Badly taken shots

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by glenn_stear, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Hi, let me explain. I was a wedding photographer for many years but am now effectively retired. I still take a great interest in photography and I'm always interested in viewing and commenting on photographs. I try to be positive in my comments and point out the good things. My question is: someone I know recently got married and obviously I was keen to have a look. Oh dear, I wish I hadn't. The photographer had arrived late and missed important shots, 95% were sub standard (out of focus, badly framed etc. etc.) Of the shots that were passable(that is in focus and roughly exposed correctly) feet were cut off, cropping was too tight and not balanced! OMG..... do I be dishonest and say 'oh yes very nice' or should I say 'you should get your money back' and point out the faults. I've not said anything yet and I'm avoiding the question as I think they will be destroyed. He has been saying how good the photographs are. To me it looks like the work of someone that says 'I have camera, can 'do' a wedding 'cause there's dosh(money) in it too! Oh well if you have any comments please answer. Sorry no examples.
  2. I have been in this situation myself quite a few times and I have always found honesty to be the best option. Simply sit down with the couple and explain your views, using examples from their shots, pointing out what you feel is wrong or badly done. That way you can get their feedback as well and potentially avoid strong confrontations.
    I would, however, avoid using my own shots as comparative examples. Take your own work out of the equation.
  3. How well do you know them?
    The ceremony is over; so what would be the point of telling them how crappy the pics are at this point?
    Weddings are "pho-ternity" Taken at the moment obviously has allure.
    Re-staging the wedding (it has been done) is not practical.
    Now you could offer to re-shoot her bridal portraits?
    This scenario is quite different from a new photog asking advice from a pro or advanced amateur
    He has been saying how good the photographs are.​
    I see many complaints on this forum concerning how the craigslist shooter is killing their biz.
    With clients not knowing the difference between excellent photography and garbage, is it any wonder?
  4. If you do decide to bring it to their attention, keep the negative comments confined to the objective technical deficiencies, not to anything subjective. This will completely eliminate any notion that you just think your shots are better, which can sound biased and unfounded.
    However, unless they ask your opinion, I would not dash their appreciation of the photographs.
  5. If the couple is happy, I wouldn't give my honest opinion without some kind of sugar coating. And, I certainly wouldn't offer it up unless absolutely necessary. Why play the spoiler?
  6. People get what they seek and pay for. Nothing has really changed, but now there are more to seek and less to pay for. It will get worse as time goes on. Be thankful you are retired.
    I'm usually diplomatic and answer any questions about the wedding photos by saying it isn't my place to critique other people's work. Most people are just looking for confirmation of their choice, not negative feed-back ... if you respond positively, they usually proudly follow up with how cheaply they got the "excellent" work that you just endorsed.
    IF someone comes to me with a huge disappointment on their hands, I then offer suggestions to salvage the work, but otherwise I keep my opinions top myself, especially with friends and family.
  7. Thanks for the input guys. I wasn't going to say anything to the couple, I just feel very sad it has happened to them and they don't know it yet. There are some great wedding operators out there, unfortunately not all are what they claim to be. I think there are some shots that can be saved but it would take a photographer with PhotoShop skills and good editing nous to make a silk purse from the lot I saw. Thanks again.
  8. If you hire someone without really knowing what you will likely get, it will be what you likely expected. Unknown.
    I too have seen some wedding photographers work that I would not consider to be in the professional realm, but their clients love their work. I don't think, therefore, that you should say anything at all. If pressed I might simply say "yes, he did get a some nice shots" and leave it there.
  9. Glenn -
    I'd stay out of it unless directly asked to get into it or to provide an opinion. Having a look and providing an assessment are two totaly different things.
    What I have found is that there is a great many people who are just happy to have photos of the event - whether they are properly framed, composed, exposed, and color balanced. They are simply glad that they have a photo of themselves with grandma or uncle Joe or whomever.... They just want the memory.
    No amount of us showing them properly exposed, composed and balanced work is going to change their minds or opinions.
    What I've seen happen in these situations is that a) the couple will become defensive or b) they will write it off as sour grapes that they didn't ask you to shoot the wedding. When I'm asked to look at someone's photos from an event that I didn't shoot - I look through them and perhaps ask the ocassional question - Who's that? What was going on? - but don't offer any review or commentary on the quality of the work.
