When I first started my business I would except payment at the session. One, because I didn't know any better and two, because it seemed best to provide the service before receiving the payment. WRONG..
Then one day I started giving the option to pay through PayPal! This was the first step in the right direction but what really changed everything was charging a non-refundable retainer to hold the date. Here is a breakdown of three reasons why:
1. CLIENTS STOPPED BACKING OUT LAST MINUTE-
This one was very frustrating. I would get excited, charge my equipment, set apart time in the day and sometimes even drive to the venue...just to get a last minute cancellation. I totally understand when things come up... Life happens! But this was a reoccurring element in my business prior to my retainer.
2. NO MORE AWKWARD PAYMENT AT THE SHOOT-
We have ALL been there. You arrive to the session, do the shoot then when you leave you either receive the payment or wait for this awkward moment for them to remember. OR maybe even sometimes the client doesn't pay at all because you aren't being specific enough and/or instructing them.
3. CLIENTS STARTED TO TAKE ME SERIOUSLY-
Who knew that by charging 50% down for your session prior to shooting it would create a new level of professionalism. Clients started to take me seriously as a photographer not just a girl with a "nice" camera.
I now charge 50% down for sessions with the remainder due 1 week prior to the session and weddings I require 50% down with the remainder due 3 months prior to the date! This makes sure the payment is taken care of so the rest of the client experience is built on forming a relationship and having FUN during their session and/or wedding!! So if you aren't charging a retainer I would seriously consider it because it WILL make a difference!