Photographer Not Delivering Satisfactory Album

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by rachella_moss, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. Hello,
    I was recently married and contracted with a photographer to provide wedding day coverage as well as an album of
    40 panels. I received the images and am satisfied with them. The problem is now that the photographer will not
    deliver a satisfactory album. Since I must order the album within a few months or forfeit my right to purchase, I am
    seeking a refund of the fair album price so that I can take my business elsewhere. She is refusing to refund me the
    money.

    Several months ago, I sent her a list of the photos I wanted used, in the order I wanted them used, and some general
    considerations about not cropping, etc. I even sent her all the images I wanted to be used. She provided an album
    design that cropped many of the images, did not include all the images, and had the images out of order. I asked her
    to correct the problems, and she sent another layout which still had the same exact problems - photos not included,
    photos re-colored, photos cropped, photos out of order, etc.

    I asked her how we could expedite the process, and she told me to send her instructions page by page of what I
    wanted done. I did this. She provided a third album layout that still had the same exact problems - photos out of
    order, photos not arranged according to my instructions, and she even included photos I didn't even specify! (photos I
    had never seen before - definitely not the ones I provided.)

    I told her I was unhappy with this and she suggested working panel by panel. For each panel, she sent over 4-5
    versions which did not comply with my layout instructions. I told her repeatedly what was incorrect or missing. Using
    this process over several weeks, we finally got a few panels approved. However, after she sent me yet another panel
    layout which did not comply with my instructions, I finally told her I was concerned with the process, because she
    had now sent over 130+ panels that did not comply with my layout instructions. She told me to "only respond [to her]
    regarding the matter at hand." I feel that I paid for a service, I have a right to comment on how it is delivered to me - I
    am the client.

    I have asked for the appropriate portion of my payment so that I can get my album elsewhere. The amount I'm
    seeking is less than 20% of the total price. I can't say she is making an effort when she constantly sends me album
    pages for review that do not comply with my instructions. (I have even had other non-designers read my instructions
    to ensure they weren't confusing.)

    I'm so unhappy with this photographer, I just want to end the relationship. (I can't imagine she's enjoying the process
    either.) I feel like I've given her many chances to provide a satisfactory album, and she hasn't. We still only have 10%
    of the album approved after several months. At this rate, I will not have an album approved in time, and will have to
    forfeit my opportunity to purchase one.

    Any advice on how to resolve the situation would be appreciated.
     
  2. There's always two sides of the story and I'd really like to hear the other side......

    Apart from that, I don't see anything wrong with you requesting a refund but only for the photographer's actual
    material cost of the album, which may be significantly lower than what you'd want. I'll also bet that she's not enjoying
    the process either. Without assigning blame to either one of you I believe that would be the fairest solution.
    Assuming blame soley on the photographer's part, without hearing their side of the story would also be unfair. While
    you may be unhappy with the desig work, it appears that her efforts thus far have been considerable.
     
  3. I would also bear in mind that depending on what kind of album you are expecting, that as a client, you will not have access to most of the top quality albums since those companies only work directly with the photographers and album designers.
     
  4. Considerable and apparently incompetent! OP specified pictures to be used, pictures were apparently not used. OP specified no crop, pictures were cropped. OP specified order of photos, photos are presented out of order!<br>
    How frustrating! I feel for you and wish you luck. If she doesn't want to refund your money then I'd demand an extension on the deadline.
     
  5. It all comes down to what's in your contract regarding her design and your satisfaction with it - or not.
    We design lots of albums and make it clear in our contract that we consider album design to be an "artistic endeavor" and, as such, make no guarantee that the client will 'like' or even 'accept' the initial design we present. And even though we gladly accept any and all input and design suggestions prior to the start of the design process, we're the designers - not the client.

    But of course, there is a provision to make design revisions. We allow x% at no charge and have a fee for chanegs in excess of that. It works.

    Even before we accept a design client (bride or photographer), we offer a free sample design using their
    images just to see what they think of our style - or what we think of what they want. This usually helps us both to see if we might have a good chemistry.
     
