Groom not happy?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by tavia_llando, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. So, I've been on this forum quite a few times, however I'm using a fake name, even though I'm not going to say anything malicious.
    I recently photographed a wedding on the gold coast (so traveled up a few states), with about a months notice. The agreed price was $400 + flights included (I had to pay for camera hire, and there was a flight mix up so I also had to pay an extra $100). I only received $300, and I was going to get the $100 after the photos were done, but I've been informed that the bride and groom aren't happy with the photos, nor the time frame in which they were delivered.
    The photos were delivered 2.5 months after the time , and they were late due to having final exams and a group project where one of the team members dropped out. I originally said a month and a half to two months, but I also communicated delays due to the group project. In finals week, there's a lot of emails going back and forth, however once I sent off the photos, I hear nothing, I send emails, I get no response (So I decided that it would be best to wait after Christmas because everyone is busy before then). I finally hear back and they are not happy with the photos. I honestly don't get what's wrong with them. They saw all my previous photos, I delivered about 650 (in all the same quality). The only thing I can think of is I lacked variety, as I was using 2 bodies - my 400D doesn't take as nice shots (with the 24mm TSE) as the 5D mk II (with the 85mm) so I used mainly the 5D. I also couldn't afford to hire any lenses due to the budget.
    I've asked them whats' wrong with them and they say that the people look like zombies and it's not what they expected. Then they tell me not to worry (and that it's their fault not mine)... firstly I don't think they should be expecting a $2000+ photographs for $300 (I would like to get that extra $100, but I don't think I will), secondly, the work was better then all my previous weddings, and thirdly they could have told me what's wrong with the photos instead of waiting for me to chase them up? I sort of am worried. And I don't know how to please them or make them right? Cause I really, really want to
    Here are a select few of the wedding photos (I don't want to bore you), that I made mockup of albums
    Here are some of my other wedding photos that I showed them
    This was my 5th wedding, and I made that clear to them. I'm honestly scratching my head here, apart from the lack of variety (most of them are close ups); And too much low apature [though that is how I shoot normally] I think the photos represent my style, and I thought I did a good job...
  2. When the family looked at the pics, possibly one negative comment by a "pseudo critic" could have gone through the family like wildfire. I saw that happen with my second daughters wedding pics.
    I did not see the problem with our families pics, but, something similar occurred in our case.
    This is the cost of dealing with people, it is the most difficult one IMHO.
    You got to learn how to deal with it, or take an office job.
  3. I am not going to try to critique your photos but thy look OK to me. You like them a bit bright for my taste but it is a quibble. I will also not talk to you about the amount you charge. It is far too little.
    I will though tell you one HUGE mistake you made. You said that you sent them 650 photos. Here is the deal. I have coined a term for this. It is called "professional camouflage". Among those 650 pictures there were probably a good 50 that were first rate. Some of the ones you posted were very nice. The problem is that to see one of these 50 they have to page through a dozen that were not so good. See what I mean?
    So if you had sent them the 50 best, in logical order, telling the story of the wedding you might have knocked their socks off. Instead, for them, it went something like this....that one is good... nope... nope... maybe... my eyes look funny...nope... your tie is wrong... oh that one is nice... good... ick...who is that guy? looks drunk...nope........
    If they had seen those 50 best, telling their story it would have been a joy to them. And it would have been the wedding book they dreamed of. And you would have been a hero.
    But this part concerns me. You said, "650, all in the same quality". Well they weren't all of the same quality. Some were good and some were just awful. If by quality you are saying properly exposed and color true then perhaps. But they are not paying a professional wedding photographer for properly exposed, color true images. They are paying for the story of their day. They are paying for your art, your expertise and your experience. Otherwise they can just give uncle Harry a camera and let him shoot away. So the first rule of post production is edit, edit, edit. Don't let the client see a single photo you find marginal and darned few that are only acceptable. The only time to show them a marginal photo is when it is essential to telling their story and it is the only one you have. But make sure there are darned few of those.
    There is a trend these days for the B&G to ask for "all the shots". Flatly refuse. Be candid with them. Tell them that as a professional you will give them only professional work. You will not let poor composition, lighting, exposure, wardrobe failures and the like out of your studio. If you carefully explain this they will understand. You should present it as a benefit to them to have a professional do the sorting. I would turn down a job before I would agree to let a client see every frame I shoot if for no other reason than I don't want them showing other people what should have hit the cutting room floor and calling it my work.
    So you need to charge more. That is for sure. Much more. You need to charge a price that is respectable and then use it to deliver only the best quality work. There are plenty of GWCs out there on Craigslist who will do schlocky work on the cheap. I can tell by your concern that you don't really want to be one of them.
