Complaining client - your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bob_schueler, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Hope I've posted this request in the right spot here.
    Got a client (my first ever) who's complaining about the "way" I took their wedding day photos. Can you look and give feedback? See anything that looks poor in either quality or artistic content?
    Take a close look at pic 122.
  2. I suspect that she might have been disappointed in the amount of close-ups and too few bridal portraits (It's always about the bride). I see some lighting & WB issues. The group shots are static, square to the camera and flat-footed. I would have expected at least double the amount of images delivered. Don't see any particular issue with #122.......she might have wanted you to zoom to the groom's face and crop out the guest taking the shot from the isle. Also, be careful about posting the "before" shots before the girls look their best and never, ever, shoot & post a pic of a woman with her hair in curlers. Would suggest that you avoid using any last names in the file names (knowles??) and would eliminate the watermark on the online gallery. All in all, a competent job for a budget-friendly studio.
  3. Your first ever client? Or your first ever complaint?
  4. I did a quick pass through the wedding, enlarging some of the images which I feel are critical at any wedding. Starting off with #122 it's a shade over exposed, other that that it is fine. If you shot this in RAW you can correct part of it.

    I think you did a good job documenting the wedding. I didn't see any major problems.

    I didn't like the brides portrait photos in general, because of the posing and shooting up at her. I think you should be at eye level and this is the reason why I carry a small ladder with me.

    What are there complaints?
  5. David M..........take a look at the galleries page of his website and you'll see several prior shooting gigs.
  6. Everyones thinkin technically here.
    I think the bride meant HOW he took them, i.e. walking in the isle, not dissapearing into the background, constantly being "in your face" or something like that.
  7. My honest feedback: First, I'm curious what photos/portfolio the clients looked at before booking you. Do they feel you misrepresented yourself? If the clients' wedding photos are consistent with what you've showed them then that is one thing. If their photos are substantially different then that would definitely be a concern.
    Also, why are we taking a close look at 122. I see nothing remarkable or different about it.
    As far as "artistic content" that is subjective. With that said I do not see much creativity in the way you shot this event. There is a photo here or there where you attempted an interesting angle or played with depth of field but those are exceptions. In general the photos look underexposed and the white balance is off, especially in the last pages with bride/groom portraits (she looks green in several). I feel the photos are lacking composition which lends to a snapshot feel. When flash is used it looks direct and harsh.
    What lenses were you using? What settings?
    In addition to just shooting a lot more and honing your technique I would strongly suggest only second shooting for at least the next year before taking on more weddings as a primary photographer. Work hard and you will improve.
  8. Hi Bob.
    I would ask the bride to explain what specifically she means by her comment. The pictures are traditional, like meat and
    potatoes, but there's nothing wrong with that as long as that's what's on your website. I would agree with the other
    comment that it depends on what her expectations were when she hired you. -Stu
  9. I have no idea what your normal work is like and if this is representative.
    But, since you ask for feedback on quality and artistic content, I notice almost all your shots have huge depth of field, similar framing, heavy use of flash (much of it direct into the subject) and there's very little variation from image to image. It's competent in so far as I assume it's an accurate record of what transpired and all the shots are certainly usable, but as a body of work it has something of the snapshot aesthethic. I don't see any sense of you as the photographer in the picture making process. I suspect the client may be wondering whether they could have achieved broadly similar results from a guest using a point and shoot on full auto. Almost all of it looks like it was shot at f11 with center-centric composition and at eye height - just as non-photographers tend to produce when using live view on a pocket camera.
    I realise the above sounds blunt but it isn't meant unkindly. I'm just offering you a personal opinion on how I react to the style of your images as well as the substance, and it's possible (although conjecture on my part) that the client is seeing something of the same. It's a body of record shots, not a body of art.
    But, if this is what she saw in your other work before hiring you, then there's no obvious grounds for complaint, since the images I've seen here appear to be fully competent, focused and reasonably exposed.
