5 years ago

“No” means “Yes” … maybe.

We all get jobs through referrals and this one was no exception. A friend of mine calls me to photograph the progress on a construction site. Simple job, really: go out to the site once a month – document the progress – have the client select a number of images to print – deliver the 8×10’s to the office by a certain day. Repeat for 3 years.

Read the specs, run the numbers, write the quote. Have a few conversations about the details rewrite the way the quote gets presented and we’re good to go. Then comes the phone call: “We like the numbers, but our client has a security protocol in place that prohibits photography on site“, which comes as a surprise to me, since their client had asked for progress photography as part of my clients bid.

So how do you deal with a ‘No’? You can just forget about the job and move on to the next one. Write this one off and hope the client remembers you later. You can complain to the client, citing the fact that their client had provided specific photography specs to them – but I’ve found that bitching and moaning does not get you too far, at least not in the long run.

Or you can try to salvage the situation, come up with solutions to make your client look like a hero in their clients eyes. “What if we do the pre- construction photos? Those would not go against any security protocol, since we are just photographing the site – nothing’s there yet.” I did just that, called up my friend and had this discussion with him: “Is this ‘no’ a ‘no’ or is it really a ‘yes’, if we ask the right person? Or is it at least a ‘maybe’?” “Well” he says “I’m not sure. I think this ‘no’ is not a ‘no’, but it’s also not a ‘yes’. Let’s look at the ‘maybe’.” (I mean how many times has an art director on set told you to photograph something one way and the creative director tells you to shoot the complete opposite and then the client walks in and tells you to do something completely different again. Well the same holds true for any large organization.)

I walk away from that conversation feeling better about the prospects of the assignment, then the ‘no photography’ phone call. The weekend passes and yesterday I get an email. “Could you please call me at 3:30.” So the “No” turns into a “Yes”. It’s not every month for the next 3 years, but it’s photography for the next quarter.

How did this happen? Well turns out that the security requirements are for the finished working building and not the construction of it. What about the other 25 months of photography? Well let’s see. We’re writing a contract for 4 months worth of work, with the option to add the rest later. I’m just gonna waiting for that yes to come in a bit.

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