  6. Well said, David.
    Also without prejudging anything, I think it would be interesting to see examples of the layouts she has provided and your specifications, especially with regard to cropping, which seems to be one of the main issues for your complaint. Many people ask for aspect ratios that are not compatible with the image and the page and struggle to see why that's a problem. Not suggesting you've done this, but it is a common cause of client/photographer mis-understanding.
    From your description it would seem she's been trying all possible avenues to meet your requests. The fact that she hasn't been able to meet them makes me wonder whether there's a fundamental problem of expectations.
    In any event, I'm sure asking for a refund for material costs and ending the contract is the best thing all round. She may turn out to be equally grateful to see the contract dissolved.
     
  7. Something appears to be getting lost in translation. You describe a stuation where material/instructions are getting sent back and forth. Why not sit down (face-to-face) and work out the album design. That might help the photographer better understand your desires, and help you better understand the photographer's design constraints and artistic considerations.
     
  8. Thank you to all for your responses. Again, my concerns with the album design were all not necessarily related to design, which I understand is subjective. The objective requests my photographer missed include repeatedly: (1) substantially cropped photos after I asked her not to (for example, cropping photos to include head and neck only - I assure you we all had bodies under our shoulders!) (2) photos used out of order (3) photos not used at all (4) photos re-colored (5) photos used which I did not select or provide, and actually had never previously seen.

    As for design considerations, those have routinely been ignored too - she even admitted when she sent in a few layouts that she did not comply with my requests.

    Her contract of course does not state a process for an album design, but in an email, she told me that I would "give the okay to have [the design] manufactured or send in any revisions would like."

    I acknowledge she did do some work, as we did approve 4 out of 130+ panels - a 3% success rate. I told her to deduct what she thought was fair compensation for producing work that did not meet requests - she has not specified an amount yet. I'm not trying to be unfair to anybody, but it appears this photographer either can't or won't produce an album that even minimally includes the photos I specified in the order I specified - I don't think that's unreasonable.

    Then of course there's the other matter of taking a client who was satisfied with her wedding photos and turning her into someone disappointed, frustrated, and angry. Goodwill and reputation certainly mean diffferent things to different people!

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
     
  9. Hi Rachella,

    First, I am sorry that you are going through all of this. I'll try to offer some insight and guidance and, hopefully, it will help you in resolving the problem.

    Before I begin, though, I need to tell you that without the photographer's side of the story, I can only make some guesses and assumptions. I'm not necessarily defending her but I am not ready to crucify her, either. :)

    My first assumption is that you are in the United States as is the photographer. Is this correct?

    There are two possibilities here: either she is ignoring your wishes or she is having a hard time understanding what you are asking for. If it's the first scenario (she just won't do it), you need to find out why. Stop any further discussion about the actual album layout for the moment and re-connect with the photographer. Why is she not providing you with the layout you want? There are, literally, dozens of answers to this. Obviously stress is mounting and you need to get that out of the way (for your own sanity).

    The second scenario is that she is not able to understand exactly what you want. To be perfectly frank, I get the sense that this is the case. If she truly didn't care and is going to give you the layout that she wants and not the one you want, there is no way she'd be spending this much time on the layout. As a wedding photographer, album design is a lot of fun and really rewarding but it's a helluva lot of work. And, it's not work that I want to redo, let alone redo multiple times. The fact that she wants to work with you on a panel by panel basis tells me that she wants to give you a product you're happy with. That means there is a communication breakdown somewhere.

    Can you post one of your emails to the photographer with the instructions that you've provided? Maybe I, or someone else here, can offer some suggestions on wording it so that it's easier for the photographer to understand.

    Here's the bad news. Even if you get a refund, having someone else do the album probably won't happen without negotiating with your photographer. I asked earlier if you are in the US. The reason I ask is because copyright law comes into place. For the moment, I'll continue my assumption that you are here in America. If not, you need to find out the copyright laws in your own country.

    Anyway, in the US, your photographer owns the copyright to the images. The amount of money you paid your photographer is irrelevant. Unless the photographer assigned you the copyright in writing (meaning that she transferred the copyright to you), she owns the images. In order for you to have someone else design your album, she is going to have to give you one of two documents: Usage License or Copyright Assignment. Here's the difference: the Usage License will give you pemission to print or copy the images but there are strict terms (usually) about what you can do with the images and how often. For example, you may have to provide the name of the person doing the album and the photographer can say in the usage license that you have her permission to have ABC Albums create an album for you but you can only have one main album printed and three parent albums. Or she may give you far wider permissions. It is up to the photographer and you are legally bound to follow the terms set out in the Usage License. The photographer still retains copyright to the images.