    And here is your final butt chewing. You said: "firstly I don't think they should be expecting a $2000+ photographs for $300"​
    Here is the deal. You have to decide if you want to be a $2000.00 professional wedding photographer or a $300.00 average joe. If you ever want to be the $2K guy then you have to start turning out $2K work no matter what you charge. This is not only about what the client thinks but what you think about yourself. If you ever decide to give the most important day of someone's life anything but your best because you are getting paid peanuts then you have no business in this field. Top professionals have a range of prices based upon what they deliver but they do not have a range of quality. They always and only do their best work. So my friend, they have every right to expect only your best work. And if you had sent them the 50 to 75 best photos you took, arranged in order, you would have done that.
    I am impressed (for what my approval is worth) with your desire to be good at this and more importantly to make the client happy. I liked most of your photos and think that you have a good eye and talent. Remember that this is a business. Hone your business skills of presentation, work flow and sales and you should be well on your way.
  4. Hard to tell what they might be dissatisfied with just by looking at the small images posted, but I don't see a problem considering these are from a $400 wedding shoot. I think their might be too many over exposures with blown highlights, but a lot of people like that effect. There are also a lot of wide open, narrow depth of field shots with blurred backgrounds and foregrounds. There are a lot of people that have gotten used to point & shoot images that have everything in focus and think that all pictures are supposed to be sharp all over.
    But I'm just guessing here and you will not know what it is they think are wrong with the images until you get a definitive, detailed answer from them. Asking us won't help until you get an answer from the couple.
  5. Thst's a long story with lots of different subjects and no mention of what advice you seek An opinion on the images? Client communications? Expectation management? Time/workflow management? ect....
  6. That's fair to say Jim but they were asked and, in this case, the problem is said to be that people look like zombies. Its hard
    to know if further clarification on sonething as silly as that will really help that much. It may be better to ask neutral parties for a crtique on this one.
  7. I just can't see how you the photog can provide the ambience...for them to eventually like the photos ? It's mostly a journalistic event, unless someone poses specifically. Sure, most photogs do their best to pluck moments... That said, I presume they had a chance to see your work, so they knew what they were getting.
    It's not up to me to like or dislike wedding images, so long the couple are pleased. Nonetheless, if the magic between them was not quite there....then why are they pointing the finger at you ?
    It's a drag to get into conundrum like that...hope you can resolve it.\
  8. First of all, I have to say you've got it. As far as the zombie like comment, I think they are referring to the bottom of this photo: or this
    Yes, they do look a little zombie to me due to the overblown highlight and bleed mascara. It could have something to do with your PP technique.
  9. I would agree with Green about the zombie like comment, there are a few that clearly appear unnatural, but that is the only criticism that I can give based on how much you've charged - and it appears that they are as much due to your supercharged PS technique as any other reason. There are quite a few that are really quite good - even portfolio worthy.
    However, there is a lack of variety overall. That is something that most B&Gs expect these days. Perhaps it's because you have a 5D2 + an 400D, with a 24 TSE and an 85(1.8?) which gives you (given your setup) essentially a 35mm FOV MF lens, and 85mm w/ AF. While this may be in line with what you've done in the past, it's a bit on the sparse side if you are planning on building a business. Additional FLs will definetly help you there.
  10. I'll second Green's comment. I would not have shown the two pages he linked. The second one is less objectionable in terms of expressions, but the post processing is lacking. Too dark under the eyes. The skin tones aren't pleasant.
    You were paid. Therefore, you are viewed as a professional. I can't think of many clients that would be concerned about your cash flow. That's immaterial to the quality of photos. You have lots of nice photos. You also have a few duds. Eliminate the duds, and your nicer photos will reflect better on you. You are only as good as the worst picture you present.
  11. Yes, I agree with the Zombie comment probably coming from the dark eye sockets.
    I believe that exact critique about dark eye sockets has been mentioned on Rockwell's and Hobby's blogs.
    It is one of the reasons I started to learn how to use light modifiers and outdoor flash.
    The two sites mentioned above talk a lot about using a 3x5 note card rubber banded to a flash to fill eye sockets.
    The ceiling bounce has both pluses, and minuses. The dark eye sockets is one of the minuses.
    Now that this has been mentioned, those who go back and look at your pics will pick up on the dark eyes immediately, and as I mentioned in my first post, will become;
    a "pseudo critic"
    This is a tough business, I am glad I never had to make a dollar taking a photograph, I would be very poor, LOL.
  12. I want to try and get this straight.... You flew in an airplane to shoot a $400 wedding, rented gear and lost $100 up front,
    delivered 650 pretty nice looking shots and they're not happy. Next time charge three times as much and you'll have less

