Any commercial photographer sooner or later faces this: customers who are not satisfied with something, an indistinct technical specification, a client who rejected good photos … All this causes self-digging and can shake self-confidence. Of course, sometimes such claims are really justified. But what if not? I chose three common cases in which the customer is definitely wrong, and the situation requires discussion.
1. First and most common: “I don’t like myself”
You can be called lucky if you have never heard this from a client. Let’s simulate the situation: you are planning to shoot, you discussed the mood board, image and locations. The client, ideally, also looked at your style of work. During the shooting, everything goes well, comfortably and with humor. Everyone is happy. Time passes, you work on photos, send ready-made pictures and receive in response: “I don’t like myself.” What to do with it?
First of all: open the photos again and try to look critically at them with a clear eye. Check out the facial expressions, poses, and framing. Perhaps somewhere it really turned out crooked?
Next, it is important to ask the person what exactly he does not like? On what basis did the client draw such a conclusion? There is a very clear line between “I don’t like myself” and “This is a bad picture.” These are two completely different theses. And if in the second case it is really about your competence and professionalism, then in the first case it is a question for a person. If he doesn’t like himself, considers him unattractive and is critical of his appearance, then what kind of photos can there be? The logical outcome is that he will not like himself anywhere, because he considers himself not beautiful. This division is important to discuss, but do it carefully. A person must understand that this is a question for his critical view of himself, but not at all for your work.
The way out of the situation: if, after discussion, the customer agrees with you (provided that the photos are really okay and you took them professionally), then nothing needs to be done. If there are defective frames, bad angles, inept processing, etc. — you can ask the opinion of a third party (for example, a friend or an independent photographer) and offer the client to redo the shooting. It will be the right and professional decision.
2. Second, rare, but well-aimed: “It turned out differently than on the moodboard”
Another complaint that can be heard when you submitted photos and received feedback from a client. At the stage of negotiations, you discussed the location, chose together (preferably) references, selected an image, and as a result they say to you: “It turned out differently than on the moodboard!”.
What to do with it? First of all, here it is better to go over the moodboard itself again, and not through your finished photos. Evaluate how the general mood and picture match the footage. Important tip: do not delete the folder with references until the shooting is definitely finished.
Second, provided that the first point is successfully completed, it is worth discussing this with the customer. It is important to understand that a moodboard is also a MUDboard, from the word mood, mood. The task is never to copy frames one to one. Moreover, the picture itself cannot be completely identical: different shooting conditions, different location, clothes, etc. For example, if the moodboard had a shoot in a dense green forest for a model in a long white dress. And you decided to do something similar, but in a less dense park area and a simple white dress that the girl found in the closet, the client should not expect an identical picture at the exit. This point is important to explain to the person. Better even at the stage of agreement. Although such claims from customers, according to their own practice, are extremely rare.
3. Third, stupid: “I want like NN”
I’m not going to lie, in my own practice this happened only once. Here you don’t even need to review the moodboard or the captured photos with a critical eye – everything is revealed at the approval stage. This is the case where the client is categorically wrong, although this wording is not entirely correct. A client comes to you with a request: “I want it like photographer N” / “I want it like in this picture from Pinterest” / “I want something incredible [показывает съемку в недостижимой локации]”. The main problem here is that you don’t shoot like that! In none of the cases does the example of a customer match your profile and work style at all.
Solution of the problem.
It is important to very tactfully and carefully ask the person to explain his choice: why did he choose this particular picture / pictures for example, why does he like them, what exactly would he like to repeat? Ask the customer to walk through your shoots (you can even provide an additional link if they are not publicly available) and ask him what he likes about your portfolio. Thus, you can direct a person to a more competent request specifically to you, based on your style.
If this doesn’t work, and the person, even after a direct explanation that you don’t shoot like that, will insist on just such a shooting — the most environmentally friendly and nerve-saving option would be to refer the person to a colleague with a more suitable style, and refuse yourself. This is not the last client, and working in such conditions will definitely cost you your nerves.