My Client wants EVERY photo

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by v_blanks, May 27, 2014.

  1. hello, I just sent out the final shots of a wedding i did last month, now my client is expecting me to upload ALL shots taken to a dvd. I told her I do not distribute photos that don't hold up to the standard I hold them to.
    She is demanding that I provide "proofs" of all photos, good or bad so that they can pick which photos they want.
    I explained to her that I shoot in RAW format & don't provide proofs of every photo taken since processing (not photoshopping) would take much longer than desired.

    I gave her a VERY good price since I was only working 3 hours and there was no contract. I've shot 2 other weddings before this (also no contract) and this is the first time this has happened.
    I am thinking about having her pay me extra if she is going to make me go through her photos again. I really don't want to have to send her the photos I don't approve of since my name will be associated with them. She is also putting me behind schedule as I have 2 other projects in the works.
    I'd appreciate some advice here.
  2. Simple answer: give them to her. Just give her the RAW files, after that she'll either see what you mean by "conversion" and agree to have you do it (for a price) or take them elsewhere for someone to convert. Either way you can claim you've fulfilled your obligation.
  3. I told her that I've already discarded them & she said if they're not permanently deleted, she wants them burned to a disc. I'm thinking to tell her that the photos have been permanently deleted just so I don't have to deal with it anymore.
    I'm really ticked off because I really did her a favor, worked hard for her AND made exceptions for her (she didn't even pay me in full -took her weeks for me to get paid in full- & I did not charge her a late fee)
  4. This reason is why I tell them in the meeting up front they will not be getting "ALL" the photos that they will get all photographer accepted images with minor corrections (color correction done in ACR) then they can choose from those a per-determined amount of images that I will do a full photoshop workup of. This is also why contracts even simple contracts are very important. There are simple contracts online that you can download where if nothing else it helps spell out in writing what the person will get and what your compensation will be. I always ask for half of the money as a save the date fee non-refundable (attorney advised not to call it a deposit) then the second half of the money is to be paid by 2 weeks prior to the wedding. I would still shoot it if they didn't pay on time but I would not deliver anything until payment was made.
    I guess I would give her all the files in JPG or give her most of the shots renamed to seem to be sequential. Then chalk this up to another learning experience.
  5. Victoria,
    I did read your entire message, but at first, after seeing your subject line, I just scanned your post for the words I expected to see: "no contract". And there they were.
    Yours is a question that gets posted here (and no doubt on every other forum open to beginning wedding photographers) fairly often. Like a lot of the problems we deal with, the best thing is to avoid the problem before it occurs. To do that:
    • Never work without a contract. When I shot my first weddings for free I had a contract. The point of the contract is to clarify and memorialize the key things that each party can expect from the transaction — and to state also what they will not get. The contract doesn't have to be a complex five-page document that you pay a lawyer $1000 to write for you. It doesn't have to be a formal contract you downloaded. it doesn't even have to have the word "contract" at the top of it. But it does need to be a written document that the client acknowledges receiving and that the client accepts in writing (if only by email). And it needs to state the basic and most important terms of your agreement: EXACTLY what the client is expected to pay and when, what you're going to deliver (this can be a little less exact but should be clear) and when, and a handful of other exceptions and stipulations.
    • Have a clause in your contract that states clearly that the client WILL NOT get every photo taken and perhaps suggesting also how many images (approximately) the client can expect to receive.
    Since you didn't do that, you now have to deal with this demand from the client as if you were the first person in history to have this problem. And as you have discovered, it's awkward. The position you have now for dealing with the client isn't a strong one.

    When I make my first pass through the images, I am looking for two things only: the very small handful of strongest images, and the larger handful of images that I mark for immediate deletion. The instant deletes include any that are badly out of focus, where the flash failed to fire, where somebody eyes are closed or somebody has a fork halfway into her mouth, as well as any test images that I shot during the event. I purge these immediately. These aren't images that "don't meet my standards." These are images that don't meet anybody's standard.
    So (depending on what you have said already), you might be able to tell the client fairly and honestly that many of the photos have already been deleted. This is a reasonable excuse, for some of the photos.

