Ridgebookers Nationwide – Sign Up – Now Is The Time!!!

I have long said the most difficult part of my job scheduling. I try and accommodate everyone and generally I do.

For the past 6 months I have worked almost exclusively on Ridgebook. I am about to launch two other large projects (On Black and The Agility Project – both all breed), but still would like to prioritize Ridgebook. If I can get firm commitments for those interested, Ridgebook shoots will dictate my schedule for both of those much larger and more profitable tours. The reality of Ridgebook though, if you take a look at my schedule and travel expense, is that I operate just above break even when things go according to plan. I love it, and from what I hear back from the RR folks across the country who have participated with a shoot or follow on facebook they love it too!

To keep Ridgebook marching forward and to accommodate the maximum number of participants, I need to get deposit commitments from folks, usually before I am able to schedule an exact date. The most common response from people when asked for a deposit to confirm a shoot is ‘Do you know when you be in Ridgeville? I’m not sure I want to give you $100 without a set date.’

I suppose the reluctance to make a $100 deposit is somewhat understandable. I imagine, especially the further out your shoot would be, there are many reasons for this reluctance: still not entirely decided on a shoot so you want to wait and see, too many life variables, trying to arrange the perfect group or location, you don’t know me from Adam and fear I’ll sneak off to Mexico with your money, or maybe with times tight just don’t have or want to immediately put out $100.

I have put together this page to address some of those concerns and also to explain why it’s necessary we have your deposit to effectively plan a tour. Some of you at this point might just say ‘sign me up – how do I make my deposit.’ But for those who still aren’t sure, I have done my best below to explain why it’s not only necessary for us to take the deposit prior to scheduling a date, but it’s actually to your advantage because it prioritizes your shoot (as a Ridgebook shoot) and increases the likelihood we’ll find a date that works for each shoot to very near 100% inclusion, and it will be sooner rather than later.

A couple things quickly:

In order to increase your comfort level with not having a date, I have decided to make the deposit 100% refundable up until the time we schedule a date. This will help me determine who  is serious about a shoot by eliminating almost every concern we commonly hear.

I’ll be looking to schedule 70+ shoots for Ridgebook alone. With you all committed I will build the other two all breed tours around your dates.

I will be working in a counterclockwise direction around the U.S. beginning in the Pacific NW now. Through December you can look to the Tour 2014 page for a relatively tight set of dates. After that I’ll be moving across the southern half of the country. Continuing to follow mild weather around the country, in the Spring I’ll begin heading up the Atlantic coast.

By the time I reach you for your shoot, in most cases I will have spent more than your deposit getting to you – in transportation and time spent scheduling.

That is the very basic edition of why we need your deposit to get you scheduled. If you want the gory details and pretty much any question we’ve heard answered – read on. Or you can continue reading if your just curious about the logistics of putting together a tour like this – many folks have asked;)


What would it look like if I just told you when I was going to be in Ridgeville?

If I made a schedule it would be a 3-10 day window you would need to arrange to fit into, or miss out. It would strongly favor urban centers (10 days) where I know there is other work at the expense of rural areas (3 days). Since I am on the road, it costs even to sit still, so I would not have the luxury of staying in an area hoping to get work. Instead of Ridgebookers getting first go and building the other tours around Ridgebook shoots, the calendar would be released simultaneously to all project/audiences. Shoots would be available on a first come first serve basis with Ridgebookers requesting slots alongside the enormous all breed audiences.

In the scenario above, with each shoot locked down in the time after I’ll be in your area the schedule would become increasingly set in stone.

How taking everyone’s deposit (commitments) up front benefits you.

It allows us to gather dog info, but more importantly any known conflicts well in advance (travel, weddings, graduations, etc). Conversely, you should have fewer of these conflicts months in advance and can build the flexible parts of your personal schedule around your shoot.

We can look at everyone’s schedule and preferences collectively and plan the optimal route (probably 90%+ inclusion). The schedule I made up arbitrarily would certainly run into far more conflicts.

I can slow down or accelerate a few days at certain places in the schedule to accommodate the greatest # of participants.

I can work on other projects or build a vacation into my schedule to buy time in areas where it would make a difference for a large number of participants.

Regional flexibility – on the east coast for example, I can take 95 going north and 81/75 heading south, or reverse it depending on what eliminates scheduling conflicts and maximizes participation. This is a real situation I have going on now, with at least 5 participants in the balance. If I issued a schedule, none of them would have been able to participate.

Knowing I have a collection of 5+ shoots in NY/NJ, or as I do in MI right now, I can make a special trip (maybe even duplicate trip) to that state, perhaps at a time where I need to delay in another area, and take a route that scoops up outlier areas (rural). I did this this past spring in NY, TN, and TX, picking up singles in rural TX, OK, and NM.

I can operate consistent with my nature: because scheduling is such a challenge, I appreciate and honor strong early commitment. I bend over backwards to accommodate even the fence sitters, but I will attempt to move mountains to include a person who says from the start ‘I want in, how do I lock down a spot’.

Despite those benefits, there are some things that will still be difficult, questions I cant answer.

We would like to go on ‘x’ date, can you come? This is fine if you know its within a couple weeks of when I’ve announced I’ll be in your area (see Tour 2014), but in most cases is not a practical approach for scheduling 70+ shoots across 40 states, and far more once tour dates are announced widely to our All Breed audience/projects. We do welcome you to include these special requests when we are initially collecting your info at the time the deposit is taken –  sometimes there are unexpected trips that might coincidentally fall in line with your optimal date.

Accounting for things that have to be recognized are out of our control: my bitch could be in heat 7 months from now. We might just have had puppies (I will want to photograph them!).  It might rain. It might be foggy and I’d like a sunny day. In over 300 shoots so far, I have found that things almost always work out to get your shoot in. During last summers Dog Days project, I did over 100 shoots on 93 consecutive days from Miami to VT to TN to WI to OR to San Diego …with zero wiggle room only two were canceled. If a shoot legitimately doesn’t work out, I will try my best to reschedule with you. I’m not interested in running off with your deposit money.

The Other Projects

We are moving towards scheduling further out and committing to dates in advance. There is great demand in the all breed community – many of whom felt somewhat abandoned when I launched Ridgebook – a tangent to broader The Breed Project and its stated goals. I am giving Ridgebookers first dibs and allowing them to dictate the national schedule to some degree. As dates are announced, they will be announced to all project audiences and the result will be a corresponding inflexibility in working with your schedule. That is why now is the time!