    The other option is to pay the photographer and have her assign you the copyright. This means you now own the rights to the pictures and you can do whatever you please, when you please, and as often as you please. Just know that many photographers will charge a very high premium for a copyright buyout. However, in your case, your photographer may be willing to strike a deal to ensure your satisfaction.

    I know it feels like a no-win situation right now and I feel for you. I work hard to ensure my clients are happy and satisfied and anytime I see someone having a problem, my heart goes out to them.

    So, to sum up this rambling - my guess is that the photographer is struggling with understanding the "big picture" of what you are wanting to achieve. Try finding layouts that you like online and send her the link so that she has a better understanding.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Mike, sometimes what the client wants is not possible. I've had clients tell me they want 5×7 prints and no cropping. That's impossible to do.

    That being said, it's then the photographer's responsibility to educate the client about what is possible and what options there are.

    We just don't know both sides here.
     
  11. This is why I don't do albums.
     
  12. Rachella,

    What's the purpose/reason for this timeline? Is your photographer offering a discount or special deal if it's done within a certain time period?
     
  13. You are happy with the coverage but not her album designs.........did you see any album samples prior to booking ? Were they satisfactory ?

    Without seeing or hearing the photographer's side of the story, it's tough to make a call on any refunds or action on your behalf.

    In MY contract, i have a clause that says ALL album designs are the choice of the studio and deemed acceptable by the client.......of course we work with the clients for any changes, but every once in a while we do get unreasonable clients who want designs that we do not produce or show in our samples.

    Akin to hiring a photographer who shoots a certain style, then requesting images of another style for their wedding.........it just won't happen.
     
  14. Thanks again to all for your responses.

    Re: my layout instructions - I have provided two lists - the first list was the order in which photos were to appear - #1,
    img xxx, #2, img xxx, etc. I also provided a disc with all the referenced images, and a printout of thumbnails of all the
    images. I also provided, per her request, written instructions for how each panel was to be laid out, exactly. (I offered
    to provide thumbnails or sketches, which she refused.) This list included instructions like, "panel #1, arranged from
    left to right, image xxx and image xxx." I also provided general requests like, no substantial cropping, keep
    orientation of photos (for example, don't crop a landscape photo to make vertical, etc.), don't recolor, etc.

    I understand that design is subjective, but using the photos I requested, in the order I requested them, and not
    recolored, seems to be a pretty basic request to fulfill. At no time has the photographer said, "I can't fulfill your
    requests because..." she just provides more layouts that don't meet the minimum requirements above.

    re: meeting in person - The photographer and I are in different parts of the state, therefore arranging an in-person
    meeting would cost more than the value of the album. In addition, I felt it best to keep a written record of all
    communications going forward once things started to sour.

    re: another designer creating an album - my contract specified that I received "digital negatives", that I (the client)
    have full reprintable permissions, and that the photographer only reserves the right to use the photos for her
    promotional purposes (i.e. advertisement, website, etc.)

    re: time period - The photographer has specified that if I don't place an order for an album within a certain period of
    time, "the Company shall have no further obligation to the client." As this period now approaches, I am concerned
    that this photographer cannot (or will not) deliver an album I'm happy with, so I won't place an order, so she won't
    fulfill our contract.

    Thanks again, I sincerely appreciate your responses and your help.
     
  15. Sounds like with the contract wording above that you have the right to get it done elsewhere. I suggest when and if you do, you get a very specific understanding, in writing, with the designer exactly what the design process and the revision process will be and what it will cost.

    And you might 'audition' several designers to choose the one you think will work best with you. But understand most designers will actually want to do the design.
     
  16. At this point, I would try to get the images and get out quietly. Don't pay for what you don't want. Also, if you've asked
    repeatedly, and the other person is just not going to -flat out- build what you asked for, don't bang your head against the
    wall forever.