    And PS, IMHO 2-1/2 months to deliver is too long to edit and deliver some digital files.
  13. If I had to guess I would suggest the longer the client waited the more unhappy they got. If you're gonna shoot photos for clients you have to do it and get them out immediately and there are NO excuses. That's for amateurs. I could say the photos are not particularly to my taste but that does not mean anything because I am not the client. I have some of my photos hanging in an art gallery and half the stuff in the gallery is not to my taste but it doesn't have anything to do with my particular preferences, does it?.
    I am old fashioned and do not think there's 650 good photos in any wedding, including Princess Di's.
  14. You shouldn't be charging more. You ought to be shooting for free until you gain more experience - or 2nd shoot or assist. You have severe exposure issues - and I wish people would stop calling it "you like it light". You need to know how to work with light, how to pose and how to take flattering pictures. Sorry to put it so bluntly but these are peoples' memories, regardless of how little they paid.
    The time frame - clients do not care what goes on in your life. They want their photos. You want to underpromise and overdeliver. Meaning if you say "it will take 6 weeks", you deliver after 4. You never, ever go over the time frame specified - if that means outsourcing editing to a pro and sucking up the costs or not sleeping and doing the work yourself... whatever it takes. You don't delay. It's not professional.
    Sorry to sound harsh but I see way to many aspiring photographers who jump into photographing weddings and learning on the job, never 2nd shooting with a pro, never learning what it actually takes to be a professional wedding photographer ... the end result is pretty much as we see here.
    What I would do now is give the clients a call, apologize and learn from this mistake. Don't expect the 100 Dollars and don't ask for them. See it as a cheap lesson in becoming a wedding photographer.
  15. If the B+G saw the existing examples of your other work, then it's clearly evident they would have realized you are next Richard Avedon :)
    I think it is equal to the other work shown. 650 images? I agree it's too much clutter. It was rare I could provide 100 and sometimes that was a struggle. I told them upfront.
    I remember those days of traveling to any bride that would let me shoot their wedding. Many times the conditions were brutal like a beach wedding at high noon... or unattractive church. Maybe it would be wise to pass on a few and being overmatched, and use the the travel and shooting time more wisely.
    Maybe spend the next 20 hours shooting attractive classmates in less pressure filled circumstances, at distance, and learning to manage your eposure. It's better to develop other methods, have tools in the box and not need them. Not every problem can be solved with a hammer at f/1.4 and 85mm.
  16. I'll just clarify a few things:
    Usually I don't deliver 650, however the case was that the parents who live in Siberia, wanted the photos (the unedited ones) straight away, because apparently delivery is quite difficult. So they knew that I took about 3100 photos (as I was going from 7:00am to 3am), I just edited 650 of those shots, because any less they would have complained at me not editing all of them. (Most of them were sort of like doubles), and I also give them an 'extra's folder'. So 250 of the best go in the best of, and then the rest were doubles, that are still 'good' photos, that are edited. Also I tend to use to use the extra photos to change styles up, so they don't ALL look the same - however if they don't like one of the extras it's no big loss (most of the time they might get an extra and love it to bits...).
    In regards to price: I thought $400 was fair, with them paying for the flights and me providing camera equipment. They were graduated students and I am a graduated student. I was not going to however hire a 35mm because interstate hiring is expensive, and that was going to drain the last of my money. I also found that when I did hire it, It didn't go great on my 400D.
    I was not going to charge nothing for this wedding. I've shot for free before; however I ended up losing own money. Last time I did an interstate wedding, I ended up losing $100 for travel expenses and $150 for camera hire. (As well as 14 + 20 h of my time). I thought $400 was fair for 3 days of my time (as 2 days for travel) and 20h of my time for editing.
    The reason for the delay (and the groom should know this as he did the subject as me) is we have a engineering group project that eats up so much time. As well as finals, and I also had a Microsoft Job interview. I only delivered 3 weeks after the said time, and because they were students last year, I thought they'd understand.
  17. Are you telling me that you shot 3100 frames in 8 hours? That is a frame every 10 seconds without a break for 8 hours. I think I may see a problem. You sould perhaps slow down and think more about your composition and most importantly your exposure and lighting. Now you said that the 650 were "edited? too in 20 hours? So you spent no more than 2 minutes per exposure? That must have been mind numbing work. Imagine if you only had to do 100 or so.
    Let me ask another question. Am I right in assuming that you shoot most of your shots on manual mode? Can you tell us how you decide the exposure to use? Also. What flash(s) are you using? How are you determining the flash exposures?
    I looked at your online portfolio as well and see that you seem to have quite a number with color correction issues; many caused by available incandescent light. Do you have an off-camera flash?
    I may have to correct myself. Do you live in Russia? It may be that I and others here may be unaware that $400.00 US is a more considerable sum in Russia than it may be in the US. Is that the case?
  18. Tavia, for a 19 hour day (7am to 3am), delivering 650 is reasonable by my book. I don't see anything particularly wrong in the blog you posted other than the zombie look in a few. But in your portfolio, I do think your indoor white balance look very yellow for my taste.
    Seems like the groom and you are acquainted and sometimes that could be the root of the problem. I think he sees you as a person with a camera rather than a photog. I'm sure some will disagree with me here but I think you need to maintain some sort of mystique in this business. If you give the groom the same set and tell him it was taken by an international award winning photographer, his response will likely be different.
  19. I live in Australia, it's hard to get anything under $1000 let alone for a full days coverage. For most weddings I'm happy to charge $500 (this one was 400 as it was interstate), because I know that many students can't pay more and I like taking photographs of weddings. Which is why I try damn hard to make them good. ($2000+ is more like the average. I also offer albums, on the price that I pay for them + a small editing fee, and have signed up with leather craftsman). Most of my clients are students who have just graduated.
    Right, I'm quick at editing but not that quick. I don't really log my hours, and I don't really like thinking about how much I spent on those photos. Thinking about it now, I spent about 1-2 days straight in finals week (which I'm not happy about) finishing off the photos + the time I spent before. I spend up to half an hour on some of the getting ready photos because I *HATE* clutter, it's the one thing I can't stand, which is why the photos look so 'plain'. I've got about 14 years experience at using photoshop, and I can also script. So for example the reception photos, which are just of different people doing different things, I can script out a sequence for them, or make my very own action, as well as presets for raw (which is why 650 seems high, but a lot of it is reception). So it probably took me closer to 40-50h, but I don't like admitting that.
    Honestly I'm proud of these photos because I *like* my style. That's why I chose it, and that's why I thought they chose me. I do a lot of other work besides weddings.
    @Katrin: For my first few weddings I spent hours and hours learning as much as I could; and I already explained why I charged for this wedding. I don't want to charge any more or any less, as I know that it's hard for students to pay the prices for the average photographer here ($1500+), but I'm also not going to give up 50-60 hours of my time freely, anymore. (If you want to know my reasons, watch randy pausch's time management lecture). I think it comes down to style then lack of competence. Most of my photos are whiter because I LIKE them like that, I love pastel colours, and most of my other work (Which is not weddings and on my website which is under construction) represents this. The majority of my photos are pastel for the 85mm, and the majority of my TSE are over saturated. This is why I'm scratching my head about why they didn't like the photos! here are some unedited ones...straight out of camera /embarrased. (I'd include more but I can't be bothered digging through my raw photos), blergh!
    Thank you @Green for the yellow white balance, I didn't notice that at all!
    I've also been looking at investing in an off camera flash or lighting gear. Unfortunately it's really hard to get that stuff in Australia, and expensive too. For example, a remote in some of the shops would cost me about $450 - and would take weeks to order in, whereas amazon (which doesn't ship a lot here) is charging about $50 for various things. I'd love to invest in one, but $400 for me is *a lot* of money. I've also looked into building one myself... which looks hard -_-'
  20. Moderators: I don't want to double post - but the edit button is gone! So please excuse me or combine it:
    I heard a few more comments from the groom. Apparently the photos look artificial, like they were copied and pasted into photoshop? And the bride thinks she looks old in a lot of the photos... :/ and that I should have had more angles at the reception. (The reception was 1 small room, and I couldn't really move). "I guess we were a bit disappointed with them as I guess we were expecting them to be a bit better but i guess we never really discussed how we wanted the final batch to be done". I still don't really know how they are disappointed since it's *exactly* like all my previous work, and I don't know how I disappointed them, nor do I think the bride looks old...

