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What If the Photographer Misses the Wedding?

March 27, 2013 - Business, Photography

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Dear Jasmine
This past weekend I came down with the stomach flu and had my second shooter take over the wedding. This was a plan my bride was aware of before hand because I am 34 weeks pregnant. She knew if something happened, my second shooter would take over and bring an additional photographer with her. The issue I'm fearing will cause a problem is that the “new” second shooter (the assistant to my backup) had to leave for about 2 hours for a consult with her own bride…a commitment she couldn't reschedule.

I caught wind my bride was frustrated, understandably, about her absence. My question to you is…should I be proactive in discussing the issue with my bride….or wait and see if she even mentions it? My biggest fear is that she will want some amount of money reimbursed. What are your thoughts? Be honest!!! I've never missed a wedding before so I'm just on edge about not being there.
Thanks,
Worried Sick

Dear Worried Sick,
I'm so sorry this happened to you. The flu is never fun, but to miss a wedding as a result is a double whammy, I'm sure. The good news is that you had a backup plan already in place, so that's a great thing…even if it didn't go exactly as expected. More than anything, whenever creating a contingency plan, make sure every contractual aspect is addressed so you can avoid miscommunication and/or a bride feeling like she was dealt the short end of the stick.

My biggest issue with the situation is the “new” second shooter's two-hour departure from wedding coverage. If the bride was under the impression that she'd have two photographers at her wedding (regardless if one photographer could handle all the photo duties with ease and competency), she's well within her rights to be let down. Heck, she's well within her legal rights to request a reimbursement for a fraction of the services not rendered.

But let's not go there right now.

Let's focus on what you should do to get ahead of the situation. The last thing you want is for the bride (or any member of her family) to sit and marinate in frustration. You definitely need to address this matter and humbly offer a peace offering…because, truthfully, the responsibility is on your shoulders, not your second shooter's or your “new” second shooter's. If I was in your shoes, I'd ask how the bride would like the situation rectified. Be sure to get a wedding preview online as soon as possible so the clients can see just how great the photos are, but understand that no matter how lovely they are, the clients may worry the photos could have been even lovelier had another photographer been there to capture tangental moments.

Always approach the situation from the clients' perspective, not your own. Perhaps you can add more pages to her wedding album, or add a complimentary parent album as a way to smooth things over, or perhaps you can offer a Day After session to ensure they have the type of wedding portraits they wanted. Basically, do whatever you must to make things right. Listen to what your clients are saying, don't just hear the complaint…then you can truly address the pressure point.

I hope this helps and I believe that this can be an opportunity not just to make things right, but to make the clients happy.

Stay Fabulous,
j*

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