    Hey, if you go into a restaurant and send the food back three times because you want filet mignon, and all they bring you
    are burritos, at some point you would realize they're simply not prepared to provide the service you desire.

    If you can't smooth this out with a phone call, go ahead and close this deal. There are nine hundred people who will
    publish a wedding photo album in this world. Also, have you considered laying this out yourself? Isn't this photographer
    going to provide a disc? I think you wrote something to that effect above.

    Hey, the copy place is calling you. There are many businesses who would print a photo book, one issue, for a
    reasonable cost. Reasonable as in, you can probably get what you want, with a little work yourself, for about a hundred
    or less. You know what photos you want in which order. You have some idea of what you want this to look like. You
    can operate a mouse. It's not totally unreasonable that you can try to do this yourself, or hire someone else who might.

    Get your hands on those images, and wrap this up with a smile.
     
  17. Depending on the album design company/software, they provide templates to put the images into. A camera's picture is a specific aspect ratio. When you display the typical 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 images in an album page, they're all different ratios so cropping has to be done.
    I'm puzzled by the coloring comments though...if you mean not converting to black and white, that's pretty easy to do unless they did it to fix mixed colored lighting...
     
  18. I agree with others above who say that there could be many reasons why the photographer isn't complying with your requests. However, on the surface, it would seem that she is waiting you out. Once you pass the deadline, she will have no further obligation, meaning you are out the money.

    Since you have decided you do not want to continue, I would do two things, in order. First would be to send a registered letter outlining what has transpired, your dissatisfaction, and your demand for the refund. Be clear and succinct. Don't get emotional and don't try to bolster your claims with excess information. Then tell her that if you don't get a.) an album layout the way you want it (a complete layout, not just parts) or b.) a refund or solution satisfactory to both of you by x date (well ahead of the purchase deadline), you will be taking the matter up with your lawyer or filing in small claims court.

    Second, make good on your threat if you can't get a resolution from your letter. Unfortunately, it sounds like threats are necessary if you are to move forward. IMHO, you do have a valid case to present if it comes to that. I personally can't imagine why the photographer doesn't just do as you ask. I can see proportion or aspect ratio problems with reprints, but with magazine style albums these days, there should not be a problem with cropping or orientation issues, good design aside. I assume you aren't asking for, say, 60 images on one page or anything like that.
     
  19. I would agree with John, take your "digi negatives" and either get someone else to do the album for you, or make your own.
    There are really cool ways to make albums these days like having them printed into a hardcover book album. Just
    something to think about! :)
     
  20. Nadine's second point is crucial - only threaten legal action if you are prepared to do so. Otherwise, you'll lose any credibility with the photographer.

    I pointed out a while ago that the photographer could have several reasons for not cropping/cropping, etc. but I would be concerned about the fact that she is not communicating this with you.

    As a quick side anecdote, I myself got married a few weeks ago. I absolutely loved everyone of our vendors (it was not my first wedding but they went out of their way to make it feel like it was), except for our pianist. Why? There were issues with some of the music we had chosen. We gave her the list 3 months earlier and she never communicated the problems until I contacted her two weeks before the wedding. Even then, she refused to take responsibility for not communicating the information to me. Problems arise, I know, and we can't give clients everything they want but it's for damned sure that it's our responsibility to be proactive.
     
  21. Firstly,

    You may be have to just forgo the cost and go elsewhere. For the stress and hassle, I would do that in your shoes.

    Secondly, it is very hard to advise on a situation without knowing the other side of the story. Not that you are in any way lying or misleading, just that it is similar to the whispers game where by the time it comes around again, it sounds changed from the original version (if you get my point). With that in mind, you may be a little to concerned about perfection and need to re-evaluate your expectations. That is to say, I would imagine you saw her work in a book before hiring her. Given that information, you probably need to understand that she just see's in a certain way and those are the glasses she wears when designing a book.

    I understand as I do 20-30 books per year and often get asked to swap this or that, change this background to that, and so on. I am happy to do it (and from your own story so far, she has more than worked to do the same for you) and really do look to have my clients totally happy by the time its all done. This sounds to me like you just have a different vision to hers.

