I’ve been dreading phone calls from a client (photo session and custom designed invitations) this last week. It all started innocently enough: they contacted me because they’d received an invite from a friend this Summer and fell in love with my work. Great, I LOVE when clients know what my aesthetic is and seek me out. I say this because not every photographer and graphic designer is for every client or job.
That’s gospel…just take my word for it.
They came into our preliminary meeting stating they wanted a casual Western themed session exactly like the invitation they received over 6 months ago. While viewing samples of previous jobs to choose paper and finish they suddenly switched gears and decided they wanted a white petticoat on a settee in a field instead. OK, I was thrown for a loop considering they were so adamant about their Western themed invitations but I have to admit the casual look of a white petticoat while lounging in a settee in a vast field is pretty darn dreamy and unexpected. She asked if she could borrow a white petticoat. Sure, I do that all the time for clients. She stated she wanted the gold settee and field pictured in one particular sample. OK, I don’t like doing exact repeats of previous sessions but it’s a different season so the field will look entirely different PLUS there is no way a layperson could re-create exact poses or facial expressions. I agreed to take the job and we scheduled a time and date.
Fast forward to the day of the session. She shows up 30 minutes late to a private location where I had pre-arranged with the land owner to use his location for a set period of time. Already our time is cut short. She steps out of the passenger side of the vehicle and out come her mother, which I expected as well as her father, 3 sisters and pet canine, totally not expected. I’ve never had an entire family show up to watch someone take their photos. My experience is that teenage subjects, especially girls, are inhibited around their family members. She asked to change into her top, which we had already agreed would be a white exactly like the sample she fell in love with. She steps out of the dressing room pop-up in a blinged-out peach colored corset top. It had white embroidery on it so even though it wasn’t the understated look of the original invitation it would coordinate with the petticoat. We start taking photos and I noticed her family was hovering over me. So close that at one point I had to ask her father to please step back because his shadow was in my frame.
I edited the top 15 photos, some of which were absolutely stunning, and I chose the ones I felt would work best with the design of the invitations. I submitted them to the client and she and her mother were all “ooohhhh” and “ahhhhh” and “WE LOVE THEM!” Great.
Not so fast, the next day I receive a call with a, “We don’t like any of them! We want to see more pictures…” Talk about an about-face from the previous conversation. Her comments regarding the sudden hatred of every image and the invitations was, “My Dad doesn’t like photoshop and the sky looks fake…” I was confused since I hadn’t altered the sky in any way and the only photoshop I had done was to slim her arms and tummy area as well as enhance her eyes. I explained that I had edited the best 15 photos and she would have to choose replacement images from those 15 for the invitation.
Next phone call and replacement image request with this additional comment, “My Dad wants you to make the sky look brighter and maybe add some trees with flowers to the background…” NO JOKE. I couldn’t make this up. How do you go from “the sky looks fake!” on an image where the sky was au-natural to, “add a fake sky and some fake trees?” I was confused…and then came another nonsense request, “The skirt and top aren’t the same color and we don’t like that.” Remember, she chose to wear a peach corset top at the last minute. She hinted that it was my fault since she borrowed the white petticoat from me. Ummm, HUH!?! OK, so I added the fake sky and the fake trees and added an adjustment layer to change the color of the petticoat even though her father hates photoshop.
I tend to have very easy going clients that know exactly what I do and how I do it. I don’t do 100 images on a disk. You get a digital gallery with the top 10 – 20 images, depending on the session, so that you can choose what you want to have printed. Most of my clients want custom designed invitations/announcements and framed prints.
I don’t mind constructive criticism but I was at a loss on this one. I’m glad they “LOVED” the image with their non-photoshop photoshopped elements added.
Cheers…I need a drink,