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My New Policy of ‘Untipping’ as a Pro Photographer



It occurred to me yesterday that the whole idea of “tips” is a bit lopsided. If someone does a great job, we give them a hefty tip; if they do a terrible job, we give them no tip. In other words, the worst thing we can do to someone who provides a bad level of service is to not give them extra money.

That’s… kind of a low bar to set. It’s not even carrot-and-stick — it’s carrot-and-smaller-carrot.

As someone whose career revolves around providing a service to his clients, I want to put my money where my mouth is. So here, then, is my formal, completely-official, no-takesies-backsies, promise to anyone I ever work with, no matter how big or small a client:

You can untip me.

If I should hope to be rewarded for excellent service, it’s only fair that I accept a penalty for disappointing service. If we work together and you walk away from it feeling you didn’t get what you really wanted, untip me. Knock off 10% or 20% or whatever you think is a fair.

I won’t b**ch, I won’t moan, I won’t snipe you on social media. I will ask you in a separate email what I could’ve done better, and I hope you’ll reply to it frankly. But beyond that I won’t say a word about getting untipped.

In my line of work, I am the product. If I am to expect people to invest in it, I have to offer them some sort of assurance that it’s worth their time and money.

And yeah, maybe I’m opening myself up to getting ripped off a lot. We’ll see. Everyone I’ve worked with so far has been really cool; I couldn’t see any of them dodging a bill. I’ll take my chances.

About the author: Mike Ricca is a “location independent” photographer who stays and shoots in one spot for months at a time before hitting the road again. He travels, takes pictures, and teaches people how to take pictures. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Image credits: Header photo by Dwayne Bent