This is the reason I now require a cell phone number in order to book a shoot.
On my way to the shoot, with about an hour of time-padding (allowance for traffic and parking), I ended up stuck on the expressway 1.5 miles before an exit, with no turnaround options (read: concrete barrier in the way). There was a major accident just before the ramp that would have allowed me to navigate around it, and because of injuries and a spill, all 4 lanes and both shoulders were shut down for over an hour. Between the newsradio station and the police, those of us sitting were fairly well-informed.
But that didn’t help me reach the photographer to let him know I’d likely be late. I didn’t have a way to get a hold of him, made worse by the fact that we were meeting on-location in downtown Chicago. I did have the photographer’s first name, the suburb he lived in (or where his studio was located) and what he called himself on the site we booked through. So, during the hour I was sitting doing nothing but stressing, I called 411 numerous times getting numbers for anyone with his first name and any photography studio in his area. I also called my husband and had him Googleing all kinds of things, looking on the modeling site we’d booked, and even going thru my emails for me to see if he could find a number I’d overlooked, or any info that would have helped me get something worthwhile from 411. I called a bunch of wrong numbers, but got nothing that actually got me in touch with the photographer.
Once the highway opened up, I continued on to the location, showing up about 45 minutes late. I parked and wandered the location for another hour, asking anyone with a DSLR if they were looking for me. It was all a no-go, and I paid for my $25 in parking and headed home. I was disappointed but realized I’d done everything I could. I figured once I got home, I’d email and explain what had happened, and offer to reschedule provided I could get a phone number.When I got home, there was an email waiting for me that read “waited 5 min for you and didn’t see you, oh well”. It was sent about 20 minutes after husband and I had given up the search in my inbox. Lovely. I ended up being glad I was 45 minutes late because of an accident on the highway instead of being 6 minutes late because it took a little longer to find parking than I’d anticipated. Evidently, even after waiting a whole 5 minutes, it hadn’t crossed his mind to call me and see where I was at.
Either way, lesson learned. Always, always, get a phone number before scheduling to work with someone. Even if you don’t think something will happen, plan for it anyway. Bottom line is, you need to be able to reach the other party in the event that something does happen… even if that something is, “I’m totally lost, help!”.