Pho­to: Niki­ta Kalyuzhin

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.

Pho­to: Niki­ta Kalyuzhin

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.

Pho­to: Niki­ta Kalyuzhin

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.

Pho­to: Niki­ta Kalyuzhin