    My suggestion at this point would be to print "proofs" of all your images (those you want to use), lay them out on sheets of paper, note anything you need to on the paper then make snapshots of your layouts. Send her those images and she should be able to work pretty well from that. Photographers are visual types and that may do the trick.

    "A thousand words do not a picture make"

    Best, D.
     
  22. simply contact the photograher and see if she will settle for providing a refund on the material cost of the album. If the two of you still want to play out the design, then simply request that she grant you a time extension and that she puts it in writting. Easy peasy.
     
  23. I want to amend what I wrote earlier:

    1. Get the images and close out quietly.
    2. Have the Better Business Bureau mediate a negotiation over the album cost. If you go to the BBB before you file a
    lawsuit, they might be able to get the matter resolved. Chances are, the photographer will use the drafts provided to say
    that she did some work. Meanwhile, you're not satisfied, and shouldn't have to pay for services you won't accept. If you
    get a mediator from the BBB, they'll probably do a few things for you:
    a. Let you know if you have a leg to stand on.
    b. Act as a disinterested party to get this resolved; maybe cooler heads will prevail.
    c. Contact the other party, which shows that you are willing to do something to raise the stakes a little.
    d. Arrive with the name "Better Business Bureau", which is almost synonymous with "Long list of businesses who can't
    resolve customer complaints to the point people want everyone to know they received poor service there."
    3. Mediation with the BBB might get your album money back. Maybe.
    4. Get someone else to print the album.
    5. Decide about complaining further, filing a lawsuit, etc., if the other party doesn't pay up.

    Rachella, you are obviously already dissatisfied. I can't think of a time I've gone to work when someone told me, "Hey,
    make sure the client is dissatisfied. It's great for business." People don't get out of bed in the morning to tick off clients
    and customers. The photographer probably also wants to get this resolved soon.

    Your photographer will probably not hold out on the album costs; she probably wants to wrap this up, too. Good luck. J.
     
  24. David--as I read it, Rachella does not want to continue with this photographer in any way, and wants more than just the material cost of the album to fund her own handling of it. The photographer, as Rachella stated in her question, is refusing to refund anything. So this matter is at an impasse already, regardless of the 'real story' or knowing both sides. Many people have repeated the statement that no real judgement on our part can be made without knowing both sides, but a judgement is not necessary to recognize the impasse. Unfortunately, drastic and/or decisive action of some kind is necessary to move the issue one way or the other, whether one or the other is right or wrong.

    I would add, to my suggestion above, that Rachella provide sketches of each panel with her letter, even though the photographer refused her offer of sketches previously. This would a.) show that the layouts are possible and b.) leave no room for ambiguity. It is curious and suspicious, actually, that the photographer refused the sketches, but this IS speculation.
     
  25. The contract terms seem a bit odd. You have a deadline point at which you can choose to order an album? Have you already paid for an album? Have you already provided the necessary (under the contract) materials? It seems (on a quick read) that you have met your obligations under the contract. If so, then the photographer can't just decide not to perform to the contract. If they are unable to adequately perform to the contract then if the contract is not clear on what the remedies are under those circumstances, then you may be able to negotiate or you may be forced to litigate.

    If unclear what your obligations are under the contract, it's time for qualified legal (laywer) help. You don't want to allow a deadline or statute to toll without acting.
     
  26. Thank you all so much, for taking the time to learn more about my situation and offer advice. You all have been so
    helpful - thank you! I wish that my photographer had even a tenth of the professionalism I've seen displayed here.
     
  27. Glad to help! Our professionalism exists at some level because we're all looking for more work and would love to be your next album designer <grin>
     
  28. I don't neccessarily see a need for "drastic action" at this point unless simple, straight-forward communication has
    been exhausted. If the OP is willing to accept a refund of the material cost of the album and offers that as a remedy,
    I can't imagine the photographer not be willing to accept it.....unless of course there is much more to the other side
    of the
    story that hasn't been revealed. Since the photographer has produced 130 panels to date, I think it's unfair to assume
    that she is trying to take advantage of the bride by "waiting" [her] out".