    As much as it pains me to say - and this is a question to everyone - I'm happy to go back and reedit some photos, but I think they seem like a couple that won't be pleased with whatever I do?
    I totally miss the question about the exposure: Yup, 100% manual, manual everything down to user modes and white balance and tints. In terms of exposure, for weddings I just shoot in RAW so I just aim to get everything 'right' rather then artistic, though, I think I over exposed it because I had another beach wedding and I underexposed the photos leaving horrible washed out tones on the face. I looked at a lot of jonas petersons work before shooting this wedding. (See the previous post where I included some unedited jpgs). I do know that I went overkill on the 1.2-2.8, I need to shoot more stuff at 5.6+ . Flash is 430 Ex II, and I generally don't go above 1/8, I change the angle more then the exposure.

    Thank you for everyone's comments. I'm wondering, I still love taking wedding photographs - but obviously not as a full time job (However if you think wedding photography is hard - try getting into the games industry lol!). I really want to continue, however I don't want to be the $2000 guy, I'm happy to be the $500-700 lady who takes photographs of poor students with lower expectations, and competes with other 500-700 people ( as I can't offer what $2000+ people offer, like marketing, blogs, equipment (unless hired) apart from photo quality and albums). Any advice on what I should do better next time apart from more variety and higher apature?
    (Before anyone comments that I shouldn't be doing this: There's a gap in the market for people who have just graduated uni, who's wedding isn't being paid by their parents, and want a full day coverage. They need someone; and I'm willing to do it)
  21. 3100 pics, an unhappy B&G. You need to deliver, what, 45 good pics?
    What can we learn from this?
    Possibly the B&G believed you would, in fact, deliver the pics in a style THEY liked. Who knows what that is! Maybe, they looked at your previous work and never even dreamed that your previous work would have any influence on the results generated from THEIR wedding.
    What I have learned from reading this thread is to vary my style of picture taking so that I have something to satisfy more than one person.
    I would always take some non-manual pics in case the B&G are looking for snapshot type pics.
    You can not satisfy everybody, but, with variety, you got a better shot at it.
    The customer is always right, figure out what the customer wants, deliver that.
    P.S. I envy your willingness to do wedding photography.
  22. Business wise, you're in Australia and seem to have some unique problems. I "think" William W. who posts on here, and is very knowledgeable, is over there. Maybe he will see this and add a few thoughts. Anyway, you can always work with a reflector or two to bump up the shadows and even out the facial lighting. I prefer white on one side and silver on the other, and white and gold for outdoors in the shade. But, I almost always just use flash. Keep in mind you were on a beach too, and that can be very tough. You might need to use a skrim for some shots. You can always have some people around you hold it while you take some portraits of the B and G etc. I always made a little fun thing out of it when I brought one on the beach here in NJ and I would take a few shots of whoever was holding it and it lightened the moment. Another thing to read, whatever you can find, is anything by Leon Kennemer about 'subtractive lighting".It's great insight on how to get some control over the light especially when it's too harsh.
  23. So you likely put in 50-60 hours total into this wedding?
    You are wearing out your equipment, cheapening your product, taking on huge liability issues that I don't think you grasp... to run what is basically a charity.
    Why not invest 50 hours marketing yourself and shooting portraits? Make $100 a sitting fee, give ithe images away if you wish, and probably make 10X what you made on this wedding.
  24. I'm happy to go back and reedit some photos,but I think they seem like a couple that won't be pleased with whatever I do?
    I think this is the case and a quick way to end this transaction is probably beneficial to you and the couple. You stuff is worth more than $500 for 19 hours and you are not even making that much on this deal, you don't owe this couple anything more.
    Considering the price the couple paid and the long time involved , I don't think you owe them anything. Not too many photogs can survive the couple psychoanalyzing each and every one photo of the set.
    Any advice on what I should do better next time apart from more variety and higher apature?​
    What I would like to suggest is that you should determine if you want to run this as a business or as a charity. As can be seen with this groom, just because you see yourself doing him a partially free service, your generosity might not be appreciated. So to me, if you want to do it for the long run, this has to be run as a business.
    Taping into the young graduate low budget market is one thing provided you have the right cost structure and marketing plan. As can be seen with this groom, just because you see yourself doing him a partially free service, your generosity might not be appreciated.
    When I first started out, I had similar thoughts as yours. The first paid couple I booked, their venue was an hour away. I charged them only $200 which basically just covered gas. They didn't even wanted to buy me dinner and I only got a dinner after putting in 12+ hours because some guests didn't show up. I gave them the set and had never heard from them ever again.
    After that gig, I realize this has to be run as a business and not out of the kindness of my heart. As to the first couple, the set was good that I booked many more weddings from showing people that set and it pretty much started my career.
    So the first couple got pretty much free wedding photos and I got a start in the wedding photography. It's every man for himself but we all benefit from it. So both you and the couple and not just the couple alone must benefit from this dealing or you won't enjoy doing this very long.
  25. I agree with the couple. My first major hangup here is your comment about this not being a $2000 wedding. I don't know about you or the others on this forum. THIS IS WRONG... You were hired to do your best. $10,000 or a free wedding. Money doesn't matter. Give them there money back and take a hit.

