Help! Upset clients say they got jipped!

Esperanza86

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/Hello! I am needing some advice from anyone who has been through something similar or has dealt with upset customers. Basically I have a couple who I took photos for at the end of October who have been hounding me since last week with complaints. Last week it was that they did not like five photos in the batch they wanted me to re- edit them. I re-edited them because This is my first year working as a photographer and I thought- well I want them to be happy and I understand not everyone likes a certain style of editing. So I did what they asked. They replied to their new images that they loved them- they were more what they were looking for. Then Yesterday the woman messages me and says "Why won't the website you recommended print larger than a 8x10- so then I proceeded to tell her it is because the file size and resolution are too small. I told her that I cannot change the resolution because my computer broke (along with our vehicle last week). I told her that as soon as I get it working I will change the resolution for an additional fee. I explained to her that the reason I was much cheaper than many of our local photographers is that I do not "include" high resolution photos. They are an optional add on (usually when my computer works). She can still print up to 8x10 with good quality at this point. She then proceeded to send me this following message - So here's where I'm at....do you still have the original images? We have a friend that works at a printing company that can work with them especially if they were taken with a high resolution camera. Will you release those to us on a disc or whatever and you can go ahead and have the jump drive of the edited images sent to us and we can call it done?----
I then sent her an article from the PPA website about copyright and explained to her that I do all of my own editing. I told her that what she was asking was illegal if she did it. I also told her that if the friend was employed or professional they will understand. I explained to her that I shot the session, edited and re edited the photos, ordered the jumpdrive, and the work she paid for is done. I told her the images she has are printable just not larger than 8x10. I never mentioned the add on because I was not aware she wanted a large art print. Honestly have never had a customer order one that I know of. I only charged her $100 all together. She then sent me this message- Listen...I'm trying to be kind. We did not get what we paid for. You recommended a website to print from and I can't even do that with the images your provided. Calling those printable ia not fair. How many people you have taken pictures for only especially to print a 4x6 at most. I have not given you or your business a bad review trying to address this with you like adults. I'm not paying for high resolution images that we expect to receive as soon as your computer is fixed. You may want to make a contract or something with your customers so they know what they are getting. Just a suggeation. I learned my lesson and have been educated now on what questions to ask. And that I thank you for. I got quotes from 3 other photographers before we chose you. There prices for the "sitting fee" and disc were not a huge amount off of yours. I did my homework and we chose to go with the new photographer in the hopes that she succeeds and has a successful business. This is by no means where I wanted this to end up.

I will be making my clients sign contracts from now on. I have printed my own images at 8x10's so I know they print well. I need help on how to fix this or calm her down!!! I thought about asking to meet with her face to face and have printed images from her gallery to show her the quality in person? That way I can have proof that they are printable and look good. She is making it sound as if none of what I worked on is printable or quality. I just feel that I did the work they paid for- I went to their home, shot the session, got all the poses and lighting I we needed, got them having fun and laughing during their session, edited and re-edited photos, gave them their online gallery with the option of downloading all images, and they are getting the jumpdrive. I am very hurt that she is claiming I fooled her and they didn't get what they paid for. I have a Nikon D5300 and a prime Nikkor 1.8 lens. I love my camera and lens. I have shot ten paid sessions or so and Photographed my own child throughout the whole year (to get more experience)I have never had such a complaint from any one. I recommended Mpix.com to her just as an fyi. Any ideas???! I am so lost as to what to do before she reviews my page as terrible. I am not the greatest photographer but I am not the worst. Here are a couple of images from her session.

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Scatterbrained

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Why can't the images you sent them be printed larger than 8x10? Did you crop them so much that you killed the resolution? Did you intentionally send them low rez files?

I see a lot going on in your post that needs to be addressed. From the way you're going about this business to the images themselves. I'm sure you'll hear a lot from a few of the members here about what your doing wrong, and what you need to do.

Personally I think that you've made a few key missteps here. First, you don't have a contract. I'm sure right now you're kicking yourself for not having one. This kind of situation can go round and round when you have no document spelling out your obligations or your customers expectations. There are two ways to extricate yourself. You can put your foot down and insist you've done all you're required to do, and you'd be within your right to do that, or you can do what you need to do to keep the client happy. I come from a small business background so I tend to lean towards doing what needs to be done to ensure client satisfaction (within reason). In this situation full resolution images should have been delivered. The fee you're charging is low, but don't equate file size to fee size. Equate image quality to fee size, and right now you're not there yet.

