Is This the (Ghostly) New Normal?

I was ‘ghosted’ by a photography prospect last week. We were “discussing” family portraits in Windham, NY.

After visiting my website, they called. Then we exchanged texts.

We settled on a session and rate and looked to the week and weather ahead for some family portraits. Then they fell off the face of the earth.

I try to remain flexible for this sort of thing. Because I am flexible.

The weather cooperated most of the week. We could have done some great work.

BUT they went radio silent. I suggested to my lady “They’ll probably reach out at the last minute, seems folks do now.” They didn’t. Thursday turned to Friday. The week ended.

To be fair, I’ve ‘ghosted’ a prospect or two – a bogus prospect or two, that is.

It seems several times a year someone reaches out for a family reunion in Hunter, or Tannersville or a town nearby.

They also want to let me know they’re going to need very specific prints after the fact. Often, those are large prints with multiple copies. They want to arrange payment in advance and I’ll have to move some money around.

They’re Nigerian royalty. Get the ‘picture?’ It’s actually a common scam that’s been plaguing photographers for years. Get a life!

I try to give everyone the benefit of a doubt, but once I know my chain is being jerked I typically go silent. Best not to encourage them… like looking an angry dog in the eye.

But the ghosting is new. It’s happened a few times this year, sorta.

During the height of the pandemic I had to turn down a few jobs that would have meant taking portraits or photographing parties with illegally large (by pandemic standards) crowds of friends or family or friends and family.

Typically a would-be client would reach out, light on details, then when we were close to a ‘contract’ or plan, disappear. Only to resurface a week later wanting to get back down to business. That’s sort of like ghosting, right?

I’m still watching the rules with regards to weddings I’m booked to photograph this fall. Love is in the air, but so is COVID-19.

When I used to meet face to face with prospective clients for 9 out of 10 bookings, I felt the job was nearly on the calendar by the time we made that in-person connection

If something didn’t go well, there was a chance to tackle it, address concerns or quiet nerves. Not so much via text message.

Now, just like deposits and payments, much of the meetings and negotiations process happens online or via electronic means.  And as in other areas of society, politeness seems to have disappeared. No  more “I think I’m going to look elsewhere.” Now it’s just “…“

Weird.

I miss the human element and always try for a little face time ahead of the shoot when possible. I’m happy to talk on the phone in addition to texting or email. Heck, I’m not even afraid of a little video chat. It’s the modern age. 

Who knows? That family portrait client may phone in a week or two, or text, or reach out next year. I probably won’t remember them. It’s not uncommon and par the course. But it is a little strange too.

As a service provider I have on more than one occasion suggested to a potential client that they owe it to themselves to keep looking. Nobody wants the responsibility of creating or perpetuating unhappiness and sometimes you can tell it’s a position you’re being thrust toward.

When I’m the consumer, I’m not afraid to say “I don’t think this is a good fit.”

Thanks for reading. Reach out, if I can be of any help. You can also find, follow & like Jonathan Ment Photography on Facebook  and at www.catskillsphotographer.com and check out the broad-topic’d “Observational Ramblings” of the Ment Media Group’s “Business Blog.”

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