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Our First Meeting & Overcoming Failure

It was the morning of our very first meeting with a potential bride and groom. I had taken about a year off from Photography and decided to begin a new venture with my wife, not thinking that much in the Wedding industry had changed. When Natalia and I decided to start our own Photography business, together, we didn’t do our homework… and we learned that the hard way.

Here’s how the day unfolded.

I waited last minute (that morning!) to print out our price sheet and contract. We were almost all out of black ink, which meant, half the page was faded. And then we ran out of computer paper. Frantic, I called my older brother who lived just down the street. I emailed him our documents and had him print them out for us. And then, we couldn’t find a professional folder to put all our paperwork in to make it look more presentable. Rushing, still trying to get ready ourselves to look the best we could, I drove to the local Walgreens and bought a black plastic folder. While driving on the way home, I tried peeling the price sticker off and it would not peel off! “Are you serious?!” I peeled and I peeled, and half the second layer of the sticker stayed on. Once I got home, I put the folder through running water from our kitchen faucet hoping the warm water would wash it away. WRONG. Sadly, we didn’t end up using the folder! It was a waste of much needed precious time.

Ah, what else could go wrong?

We arrived at an unfamiliar Starbucks in Brea, nervous as can be. Natalia and I practiced asking questions to each other and constantly reminded each other to do our best to speak like professionals. “We look young, so we need to speak like adults!” We thought we were ready. So we proceeded with confidence (although it was buried underneath layers and layers of nervousness!)

We met with our potential Clients and things began well, until the future-bride asked us questions. “What material are your Wedding Albums made of? Faux Leather? Umm… What’s that?” Natalia and I both looked at each other, hoping one of us would have the right answer… “Oh, the good kind!” … Yes, the best answer we could come up with! Unimpressed, the bride proceeded. “You still print out 4x6 prints? Not many photographers do that these days. The new thing is printing images on hard-cover paper, like in a book.” Embarrassed, we reassured her we could do the same, too!

“What happens if you get sick and can’t photograph our Wedding?” … Our answer, “That would never happen!” The questions continued, and the look on their faces said it all. Natalia and I felt more and more defeated. WE WERE NOT PREPARED. 

The future bride and groom told us they’d contact us. It was one of those: Don’t call us, we’ll call YOU type of goodbye’s. We walked away knowing that it was a catastrophic failure. Needless to say, we never heard from the couple again. Not even to say that they didn’t want us. Were we a little down? Of course. 

THE MOMENT WE GOT IN OUR CAR, we promised ourselves that we would never be as unprepared for a meeting like we were for this one. When we got home, I logged onto my computer and began researching the best Wedding Albums out there. I BEGAN TO DO MY HOMEWORK. I read up on products, became an expert at what I was showcasing as my own. I emailed the manufacturers and asked questions, lots of them. Natalia and I enrolled in a “How to Create an Effective Contract” class and transformed our 1-page contract into 8-pages of informative, beneficial information that covers almost all the questions a potential client might ask us. We decided that we needed to become experts in our photography and in everything that entails.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS THIS: We failed. Miserably. We could allow each failure to define us and bring us down, or use it as motivation to get right back up and become better. We chose option 2. We chose to not give up but to give our all. We want to be transparent about our mistakes and give someone, anyone, a glimmer of hope in the mistakes or failures they have made along the way. We are all human and we all makes mistakes. For every failure, there's an alternate course of action. It’s your choice to make a decision of defeat or of victory. “Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” (Winston Churchill)… “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)

Yes, we’ve failed. We’ve made mistakes. And we will continue making mistakes! But Natalia and I now embrace each mistake with the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to become better. We hope you will do the same! 

May these two verses encourage you today:

"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, 
that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, 
for He cares for you." - 
1 Peter 5:6-7

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength 
of my heart and my portion forever." 
- Psalm 73:26


Learning and growing together,

Reader Comments (1)

This is such a great post. Thank you for sharing your story!
I'm starting up my photography business and have been worried about these situations coming up. I've been working my way up to wedding photography and have been attempting to write up a contract. I was wondering where you found the class you took to write an effective contract, and more about what that was like.

You guys are an inspiration.
Thank you!
Taylor Sheuerman

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

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