  10. thanks david s, i should really have thought of that.
    i can only repeat what has already been said - the shots are competent if unspectacular, and if that is how you represented yourself beforehand then i cannot understand the complaint. i can only think that perhaps max is correct and it is the 'how' of taking the pictures.
  11. Have you ever considered putting together a short survey for your brides to fill out after each wedding? This will enable you to receive the responses you are looking for.
    Also, in regards to watermarking I personally keep it on my galleries - however "proof" is all too generic and takes away from the photo. Try making a watermark of your own to reflect your business.
    One other small thing, and I know you didn't mention this, but I took a look at your print prices. I'm not sure if you even do print sales, but the pricing is awfully low. Understanding you want to be within budget (I've been there), keep in mind that Smugmug does charge you per sale. So, despite having your prices set at a certain amount, you need to take into consideration the cost of print plus Smug costs.
  12. Hi Bob. Looking at your web page I noticed your testimonial page and read some of those. It looks like the majority of couples are very happy with your photos. It would be hard when you get your first complaint, but I wouldn't let that worry you to much as you can't please everyone all the time. What you can get out of it is some constructive criticism. Ask the couple to sit down with you and tell you exactly what they are not happy with. You might be able to change the cropping on some pictures or light balance etc and most of their complaints might go away. You won't know if you don't ask. Good luck.
  13. Take a close look at pic 122.​
    I believe Bob is referring to the two family members with digital cameras. There is one on either side of the aisle. One has a DSLR and one has a hybrid P&S.
    Unfortunately this is part of the business. It's almost guaranteed that there will be at least one family member with a DSLR and several others with mid-priced to high end point and shoots.
    You have to make sure that YOU have the best, most consistent shots of the day.
    On the other hand, perhaps the bride was referring to the physical way you shot the day. the shots in the church look like you used flash. PERHAPS this is what the B&G are referring to. It looks like a Catholic ceremony and flash photography is usually PROHIBITED by the Catholic Church. It could be that she has had a complaint from the priest that performed the ceremony.
    I'm not going to critique your images as they seem well exposed and representative of your previous work. If this is what the B&G saw prior to booking, it seems that they got what they paid for.
  14. Bob, in your defense, some images do show the use of bounce flash.
    • Upload the images that have already been post processed & have a finished look about them. Don't show anything but your best work to the web world.
    • I have to say that you better slow down when you're about to fire off the moment. The fraction of a second before releasing the shutter, should involve an instinctive check of composition and "am I cutting off any limbs" etc.
    • With cameras today being so automated, you should be more concerned & concentrating on the subject matter, etc.
    Back in the days of shooting film weddings, we had so many more things to be concerned about. We fired one tenth of the images shot today, and as a result, we were forced to take professional control of the situation & subjects. (Quality not quantity, should be the "focus")
    Review often the famous wedding photographer's websites. This to get the feel for what many of us are trying to convey to you about having a unique & professional quality to your assignments.
  15. Thanks guys, for the response. No, I'm not seeking technical criticism. I didn't spell out the relationship scenario before I posted because I needed to be somewhere, but now I'm back and I'll elaborate a bit. I want to be very clear here that I don't have any animosity nor axe to grind against these or any clients. I always try to serve all my clients at 110%, presumably like all of you out here.
    First off, I always try to have a plan at least semi-choreographed before the event. I facilitate this plan via a formal Questionnaire, which I require to be filled out and returned no later than a week or so before the event. This is used as the basis for my final consultation, also conducted real-time with the client about a week or two before the event. Well, the bride and groom moved to Texas some time prior to the event. They invariably didn't return my required Questionnaire and I wasn't even able to interview the bride prior to the event. I had to go through the groom and we pieced together a simple, if not incomplete battle plan.
    What I found out in this final consult, three days before the event, was that I was prohibited, by the officiator at the church, from even being IN the sanctuary at ground level, during the entire ceremony. I was relegated to the balcony. From there, it only gets worse. While I was relegated to the balcony, take a look at shot #122. The place was full of amateurs. It was like this all the way through the reception, with photographers all over the place - literally. Yes, in my contract I make the request that photogs be limited, but these guys preferred to ignore that part in my contract. I'm not using that as an excuse because we've all been in this position, but my goodness, you can see several shots in the portfolio where cameras are out. It was crazy!