    What you do probably depends in part on the quality of the rest images you didn't show her. How far below acceptability do these images fall?
    When I shot my first weddings, I might shoot 800 photos and literally hundreds of them were embarrassing stinkers. As I said already, there are always out of focus shots, and bad exposures, but never very many. With autofocus and auto exposure these days, these shouldn't be common problems. No, the problem for me when I got started was that a lot of the shots either lacked any sense of composition or were taken at the wrong instant. My own reaction to a lot of my early stinkers was, Why on earth did I press the shutter at this moment? And I don't mean that I've looked back on them years later and thought they were stinkers: I mean, I knew at the time they were stinkers. Luckily, there were also some real keepers in there — including a couple of photos that to this day I'm kind of proud of — and a much larger number of images that were at least, at the time, minimally acceptable.
    So I had a lot of photos that I didn't want to give the bride. But then, I had the benefit of a contract from the beginning and my contracts have always stated that the bride simply WILL NOT see "all" the photos that were taken.
    If at least some of the images that you've held back are minimally acceptable, it may appease the client if you can share them with her. Pull out those that aren't too bad — but aren't too good, either — and offer them to the client as a demonstration of what she's not missing. Deliver these separately. If you're showing her the images online, put these in a separate gallery. Crop them small. You might do something else to distinguish them, like make them all black and white. Watermark them (subtly) with the word "PROOF."

    I always deliver images to clients in a couple of groups.
    The A group are the images I consider the keepers from the event. Those are the images I use in the album, the images that get printed, etc. The A group includes the small handful of best images (the ones I might use on my web site), but the majority of the images in the A group are simply decent photos that provide the coverage of the event that the client hired me to provide.
    The B group consists of pictures that, while not embarrassing or "bad" in an absolute sense, don't deserve to be in the A group. The difference between the A and the B group should be pretty clear even to someone without training. I give the B group images minimal processing, and I don't provide them as high-res images. When I deliver the images after the event, I always provide two CDs: the A group and the B group. I may label the B group CD "outtakes" or "extras". My contract makes no mention of a B group and the terms of my contract are satisfied entirely by the A group. The B group is simply a discretionary bonus.
    About "minimal processing." Notwithstanding the technology built into modern cameras, beginning photographers often struggle with exposure, and weddings are (I think) just about the ultimate challenge in this regard. If you have images that are decently composed and reasonably well focused but are underexposed or overexposed, see if they can be fixed. I do not personally feel I should charge the client extra for fixing photos that you didn't expose properly.

    Good luck. Stay calm.
  6. This is an aside, but I feel compelled to mention it:
    Victoria, assuming that you have registered here under your real name, if your client googles you, she will immediately find this thread.
  7. Excellent point Noreen!
    Especially because one might interpret the statement to be that the OP is lying to their client.
    However the lies aren't necessary. Sometime NO means NO. You own the images. you have provided the services you said you would, and have been paid your fee. The rest are yours to delete or whatever. No contract puts you in a weaker legal standing, but save your correspondence and keep repeating exactly the same thing (what you said you'd provide) to her. Her acknowledgement that she has recieved what you've agreed to provide will strengthen your legal argument should it come to that.
    I would have asked her what she was looking for, what she felt you missed, why she is looking for something in particular? This is by far the most common reason people ask for 'all' after delivery - either that or you did a bad job.
    I once had a client take this exact tact, demanding, being obtuse. I asked her why, and it turned out a grandparent had died, and she was hoping to find one that would include him suitably to be used as a portrait since he had eschewed photography most of the time.
    However I would NEVER lie to a client about something like this.
  8. Time to start working with a contract.
    You screwed up by not addressing the issue beforehand, so give her the finished files that you worked and the Raw files for her to do with as she pleases.
    It's not worth a public relations hassle to fight with her. You learned a lesson, now incorporate it into a simple contract for the future.
  9. Do you use Lightroom? If so, technically this would be easy to do. auto process everything, create a good size but semi -
    transparent watermark ( if you don't want to use your name, just have it say PROOF) that is centered and create a web
    gallery of images that are 600-800 pixels on the long side, and send her the link to it or burn her a disk with the images
    on it. After all she is just asking for proofs.

    Stripping away the technical aspect, you have three fundamental real world problems here:
    1) No contract specifying what you plan on delivering.
    2) Your pride (The "how dare my client question my judgement!" attitude.)
    3) A dissatisfied customer.

    There are so.utions for all three and since you are intelligent enough to use a computer I suspect you are also smart
    enough to figure out a couple of solutions to all three.