    Rachella, I appreciate your "thank yous" over the course of this thread. I'm really hoping that you'll revisit the thread
    with updates on your outcome so that readers get the full benefit of your experience. One other suggestion is to
    bookmark this thread and send it to your photographer. Reading your experience together with the advice that you've
    received here may open a better dimension of understanding between the two of you. Good luck, congrats on the
    wedding, & best wishes.
     
  29. Man, I guess I feel lucky that Im not in this situation. It sounds like the amount of work that this photographer is doing is way above and beyond the call of duty. Trust is a major key in working with anyone. Trusting their judgement, their ideas and their style. Many of my brides trust me to create from start to finish the album and I find that when a bride trusts me completely, I am truly able to tap into my talent because she brings the best out. I hope that you looked at the albums that the photographer had done prior to your wedding, and I take it you must have liked them, so why not trust his judgement and let him "play"? After all, his talent and judgement is the reason you chose him.
     
  30. "Glad to help! Our professionalism exists at some level because we're all looking for more work and would love to be your next album designer"

    Even with the <grin> I'd appreciate being left out of "we're all"... I wouldn't touch this one!
     
  31. Rachella, then why did you book her in the first place ?
     
  32. Thanks again to all. Yes, I will definitely update.

    I appreciate the earlier point about trust. I did trust this photographer at the outset. I chose her because we had a
    good rapport, her portfolio was beautiful and exactly the kind of style I wanted, plus I looked at several "real-life"
    clients' portfolios (i.e. what she provided to the client, not just the cream of the crop portfolio) and was very
    impressed.

    For the most part, I was satisfied with my wedding photos. She took about 800, and we could pick 85 or so to use in
    the album and to send to friends & family, etc. Not all were great, but I didn't have an expectation that every photo
    would be a winner.

    I thought her album designs that I saw were fine too. I would like to reiterate that it is not the design that I have an
    issue with at this point - I know we could reach an agreement on that. My frustration is that I can not even get the
    photographer to do the bare minimum of
    - place all the photos I selected in an album (per her request, I noted which panel was to have which photo(s) so they
    will all fit)
    - in the order I specified
    - without cropping photos too substantially (an example: there is one photo of my parents watching us take our vows.
    The photo includes them from the head down to the waist. I asked her not to crop any photos, and when she
    returned a layout using this photo, only their head and neck were visible. That seems substantial to me. And this
    was not a case of trying to fit a vertical-oriented photo into a horizontal space, or anything like that.),
    - re-coloring them (changing color photo to black and white, etc.),
    - or using photos I didn't request.

    I can understand her not fulfilling my requests maybe once, with some sort of caveat or explanation, but this has
    happened over the course of 3 full layouts, when I've repeatedly asked her to honor our requests. There has never
    been any communication as to why she has not fulfilled these requests; she literally just sends me an email with a
    link to a bunch of pictures.

    Absolutely a substantial amount of trust has been eroded after many months of this sort of service.
     
  33. David--this is my point--straight forward communication seems to have already been exhausted. Rachella is asking for "less than 20% of the total price", which is probably still more than the material cost of the album, which, I wouldn't think the photographer would want to reveal, actually. In any case, the photographer has already refused to refund anything.

    And I did preface my comment about "waiting you out", with both the statement about hearing both sides, and the phrase, "On the surface...". There is no assumption there.

    Here is truly a speculation for you--perhaps the photographer uses only templates to put albums together and just isn't capable of designing a free form album layout to such tight specs.
     
  34. Just a hunch, but the only answer I can think of that would account for this, is that the photographer contends that your selection and sequence of images, and your proposed design, is compromising what they see as the integrity of their standards for design. So, they keep on making the edits they feel needed to keep their standards intact.

    What a predicament if that's the case! I could certainly understand not wanting to release a product that I felt was substandard. However, I would object to a photographer attempting to rule with an iron fist, and not sitting down with you to openly explain their reasons.

    You guys really should have some sort of face-to-face design oriented consultation and air out these matters. That's what I would've done: some sort of consultation so the client can get just WHY I'm proposing certain ideas in the design. But I suspect by the sounds of it that photographer may be a bit too tightly wound to go about this in a friendly, educational manner.

