I’ve created this page to help she some light on the retainer – Why I charge one and what it means.


When I was starting out, I didn’t charge a retainer and people would book days and sometimes just not show up.  This would happen often enough that I would lose over $20,000 per year on taking people’s word for it that they were going to be there on the agreed date.

Once I started charging a non-refundable retainer, that changed. People would show up because they didn’t want to lose that money, it helped keep people accountable to the date we agreed on.


Not to be mistaken with a deposit towards a service, with a retainer, you have secured my services, and covered the time and booking for myself, studio and makeup artist as well as locking down a date. That date is not available to anyone else so if someone cancels, often times I missed the opportunity to fill it because it was reserved.
People that are self-employed understand this more than people with jobs. People with jobs will think that the retainer should be flexible. They get paid the same every week, I only have one chance to make money on that day and if it’s gone, I lose it forever. Cancelling a shoot only serves to cause me more work and also puts Monica out. 

Consider this, whatever reason one might have for cancelling, is it fair to transfer that loss to me? Did I deserve it? Especially if it’s with short notice?
If one books a non-refundable trip, and couldn’t make the trip, one would be more understanding to losing that money – It’s the policy.

I never hide the policy on the retainer, it’s never in small print or obscure. It’s part of what we agreed to when we locked down our shoot.