    If the couple are happy with the photos - let them be.
  10. There's a book out there called "How to be a Gentleman" that has all sorts of polite responses for awkward situations. In this case, I would ignore the photography completely and comment something along the lines of "it looks like you had a great time," or "your dress was so beautiful" or "your hair looks great." Unless the couple knew the pictures were bad andn asking your professional opinion as a first step toward suing their photographer for incompetence, you're only going to burst their bubble by telling them how bad the photos are. People show me bad snapshots and crappy professional portraits, etc., all the time and I go by the motto if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. If they're happy, let them be.
  11. I was thinking along the lines of Dave. I didn't see a request by the "so0meone you know" for your critique. Would a musician who happens to see a friend's wedding video unilaterally speak out about how the music stinks?
  12. I recently shot a wedding where the B&G displayed some horrible engagement shots done by another photog as slideshow and even enlarged one for guests to sign. I only congratulated the bride saying how good she looked in those horrible engagement shots.
    There's no point for me to tell her the truth and deep down inside I was actually glad as it wasn't hard beat those OOF and grossly over exposed engagement shots.
    Basically, I always make a rule to stay out of it, particularly if they are happy about the result. No point being the party pooper here.
  13. Though several have implied it, no one's put it this bluntly: They LIKE the photos, therefore to tell them that the photos are "bad" is tantamount to telling your friends that they have bad taste or are artistically ignorant. It may not be what you mean to do, but it's going to need a LOT of sugar to make that particular medicine go down.
    I wish I could see some of the pictures in question, since the fact that the OP is retired may simply indicate a lack of appreciation for contemporary "artistic" approaches. Are the pictures hyper-artsy in ways that offend academic "rules" you learned forty years ago, or are they uninspired attempts at conventional photography that show many little failures to achieve what the photographer seemed to be aiming for? There are high-priced photographers in my area that show, as highly-featured photos on their ads and websites, pictures with extensive use of extremely blurred areas in wide-angle landscape/interior scenes (Lensbaby effect), rather bizarre cropping (full-length shot of couple dancing, cutting just the heads off through the neck) and many instances of the couple in highly artificial forced poses such as dead center, stiffly holding hands with arms fully extended (picture a capital H) and both staring dead-pan at the camera with blank expressions, like little kids afraid of catching cooties from each other and forced to pose against their will. Some are actually visually striking in spite of not following known rules.
  14. If you tell them their photos are bad, then they will not be able to view the photos as anything but bad. If their standards are low, and if they are satisfied with the photos, then is it your place to make them feel unhappy and dissatisfied? That would be doing them a disservice because they cannot just relive the event with a better photographer, and it would take away some of their happiness. It would be cruel.
  15. Glenn ...
    I know it's hard to be honest, but nice at the same time ... especially based on what you see as glaringly obvious faults .. but they seem to like what was produced ...
    So you have to be diplomatic ..
    • "I would not have captured it that way" ...
    • "That's not quite my style"
    • "This is a unique perspective"
    Focus on how happy they are in the picture ... How much of a wonderful event it was ...
    If they ask for input on picking a picture, then look for the "best one to frame" because it's most balanced of the set ... and use your expertise that way ...
    Accentuate the positive .. As my friends, "as long as you are happy" ... "no photograph could truly capture the emotion of such an event" ...
  16. If the people paying the bill are happy, let it be. Like someone already said, it's a wedding, it can't be reshot.
  17. Don't rock the boat seems to be the general consensus here. However, how does one go about stopping people hiring this photog again? Sounds like the B&G are ready to recommend this supposedly bad photog to their friends and family.
  18. I'm not defending the pictures (lol especially without seeing them!) but how much of your dislike revolves around stylistic differences?
    Keep in mind, they must have hired this person for a reason. Sure it may have been their CL pricing, but even that usually requires a portfolio, and if the pictures you saw were akin to the pics they saw before, then maybe they like the pics because the photographer and client were on the same page, and had a similar vision --regardless of your stylistic preference.