Second, your computers broke? Seriously? Yet you're posting images here? To me that just comes off as disingenuous. If you have Ps you can resize there, or you can get a copy of OnOne Perfect Resize. You've already hindered yourself by not having a contract,again by pulling the whole "my computer's down" line after delivering unusable files, and it's going to hit you once more when they print the images and they realize that their skin looks sunburnt, they are out of focus and there are obvious dodge halos around them.

My advice: fix the skin tones of the images for print (see a primer here:http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363 ), send the full resolution files, apologize for the inconvenience, and hope it all works out. Then, start looking for a contract.
 

cauzimme

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I'm truly sorry, but I wouldn't have paid for those and I'm pretty liberal with money.
The focus of the first is not even on the eyes, backlight is nice, Second photo, they are way too far to be interesting. Last one is probably the best, I like how the light reflects on her hair, don't like that you cut the hand.

Overall I think it could have been better, and if it's the kind of picture you gave your client, well, sorry, I agree with them.

Now by no mean i'm an expert, but i'm better in business than in photography.
You need to have a contract. Be clear with what their getting, some people are never happy. I'm photographying girls free and sometimes they even complain, hey I want more pics, yeah I already postprocess 10, enough lady. May I have high rez original, hum no, I don't do that. People are people.... They will always try to find a way to get more, and more. If you gave them to much latitude, they sure will take full advantage.

I already shot a girl (I was younger) was friend with didn't made her sign a model release, I live in Québec, even street photography where some people is so-so recognizable is not okay without a model release. A years later, she had my photos in her port I had the same in mine, she flips on, we had a fight and she was all about you can't use my photo anymore, you never made me fill a model realease, take them off of everywhere.

**** can hit the fan quick, everybody have a different way to react. We don't behave all the same... Protect your ass first. Make sure to explain people what they will get, what they won't what's their option. Cover your ass! Also, keep photographying and practicing, that's the most important thing. Even if you don't charge a lot, people are still paying so they will expect the best of you, they are the clients, right, don't forget that. They are paying you, you are not by any means doing them a favor, even if you charge low price...
 
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astroNikon

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^^ what they said

I couldn't get past the your "computer is broken" and yet you are posting images on a website. And the first photo has too shallow a Depth of Field (Aperture) and wrong focusing point so the people's faces are out of focus.

and the "no" contract thing ... that's the reason people use contracts.

As mentioned, you either make the customer happy as much as you can or stand pat. That's about the only 2 options you have ... after you fix your computer of course.

btw, your "softness of skin" (in another thread) is actually out of focus skin.
 
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tirediron

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I'm going to be a little more direct: Refund the clients their money, apologize, and give them whatever usable files you may have. Normally I would suggest you offer a re-shoot, but in this case I'm not sure there is any point. You need to take a pause from the business and learn more about photography and a LOT more about business. WHY are they only getting files that will print to 4x6? I could print decent 8x10s from my very first 2.something Mp digital body.... WHY are you allowing the customer to print the files? That's a HUGE amount of money you're leaving on the table...

I too would be VERY unhappy with a product like this.
 

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I thought the customer has a point and seemed very polite and direct in her approach.

As a business man, I never give my customers excuses. I built my business on doing what I said I was going to do, it's the model. The only time I can not deliver to a customer is on short weeks during Holidays but every customer is called in plenty of advance and their service requirements are met to their satisfaction. I had an independent company survey my customers and 98%, that's right 98%, mentioned consistency as the #1 reason they are loyal to the company. The survey did not lead them, they simply asked why they did business with our company. The 2% said quality of product and service. the survey is used to attract new business and has been well worth the investment.
 

tirediron

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I thought the customer has a point and seemed very polite and direct in her approach.

