Like every other year, my clients this year were amazing. Unlike every year in the past. this year I had clients that I never had the chance to meet in person. I essentially had to cancel on 20 out of 25 couples this year and hand over their wedding photography needs to the associate photographers who are on my team. Luckily I was able to edit every single one of their photos and got to live their days vicariously through images as I carefully culled and edited every single one.
Making phone calls to my clients stating that I wouldn't be able to photograph their weddings, was the most stressful, emotional and tormenting thing I have had to do for my business so far. Convinced I had let my clients down and unbelievably worried they would be angry, frustrated and heated with me, I was honestly terrified when I made every single one of those calls.
Looking back now, I guess I had probably read one too many blogs about how easy it is for 1 client to ruin a small business in the age of the internet. I think I had underestimated my clients and the fact that I am somewhat picky about who I book and work with. I had assumed one of my clients would be the undoing of everything I had poured my heart and soul into over the last 8 years. I was afraid of a repeat of the Andrea Polito situation, but I could not have been more wrong. Regardless of everything, I was extremely lucky to have such an amazing team of photographers and such a sweet and thoughtful collection of clients this year.
I knew from the outset that I didn't want to have those conversations via email or text. I knew that I was potentially delivering information that would stress out my clients. I knew that these calls might be frustrating and overwhelming for them to hear, especially if their wedding planning process was difficult or stressful already. I knew I needed to deliver the news in person or over the phone, but since I was in the middle of a medical crisis, meeting them in person wasn't going to be easy. I decided to make the phone calls and see where those went. If a client was especially upset I would make arrangements to take them out to dinner to discuss everything in person and try to warm them up to the idea of my associate photographers taking over for me.
I was incredibly surprised to realize that every single client I spoke to, was more worried about my health than their wedding photos. It was both humbling and moving to talk to brides and grooms who had their priorities in check and who were realistic about their wedding and how things can change. Not a single person was angry or frustrated. If they were, they sure didn't show it to me. They were all very happy that I had already made alternate arrangements before I called them. In fact I already had emails typed with contact info for their new photographers before I even made the calls. I knew the second I hung up the phone, I wanted to hit send and make sure the info they would need and want would already be in their inboxes waiting for them.
A medical crisis and two deaths in my family would have been crippling if it wasn't for the amazing photographers who are a part of my team. The stress I endured this year could have easily been the undoing of 8 years of hard work, growth, sweat and tears. So I must conclude this blog post with the utmost appreciation and thanks to my amazing TEAM OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS. Without these incredibly professional, caring and creative people in my life, I would not have had the conclusion to this year that I did. I am eternally thankful that they expressed interest in being a part of my team when I made the offer to each of them to join. THANK YOU!