As a business owner without any formal education you tend to learn things the hard way. In my career as a professional photographer I have made many mistakes. This blog post is to share my experiences and how I was able to overcome those mistakes.
There are four important things as a business owner you must stay on top of to succeed, your finances, your products and services, the care of customer and yourself. Those components are what spins the wheels to move your business forward. Unfortunately, if one is off balance it can bring you to a complete halt.
In the commercial photography industry the care for your customer ranks number one and the care taking of their data follows. As photographers we capture and archive precious one in a lifetime moments. We photograph valued objects and subjects. Then after all the photos have been taken we archive them and protect them because the y are images our clients value. You too should value them just as much as your client. You are the caretaker of that data.
This leads me to my first mistake.
I waited nervously at a corner table of a busy Starbucks on a Wednesday night. I was missing church but I had to because what I was about to do was extremely important.
I kept looking out the window for my clients to arrive. Finally, I saw their call pull up and park. They walked in together looking a little worried but still greeted me with a smile. By this time my heart was pounding out of my chest. I first presented to them their large canvas prints that they loved. I wanted to bring them joy before I brought them sadness. Then the moment came.
“Mr. & Mrs. XZY I have very bad news.”, I said in a low tone. I turned my MacBook to them I had setup prior to them arriving and I showed them the very small collection of video and photos I had left from their wedding. A few months before the hard drive I had their images stored in crashed leaving no chances of a full recovery. A company named $300 Data Recovery sent me back all he could restore from the disk. Most images and videos were currpot and unusable.
Tears rolled down the newly wed couples eyes. Gloom and disbelief filled that little corner table of Starbucks. I felt dead to be honest. The god of electronic data storage should of taken me with that hard drive too. They asked if nothing else could he done. If we could send the drive to another company. Nearly 70% of their wedding night memories in photo and video were gone!
Then the bride asked the right that nailed my coffin shut… “Why didn’t you back our files up on another drive?” [insert internet troll insults here] She was right. How could I be so stupid?
I thought all hope was lost until my friend Mike Garcia texted me one day asking me if some files off his CF card were mine. I asked him to send me a photo of them and low-and-behold…they were the “lost” files. Mike had allowed me to borrow his camera and memory cards for that specific wedding and I guess since the event he hadn’t shot or formatted his card because many images and video clips that were missing or not recovered were still stored in that CF card. I quick rushed over to his home to get the files and triple back them up because I now had good news for my clients.
The first thing I did while driving to Mike’s was text the bride about the good news! Not all the files were able to be saved but thanks to Mike, we had at least 80% of her wedding files back! Act of God! But though we had found the majority of their wedding files I still took responsibility and refunded the bride and groom completely for the wedding video services. I owned up to my failure with my wallet.
Photographers: Always backup your files immediately after a shoot or event or even during the actual shoot. If you do manage to fall into this predicament always own up to it and do not be afraid to talk to your client. Never avoid them and be as transparent about any issues that will affect their data or files. Try your hardest to fix the issue or create solutions that will balance out the issue at hand. If any issue requires you to refund the client be ready to do so and talk to the client about a re-payment plan.
Clients / Future Clients: Technology is not trustworthy and is always changing. Be aware that there will always be some type of hardware failure when dealing with computers, cameras, and memory storage media. I assure you that it’s very rare and can be avoided by proper storage data archiving practices. Know that I will always do my best to resolve the issue and will pay top dollar to restore, revive or recover any lost or corrupt data or files that belong to you. I understand that as your photographer you are entrusting me with the most beautiful and special moments in your life and I am beyond honored to be a part of. I will do my best to communicate with you in all aspects of our business relationship and outside of our business relationship. I, most importantly, want you to know that you can trust me.
If you have gone through a similar situation as a photographer or a client and would like to talk in detail about the issue please fill the contact form below.