    Now while it is rare, there are customers who will never be satisfied with anything you do. They thrive on creating
    unsolvable dramas. If this describes your client, then find a way to fire them. If you are worried about them bad mouthing
    you, trust me, all of their family, friends and acquaintances already know exactly who the person is they have chosen to
    hang out with.
  10. "They thrive on creating unsolvable dramas." Perfect description Ellis.

    I call them, the weddings that never end. Even after 25+ years, you can still recall all the details of how many trips you
    made to the lab and what craziness you went through and they still weren't that happy.
  11. I agree with Patrick S. Give them to her as RAW files and be done with it. If you try to compromise they will drive you nuts, trust me.
  12. "there was no contract."
    Game over.
  13. Thats your job to give every picture, that is what your there for. Obviously you don't need to give duplicates bad shots and test shots etc. No one is following you around with a counter. If you take a candid picture or a portrait you need to give account for at least one usable picture. You don't need to give them the first couple pictures you took to get it right. If on the other hand you took a picture that the clients requested and you messed it up you need to keep that picture to cover yourself. When you give the disc of photos or proofs you say this is everything...Period. When questioned you say this is my photo coverage of your event. Don't let anyone put you in a corner. When I order a steak I don't ask for the whole cow. I expect to be served with the best part of the cow with all the fat cut off. LOL
  14. Your name is associate with the photos so you obviously don't want to supply clients with outtakes, bad exposures, closed eyes. I would explain that she already has all images that were useable and that the rest "hit the floor of the editing room".
    I disagree with those who stated "give her the files so you can be done". You won't be done if you do that. Because you already TOLD her that you deleted them - if the files now magically reappear, she knows you lied and will now continue to wonder and ask you if there are more. With good reason. So stick to your guns and leave it at that.
    The lesson is: only work with a contract, re-name your files when exporting so there is no gap in sequence, and only ever submit your best work. Also, the client doesn't care if you have other commitments, are tired, gave them a good price or that you're not feeling it. Neither should they care. They paid for a product and expect that product [minus what I outlined above]. If the reason for not giving her more files is "not wanting to go through the photos again", then that's lazy. If, however, you gave her your best, then that's a different story.
  15. Another "No Contract" wedding. When will people learn?
  16. It sounds like you have given her all the photos. What most people don't understand is that their is a difference between photos and files. If you click the shutter five times but the subject blinks on two of them and the remaining three are just duplicates, that's one photo. If you made half a dozen shots to get the exposure dialed in, those don't count. Backs of heads, etc. don't count and under/over exposed, out of focus are obvious.

    You are under no obligation to send her anything more at all. But if you want to appease her, you could send her some of the alternate shots -- the ones that are technically fine and nobody's picking their nose but maybe you rejected because you had a better shot of the same picture.

    Don't send her raw files, since there's no guarantee she can even open them on her computer. But you don't have to set their and process each shot either. Just do a batch conversion to jpg.

    As others have said, never ever shoot without a contract. Include in your contract something to the effect that selection of images to be shown is at the sole discretion of the photographer. Explain to your clients up front that a shot is not the same as a picture, that it can sometimes take several shots to get the picture.
  17. Marcus I. makes an excellent point: ask her what she’s missing or what she's looking for. As I said earlier, a "you won't get every picture" clause has always been in my contracts, but I did have one bride who asked me for all the photos anyway. Like Marcus, I asked what she was missing. Turns out that the only 10-minute break I took in a seven hour day was taken during what I thought was a lull in the reception when she danced with her grandmother. I had told the bride before I stepped out to eat my yogurt, so she was notified. But stuff happens. I felt bad but there wasn't anything I could do, weeks after the event. The bride was disappointed but understood, and a crisis was averted.

    Michael M. writes:
    Thats your job to give every picture, that is what you're there for. Obviously you don't need to give duplicates bad shots and test shots etc. No one is following you around with a counter.​
    I respectfully disagree with this. At least, it sure isn't my business model — and I don't think it's the business model of my much more successful local colleagues.

    I'm there to create a record of the event in attractive photos. I'm under contract to provide usually around 150 photos. I'm not under contract to "give every picture." Michael adds, "obviously you don't have to give duplicates... etc." Well, what does "etc." mean? In my case, it means I don't give the photos that I don't want to give.

    As for nobody following you around with a counter, this isn't quite true in my experience. Well, nobody is literally following me around with a counter. But, my image files are named in a way that provides a counter to anybody who's even a little bit smart. And I have in fact had a client ask where files P87035 through P87044 went.