As a business man, I never give my customers excuses. I built my business on doing what I said I was going to do, it's the model. The only time I can not deliver to a customer is on short weeks during Holidays but every customer is called in plenty of advance and their service requirements are met to their satisfaction. I had an independent company survey my customers and 98%, that's right 98%, mentioned consistency as the #1 reason they are loyal to the company. The survey did not lead them, they simply asked why they did business with our company. The 2% said quality of product and service.
This. Exactly. It is impossible to overstate the value of delivering the product you agreed to in a timely manner. Excuses are just that. It happens very rarely, but if I dohave a problem, the first thing I do is call the customer and explain the issue, and what courses of action are available. The most important motto in businesses such as ours is, "Under promise and over-deliver". When clients ask how long it will take to get their prints (NOTE: I said prints, NOT digital files. I do sell those, but they cost!), I usually add at least 1 week onto what I think is the longest possible time it will take. I also usually throw in a bonus, "I know you only ordered X, Y, and Z, but when I was processing the set, I really liked Q, so here's a complimentary 5x7 - that costs me about 90 cents but in terms of customer relations? It's priceless.
 

jcdeboever

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I thought the customer has a point and seemed very polite and direct in her approach.

As a business man, I never give my customers excuses. I built my business on doing what I said I was going to do, it's the model. The only time I can not deliver to a customer is on short weeks during Holidays but every customer is called in plenty of advance and their service requirements are met to their satisfaction. I had an independent company survey my customers and 98%, that's right 98%, mentioned consistency as the #1 reason they are loyal to the company. The survey did not lead them, they simply asked why they did business with our company. The 2% said quality of product and service.
This. Exactly. It is impossible to overstate the value of delivering the product you agreed to in a timely manner. Excuses are just that. It happens very rarely, but if I dohave a problem, the first thing I do is call the customer and explain the issue, and what courses of action are available. The most important motto in businesses such as ours is, "Under promise and over-deliver". When clients ask how long it will take to get their prints (NOTE: I said prints, NOT digital files. I do sell those, but they cost!), I usually add at least 1 week onto what I think is the longest possible time it will take. I also usually throw in a bonus, "I know you only ordered X, Y, and Z, but when I was processing the set, I really liked Q, so here's a complimentary 5x7 - that costs me about 90 cents but in terms of customer relations? It's priceless.
The guy I worked a wedding with does this exact thing. I learned a lot that day and was amazed by all the work that goes into doing a wedding, now I see why they charge what they do. He had a contract.

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Dave442

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Sounds like you have already spent more time trying to resolve this issue than was taken initially to work out what the client wanted. It sounds like they wanted some large framed and mounted prints and they saw your offer as a low cost option to get the images to have those made. By offering the images on a disc, but not informing the customer that those are not full resolution and that full resolution has an extra cost is a major communication problem.

The excuse with the computer, that is an issue internal to your business and the customer is not interested in that, just give them the delivery date.

I think tirediron gave the best option to resolve the issue with this client.
 

OGsPhotography

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Give her the picture no more excuses. Then stop charging people until you feel more comfortable with the camera, and people. It will only get harder for you this way.

Money back would help a lot in this situation, you completely dropped the ball. No one cares that you take pictures of your own child.
 

astroNikon

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The guy I worked a wedding with does this exact thing. I learned a lot that day and was amazed by all the work that goes into doing a wedding, now I see why they charge what they do. He had a contract.
I've 2nd shot a few. Too much planning, post processing work, wedding albums, etc etc for me to do one as primary. I'll 2nd shoot but not primary. It's fun and I'm going to keep it at like that.
 

jcdeboever

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The guy I worked a wedding with does this exact thing. I learned a lot that day and was amazed by all the work that goes into doing a wedding, now I see why they charge what they do. He had a contract.
I've 2nd shot a few. Too much planning, post processing work, wedding albums, etc etc for me to do one as primary. I'll 2nd shoot but not primary. It's fun and I'm going to keep it at like that.
I helped him post process. It took us four hours and I forget how many pics there were but there was a lot. His image quality was so good that it was pretty painless to say the least. I think that impressed me more than anything about him as a photographer. He said it took many years to learn that. Pretty much everything was auto enhance and sharpen 4 in his software. He did all the Dodge burn and healing on the money shots. I want to say there was 700 pics in total. He used Snapfish to create the album, and I looked at it the other night and it was absolutely stunning. He really knows what he is doing and was well compensated for the gig. I did the video with a Sony rx100 or 10 I don't remember. And help him set up all the lights and basically did whatever he told me to do. He was very happy with the video that I did and let me tell you I was nervous. He said I could work with him again anytime and appreciated my cooperation and listening to instruction. I'm not sure if I will work with him again because he is retiring to Arizona

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Esperanza86

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Why can't the images you sent them be printed larger than 8x10? Did you crop them so much that you killed the resolution? Did you intentionally send them low rez files?

