If you follow me over on Twitter, you may have seen my post earlier today about the fact that it is the two year anniversary of me having major – nearly life-saving – emergency surgery today. Some of you may know the back story already. For those of you that don’t, feel free to check out the November 2007 archives. Oh, and that photo above? It is from 2007. Not today. I’m all healthy now!
As a wedding vendor, you have to take care of yourself. It is absolutely essential. Most of us are running a one person show, and if we’re not we’re still in a position where our client booked us and expect us to be there. You don’t really have an out. Especially as the photographer.
Have you spent some time thinking about what you will do if something happens and you can’t be there?
The fall of 2007, I was sick. I knew I was anemic, I had no idea how badly. I was seeing a doctor, but in hindsight he was doing a horrible job of taking care of me. When you’re sick and you’re scared, and super anemic on top of that, you might not be thinking so clearly, so I didn’t fire him and seek out other care when I should have. By the way, if you’ve never been anemic, the best way I can describe it is 1 margarita drunk. You can function, but things are a little swirly and just not right with the world. It isn’t that fun though – I don’t recommend it.
So here I am, super sick, and the only way to fix it was to give me three blood transfusions and do emergency surgery. The emergency surgery had a 6-8 week recovery time; I wasn’t even allowed to drive for 4 weeks. And I had a wedding scheduled for exactly ONE week after the surgery.
Fortunately, I used to work with the IT department of one of the big three law firms in Houston, and I also worked for two web design companies. For places like this, disaster recovery is essential, and worrying about the “what ifs” has always been a part of my business plan.
When I got sick, I already had a network of other photographers in Houston. I only had to make two calls, and I had found a replacement. I was also fortunate because I had a clause already in place in my contract that in the case of extreme medical emergency and if time allowed, would allow them the opportunity to approve the replacement, and if they did not, I would give them a complete refund of all monies paid. (Obviously this won’t work if it hours before a wedding and you need someone to step in for you, but I had a week.)
Going in to surgery knowing that all of my shoots were covered was a HUGE load of weight lifted off of me. My clients still were taken care of. Something like this can be business killer if you don’t have a plan in place to take care of your clients.
ShootQ is also now a big part of my business because of my “what if” planning. If something was to ever happen to me on the day of a wedding – lets say I was in an accident( I almost called lawyers from https://www.mycaraccidentattorney.com/tempe/, seriously) and in a coma – my husband could log in to ShootQ and find out all the information needed about the wedding. He has a phone list of other Houston photographers to call. He could get on Twitter and start posting on my behalf. He could do whatever was needed to make sure the wedding was covered. Of course I would want him to rush to my side, but I would want to know that those calls were made first. Elaine & Brittany have this power as well.
An emergency like this can – and often will – happen to ANY of us. Matter of fact, I’ve stepped in two times as the primary photographer and two times as the second photographer in an emergency situation to help out other people. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
What is your emergency plan? Do you have a list of people who could step in in your place and take care of your clients if anything happened to you? Do you have an emergency clause in your contracts with your clients in case you ever found yourself in a bind?