    I've also had clients remember that I took such-and-such a shot. They kind of remember seeing me take it. Sometimes they're wrong — they might be imagining it, or they may have seen me raise my camera without realizing that I did not press the shutter. But it's remarkable what some clients remember.

    Final point: Everybody does what they think best, and that's fine. But I personally never give clients raw files. Of course, occasionally a raw file provides "evidence" that a shot wasn't properly exposed, but there are several solid reasons not to give raw files to clients besides trying to hide your occasional mistakes.
    1. Clients often don't have any idea what to do with raw files.
    2. Even if you did absolutely everything 100% right in taking the shot, raw files need work being converted. That's why they're called "raw." White balance is a pretty common problem, but another common problem in wedding photography is balancing exposure of parts of the image when you've got a white wedding gown and a black suit side by side. Client might have a program (say, iPhoto) that has some default raw adjustments built in that will help the image, but client's probably not going to think of using an adjustment brush to darken the groom's suit.
    3. Nowadays I don't give them away for good economic reasons. I'm trying to sell prints and my clients know this from the start. But the raws are like the negatives and if the client has the raw files, they don't need me any more to make prints, etc.
    4. The raw files are also (to some degree) the proof that I took the photos. Like many in this forum, I have in fact had photos stolen on the internet. I'd hate to write to somebody demanding that they remove my photos from their website, and have them respond that they had the raw files and that I should buzz off.
    In short, I tend to think that giving the clients the raw files means failing to do an important part of my basic job.

    If you feel the urge to give the client high-res files, my advice would be: don't give the raws. Instead, do basic correction of exposure in Lightroom (sometimes as simply as a click on the Auto correct button) or whatever you use, then provide high-res jpegs. At least that's my advice. Obviously, there's disagreement among experienced shooters here, so you'll have to think this one through and make a decision that you feel comfortable with.

  18. So tell me Will, what pictures are you not giving them? Your a professional doing a job. I would assume when you take.
    Picture you are doing it to give to the client as a part of your coverage. I plainly said you don't give the bad pictures. What
    else is there? I am certainly not going to waiste my time taking pictures that I don't plan to show for potential sales.
  19. When I shot my first weddings for free I had a contract.​

    You didn't. You had an agreement.
  20. You didn't. You had an agreement.​
    While agreeing to do something for nothing in return (consideration) is an unenforceable agreement, "working for free" does not necessarily mean there is nothing given in return. Allowing one's wedding to be shot for practice has value. Especially considering that the client could have obtained someone with more experience. To say that I will shoot your wedding next year is unenforceable. To agree that I will shoot it if you let me get the experience probably is.

    Also, there can be a substitute for consideration. Detrimental reliance can make a promise with no value exchanged enforceable. Reasonable reliance on a promise to shoot a wedding, and that another photographer need not be secured, can make the promise enforceable when obtaining a replacement photographer is not feasible. The remedy in that event is a more uncertain issue due to the special nature of the service. That kind of reliance can make an agreement a contract in general however.

    People shouldn't be given the impression that they can agree to shoot a wedding "for free" and have a legal basis to walk away. Alternatively, they should also know that their contract could wind up being a mere unenforceable agreement. Even that, however, affords some protection in that there would be nothing to legally enforce against anyone.
  21. Thank you to John H. for replying to Steve and saving me the time. As John correctly states, there are forms of consideration besides money. I'm almost twenty years now from my year of Contracts in law school but I recall also that there was a fair bit of talk about the legal dimensions of promises. (John touches on this by mentioning detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel.)
    But in this context, it does not matter whether you call it a contract or an agreement or both, or neither. What matters is that you have one.

    I will say again something I'm pretty sure I've said here before. My Contracts professor told us again and again that the primary purpose of a contract is to allow the transaction between the parties to proceed to the their mutual satisfaction. It is not to give one side a cudgel with which to beat the other up in court. This is real-world lawyering, not dictionary or textbook theory. If the written agreement does its job, the question of whether it's a technically correct contract at law never arises.
    My professor went on to say that, if the parties end up in court, it means the contract failed to serve its primary purpose. Now the "contract" as a document becomes a piece of evidence for the court to consider. This is an important purpose, too, of course, but it's secondary. And the contract as a piece of evidence can be countered by other evidence.
    Of course, the less you can trust the other party, the more you're going to want a formal contract with lots of clarifications. But if you're shooting a wedding for a relative or friend for free or almost for free, there shouldn't be major trust issues. If there are, don't do it! Actually that goes even for dealing with strangers. The bigger problem in doing weddings for free is the real possibility that you may disappoint your client and that it may hurt your future relationship. It's a risk.

