Deposits: Why?

There are two questions I get asked pretty frequently when it comes to my stylized mini events and event photography.
1. ) Why do I have to pay a deposit to book?
2.) Why is this deposit non-refundable?
To put it very simply deposits, also known as retainers, serve two very clear purposes:
A.) It secures a clients specific date/time.
Let’s give an example. Say a client contacts me wanting a session for an upcoming mini event. Once they have paid the non-refundable deposit that means that even if they cancel the session I cannot, and will not, rebook that session date/time in the event that they once again change their mind about wanting their session. When it comes to all types of event photography…this means that I am blocking off an entire DAY of services specifically for you.
B.) A method of “insurance” for me.
When it comes to mini events and event photography this deposit lets me know that you are serious in using me for photography. Not only that, but it guarantees at least “some” loss in business should the client choose to cancel their appointment or event photography.
To put it simply deposits/retainers keep anyone providing a service from feeling like they are being taken advantage of and that the client understands that their time is valuable as well as the energy and effort I go into planning.
With that said, I recently had to deal with a potential client who signed up for an event only to cancel their appointment. They wanted either:
1.) To get a refund.
2.) To transfer their deposit to a more expensive event.
When they did not get either of these solutions they proceeded to text message me, despite me asking them not to, after 9pm with insults such as “you’re rules are dumb”, “you’re dumb”, “You’re such an idiot”, and “This is theft!”. Which is where I am going to be VERY clear that:
A.) My practices are pretty much standard. I do not know ANY photographer, at least locally, that does not require a deposit of some sort. This does not just pertain to photography, either. Deposits/retainers are used across a lot of service industries: hair, nails, makeup, and more.
B.) I am no one’s punching bag, and reserve the right to refuse service for any and all behavior that I find abusive. While I do, for the most part, blow a LOT of what I see/read/hear off my shoulders, I will not be constantly harassed with insults.
In the end, I try really hard to offer affordable photography and I like to *think* I am a decent choice in a market that is saturated. I’ve spent over a thousand of dollars on props in 2021 yet still manage to only charge $55-85 for stylized mini sessions. That in itself should show you WHY I charge a non-refundable deposit. But I digress.
I hope this helps to explain deposits/retainers a little better for those who are unfamiliar with the practice or new to booking a photographer.

P.S. I don’t know if the insults from this former potential client will continue, but I have advised them to call the police if they believe I committed theft and I am prepared with all the documentation.

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