Need advice: Unhappy client from a photo shoot

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by NatalieNYC, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. NatalieNYC

    NatalieNYC TPF Noob!

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    @vintagesnaps - I never said that I provided photos of every JPEG that I took. That would be silly. I take lots of time to sort though and edit the photos myself and then submit the best from the day. It just happened that this shoot generated far less photos than normal, hence why client was not satisfied.

    And I need to defend myself in saying that I do indeed have the skills to handle this. I do not call myself a 20 year veteran professional photographer - but more of a hobbyist level who is constantly learning. This business started as a favor for a friend and everyone liked my work and my name started getting around. 7 years later I manage to do around 10 shoots a year all based on referrals and some repeat customers. I encourage you to check out my work at NatalieLaurenPhotography.com and see for yourself.


     
  2. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I may have misread or misunderstood what was said about what was provided. Shooting this style it's necessary to get something even under less than ideal conditions; maybe you won't get as many shots as usual so you probably need to firm up what will be provided according to contracts, etc.

    It looks like there's a need to be sure if you're doing shoots out and about that you're catching what end up being visual distractions before they get into the frame, and developing awareness of other people getting ready to walk into the scene before they walk into the viewfinder and end up an unwanted part of a composition. There seems to be inconsistency in the exposures; it might be worth looking through your portfolio and checking and maybe rethinking what's included or see if some further editing might be needed, etc.

    Maybe doing a relatively small number of shoots over a number of years hasn't given you as much practice or skill development. I've done sports and events and I'd always feel a bit rusty at the beginning of the season even though I'm an experienced photographer. I think it's still necessary to practice and keep up the skill level. Maybe this is an opportunity to take a look at the photos provided and think about what the client didn't like and what could be done better/differently in the future (although there will be people with unrealistic expectations or complaints that may not be valid and it's necessary to figure out what to do in those situations).
     
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  3. JonFZ300

    JonFZ300 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Without seeing the pics from the Bris, it's hard to give an opinion about whether you should refund her or not.

    Since you offered your website as a way to check out your skills, I agree with vintage about in-frame distractions and exposure issues. It's easy to tell you don't do any recon before shooting. I would also add white balance issues to that, especially when you are shooting into the sun. I know tweeking WB in editing can add some artistic flair but there is no artistic consistency of that kind in your shots. White shirts are too blue, etc...

    It seems like you're beginning to get defensive so I won't hammer the point. The business practices you mentioned and the pictures on your site don't say "professional" to me but if your friends and word-of-mouth people are happy with the shots, carry on. Cheers!
     
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  4. NatalieNYC

    NatalieNYC TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. I haven’t had someone call out those issues in my photos out before and I see what you mean, so thank you for that. I will keep it in mind for future.

    This might be a silly question but if you can’t help people in the background (e.g. public space with lots of people) how do you avoid the visual distraction?
     
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  5. NatalieNYC

    NatalieNYC TPF Noob!

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    Not being defensive just trying to say that I don’t claim to be a professional photographer. I wish I could be but I have a full time job and a family. There’s just not enough time. I have been doing photography for a few years (self taught) and continue to learn along the way.
    Regardless, thanks for your feedback. Points taken.
     
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  6. Tropicalmemories

    Tropicalmemories No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm a hobbyist and never do paid work - but I'd use a wide aperture to create a narrow depth of field in these situations.

    Out of focus people in the background can create an appropriate backdrop that is not too distracting.

    You either need a long focal length and a wide-ish aperture, plus lots of space, or a super bright aperture with a shorter focal length if space is tight.

    I did a free pre-wedding shoot for a friend once (she wasn't going to use a professional photographer as funds were tight, so I thought I'd give it a go). It was a very stressful experience for me, and made me respect the pro's even more, and this was just for a good friend!

    I used a 35mm f1.4 prime (on a crop sensor) for the head and shoulders shots where the background was busy, and a combination of a 60mm f2.4 and an 18-135 f3.5 zoom for the full length shots.

    I chose the venue, and knew it well, and I chose the time to catch the golden hour at the end of the shoot. That's a luxury many pro's would not get. My partner was my assistant, helping with make up, posing advice and holding the reflector and off-camera flash on the end of a monopod. I had two bodies and all my batteries plus most my lenses. At the end of the afternoon I was totally exhausted!

    I thought the results were good and was pleased while I edited the best ones. My friend was polite, but I could tell she was not thrilled.

    They were technically good in my view, but they were looking at themselves, not my lighting, golden hour tones and blurred backgrounds - and I'd not really captured them at their best.

    So that was my one and only attempt at a pre-wedding shoot.

    Never again! :)
     
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  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, Natalie.

    The thing is... you did take on job. Whether you profess to be a professional or not, that was your role.

    I took a look at your site and feel you weren't over reaching. Your equipment is more than adequate. Sure... do a bit of policing of the scene, but it's the nature of candid photography that there will be some "stuff" in frame that you wish was not. When shooting events like this, you'll make a lot of compromises due to time restraints and other factors.

    How you proceed is, of course, up to you. I have always guaranteed satisfaction... 100%. The LAST thing I want is a customer cringing every time they look at a photo I made. Over the years, I've had to do "additional" photography one or twice. This is hard, if not impossible, to do with event photography.