    Additionally, while I typically chart out a pre-ceremony session of getting ready coverage, I was told, again on the day of the event, that wouldn't be necessary. From there, the bride and groom and bride's mom more or less dictated every shot. I won't get into the dynamics, but this explains the lack of formal coverage for those of you who made comments to that end. If you'd like, compare this to my other portfolios and you'll see a difference. In a sentence, I wasn't allowed to really "do my thing" if you will. I could elaborate, but I think you get the point.
    I don't really know what to tell this bride and groom because I fulfilled my end of the agreement. My style is my style. I can't say whether they reviewed my work beforehand, but I would surely hope so. My style is candid, raw, edgy, but creative, storytelling and fun -- and that's what I offer. If a potential client doesn't like my style, there's plenty of options out there.
    Thanks again for your feedback.
  16. Bob,
    I actually agree that this particular wedding is not entirely consistent with some of the other work on your website. Your most recent event posted on your blog (Bryan and Trish) has much more relaxed and fluid portraiture of the bride and groom, and in general, has a more artistic aesthetic than for the couple that complained.
    That being said, I unfortunately will tell you that I don't totally fault your clients for some of the problems you had:
    1. You were prohibited from shooting on ground level in the sanctuary -- This is something you should have been aware of ahead of time by contacting the facility coordinator and asking about any photography restrictions. Researching the location restrictions should always be part of your pre-planning, especially if you have never shot at the location before. Sure, your clients could have been more communicative and told you about this ahead of time, but it's really your job to get this information.
    2. Guest photographers -- Your clients should not be charged with policing guests who bring cameras to the wedding. Guests with cameras are a fact of life, as are the over-bearing Uncle Bob's. But it's entirely impractical to expect that your clients can control this. Some weddings are better than others in terms of the volume of P&S's in the crowd, but it's just the nature of the business. Learn to work around it.
    3. B&G, and MOB dictating picture taking -- This is likely the result of two issues, one, the lack of communication prior to the wedding, and two, a disagreement over style between the family members. It's not usual for the MOB to have a completely different idea about how her daughter will be photographed. I've also had situations where the couple themselves don't agree and have argued over the shots I want to take at the wedding. Regardless of the specific dynamic which took you out of your game, you just gotta roll with it. Ultimately, they are the paying client and you are paid to do what they want. If they subsequently complain about the results, that's when you tactfully respond that the images are consistent with their requests on the wedding day, and that although any art form is ultimately subjective, you regret any dissatisfaction on their part. Then, wish them well as they begin their new lives together.
  17. I still don't get a sense of what their specific complaints were..........
  18. Without knowing what the specific complaints were, there is no use in making comments about your work on this job. "The way you took their wedding day photos" tells us nothing about the nature of their complaints. Of course, everyone who looks at the set will come up with criticisms based on their own style of shooting. If you want useful feedback from other photographers, you need to be more specific. You don't need to copy their comments word for word, but what, exactly, did they say?
  19. You don't need to copy their comments word for word, but what, exactly, did they say?
    Sorry Nadine, but that sentence tickled me :)
  20. Yes, I understand the contradiction, but I though people would catch my drift... :^)
  21. I was doing a wedding at a Catholic Church a year ago - before the ceremony (1 week) I called the priest and asked what (if any) restrictions he imposed on photographers... Similar to your's I was told - Not allowed on the main floor of the sanctuary during the service - go to the balcony... I was allowed to shoot the processional from the main floor (front) and got some decent shots. He also said 1) no photos during mass 2) no flash at any time - other than the processional.
    Well - I did as I was told..shot the processional then scooted up to my perch... As soon as I got up there - no fewer than 3 people in the audience started shooting with flash.
    Afterwards I told the priest - "It wasn't me!" His response - "I know - they'll be doing some penance next week!"
