Wow! It's been a minute since I've blogged
I'm here to talk a little bit about those pesky non-refundable fees you come across with photographers (and other wedding vendors)
So the other day I was perusing one of my photography groups on FB and came across a post where a photographer was asking for opinions and help because they had a client who had booked them, signed the contract, paid the deposit, and was well into the process of planning the big day with this photographer, then one day seemingly out of the blue the client decided to cancel services with the photographer, meaning that the photographer never actually got to the point of actually photographing images for the client. The client was also demanding their deposit be returned on the grounds that the photographer had not "incurred any expense related to my booking"
Seems legit right? I mean, after all, the photographer never took a single photo for the client.
As I thought more and more about this I started thinking about my friend's lawyer who charges her for every single email and phone call, even the ones initiated by his office. When I first heard about this I remember thinking, wow that's crazy man, it doesn't seem fair.
Suddenly it all clicked for me. Why do we photographers (and other wedding vendors) have that pesky little non-refundable booking fee (or deposit) in our contracts? You see, the moment you book our services we are working. We are planning for and with you, we are communicating with you, we have started serving you before the first photo has been taken. We are working. When you work you expect to get paid right? Well, when working for yourself there is no check coming from the payroll office for that work you've already done. That is why we charge the client a non-refundable fee upon booking. This isn't just for wedding photography this is for those senior sessions, family sessions, couple's sessions, maternity sessions, etc. too. We don't charge you $100 individually for every email, text, message, zoom meeting, phone call etc. like the lawyer does, but we DO put a value on our time so instead, we have that fee that covers the work we do before we ever even pick up the camera, the work we have already done even if the client changes their mind and cancels the booking. About that client that said to the photographer that they had "not incurred any expense" They are wrong. That photographer started working the moment they booked (actually before) and it's ok that they decided to cancel their booking, that's their choice and they are not expected to pay any more towards it, but it's also ok that the photographer gets paid for the work that she's put into their booking up until that point and just because they do not have a physical product at the end the work up until has been done and the photographer deserves to be compensated for that time.