    Again, I'm not saying the photog didn't suck, but all of those things you mentioned could have been intentional... for example blurry B&G w/ crisp kid in the foreground might be considered OOF. Blown highlights may emphasize a specific focal point, tight crops often cut off the feet, and are in-demand (and often well regarded by clients). Remember, the wedding photogs of years past were vastly more limited by eqp than we are, this has (and no doubt will continue too) revolutionized the industry, not only in what we can do, but what clients demand. I recently shot a wedding with 3 formal shots. 3. everything else was candid. everything! I burned through 5k+ exposures -- and every tight shot had the subjects feet cut off.
    Like I said, I'm not defending this photog's pics, but if they made the client ecstatic, then they did an excellent job as a wedding photographer.
  19. I'm an Uncle Bob whose niece recently married, didn't take my camera because the couple hired professionals. The couple likes the pictures they bought, and some of the shots I like. The one's I like I would praise and the one's (most) I don't like: I'm more interested in why the couple likes pictures I don't, just to understand our differences in taste. What I am having trouble with is that the photographer, younger, took pictures of the younger people at the wedding, very few of the older people, which means mostly friends with scant family as subjects, where family, when picutred, are mostly blurred in the back ground if pictured at all. So Glenn, if the pictures in your example fairly represent who was at the wedding, maybe that is good enough.
  20. how does one go about stopping people hiring this photog again? Sounds like the B&G are ready to recommend this supposedly bad photog to their friends and family.​
    I'm not sure that someone saying the like the photos means they are ready to recommend someone to friends and family but, even so, if they are satisfied why would they not do so and why would you ask about how to stop people from hiring someone if they are satisfied with the results they see?
  21. why would you ask about how to stop people from hiring someone if they are satisfied with the results they see?​
    Just a theoretical question. Mostly I would still say nothing if a supposedly bad photog was recommended by someone I know. There were times I said nothing when someone I know invested in those get rich fast investment promoted by another friend too. I'm past the stage to think only the truth matter because in most cases, it doesn't.
  22. Well thanks for commenting everyone, it's time to close this question. I won't be offering my unasked for opinion, I'll stay out of it. They're happy with the work and in the end that's all that matters.
  23. In some situations divulging the truth is not wisdom. In fact, in this situation, according to your story, it might only cause unneeded pain. If they come to you and say they think the photos aren't good, that's one thing. Unless you think by telling them they can get their money back, maybe that would be useful, but just to tell them so you feel like you've been honest for honesty's sake may not really serve them very well, don't you think? If they like the photos, are ok with them, really all you can do is bring them down for your own good, not necessarily theirs. But as always, people have to make their own choices in these matters.
  24. I wouldn't say a thing.
    I had a crappy photographer shoot my wedding. Or rather, I thought his pictures were crappy. I didn't really care. I'm sure other people thought it when they saw our pictures, but they graciously kept their mouths shut. I wasn't blind, but I really didn't care. The pics that always interest me most are pictures of the family when they were young - the ring bearer, flower girl, my wife with her mother etc. we see past the technical deficiencies and see only the people.
  25. The wedding isn't going to be repeated and the shots aren't going to be taken by someone else, are they ? This being the case, I think that there is no need to fuel a further conflict between the b/g and the photographer.
    Just let the couple decide what the attitude towards the picture is, look happy and give them reassurance and support, this is what they need from a friend especially if they also think the pictures were bad.
    Suing the photographer or having an argument does not change the fact that they chose him to shoot the wedding, and isn't going to improve the pictures.
    The perception of picture quality varies greatly with individuals and as a wedding photographer I am amazed at times to see that a couple chooses for the wedding album a completely different set of pictures than those that I would have chosen.
  26. you do not need to say anything...ignorance is bliss! If they're happy, why change that?
  27. Glenn With just about everybody out there with a digital camera now days I think it's only going to get worse.
  28. This is just slightly off topic from the original post but because it's been touched on a little in the responses, I think I'll bring it up...
    But the problem of the hack photographer can go both ways... Yes there are a lot of fly-by-night, $500 Craigslist photogs out there that show up to a wedding with a Rebel and kit lens and do a terrible job. But I've also seen a $3000 wedding photographer that shows up with $10 grand worth of equipment but still only has mediocre talent at best or worse.