    Point is - you adapt to the priest - no two are alike - I've shot with some that told me anything goes - just apply common sense. Others told me exactly where to stand and when to shoot.
    Guest photographers (#122) are a fact of life - at best you can hope to limit the number of professional photographers at the ceremony...Sometimes that doesn't even work.
    If the complaint is that the bride doesn't like the photos - then it is truly a lack of communication between you and her. If she saw your style and booked you based on that - then forewarned is forearmed. If she saw your style with a lot of photos of the ceremony from the ground level - then explain to her that you were not allowed to do those due to restrictions of the church. If the MOB hired you and didn't consult the bride (I've had that happen a couple of times) - then it's one of those things you roll with. Get the shots that MOB wants - then do some that the bride wants. I purposely add "pad" time into the formal shots just for that. Also - after the ceremony - I take the bride and groom away from EVERYONE and do some with just them.
  22. Hey,
    I might be totally off on this one, but it seems that the bride and groom are very young, perhaps they were looking for more "photo-journalistic" approach, and if that is the case you should look through some of the out takes and see if you can salvage the situation with some creative Photoshop work. This way perhaps you can get more of the bride and groom shots to your final selection. I am probably totally off.
    Last May I was photographic first communion at my one of the churches I go to and sure enough there were three or four people with the same camera I was shooting with: Canon 40D. I could almost hear the comments about "professional photographer with that camera..blah...blah..blah." So, when I had few minutes, I put on my long glass, took few closes ups of the the folks with the DSLR's and posted them on my site for purchase. One of them got the 8x10 of themselves. So, I guess with a little luck you can sell any photo.
    Good luck with your customers,
  23. There are some issues to my eyes:
    1. There are quite a few too cropped images: guillotined heads etc
    2. You could have directed the people maybe a little more: for example the last page's bride & groom pictures they have too somber, even bored expressions
  24. Bob, i have noticed some very good moments: 214, 296 and a bit from dancing part. I have a question: why keep so many formals that look almost exactly alike on your website? For me as a third party viewer it was pretty boring. Well, now i want to be clear on the topic. I can understand the bride's complaints - no interesting light, no interesting moments, no cool points of view and stiff posing without nice background. I could have probably missed something behind the huge "PROOF". And you used the flash in so (OMG!) dull manner - just straight light to the faces mostly. A bounce from the floor could have worked much better for the action and craze dances if you can not do without flash at all. Just my honest thoughts, please, no offense, Bob! :)
  25. 301 and 304 should have been corrected for skin tone, but most are fine that way.
    Considering the number of brides that get no pix or bad pix from incompetent photogs, this girl should be happy.
    Maybe do more with fill flash at -1.7 stops.
    Ask for more comments on specific pictures. Ask what, within reason, you can do to make her happier.
  26. I'm having trouble seeing much of anything around the huge watermark, but I agree with most of what has been said. As one of the early commenters mentioned, it's all about the bride. Even the most laid back bride wants the wedding to be about her. Just a random sample I came to was #72, which is a shot of the bride with her bridesmaids. You have the bride in the back, she should be in the front. For the most part, though, the photos are pretty decent, and on par with what your portfolio shows.
    Some clients will complain in the hopes of getting a freebie. I got my first and only complaint several years ago when I was just getting started, and I gave the client a print credit, and wouldn't you know, they used the whole thing. I'm not saying that is what your client is after, but I would respond in a positive, professional way asking her to clarify what she doesn't like, and making clear that you are willing to work with her to resolve the situation.
    As far as all the other people with cameras, you need to let it roll of your shoulder, and learn how to coral them during the portrait session. I usually do formal photos during the cocktail hour, and I politely ask any guests with cameras to wait until after I'm done shooting to take their shots. And there will be guests with better gear than you too, it's just a fact of life. At a wedding I shot last year, one of the bride's aunts showed up with a Canon 1Ds MarkIII and 50mm f1.2, about the same price as all three cameras I was carrying. Keep in mind that the bride and groom hired you to photograph their wedding, be polite to all the other guests with cameras, but don't be afraid to politely ask them to move.

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