leave laughing. Maybe a good challenge for that when it happens. LOL


I already know details on when and where. As tempting as it sounds though, I wouldn't do anything like that. Not that I haven't thought about it!
09/22/2008 09:05:11 AM · #15
I'm finding myself starting to have to assert things a bit more, too. It seems that some brides will think nothing of verbally committing to booking a date, and then won't follow through with the deposit. And when I finally get around to asking them about it, THEN I learn that they don't plan to use my services. It's interesting how afraid some people are to call and say that they've changed their minds, or whatever.

I had a bride who told me she was going to hire me for her wedding earlier this year, and she was going to get the deposit in the mail. I waited for a generous amount of time, with her name penciled in on the calendar. Once I finally called her to see what was up, she said, "Oh, we decided to get married in Jamaica." Well, thanks for letting me know this!

I'm going to start getting more strict on setting a timeframe for deposits. Most of the time, being flexible has been fine, but the inconsideration of people like this kinda honks me off.
09/22/2008 09:50:50 AM · #16
Same thing with buying prints. At first I used to believe it when somebody would tell me that they were going to buy a print, now I don't. Until I have the money or contract I don't believe anything anymore.
09/22/2008 09:55:15 AM · #17
I think you should let a greased pig loose inside their reception.
09/22/2008 10:09:36 AM · #18
You get all sorts when you eal in photography, some are people who just want to get the best price regardless of anthing else... these are the ones you want to watch out for. I've found that the longer that someone strings things out the less likel they are to actually book or buy. I tell people that their day is NOT booked unless I hav a signed contract AND deposit... I will follow up a few times and after that if someone else wants that day, I will simply call the person up, tell them that I've ye to recieve their contrat/payment and that someone else wants their day. at that point I give them 'first shot' as long as they sign and give deposit by at certain time (usually a couple of days). If they string it out past that, their day is gone...

On the plus side, there are plenty of people out there that do understand that value of what you do and will be great clients. I wouldn't worry about this bride, move on... you'll likely get a better booking anyway :)
09/23/2008 01:49:52 PM · #19
I'm very up front with my potential customers regarding my pricing and timelines. What I charge for my retainer and what I will do for them. If they are not comfortable signing a contract I don't pressure them, but I also deliver nothing that is not paid for. All of my weddings are fully paid in advance 2 weeks prior to the wedding or I do not show up. These expectations are very clearly (but in a nice and professional way) spelled out on the contract, we read it together and sign together.

I don't buy something from every store I walk into, and I don't expect everyone I meet to hire me. Expectations must be reasonable. I don't keep chasing people. I'd have contacted her twice, and then let it go. Now that it's done. Let it go for real.
09/23/2008 04:42:55 PM · #20
Everything was clearly defined in the contract. I don't think I ever went as far as chasing; she was the one who said "you're hired", even though I knew better because the contract wasn't signed. I made the mistake of not having a contract ready and then setting no time limit on when to get it signed when I had it ready. I believed her, at least early on, every time "something came up".

It was quite the learning experience and I've moved on and have no plans to get a greased pig.
09/23/2008 04:52:39 PM · #21
Originally posted by alanfreed:

I'm going to start getting more strict on setting a timeframe for deposits. Most of the time, being flexible has been fine, but the inconsideration of people like this kinda honks me off.


When my wife and I got married two and a half years ago our photographer gave us eight days to get her the deposit or else she was opening the date back up.
09/23/2008 05:10:06 PM · #22
Originally posted by Ken:

... I've moved on and have no plans to get a greased pig.


Awwww...c'mon!
09/23/2008 06:03:47 PM · #23
Originally posted by vxpra:

Originally posted by alanfreed:

I'm going to start getting more strict on setting a timeframe for deposits. Most of the time, being flexible has been fine, but the inconsideration of people like this kinda honks me off.


When my wife and I got married two and a half years ago our photographer gave us eight days to get her the deposit or else she was opening the date back up.


I like that approach, I'll keep it in mind.
09/23/2008 06:04:21 PM · #24
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Originally posted by Ken:

... I've moved on and have no plans to get a greased pig.


Awwww...c'mon!


If Slippy will be the greased pig handler, I may be open to the idea.
09/23/2008 06:24:34 PM · #25
Originally posted by Ken:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Originally posted by Ken:

... I've moved on and have no plans to get a greased pig.


Awwww...c'mon!


If Slippy will be the greased pig handler, I may be open to the idea.


How bout turning loose a greased Slippy into the reception? Much more effective imo.
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