“Where here to have our portraits taken.” The Woman says in a sing song voice as I am putting the last piece of equipment into the back of my van.
“Sorry.” I say. “As you can see, we’re done for the day.”
“My appointment was at 8:00 and it’s 7:45 now.” The Woman says. “Your going to take out portrait.”
“Okay.” I say with a sigh and reload the cart with the bare minimum I need to shoot six pictures. The camera, the computer, one background, and the light stands.
I haul the crap back into the Church, which asked us to leave at about 6:30. I spend fifteen minutes setting up and then the camera and the computer won’t talk to each other. This happens from time to time. Of course, it has to happen at this moment.
“Sorry.” I say and begin repacking again. “The camera won’t work.”
“This is totally unprofessional.” The woman says. “What are we supposed to do?”
“Someone will be here next week.” I say. “You can try again then. And you might want to get an earlier appointment.”
The woman did show again the next week, but by the time she got there at 8:30, the Photographer and Passer were long gone.
Working off an Appointment Sheet has it’s ups and downs, the down is that there is almost always someone booked for the Last Appointment slot, the up is that we can usually call them and tell them to come in early. If I get to a Shoot and there are only five or six names on the List, I do everything I can to get all of them in and out as quickly as possible. It’s virtually impossible to make any money on a Shoot with less than ten names, so we might as well get out early.
Most of the time this is not a problem. But once in a while someone shows up either of their own accord or some dumbfuck at The Office books an appointment and sends them out to a Shoot long after we are finished shooting.
Assembly Line Portrait Photography is not like a regular business. We don’t have Banker’s Hours, we are not happy to see that Last Customer ten minutes after their Appointment Time, and we will leave early whenever the opportunity presents itself. This practice became so annoying to the Company that they put new policies into place to try and put a stop to it. We all quickly found walk arounds for the new Policy and still leave the Shoot as soon as we can.
We work odd hours. The Weekdays might be 2 to 8 or 3 to 9 or 12 to 6, anything to make the Client happy. On the Weekends the hours shift again-9 to 5, 10 to 6, or maybe 1 to 7.
So what happens? Someone walks in at say, 6 o’clock on a day when we stop shooting at 5 o’clock and demands that we take their portrait. They have an appointment. Not with me, you don’t. This is XYZ Portraits, isn’t it? Yes, it is-but our last Appointment was at 5 and we are done for the day. This is when they like to whip out The Big Gun-we just want the Freebie, so we won’t take too long. Ah, so you not only want to waste my time, you want me to do Extra Work so you can waste my time? Ah, no.
I worked at one Company that loved booking days with five names on the List, so I loved calling them all in early and packing up and leaving. That Company sent one man to three or four Shoots with late appointment times-they didn’t tell me about this until a couple of weeks after the fact. We finally had a pretty busy day and he caught up to us. He didn’t seem too upset, but some people do get down right nasty.
During the Good Old Days it was not uncommon to shoot 50 or more Appointments in a day, when you got to the Last Appointment, that was it-you shut down after taking their portrait and waited for the Passer to wrap up. Any other time of the day I will take another sitting and smile about it, but at the end of the day, not so much. We have one Photographer who tells anyone who shows up late that The Computer has a timer and won’t let him take another portrait. Needless to say this almost always happens at Bad Shoots where everyone wants the Freebie as well as wanting to wait till the Last Minute.
The people who walk up and see that you are loading up the cart or walk up to you in the parking lot as your driving off are just idiots.
“I’m sorry, we’re done.”
“No your not, your going to take our picture.”
“Have a nice day.” I say and smile as I drive away.