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Late cancellations and 'no-shows'

By Russ Freeman, written 1363294899

Thanks to Marcus99 for suggesting this article and for drafting it.

No-shows and late cancellations are not the same thing, but the effect can be much the same; possible financial losses, disappointment, annoyance and lots of frustration.

A no-show is when either the photographer or model fails to show up to an agreed shoot or cancel with less than 24 hours notice.

A late cancellation is when one party cancels at a time when it is too late to replace them. On PurplePort this is 72 hours before the shoot. The assumption is that both parties know where and when the shoot is and have agreed this along with the compensation.

For everyone involved in a shoot there can be a lot of time invested booking the shoot, especially when you have been planning a particular theme or set of ideas, for that shoot to fail to happen is at best irritating and at worst expensive.

Whenever a model late cancels or no-shows it costs.

Whenever a photographer late cancels or no-shows it costs.

A model may have spent time and effort on nails, hair or personal grooming and if a photographer doesn't turn up for a paid shoot then the model could have lost out on other bookings.

A photographer may have scouted locations, hired a studio or booked assistants, a MUA or hair stylist. Either party may have booked time off work or rescheduled part of their life; they may have bought props or accessories.

There are times when it is impossible to avoid a late cancellation because of unforeseen circumstances (such as cars break down, getting summoned into work, illness, etc). However there is never an excuse not to let other people know. In fact, it's the not knowing that is the most frustrating part of it.

Use PurplePort for all shoot communications and use the calendar to book shoots

When you arrange a shoot it's a good idea to book it in the calendar and be sure to add the other party (e.g. photographer/model) in too. We cannot stress enough to use PurplePort for messages and booking the shoot in the Calendar because it helps us arbitrate if issues arrive.

See our article for reasons why we want you to use PurplePort for all shoot communications.

What to do if you need to cancel or can't make a shoot

Make every effort to apologise ... and let the other person know. At that point you should have contact details (e.g. mobile number), but don't assume someone will check their text messages. It's a good idea to Call them, apologise and explain why you can't make it. Make sure you also send a message on PurplePort - we will then see whether you have cancelled in plenty of time or not, and this may prevent you from getting a negative reference. You MUST do this!

Let the other person know why you have had to cancel ... most people are enthusiasts for this sort of photography and may be willing to rearrange, unless you are lying, and most people with experience will recognise a lie a mile off. 

Do not assume the other person will rebook ... they may be irrevocably out of pocket, they may be pretty annoyed at the cancellation and may not want to risk that you will let them down again. 

As a rule you should make every effort to see a shoot through, you should check references in good time and ensure that communications and expectations are clear.  There may be times when you become uncomfortable about a shoot and if this is the case your safety is paramount. If you need to cancel for this reason you should do so as soon as possible, not in the immediate run up to the shoot. Let the other person know days in advance, not hours!

If you are ill and feel you may not be able to make the shoot do not leave it until the day before to decide. Tell the other person as early as possible so that they can decide whether the risk of you not turning up is worth gambling on.

Communication is key and letting everyone else know as soon as possible helps to prevent a lot of anguish.

What to do if someone no-shows or late cancels your shoot

If you are unhappy with the explanation or if you didn't get an explanation at all, then leaving a negative reference is a good way forward. Do not use it as a place to rant about the other person. Simply select Did not show up. A late cancellation is deemed as less than 72 hrs notice to cancel the shoot. This is not a flexible time scale and does not matter if any financial loss has occurred and cannot be extended outside the72 hours. This is rigidly and fairly enforced at all times.

Anyone seeing a profile with negative references will make their own decision about whether it's worth booking them.

A no-show reference is a bad thing and it ought to be your aim to neither have any or leave any. Both can be avoided by finding the right people to work with and being committed to any shoots you have booked.

What NOT to do if someone no-shows or late cancels your shoot

  • Do not go into the groups or on Facebook/twitter etc. and rant about being let down. It makes you look unprofessional and will only harm your reputation and on-line persona too!
  • Do not name and shame. There is no need. A negative reference is all that is needed.
  • Do not leave a rant reference. Stick to the facts. Less is more!
  • Do not argue with the other person. Accept their view, leave a reference and move on. No good will come of arguing. 
  • Do not attempt to use any previous positive references as leverage to have a negative one removed. Anyone found to be using references to blackmail others, will be dealt with in the strongest possible terms. If anyone receives any threats in order to remove a negative reference, then please contact us contact us as this will not be tolerated.

If you get a negative reference...

If someone leaves you a negative reference and you think it's unfair please contact us via support ticket.

We'll review the evidence and make a decision. If all shoot communications take place on PurplePort then it will be a fairly simple task - especially if you have used the calendar functions to book the shoot through PP. If you have gone to email, Facebook, MSN or some other method then everything gets a bit yucky.

Do not leave a reprisal negative reference. If you do then you just make things worse. If you abuse the reference system then we'll either suspend your ability to leave references or we will ban you from leaving references altogether. Yes, you may be angry but it really won't help.

It's not the end of the world. Everyone loves to have a 100% good record but sometimes it's simply not possible. If you do need to cancel and have been deeply apologetic then it's likely the other party won't leave a negative reference anyway and if they do then just accept that they felt compelled to and leave it at that.


For current advice on short notice cancellations due to Covid-19 related reasons, please see the information in the article How do I leave a reference? under the heading Short notice cancellations due to Covid-19.

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