    I've never had a lawyer prepare any contract for me. I do think it's good to provide a proposal before doing a job like this one. Not so much that you have it in writing. A signature is only as good as the man/woman signing. And if I'm the customer, the last thing I want to hear is, "Gotcha! It was in the contract." BUT... it is essential that both parties understand what is expected from each other. You do this and I do this. I shoot this long, deliver this many images by this time, and so on. You pay me this much now and this much then, etc. Be sure to review your agreement with your client so everyone knows what to expect. And sure... everyone signs.

    If a problem should arise, I'm VERY eager to learn what it would take to achieve the satisfaction I guaranteed. Half the money back is easy. I'd rather get them the images they expected if they will afford me the opportunity.

    Good luck!
    -Pete
     
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  8. JonFZ300

    JonFZ300 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    You have a website that is a portfolio of your work. (btw I looked at it last night again and the indoor stuff is pretty good, especially the baker) You say on the site you have 5 year's experience shooting special events. You take paid jobs. You are advertising yourself as a photographer. All this paints a picture of somebody involved in trying to earn and earning money in a profession, even if it's part-time.

    Then in the course of this conversation, you've disclosed that you don't use contracts, which people are rightly criticizing. When people have said that maybe you don't have the skills or equipment to pull off this challenging shoot, you point us to your website saying that you do have the skills and here's the proof. Then when critiques come in about the shots on the website, you say, "I don't claim to be a pro."

    Aaaaanyway, the question that got all this going was essentially, "The customer was unhappy because the shoot was more of a challenge to me than I thought, what should I do?" You've gotten a lot of good ideas in this thread. Give the refund, use contracts, recon sites ahead of time, careful with exposures outdoors, etc, that will help going forward.

    You will get a lot of critique and advice on this site if you stay around. It may seem harsh at times but it will definitely help. Good luck to you!
     
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  9. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I suppose pull out the best ones you can for them and do a refund that's workable for you and the client, and then figure out how to move forward from here.

    What I usually do is use a short telephoto or maybe portrait length or a 50mm depending on how close I'll be. The advantage to a somewhat longer lens (not some big honkin' telephoto but longer than a wide angle) is it can bring you in closer without having to move yourself closer, and you can shoot tigher to keep a lot of extra unnecessary stuff out of the frame.

    Like the guy in the red T shirt in the first series that came up on the site - even out of focus he makes for a red blob that's a visual distraction, and if he's not part of what's going on he doesn't need to be in in your picture. Give it a few seconds for him to move on. With the photo of the couple on the steps/stairs (forget the name, whatever first came up) there are people in the background which are part of the scene, and far enough back that they make for interesting background. But there's one woman in black heading your way and walking into your picture. It would have been better to probably motion her on.

    The one with the crosswalk is a cool idea and to me could be tricky or take doing it more than once. Obviously you'd need to watch for the light to change, and watch/wait a few seconds as people move. Maybe flip the camera into a vertical position to keep extra stuff out of the frame. I'd maybe use a smaller aperture to have enough depth of field, a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blur, get focused on the middle of the crosswalk, and when the light changes see if by the time the couple gets to the middle of it (and have them not walk too fast!) and it isn't a busy intersection/time of day, other people may move on through.

    I learned over time to get set (having metered and made adjustments to settings), focus on something (I look for lines/edges etc.) then I can shoot with both eyes open to watch for people out of the corner of my eyes (with my peripheral vision). Then when it's clear, I fine tune focus/framing and take a picture (or two, etc.). So it involves timing and anticipating.

    Maybe get this situation resolved and then take a look at updating your portfolio on your website. Shooting out 'in the field' can be challenging and I've found it still helps to get in some practice (even after years of experience). I feel like I'm always learning.
     
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  10. ClickAddict

    ClickAddict No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One key point is that you mentioned yourself the room "was challenging and your photos are usually better" (or something to that same meaning). Which means the customer did not get what they expected based on your portfolio. In other words "did not get as advertised" . Answer is pretty simple when you look at it that way. Take all the advice from the above posts for future shoots, but putting yourself in your customer's shoes for this shoot, would you not think you were entitled to some refund as well?
     
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  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Three good responses in a row!
     
  12. mrca

    mrca No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Something to consider is when you are shooting a new location, scout it. Try taking some test shots. You mention using a 24-70. Get much wider than that and folks up close will have some ugly distortion so I don't think the lens is the issue. I usually try to stay 35mm and above except in a few shots. You indicate you have a speed light. In a small room, bouncing it to the wall behind you will give enoughfill, albeit it flat light. Bouncing to the side will produce some beautiful images. You may not be a "full time" professional, but you are being paid, that is "professional." Professional work is expected. The difference between an amateur and a "professional" ie someone charging, is a pro can hit home runs just about no matter what is thrown at him. I walk onto a shoot knowing I will get the shots at minimum and probably hit plenty of home runs. I expect there was plenty of emotion, did you capture it? Usually that will be enough for many folks. Do you have insurance, especially error and omissions? If this lady was to sue you, it could cost you thousands in legal fees.
     
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