I had two interesting experiences with weddings this week that helped me understand the fine line between being taken advantage of, and helping someone. Sometimes they are easy to confuse.

The first happened on Monday when I got a call from the mother of a bride who had seen my work and wanted to hire me. I told her about my packages, and unfortunately I was a little beyond what she was planning. She mentioned what her budget was and specifically what type of coverage, album and packages she wanted. When this happens, I will politely refer the customer to another photographer. In most cases, the client is indifferent.

If the bride says “I am on a limited budget, but there is no one else I would want to shoot my wedding, is there any way you could work with me? – I will always do so. The difference may seem slight, but my experience has been that there is a huge difference between someone who asks for help than someone who…whats the right word….demands it? It is so strange for me to turn down couples for dates I have available, but this is something I learned the hard way. I will only shoot clients under the right circumstances. When they are sincere, they are much more likely to co-operate with re-designing a package that will work for them. Some how, these brides are always super pleasant to work with. There are certain things they can do to help me help them, like driving to my location for a bridal shoot instead of vice versa. When this mutual exchange of service happens, win-win, it seems we form stronger relationships. When its a win-lose…there is tension. Win-win is huge.

The second thing that happened was I got a call from a mother for a wedding next weekend- and I know she doesnt mind me sharing it here. This has never happened, but I knew the day would come, a week before the wedding “things didnt work out” as in….yes….a break up….8 days before. The problem? Poor mom had already paid for everything, and I could hear the stress in her voice.

This was an unusual situation because weddings are my livelihood. Something told me I needed to refund her money and thats what I told her I would do. I knew it was the right choice because right after, I could hear her crying- she was so grateful. It made my day. Her daughter is a knockout too, so I know it will only be a matter of time before they call back. Somehow I think this made an impression.

Ive learned a few things from these experiences.

1. The working relationship is more important to me than I realized.
2. The difference between being taken advantage of and sincerely helping someone is all in how they ask….do they demand or do they ask nicely? Its amazing how far kind words go.
3. The best time to ask someone for help, is when they are asking you for help.