    I think you got off lucky here, based on what you showed us. If I were the couple I'd be pretty upset. Email me at I don't want to get into this where the world can see your work, such as future brides.

    Ask to post a different name next time, or hide your name.
  26. Tavia. You have said several times that you like your style. I think you may be missing the point. The idea is not to give the couple what you like but rather what they like. Getting what one likes is why one goes to a professional. Before the wedding you can ask the B & G to pick from your portfolio the look they like the best.
    Here is another suggestion. You said you shoot 100% manual. If you had slipped over to green box periodically you would have had insurance against a problem like this. I am not talking giving up your style or shooting a wedding entirely on easy mode but rather an easy way of backing up your artistic style with record photos you can use in a pinch.
    Check out strobist if you haven't already. You may be surprised what your flash can do.
    I think you have a great future in the business. You don't need an overhaul, just some tweaking.
  27. I wasn't going to comment, but after reading Bob B's last post I feel compelled to. Bottom line, I think you delivered well over $300 or
    $400 whorth of value. So get over it and move on. I admire Bob's work ethic and passion. But, at least here in the northwest, there is a
    tiered market. This market is comprised of low budget, middle and wealthy clients. Photogs here get from $50 to $50,000 per wedding.
    There's a Butt for every seat.

    You're style is different from mine but I appreciate it. My one critique would be to be more discriminating in both your shooting and in
    your post triage image selection. I typically don't like "no flash" style but you've got some really good stuff here. You'll never please them
    all. I think your product is worth about $1,000. Just my two cents.

    Let it rip and "respect".
  28. @Bob b I did my best. (Also this *is* a fake name) But think of it as a music concert, one is a student pianist that charges $20 and the other is vladimir ashkenazy who charges $200. Both are going to try their best, practice incredibly hard and on the day Ashkenazy is always going to be better then the student - no matter how much effort the student puts in. For this wedding I gave my very best, (19 hours + 50-60h). I don't know how I could have done better apart from the aparture and lack of variety. Which is what makes me so heart broken that they didn't like the photos, were "disappointed and thought they'd be a bit better", because I really did try - and I really want to please them. "If I were the couple I'd be pretty upset" - can you explain to me why they would be upset, this is why I started the thread to determine what the problem is, as the comments I've received from the groom are pretty vague. And no, I am not giving any refunds - however I'm not chasing up the extra $100 either.

    I love weddings though, more then any kind of other photography. Portraits and events are easier money for sure, but I really don't like doing them as much. I'm pretty awkward at posing people, and at events I feel silly asking everyone to take their photo (because if I don't ask some people get annoyed at me). So I would rather do weddings: I get a story, take photos of happy people who are looking their best, and I like capturing moments. (Also 2 people who love each other are easier to pose then a model or a little kid). That sounds so lame but it's true.

    In regards to marketing and sales, that's where I want to avoid spending my hours. I love advertising though! I've been to marketing conferences before (I went to every single session), worked with marketing teams for massive software companies - and even presented a marketing spiel to the company, and have done door to door phone sales. However I hate it! I'm willing to price myself 50% less if I can avoid learning how to market my small business with virtually no budget. (Especially since you can't really do guerrilla tactics or outdoor marketing which is the part I love).

    @Rick M. Great idea about getting to pick stuff from my portfolio first! And I'll definatly check out strobist. :( Unfortunatly a lot of that stuff is expensive - however bunnings (a hardware shop here) has lots of cheap lights.
    @Green I think you're right. I think I was hoping by offering a lower price, they'd appreciate the effort being put in rather then still making demands, or there is always going to be disappointment. I hope I can do the same thing that you did :)

    Okay. So mix the style up, shoot more naturally. Hopefully next time I can suss out what they like.
  29. Oh, I totally forgot! But I *Did* try to appologize to the groom about the 2 week delay, and offered a free 8x12" (metallic paper print framed). They didn't reply to that - as I asked them to choose it. I then asked about the photos after christmas, which only then I found they were disappointed :<
  30. I agree with most of the comments above and think you should read over this thread a few times to rethink your business practices.
    What you have here is cheap clients who want a cheap $400 price and expect a high end $2000-3000 product. You continue to charge prices like this, expect clients like this. Every single time I book a cheap date (maybe to fill an empty time slot or whatever) I get the same customer. They expect the world for nothing and are the first to complain about everything from delivery to some random missed shot that was never discussed. This type of customer does not respect what you do and will never respect the work. They only see the money and how cheap the deal is. Keep charging these rates and you'll keep getting this customer.
    You need to look at every aspect of your shooting and business.
    1) You shoot too many images and are not spending a moment each time to make sure you get a good shot of the scene. Spray and pray is no guarantee of good results. An experienced shooter will have a 'keeper' rate of 50% or better. For a day like this and 650 delivered top quality images, you should have shot maybe 12-1300 images. Making sure each shot was as good as you can produce.
    2) A better understanding of light and lighting to ensure the images produced are flattering. If they aren't, they should be deleted. Don't deliver something that shows dark under eye regions etc just because you think they should have that shot anyway. You could deliver 500 great images and 100 poor ones. What do they see? They see 100 poor images that, in their eyes, make the rest look less than they really are.
    3) More natural editing. This "Instagram" style is a fad that will soon pass and already has people very tired of the look. That style will not stand the test of time. Solid natural or B&W shots are what people want 10 years from now. Not this over exposed, pee green-yellow stuff that passes for stylish editing.
    4) $10/hour working time (39hrs/$400) plus 2 days travel time? Assuming you pay taxes, insurance and amortize you equipment costs. You may not know it but you lost money on this and similar deals. I calculate $1500/year in equipment wear and tear plus other costs each year. That all works out to about $250 depreciated value and costs (insurance, web site and other costs) per wedding. So based on that, you earned $150 less taxes for 3 days work. Subtract the $100 you'll never get from these people and you made $50 for 3 days. Get a job at a local coffee shop and make more money.
    Charge more, work less and get better clients who won't take 25% as a hold back cost because you didn't totally satisfy them.
    In this case, write it off. Do not spend any more time on this and close the book on this wedding. Look at every part of what you are doing and stop charging $1.50/hr rates.
  31. Your digging yourself deeper and deeper in this never ending hole.

