It was years ago but embarrassing AF. I had my first table at venue open house and I was eagerly passing out brochures, trying my hardest to connect with each and every bride that crossed my table. One stopped to talk to me. I asked where she worked and she told me. Before I could stop myself, I excitedly said “Oh! ME TOO!” Oops. The entire room seemed to pause. Even the people who couldn’t have possibly heard our conversation seemed to cock an eyebrow in my direction. “I mean… like… you know, I also have a full time job, in addition to photography” I stuttered. The bride’s mother, trying to help offered, “Well of course you have a job, how else are you supposed to make money?” Sigh. “Certainly not with photography” I muttered to myself as they moved on to another table.
Sometimes having a job sucks. When you’re doing your best to be a sparkly photographer who attracts clients left and right, and then someone decides to shine a flashlight on your dream that isn’t quite ready for inspection.
It doesn’t happen often but occasionally, a prospective client will ask that question: “Do you do this full time?”
If the answer is no, a panic might set in. If I say I have a full time job, will it invalidate my photography? Will they automatically think, “Why not?” or “She must not be that good then.” They must be asking this question because it’s important to them, right? What you wish you could explain is, “I know, you might not like that I have another full time job. I get it. You want to work with a photographer whose success has already been realized over the 200+ weddings she has under her belt. But hear me out. I do amazing work.” as you start to frantically shove album after album under their nose. “I do the work of a photographer who is chasing her dream with everything she has and paid work is the only way I will one day be able to leave my full time job for my passion. PLEASE, HAVE MERCY!”
In the style of the cartoons we watched as kids, the next frame would surely be of a door swinging shut and a disheartened photographer sitting on the sofa, surrounded by sample albums.
So what do you do? What’s that magic answer that you can deliver effortlessly with grace and poise while not being painted as a total liar?
You might revert to a half truth and say something like “I’m a full time photographer.” *BIGSMILE* Because darling, you put in full time hours so you are a full time photographer. MICDROP
You might say something like “I’m actually only accepting about ten weddings this year so I suppose you could say it’s part time.” Boom. Avoid. Vroom out of the way and ask them if they’ve found a dress yet in an attempt to change the subject.
While half truths might be good for the moment, in the long run, they might come back to haunt you. If your client finds out about your 9-5, it could look like you lied. And that’s never good. We’ve all heard the saying “honesty is the best policy”, and that is true here. Now is the only time you have to allow the client to understand that it is a choice you’re intentionally making. For me, this sounds something like,
“Not yet… but that’s the goal! Right now I’m the sole provider for my household and while I only WANT to do photography, my 9-5 provides amazing health insurance for my son and me and gives an added layer of financial security. Plus, it never interferes with my photo schedule which is really nice. So, for now, I do both.”
This usually satisfies them on several different levels. First, I was honest with them. While it might not have been the answer they were hoping for, it does give me the honesty points. Second, I shared something personal with them… it’s not easy to come out and admit you’re a single mom who is trying to work her booty off to make ends meet, provide for her child AND make her own dreams come true. I mean, I get a badass status just from that. Amirite? Lastly, it invites them to be a part of my goal, my journey. Can they understand that I NEED to have a certain amount of weddings per year to quit my full time job? YES! And can they see that they’re in a direct position to help me do just that? YES! How exciting is it to be a part of making someones passion and dream come to life?
Well, then, on the flip side, what if they can’t or don’t understand? Maybe you shrug and let them go. Maybe their ideal photographer is someone who has been photographing weddings full time since 1992 and that’s their biggest requirement. Be graceful, be polite, and let them go. You’re young, on trend, hardworking and committed to your clients. Keep being that. The right clients will absolutely find you.
As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. What works for you in this situation? Have you tried the half truth before and it caught up to you later? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 20: What you need to be doing after you blog.
Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here! If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com
|Denise Karis is a film & digital hybrid wedding photographer based in Phoenix who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|