I’ll start with a brief definition of ‘ghosting’ for those who are incapable of Googling. Ghosting is when you end a relationship (usually a personal one) by suddenly ceasing all communication with the other party, with no explanation. This happens a lot in the dating world; thankfully, to other people, rather than my married self. However, I’ve experienced my fair share of ghosting in the professional world.
It’ll start with an enquiry. Maybe a prospective client will pick up my business card at a wedding fair, or stumble across my online portfolio. They’ll have a look at my website to check out my style and find out if I’m crazy or not (beware, I am). Then they’ll send me an email asking to see more examples of my work and request a quote. At this point, they’ll have probably talked to several other photographers - and that’s OK. Although I’m probably shooting myself in the foot by saying this, it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting the right style, quality and, of course, price for something as important as your wedding photos.
To make a comparison; when you’re buying a car, you don’t just visit one dealer. You put a Saturday aside, fuel yourself on a McDonald’s breakfast and drive round to every dealer in your area to see who can give you the best price. You probably give each dealer a fake email address so that your inbox doesn’t get clogged up with junk, and you drink as much free coffee as possible to make the journey worthwhile.
Once you’ve settled on a dealer who gives you the car you want in the colour you want, with the added sat nav and 10% shaved off the price, you ghost the other dealers and everyone goes about their business again. Although Nigel at Ford is disappointed with the loss of commission, he’ll still get paid his monthly salary. I wish I could say the same for myself.
When I receive a client enquiry, I take the time to give a thorough response. If it’s examples you want, I’ll trawl through past work and build a collection of examples which will fit the style of your wedding. I don’t have a robot to do it for me; the nerds in Silicon Valley haven’t yet invented an algorithm which intuitively recommends images based on a client’s wedding theme (an important piece of technology that I’m sure everyone would benefit from - not just me). So I have to go through all my work by hand, when I could be editing a current client’s photographs.
Sometimes, I’ll receive enquiries from clients who want to meet me in person. So I’ll brush the crumbs out of my beard, put on something smarter than jogging bottoms and the unicorn slippers my son bought me, and venture out to a coffee shop for an hour to talk availability and pricing. And then when the barista is tired of me, I’ll meet with the client to go over their wedding. I’ll buy them a latte or whatever weak drink they fancy (if you ask for an espresso, we’re automatically friends), then venture into an in-depth discussion about the ‘really awesome shots’ they’ve seen on Instagram and want to recreate.
After all that, it’s sometimes the case that I never hear back from that client. Just like picking a car dealer, they’ll choose another photographer and won’t let me know that they’ve decided to go elsewhere. OK, I’m not sitting by the phone like a teenage girl waiting for a boy to call (hint hint, love, he’s probably ghosting you too), but following the work I put in, a simple heads-up would be nice.
It doesn’t need to be much. Just send me something along the lines of: hey, Avi, we know that you’re the best wedding photographer, but we’ve decided to hire someone else anyway because we like to live on the edge and take risks with our wedding photographs. We’d like to let you know in advance that we’ll probably regret not picking you. Super sorry that you’ve lost out on this business, but good luck in future.
Then, at least, I’d have closure and I could stop chasing you like an abandoned puppy. I know that we can’t all be the responsible, moral people that our mums think we are. But when it comes to freelance wedding photographers, for whom every minute counts, let’s try to be.