    I keep this quiet, because it's from several years ago. Very few people know this. I played the saxophone with Cher and I've been on some sound tracks such as the very first "Friday the 13th" movie in NYC and I also played in the first Rocky movie soundtrack in Philly.

    I did get paid well. Actually I still get royalties form some of my past gigs.

    However, while in college I had to play on the dam street, called Chestnut Street in Philly, because I didn't have a penny in my pocket. I can't begin to tell you how insulted I felt playing for a few bucks in tips in 20 degree weather, so cold you can hardly move your fingers. The wet reeds would freeze on my lower lip causing it to bleed.

    So you have it. Although I'm not Kenny G, although I did record with him, I was good. I actually taught at Kent State University and York College of Music. I know Kenny well enough to tell you what he eats. He's a vegetarian. Loves apples and nuts. We are in contact with each other. He just cut a record with his 15 yr. old kid.

    Where am I going with this you may ask...I was a fantastic player, better then most musicians, good enough to teach college, but I was also broke for several years. $3 in tips, playing on the streets was enough for a bowl of soup or some rice, yet I was a good player.

    "vladimir ashkenazy who charges $200". You are correct. However did he struggle like I had to at the beginning of his career? I bet he played a mess of concerts for free until he hit his mid 20's before being able to make a living.

    One of my present passions is composing music to go with my photography work. Will I get a contract to produce a DVD? Who cares. I don't. I just do this for the passion.

    I would still like you to email me and I will tutor you on what you did wrong with your photos.

    I want to make you hungry for for passion. Did you know Ansal Adams was a concert pianist? He must have been good. However he liked photography better. More passion perhaps? I sure think so.

    Here is one bad example of your work....

    Why is the groom holding the bouquet instead of the bride? If I were this groom the last thing I'd want as a 24X30 inch, framed enlargement hanging in my house is me, the groom holding flowers. Those images would never be hung in my house and I'm sure most grooms feel this way - it's not just me. Well you did this on more then one image so it's a serious mistake. If it was just one image I'd over look it.

    If I sound as if I'm being rude, I'm not. For whatever reason, you are seeking others opinions and needless to say we all want to help. Well I feel you needed to know where some of us photographers went through to get to our levels. I was lucky when I started; I had a buttload of money saved up and I was still performing while learning the wedding photography trade.

    I hope this helps. You've gotten 4 pages of postings so far. 29 posts. Theres some good info here.
  32. Bob O'Sullivan - Thank you for your kind support. I think we came from the same mold. I know for sure there are others here that came from this same mold you and I did. My best regards.
  33. @Bob b
    Right, but my point about the musicians is, the clients possibly have the expectation of Ashkenazy yet paid for a student performer (And I also did piano for many years). In saying that, I set my prices to be that of a student performer - not of a concert great.
    In my first post I was eluding to the clients having exceptions on the Ashkenazy end, not of the student end. Simply put, I won't deliver what a $2000 photographer does, because I can't (I don't have as much experience, I don't have marketing, I am terrible at and dislike social media), and even though I tried my very best and I think the photos are good value for what they got. And I honestly don't understand why they were disappointed with the final product (apart from some of the things that you guys mentioned).

    And I'm not saying Ashkenazy is raw talent - I'm saying he's got years of experience/hard work mixed in with some raw talent, and that at the start of his career, he probably wasn't as good as he is now, but I bet then he was performing at student prices (rather then rates he is charging now). Everyone has to start somewhere, there's no magic dust to make you better.
    From doing piano for 18 years myself, I'd say street performing is like practice, you are not really performing. (Just like taking photos for fun), and if you get paid - great, if not, that's fine to. However the actual performance (say in a hall to an audience) you should get paid for in proportion to your talent, because you're not playing for yourself any longer. You need to practice 4h a day for many weeks of the same piece on order to be good. Same goes as Weddings, if I was a guest, I would not spend as much time and effort on those photos, as I would being the main. It's a job, gig, whatever not practice.
    In regards to the flowers: The Groom has to hold the flowers and give them to the bride based on riddles that the brides maid has. (It's quite possibly a Russian thing) I'm also highly against stopping and starting weddings, and would rather capture weddings on how they happened rather then interrupting peoples days. I'm not going to stop them walking down the isle and go "Wait! You're not supposed to be holding the flowers, give them to the bride".
    I'd love to hear what you have to say on some of the other things I did wrong in terms of composition, shall email you shortly.

    @Peter: Thank you so much for some of the advice. Editing time I'm happy to go under $10 an hour (Australias minimum wage is like $20) purely because it's pretty mind numbing and I can watch talks or podcasts in the background. Really good point about the composing shots more. I think that's the main thing I need to work on. I also feel guilty if I don't include 1 shot of everything - should I have maybe a "extras" folder, incase they really want an image? Or should I just deliver 100-150 images straight out? I definitely lost money: luckily I enjoy what I do.
    I'm working on revamping my website now; I've given it some thought - just on a ballpark figure: $1000 with 150 prints + 12 6x8"s and 2 12x8" too much? Pricing is one of the things that I'm really bad at and I get all nervous when people ask me how much I cost ><'
  34. Cool Tavia, I look forward to sharing ideas through emails. It's close to 2 AM here in California and I will be heading to sleep knowing this could be a lot of fun for the both of us. It won't take you long to become a well respected photographer. It will be a learning experience for us both.