I see a lot going on in your post that needs to be addressed. From the way you're going about this business to the images themselves. I'm sure you'll hear a lot from a few of the members here about what your doing wrong, and what you need to do.

Personally I think that you've made a few key missteps here. First, you don't have a contract. I'm sure right now you're kicking yourself for not having one. This kind of situation can go round and round when you have no document spelling out your obligations or your customers expectations. There are two ways to extricate yourself. You can put your foot down and insist you've done all you're required to do, and you'd be within your right to do that, or you can do what you need to do to keep the client happy. I come from a small business background so I tend to lean towards doing what needs to be done to ensure client satisfaction (within reason). In this situation full resolution images should have been delivered. The fee you're charging is low, but don't equate file size to fee size. Equate image quality to fee size, and right now you're not there yet.

Second, your computers broke? Seriously? Yet you're posting images here? To me that just comes off as disingenuous. If you have Ps you can resize there, or you can get a copy of OnOne Perfect Resize. You've already hindered yourself by not having a contract,again by pulling the whole "my computer's down" line after delivering unusable files, and it's going to hit you once more when they print the images and they realize that their skin looks sunburnt, they are out of focus and there are obvious dodge halos around them.

My advice: fix the skin tones of the images for print (see a primer here:http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363 ), send the full resolution files, apologize for the inconvenience, and hope it all works out. Then, start looking for a contract.
I think I sent them a file too small. Thank You for the advice! I appreciate it. Yes I can post photos from my iphone and edit them a small bit on there as well from PS express and touch- they sync with my computer. I can resize images from these apps but cannot do anything about resolution. I am deciding to not do anymore paid sessions until I have more experience as well. This is my very first year doing all of this so I thought this was a good way to get experience. I love doing it but you are right- I need to have some other things in line first. Thank You so much! My computer breaking may have been for a reason. It may have been a sign lol.
 
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Esperanza86

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I'm truly sorry, but I wouldn't have paid for those and I'm pretty liberal with money.
The focus of the first is not even on the eyes, backlight is nice, Second photo, they are way too far to be interesting. Last one is probably the best, I like how the light reflects on her hair, don't like that you cut the hand.

Overall I think it could have been better, and if it's the kind of picture you gave your client, well, sorry, I agree with them.

Now by no mean i'm an expert, but i'm better in business than in photography.
You need to have a contract. Be clear with what their getting, some people are never happy. I'm photographying girls free and sometimes they even complain, hey I want more pics, yeah I already postprocess 10, enough lady. May I have high rez original, hum no, I don't do that. People are people.... They will always try to find a way to get more, and more. If you gave them to much latitude, they sure will take full advantage.

I already shot a girl (I was younger) was friend with didn't made her sign a model release, I live in Québec, even street photography where some people is so-so recognizable is not okay without a model release. A years later, she had my photos in her port I had the same in mine, she flips on, we had a fight and she was all about you can't use my photo anymore, you never made me fill a model realease, take them off of everywhere.

**** can hit the fan quick, everybody have a different way to react. We don't behave all the same... Protect your ass first. Make sure to explain people what they will get, what they won't what's their option. Cover your ass! Also, keep photographying and practicing, that's the most important thing. Even if you don't charge a lot, people are still paying so they will expect the best of you, they are the clients, right, don't forget that. They are paying you, you are not by any means doing them a favor, even if you charge low price...
Thank You! This all makes sense. The cropping of her hand is a newbie mistake. Second shot is their request. I did not think it was a good idea and still don't like the photo. They did. After getting some amazing advice and this experience I will not be asking for a fee. I will still have a contract for if I do any photo sessions from now on. This experience has me wanting to pull my hair out. Also I still need to find my editing style. Almost every other session I have done ends up with a totally different look. My most recent one is my absolute favorite. This is my most recent. These people love their photos as has everyone else (about ten paid sessions). This is the first time this happened to me. Very discouraging but I see your point. I will not give up and just do my best to please these people.
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cauzimme

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That's the thing too,
Every most recent shoot will be your new favorite, because you are still learning and experimenting. I thought I was good at 17yrs old, now even if it's not bad, i'm wondering what I was thinking... lol.
 

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