    It happened to a friend of mine... She paid the guy $3300 to shoot her wedding because his portfolio was amazing. So he showed up to her wedding with a Canon 1Ds Mark ?? and a couple "L" lenses. He walks around like he's hot stuff (i.e. he was rude) and shoots the wedding like it's boring him. The guy went way overboard with Photoshop! Everything was overly saturated, overly contrasty, everyone's skin looked like rubber because he smoothed (blurred) their skin way too much! And everyone looked like aliens because he went overboard with their eyes and teeth! The MOB and Bride were very disappointed! It was so bad that the MOB actually asked me if she could use some of my photos that I took as a spectator because most of mine looked better than his.
    What happened was they were hoodwinked into thinking this guy was an amazing photographer because he had a portfolio of his own hand picked, best of the best photos. But what an honest photographer should do and what the B&G should do is ask to see one or two complete sets of photos from a recent wedding that photographer shot.
  29. I recently shot my first, (a renewal) for family and worked my butt off. I could have done a little better in my opinion, but I had some decent keepers too. Nothing art gallery quality, but definitely some worthy of enlargement. They were absolutely thrilled with the results. I wouldn't think of sitting down and pointing out my percieved faults in each pic. Instead, I'm going to let them enjoy the pictures.
    If you have to point out the problems to them, then maybe it isn't really a problem.
  30. But what an honest photographer should do and what the B&G should do is ask to see one or two complete sets of photos from a recent wedding that photographer shot.​
    I've never been asked to show a full set and I'll never never show a whole set voluntarily because why should I when other people are showing their hand picked BOTB shots. It doesn't make any business sense to do so.
    I have, however, shown the best 30-50 shots from a set of 250 on average that I think are representative of my style and ability. Problem with showing a full set is that there'll be undoubtely some boring and average group shots taken at the insistant of the couple. Almost everyone wants those to be done but they are not good marketing material.
  31. i always show a complete wedding set, or two. i explain what's happening to the bride and groom, and if it cost me business over someone else who has shown his best 40 shots from his/her last 1000 weddings, then so be it. at least my customers know what they're getting, and aren't expecting a masterpiece with every photograph taken on their wedding day. the customers also have access to my best shots online, as well.
  32. Here's the thing...I would be honest and have the bride and groom demand the high res DVD's. Then you can fix as many as possible. You talked about cutting feet off. I have a rule to never cut off at the joints; knees feet and hips.

    With the out of focus you can try to vignette some.

    To answer your question, if the bride is angry I'd say something. If she likes the pics let your emotions go. I know it's a hard one to deal with.
  33. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to change the things I can", Reinhold Neibuhr. What are you going to change by denigrating that photographer except to create unhappiness among the clients? I would say what I have been told when sticking my nose in other peoples business "just shut up".
  34. When I got married many years ago a daughter from a former marriage used an SRT-101 of mine to shoot our small wedding. She screwed up some pictures but got some usable ones as well. Now 33 years later we cherish her pictures. It is not the photographer it is recording the event that is important in my humble opinion.
  35. If they are happy and content with the present photos why spoil their happiness and possibly cause a row between them and the photographer? What's the profit?
  36. Just use my stock line: "Wow everybody looks like they had a great time!" and leave it at that.
  37. I am willing and prepared to show any full or as many full weddings as needed to assure my couples that they are getting the real deal. I have sent links to my most previous five full weddings along with my "thanks for your inquiry" note. As well as a link to my Flickr gallery in order of interestingness. It has been my best selling tool. Every photographer should be prepared to do that. No surprises. They then know what they are getting.
  38. if it were me, I would keep my opinions and comments to myself, they hired who they wanted to shoot their wedding and they are likely content with what they got.
  39. Let me ask you this:
    If you and a friend were invited to a dinner party at the home of an acquaintance, and at the party your friend commented about how good the food is, would you respond by detailing the problems with food's preparation?
    In this situation, the person likes the photographs, so who cares. I know that we who like photography, study photography, and make photographs are keen about technicalities and rules (exposure, composition, etc--as we should be, and we should strive for excellence in all aspects of our photography), but we simply have to recognize that many people out don't care about such things and have other criteria for liking particular photos. If I were you, I would not want to make a friend dislike his own wedding pictures when there is nothing you can do to replace them with better ones.
  40. +1 for Jeremy John , as much as the bad photos would probably irk me personally. I have to agree.

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