    Tavia, as you keep working try to post an image asking the people here what they think. You said you practiced piano a lot. Well I'm with you, it's a lot of work, hundreds of hours of preperation for just one performance. Weddings are a lot more fun and much easier to catch on and exploring your creative mind.

    Can you try to practice a bit everyday? It can be anything. I will try to upload a photo I worked on this past week. After about 100 tries I got the image to pass my standards. This glass bowl took hours to get the strobes right and to get rid of the glare, but yet the need to keep some reflection at key points. I think I put in about 10 hours. It's a bowl with blue food coloring, water, a marble, and a very thin piece of fishing line. It was a wonderful learning experience.Well this was a lighting lesson for me for the week!

    Can you do something using your flash this week?

    I now completely understand where you are coming from. Hope this image pops up.
  35. Another try... By the way, it's not a masterpiece of course. Just a lesson I wanted to do. The thin fishing line super glued to the marble was photoshopped out.
  36. I'm a little late to the party, so I'm not going to rehash what has already been covered regarding pricing and expectations.
    The photos I looked at showed a great inconsistency in color and intensity. The bride did look like she has no or little makeup on in most of the shots. Some of the photos showed a natural skin tone (slight tan / yellowish) but many were pasty white.
    The two shots that someone (Green, I think) pointed out - the first solo shot should not have been in the final cut. The second would have worked, had the color been on.
    Also f2.8 and great is good for some shots, not all. There's a time and a place for f2.8 and wider...and a time and a place for greater DOF.
    The other complaint seems to be around the timing - a voice of experience here, never give them a window of 1.5 to 2.5 months... Give them a date and stick to it. Even it means you have to a) outsource the work, b) stay up all night, or c) give up some things... When you give a range, the client says - okay - it will be done sooner rather than later. The client tends to fix on the earliest date given, not the latest. They also tend to not accept excuses, because that is placing other things before them and their needs.
    Think of it like this:
    If you handed in your project for your class on time and the prof said - I'll have them graded between the 2nd and 9th of January. You'd be checking the website on the 2nd - expecting your grade. Then imagine if the Prof called or emailed and said - sorry something came up - It won't be graded until the 16th. How would you feel? Exactly how the bride and groom felt.
  37. This kind of situation makes me want to give up evolving my business as a professional wedding photographer. Your photos are good and you should be proud of this work especially at this price point. I peruse a lot of websites and your work is comparable to photographers charging 5 to 10 times more. Your work tells a story, shots are in focus, composed and exposed as desired. The processing of 3000+ photos would take days. For $400, the B&G have no right to complain, unless they planned this from the start to save $100. Maybe they asked a friend to comment who found slight fault. This subsequently made them question the value they got from their photographer, when it is clear that they were after an absolute bargain; I avoid this is kind of customer.
    I take it personally when any of my customers are not 100% ecstatic with the photos I give them and I know how you feel. The client's satisfaction is one of the major reasons I want to do photography.
    Out of interest, how did you generally apply clarity (Lightroom speak) in your post-processing of these photos? If you have pushed the clarity generally higher across your photos, it might be causing some of the issues. I would consider making virtual copies of the photos in your catalogue and doing a global sync decreasing the clarity and making the photos softer. Send the new DVD to the couple and ask them what they think.
    Good luck. Take this as a learning experience. Forget the $100. Your reputation as a photographer is more important.
  38. Tavia: I wasn't going to chime in but some of the comments here seem too harsh to me, that I thought I should add that I think the main problem you have is less photo technique than client perception.
    Someone else already mentioned this, but I think it bears saying again: frugal folks looking for a deal on otherwise expensive and unrepeatable services are far more likely to be “underappreciative” than those who value the service and pay what’s fair.
    Since you’re determined to service this one market, there are a few business tips you should really work on. First, manage expectations! That’s HUGE, and that applies no matter what you charge. In your case, since you’re giving people a cut-rate deal, you really really really need to make clear what you’re delivering, both quantity- and quality-wise.
    Even if you’re all busy graduate students, you need to have a sit-down meeting with your clients beforehand to show them — in person — your images in an album. You have to watch their expressions as they turn the pages and look at your pictures. You have to watch how long they look at some images, and how fast they skip over others. This will tell you OODLES about what they like, what they don't like, what they care about, and what they don't care about.
    You have to explain what your style is, what your process is, how you shoot, what sorts of images you favour. Explain PJ style, point out how it’s different from classical wedding photography. Tell them what you favour: lots of light, pastel colours, shallow depth-of-field, backlighting, natural light, soft light, whatever. And then show them what you mean by that. Most photographers dislike the salesmanship side of the business, but this part (even after you close the sale) is so important! You have to be sure there is no mistake about what your style is and what they’re going to get. You can't leave it to them looking at some galleries online. You need to walk them through what they're seeing.
    Listen to their comments. Ask them about how they envision their wedding; again, this gives you so much information about what they care about.
    Second, you need to set boundaries for your business. Yes, you absolutely want to make the B&G happy. But you also have to put limits on what you're going to do.
    Since you're so busy, you need to speed up your proof processing. They don't need to be print ready — and again, you need to explain this upfront, and perhaps over and over, that the first set of proof images you send are only base corrected for brightness/contrast, etc. There are no touch ups. Get the first batch out within the first month, (I would even say 2 weeks) and let the B&G decide what they want processed. Otherwise, you’re spending far too much of your time and effort on something they might not even appreciate or like in the end.
    Don't do more work than you have to! You're only charging $400!
    I would also severely limit the number of photos you deliver as proofs; 650 is absolutely too many for $400 (at that price, I’d stick firmly to under 300). Even if they asked for 650, I would tell them the number is part of the package. If they want 650, they have to pay more (double).
