The subject of sessions rescheduled due to illness is popping in photography forums quite often. I am very fortunate never having to cancel due to being unwell (it’s pot luck, not some magical vit C fuelled diet), so I have never been on the receiving end of client’s grief caused by it, but having heard enough complaints addressed towards my fellow photographers, I would like to make a statement on the matter.
Photography is by far the best job in the world. Possibly alongside a professional mattress tester. If someone paid me to sleep, I would probably reconsider my career choices, but as it stands, this horizontal job is hard to come by, so I will stick with my pixels.
Shooting every day, to then spend hours editing gorgeous faces of our clients truly is a great way to spend the working years of one’s life. The great majority of us would love to do this job for free. Unfortunately it is also what pays our bills so needless to say: it’s in our interest to make sure sessions do happen. We are grateful for every single client coming through the door, and with photography becoming a more and more of a popular profession, the competition over clients is fierce.
We would love to photograph all your babies, and never take those bookings for granted. If a photographer cancels / reschedules a session, it’s ALWAYS for a good reason. We are not a bunch of flippant hobbyists who wake up in the morning and decide “Nah, not today, I’ll text them to cancel and go out paddle boating”.
The most common reason for rescheduled sessions are viral infections. For family and baby photographers this is a case of not only our clients’ well being but also health and safety. Especially when working with premature babies, we take extra caution with any form of viruses, colds and even when you don’t see it, we sterilise our hands constantly throughout the session.
If we are feeling queasy, suspect a tummy bug or if there is a virus running in our homes, we will most likely reschedule your session. If we suddenly suffer from an outbreak of shingles, we will definitely reschedule your session, as the virus can be deadly for newborns. If we have common cold, we are likely to reschedule your session. This is not in our interest, we would still be happy to shoot in most cases. It’s in your child’s interest.
If we suffer from chicken pox and have you schedule for a maternity session, we will definitely reschedule as pregnant women who get exposed to Varicella-zoster virus may end up having a miscarriage. This is because they transmit the virus to their babies. Even when miscarriage doesn’t happen, the baby could be born with a birth defect called congenital varicella syndrome or newborn chickenpox which are equally lethal. This often causes an uproar amongst clients who do not understand the severity of the side effects of having the virus passed on to them. We are doing this in your interest.
Babies are born with an immune system also in its infancy and as good as it is for older kids to be exposed to various types of bacteria, newborns can only handle so much of it.
As much as we would like to just go ahead with every session, we are only humans and sometimes we do get ill as well. Being professionals we will put your health and well being first, but in some cases the session will get rescheduled simply because we are feeling like death. It can be totally unrelated to any known viruses, and can be a simple case of a twisted ankle, migrane, or an internal pain that is not manifesting itself in a visible way and even though we are feeling awful, we look perfectly fine.
As photographers who spend a lot of our time working with children, it’s an obvious thing we do love them. Our journey quite often starts with photographing our own offspring, and sometimes with time we decide to have more. Being self employed, we do tend to work longer into the pregnancy and have shorter maternity break. Some babies make this journey really easy, some babies cause violent sickness, migraines and a general feeling of exhaustion. Like with a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’ll get till your pregnancy starts. At this point, our calendar is usually filled in for at least three months ahead.
If we are feeling as though we would rather have needles stuck in our eyes than shooting anyone’s session, we will most likely reschedule. It’s not fair on us, it’s not fair on you to get a mediocre level of service from us, when at the end the price will be exactly the same as for someone, who got us at our best.
Sometimes it’s nothing to do with viruses. Nothing to do with us feeling pants. It may be our own child, who felt sick at school and we are the first (or only) number they call. If you need to cancel for family reasons, we will always tell you “family first”. It would be great to have the same courtesy extended to us.
We expect some level of understanding and humility. On behalf of photographers around the globe, I would like to emphasise: we will never cancel / reschedule your session for no reason. It’s an awful feeling having to do it, and this emotion lingers at the back of our head throughout the day if not a week. Messaging us back with “oh ffs”, snapping “you could have given me more notice” when our kid broke their leg 10 minutes prior to the conversation or telling us off over the phone for it is unnecessary.
This is life. We are in this together.