I Made this Mistake as a Photography Mentor so You don’t Have to

I went hiking with the dogs🐕 the other day.


I knew it was going to be overcast and that there was no chance the sun would infiltrate the clouds and burn me.


So I decided not to wear sunscreen.


Now mind you, I’m light skinned, blue eyed and I have a propensity to look like a lobster if I don’t wear sunscreen.


My hike was a slow 3 hour, 3 mile hike, with lots of stops for pictures for me and water for the dogs.


By the time we returned home, the sun was out and I was proud of myself for not having gotten burned.


Since it was such a nice day, I decided to wash all three dogs outside because they were filthy from all the dry dusty California trails.


So I enlisted the help of my husfriend and we went to work washing the dogs in the backyard where we don’t have to worry about cleaning up a mess and where they can dry quickly.


I thought about putting sunscreen🧴 on but then I thought “I’m only out here for an hour or two and it’s later in the afternoon so I’m good.”


Nope. Turned out, I’m not all good. I got burned.


I got burned at the age of 49 when I know better and when I’ve gone to great lengths not to get burned over the years especially since I’ve had a chunk of skin removed for bad melanoma forming cells.


🤔Why did I do this to myself knowing that aside from the discomfort, it’s dangerous AND it causes my chronic disease symptoms to break through the wall of medications I take?


If I were being analytical, I think I secretly wanted a tan because I’ve been obsessed with a 53 year old bodybuilder on Instagram who decided to transform her body at the age of 49.


She has a tan now (like all other really fit gym people have to have), and she didn’t at 49.


And I think I just thought if I willed myself to get a light tan, I will.


Sometimes your logical brain knows what to do but your emotional brain takes over and does the wrong thing.


Like the time I KNEW I shouldn’t have made an exception to my business policy and yet my emotional brain made me do it anyway… at my expense.


For individual photography sessions, I take a non-refundable deposit to reserve a date. When a client wants to move their session, my policy is to take another non-refundable deposit for the same amount.


Because what’s to stop them from moving their session indefinitely? What’s to prevent them from not showing up at all?


And I stand by my policy firmly… most of the time. I only make exceptions for unexpected illnesses etc. and IF I believe a client is being truthful because there are always ✨tell-tale✨ signs when they aren’t.


I had a client call me to move her session but she didn’t have the money for the second deposit.


I pointed out that if she doesn’t have the money for a second deposit, it goes to reason, she doesn’t have the money for the photo session.


She pushed back and played the “I’m poor” card. Too poor for the deposit but not poor enough for the photo session.


Long story short, I gave in. As a photographer who has been in business for 25 years I gave in!!


And the killer is, I KNOW BETTER.


My emotional brain got the better of me because I felt bad for her.


And guess what. The day of her session the makeup artist and I sat there waiting and waiting until we realized my client wasn’t showing up.


She knew all along there’s a chance she wasn’t going to show up but instead of losing two deposits, she only lost one deposit while I lost two days of work.


If she had been forced to put down two deposits, would she have shown up? From my experience, I can give that a 99% “yes.”


She would have made the finances work.


So trust me when I say NOT to make emotional decisions.


No matter how kind you want to be, don’t make exceptions to your policies.


Please don’t feel bad for being in business as a photographer to make a profit just because you enjoy what you do.


You are not a charity and it’s not your job to be a people pleaser. It’s your job to make sure you help those you serve and you live life on your terms.


You can be both firm and professional while being likable and pleasant to work with.


In fact you’d be surprised by the level of respect you receive from clients when you do stick to policies.


The ones who don’t respect your policies are the same ones who don’t respect you.


Want to avoid working with the bad apples? Stick to your policies.


Got questions? Submit your comment below.👇

Hi, I’m Vanie!

Pronounced like Bonnie… and I blame my parents for the misspelling of my name! I went from having $300 in the bank to building a six-figure headshot photography business doing what I love. I’m here to teach you how to do the same!




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