    As a business practice, giving away work for free never gets appreciated. They just think they got a great deal out of you, but that means now they know they can keep nickel-and-diming you for more.
    If, during these conversations, it becomes apparent that your clients aren’t going to be happy with either your style or your limitations, you have to be willing to walk away. After all, is that $400 really worth this much hassle and stress in your already stressful student life?
    You may have sympathy for your fellow grad students, but you can't take all the pressure onto your own shoulders — unless you truly don't care about money or gratitude. Bless your heart if that's the case.
    Last thing: I understand as someone starting out you want to go easy on your friends. I can say after having done “favours” for friends, shooting their families and weddings, that it is absolutely not worth the pain of feeling taken for granted or feeling taken advantage of just to help save your friends some money. It's much better to be on the outside looking in on that. Let them pay someone else and give them grief. I have a very good friend who didn't like her wedding photographer, didn't even get an album printed, and probably paid half (or less) the going rate in this area. Even today, 8 years after the wedding, she doesn't value any of the photos that were or were not taken that day. I’m very happy I never volunteered to shoot her wedding. That is NOT the kind of bride I want to shoot for, even if she paid more than $1400. If you care even a little for the work you do, you don't want to work for someone who barely musters a shrug about her wedding photos. Not only will that person be impossible to please (strangely, “I don’t want to waste money on photos of that one day” = “All the pictures he took were horrible!”), they’ll never lead you to more business or show your photos to anyone!
    So in reply to your plea:
    I sort of am worried. And I don't know how to please them or make them right? Cause I really, really want to​
    I really don’t think there’s anything you can do now to make them happy. How much do you want to bend backwards for them? If their happiness matters more to you than your bottom line, send the images to a pro processing lab. That gives you both an objective middleman to work on the images, and you’re offering a “professional” solution at not extra cost to them. There are lots of other things you can try to do to make it up to them, but I would argue it’s not in your interest to do so. Whatever you offer, the chances of them raving about your bend-over-backward service to all their graduate friends after this are slim, and besides, you’re not running a boutique business. You’re not trying to make money, so all this extra service (read: work & expense) is just not worth it. If these people had paid $4000, I’d be advising you to bend. For $400, just do whatever you have to to make them go away.
    For what it’s worth, I don’t think your photos are horrible. They’re very good and far better than many other “wedding photographers” I’ve surfed who charge 5x more; and I get the style you’re going for. Yes, it’s “popular,” but so what? Everything goes in and out of fashion, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. That's part of the joy of looking at old photos: that they look dated and “of the time.”
  39. Even today, 8 years after the wedding, she doesn't value any of the photos that were or were not taken that day. I’m very happy I never volunteered to shoot her wedding. That is NOT the kind of bride I want to shoot for, even if she paid more than $1400.​
    This usually has nothing to do with the photo quality. Familiarity breeds contempt; it's hard for a friend to appreciate the talent of another friend even if that person has true talents. Had your friend paid someone she did know big bucks and received the same set of photo, I bet she would have liked them more. This is just people's nature.
  40. For what it’s worth, I don’t think your photos are horrible. They’re very good and far better than many other “wedding photographers” I’ve surfed who charge 5x more​
    I have to agree with this statement. There are issues but if you surf the photos of others asking advice even on this forum these images look far more competent. I think your problem is you have decided to be very stylistic. Some will like it and some won't. The suggestions about the flash should help too. The strobist blog suggestion is a good idea. There is some nice info there and you can even buy some dvds to see what they do with simple flashes and modifiers.
    I get the style you’re going for. Yes, it’s “popular,” but so what? Everything goes in and out of fashion, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. That's part of the joy of looking at old photos: that they look dated and “of the time.”​
    I tend to disagree with this statement. A properly composed and exposed shot is timeless. The clothes or the hair may go out of style but a well made photograph is timeless. There really is no reason you can't have some stylized shots and some more traditional shots. I liked the suggestion of doing a few full auto shots. Not everyone is going to get your style. Plus I wouldn't want a bunch of trendy stylistic photos of my wedding day. Some are fine but at a certain point I will want some realistic pictures to show the grand kids so they don't think everything in 2013 looked like a cheesy Instagram filter. Shoot some pictures on full auto also for the uncivilized types that can't comprehend anything other than infinite DOF cell phone shots.
    I was quite surprised when I read on this forum the advice someone gave to a wedding photographer regarding DOF. They said to limit how often you used it because if you use it beyond a certain amount people will start to question why shots are "blurry." I frankly never really thought about it. If I am going to do protrait shooting I usually pick up a fast or long prime... or both. Your photos look like someone actually thought about what they were doing and made some decisions. I like that. But with all the stylized stuff and limited DOF I can see where you would run into trouble.
    Always remember VANILLA is the number one selling ice cream. Always has been. Always will be. Give them chunky monky and rocky road but always make sure you have some vanilla on hand.
    I also echo what others have said. Edit until you are happy. By which I mean only select the images you are comfortable with. If you have someone that can give you an honest opinion and spot things like the shadows under the eyes then let them look at the project while you are still honing your skills. Get a decent zoom lens. The fact of the matter is you probably could have used a kit lens on auto and come up with plenty of shots most customers would like. Customers aren't pixel peepers. Fretting about the difference between a 400D and 5D MKII you've learned is pointless when dealing with the vast majority of the public. You could have easily gotten the latest iteration of the 400D and had tons of money left over for a very nice speedlight and L zoom lens. I don't even know what to say about the Canon TS-E 24mm. Do you do architecture shots too or are you just using it to blur parts of portraits. You have a very expensive and oddly specialized setup. I really don't know what to make of it. The absence of a zoom is disquieting... and this is coming from a guy who shoots medium format film on a regular basis.

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