    Anyone who is going to shoot a wedding should have at least a brief piece of writing that states each party's expectations simply and clearly. This agreement gets acknowledged (and if only by inference, accepted) by each party. It can be a simple exchange of emails.
    This is not law. It's human relations. Most of us do this sort of thing all the time, not just in dealing with clients but in dealing with family members, with friends, people we're on volunteer committees with, and so on. When you agree to do something for somebody six or twelve months in the future, if it's something significant, you don't want to rely upon your memory of a conversation. In fact, it's not just human relations. It's pretty close to common sense.
  22. I keep see people say 'send them the RAWS - they won't be able to use/see them!'
    This is completely incorrect! If you Google search 'free raw converter' you'll find half a dozen freeware programs that can read and convert the files to DNGs, TIFFs, JPEGs, etc. This of course doesn't include the normal image editing software which can virtually all read and convert RAWs... Even if they can only convert to DNG (using adobe's FREE RAW converter for example), DNG is readable by numerous applications.
    Even Windows now has an install-able codec that allows you to view RAWs in the folder view and picture viewer!
    This is assuming that the client doesn't have any serious Canon (or Nikon) cameras in the first place.
    And guess what? Those RAWs (converted on a clients computer) are going to look worse than if you had done a proper conversion in the first place.
    To assume that clients are too stupid to use google to solve a problem you intentionally saddled them with is very naive. To not expect some blowback because you intentionally tried to sabotage what you said you'd do? Naive is putting it kindly.
  23. ... the primary purpose of a contract is to allow the transaction between the parties to proceed to the their mutual satisfaction. ...​

    This (and the following sentences and paragraphs) is the best summary of the rationale for contracts I've ever read. Yes, shoot with a contract! Do it because it vastly increases the likelihood you and your client will be happy!
  24. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    William Porter:
    "... My Contracts professor told us again and again the primary purpose of a contract is to allow the transaction between the parties to proceed to the their mutual satisfaction. ..."
    "...It's pretty close to common sense."​
    Marcus Ian:
    "This (and the following sentences and paragraphs) is the best summary of the rationale for contracts I've ever read."​

    Marcus beat me to it.
  25. "But, my image files are named in a way that provides a counter to anybody who's even a little bit smart. And I have in fact had a client ask where files P87035 through P87044 went." - you simply re-name your files upon exporting them from Lightroom or Aperture or whatever program you use for editing/file management. For consistency, since I usually combine files from up to 4 different cameras, everything the client sees is "client name - file name in consecutive numbers". Anything else really just opens a can of worms i.e. clients asking where the 5 missing photos are. Well, those 5 photos might be me testing my exposure, somebody blinking, me selecting my favorite of the 6 bouquet shots I took ... it doesn't necessarily mean they're bad photos, just means they weren't the best of the bunch and simply didn't make the cut.
    Like a band releasing the final mix of their album, not every single take it took to record each individual song.
  26. it


    If you've been paid already, refuse.
  27. No contract, no liability to give them anything. That works both ways, though. They could sue you (they'd be insane to, but they could) for the photos you did not provide.
    The best answer to this (now it's too late, but...) would have been "You did receive every photograph there is from the shoot. There is nothing else."
    Like everyone else is saying here, in the future, have a contract. Contracts manage expectations on both sides.
  28. Also...
    "I'm really ticked off because I really did her a favor, worked hard for her AND made exceptions for her (she didn't even pay me in full -took her weeks for me to get paid in full- & I did not charge her a late fee)"

    Anyone reading this late who is new to the profession, I highly recommend you bear the following in mind: The less they pay, the less they value you, the less they respect you, and the more they want from you for their money.
  29. Just tell her NO...the photos are a reflection of your work and the photos are held to a standard that you determine.
    Just as you would not post a photo of her picking her will not post photos that show your business in a bad light.
  30. Dave Gardner hit the nail on the head.
  31. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    ^ Certainly Dave's simile brings a basic reality to the situation; one which not many could argue against.
    I trust that you are well and all is good, Mary. It is so very nice to see your nameplate in the Wedding Forum.
  32. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Hi Mary.

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