It is quite astonishing, how many people have had a really bad experience with a photographer. This subject came up a lot with people around me in recent weeks.
The photographers in question were everything from the stand in the mall to the high-end studio photographer and the one that had been hired to cover an event.
Having turned my hobby into a business that is supposed to create revenue, I am very much taking to heart every criticism that is being made against my fellow photographer colleagues.
Reasons for the clients unhappiness varies, but in essence, the main complaints are T I C:
T = Time Consuming as in endless shoots, slow work pace of the photographer, leaving the client with sore jaws from endless forced smiling, the children grumpy and the parents dreading the next time they attempt to get some nice photos for the grandparents. Terrible, meaning the photos that were given were considered to be inadequate, either because of their colour, their crop, their composition, or because they were simply bad photos.
I = Irritating: This could mean the shoot itself, that whole business of being ‘posed’ for photos and everything feeling ‘staged’ left clients feeling overly self-conscious and impatient. It also meant the way unselected photos of their precious children were simply thrown in the bin or deleted right in front of their eyes (which has happened to me, too, as a client, and I couldn’t agree more!), and the whole issue of paying extra for prints and not making them available digitally in any shape, way or form.
C = Complicated: for example the baby was grizzly at the newborn shoot and there was no way of rescheduling to a later date, the weather was horrid and the catch-up dates for the location shoot were inconvenient, the photographer growled at guests at the wedding who took photos with their phones
All the T I C‘s seem reasonable, but largely, they could have been avoided with the, you guessed it, T O Q‘s:
T = Transparency: obviously one would think that clients choose a photographer only after seeing his or her work, which means there should be no surprises in regards to whether the photographer likes to use special effects filters in the artistic stage or not, whether the photographer likes a tight crop with lots of emphasis on close-ups or whether the photographer never breaks the Rule of Thirds when framing the shot. Whichever way a client ends up discussing their requirements with their chosen photographer, any and all little details should be discussed. The photographer, being the professional, should be able to lead and explain exactly how he or she is intending to go about the shoot, everything from the setup to the finish, including details about rescheduling, delivery, contract and legal talk. Getting the basic things explained can be time consuming, and mostly, they are repeating themselves for every client, so it is understandable that many photographers have addressed this with information packets or introduction videos.
O = Open: after looking through the photographers online platforms, reading and watching any information provided (which unfortunately most clients do not seem to be doing), the client needs to be open. You don’t like the baby naked in all newborn shoots? Say it. You don’t like the charcoal grey background in the studio? Say it. You feel uncomfortable with the clothing tips that you have been given for the family portrait? Say it. If the photographer is a true professional neither of these things should throw him (or her) off balance. The baby can be wrapped or dressed, the dark blue background can equally be used, the clothing tips can be explained again (there are great colour charts available online that help with that). Some expectations may be unrealistic, as the one that I get all the time about posing and staging the shots. Unfortunately, unless the client is a supermodel and knows all about how to hold the head, place the feet, tilt the hip, work the jaw line and do the squinch, they will have to have a little bit of trust in their photographer to make them look good without overdoing it. No endless smiling in my shoots though, I can promise that :)
This point works two-ways though: the photographer needs to be open as well: if there are things they absolutely love to do, they should tell the client, like me, I have a thing for eyelashes, especially with kids, I always like to get some really, really close-up shots. They rarely end up in a frame on the wall, and they probably aren’t going to be Nan’s first pick either, but I love them, and they almost always make my final cut. Same with other people taking photos while I take photos: I don’t like it, when photographing groups, they are confused and don’t know where to look, and at events generally people get annoyed with too many people pointing cameras at them. I do make that clear long before they day, and I ask for cooperation from the client in that. It is not an unreasonable request, and it is not too difficult to let invited guests know that they cannot take photos while the hired photographer is there. I have had clients ask to take photos in the studio, while I work with their kids, which is fine with me. Those pictures usually end up in social media, and in the end could work in my favour :)
Which leaves us with Q = Questions: ask questions. I rather have clients ask too many questions than not enough. I always try to accommodate everything. It’s my job to establish their trust, otherwise they won’t be relaxed in the shoot, which will show in the photos, which is exactly not what anyone is after. We are trying to create a memory after all, from start to finished product.
So, how’s your TIC TOQ when it comes to photography?