The Models All Cancelled

It was a beautiful March weekend here in North Georgia. I had two shoots booked with some incredibly beautiful tattooed models. My creativity was just under the boiling point with the anticipation of working with them. Then the unfortunate but all to frequent disappointment happened.

The models all cancelled.

The first shoot (Saturday) was to be with three tattooed beauties – one I’ve worked with a number of times, one I’ve only met, and one who has been on my Must Shoot With Her list for a long time. The shoot was to be a “production” shoot – just one look with lots of props, creative lighting, and kick ass models. It was the brain child of the third model. On Friday afternoon I get a text message from her canceling the shoot for “personal reasons”. No specifics offered, and none asked for. I accepted her apology and reason, shrugged my shoulders and made other plans for my Saturday.

My shoot for Sunday was with the model who won the Garage 71 Pinup Contest at the World Of Wheels. The shoot was to be a feature on dirtyrottenrides.com – a website marketed to the hot rod, tattoo, and pin up culture. She texted me on Saturday to change the shoot time from the scheduled 1pm to 3pm. Then on Sunday changed it to 4pm. That many time changes is a red flag, and I called her. There were issues with child care. It has been my experience that those kinds of problems are always bad news for a shoot.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know that cancellations are just part of the business. The hardest part for me was to learn not to take it personally. For the longest time I would get bummed out and even insulted when I got a cancellation – ESPECIALLY a last minute one. But I came to the realization that I have a family, a life, and other things I can do on a weekend, and that, dammit, I am a good photographer, and if these models want to cancel – or worse NO SHOW – I can just move on.

If you are in the business or hobby of doing glamor or pretty girl or pretty boy photography, it isn’t a matter of if a model will cancel on you at the last minute. It is a matter of WHEN that will happen. It even happens to the Big Important Photographers. And yes, it even happens with agency models. Don’t take it personally – even if it is personal (another topic for another post on another day).

Here are my model cancellation strategies:

  • Schedule your shoots early or late in the day. Never in the middle. If your model cancels or no-shows, you still have plenty of time for other activities.
  • If a model changes a shoot time the day before because of problems with her schedule, prepare yourself for a no-show or cancel.
  • Never rebook a no-show. Never. Ever.
  • Use your judgement about rebooking a cancellation. Some photographers require a deposit to hold a day for a shoot from someone who has canceled on them before.
  • Have a life. Always have something else to do on a shoot day – whether it is housework, family time, another hobby, or even a movie you wanted to see. Having something else to do softens the blow.
  • In spite of this post, don’t post on your blog or your Facebook or your Twitter that you got stood up or canceled on. Taking your failures public only makes you look bad. This one is hard to do, but photographer-friend Stu Haluski made me see the error of my ways with that.
  • Models are like buses. If you miss one, just be patient. Another one will come your way soon.
1 Comment
  1. I’m batting 50 50 with model mayhem. My first model, scheduled on a Saturday, showed up on time and we had a great shoot. My second model, scheduled for Sunday, was a no show. She did email me and let me know she had car trouble after the shoot time. As you stated in your blog above; it’s better to schedule models early or late in the days so your days aren’t lost with a missed appointment.

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