    I think, in this case, Rachella, it's going to rest on you to move this to a happy resolution. I would suggest that you contact the photographer, and in a VERY calm and non-confrontational manner, with a smile on your lips so to speak, ask for a brief sit down where you'd be happy to hear out the photographer's reasons and ideas for your album, so that you can "understand better where they're coming from". Get my idea? IOW, don't make it into an argument. Arguing back and forth is just going to keep on raising defenses and digging heels into the sand, you know?

    Then maybe this photographer will chill out a bit, happy to be heard, and explain their concerns to you clearly, and you guys can then come to some mutually agreeable meeting of the mind that leaves you both happy and gets that album into your hands, rather then escalating this matter even further.
     
  35. Rachella,

    I design my albums. They are part of my artistic creation. I allow three pictures, NOT DESIGN, changes to my albums free of charge. Any pictures above three are at a cost. Albums are time consuming. I'm not going to redesign the album time after time. Every time I do an album they get better, and the style does not really change. This is why I have never had an issue with my albums. Most clients print with-out any changes.

    Unless you have a license to print the images how do you plan on getting your album done elsewhere? There is a copyright issue on top of all the other problems you are having.

    Is she producing an album that is unlike or below quality of the sample albums she showed you? Unless she is, it sounds as if she is doing her part.

    I am by no means trying to take sides. I can't. I have only heard one. I just wanted to give you a few things to think about.
     
  36. I am amazed that there are people who insist on dictating album design to their customers.

    I build custom software for amounts far in excess of what most people spend on their wedding photography and responding to my customers' desires while building strong systems is key to my success.
     
  37. "I am amazed that there are people who insist on dictating album design to their customers."

    I'd guess what you're really amazed at is the lack of people skills these photographers demonstrate.

    The photographer is the one with the experience to design the album and is the one familiar with the parameters, limits and technique of album design and flow. The customer probably does not have that, but is more likely to have notions that could be unrealistic and may also, knowingly or not, undermine the integrity of the album, simply because of what they picture and desire in their mind's eye.

    Creating for them what they envision then may be the photographer simply taking their money instead of creating a professional product. Is the customer always right? Consider:

    I recall once, when I was much younger, not liking the dentist giving me shots in my mouth - I had had it! So on a subsequent visit, I insisted he drill without giving me any novocaine first. He implored me to reconsider. I was adamant. I was certain I'd be fine and that's what I wanted. There was no convincing me otherwise. As you can imagine, about two seconds after he started drilling, I quickly changed my mind!

    Likewise, you hire professionals because of their expertise, not because you're the expert. You don't tell your attorney how to argue your case. You can confer with him, and part of their expertise is to give you options which get the job done, in their experienced opinion, best way possible. But if you try to take over the legal strategy itself, then you're treating your attorney like he's a notary public stamping your paperwork and depriving yourself of a better product, even though you may not think so.

    So I wouldn't be too quick to judge this photographer's intent, I'm sure it's not malicious and that it's very well meant, it's just the manner they've chosen to go about it that is lacking, though keeping in mind we've only heard one side of the story and whatever we know about the photographer has been filtered to us through the bride.
     
  38. Thanks again to all who have taken a moment to share their ideas.

    To provide some clarification, my photographer never stated at any time that she would have full creative control over the album. My contract only stipulates that, as part of the package I purchased, I would receive an album of 40 panels, premium leather, etc, that I must order within a certain time period after the wedding. It doesn't state that the design is at the photographer's discretion. In addition, verbally, when we first contracted, she told me she would design the album however I would like, and in a later email when she was describing the album design process, she stated that the album would only be produced once I gave approval. She also asked me which photos I wanted to use. So I feel like I am entitled to input on the photo order, selection, etc.

    After all these months the problem is I still don't know why my requests have been ignored. If it was a case of unreasonable requests, or poor design suggestions on my part, or whatever, she has never told me that. She just keeps submitting layout after layout that includes my selections out of order, re-colored, replaced, or left out altogether. It is frustrating on my part as I have done everything she asked me to do.

    As an update, I emailed her since starting this thread and reiterated my request for the cost of the album so that I could get it done elsewhere, but told her to deduct whatever she thought was fair for the work she did on the 4 panels that were approved. She has not yet responded.
     
  39. OK--have you asked her why she continues to NOT give you what you ask for?

    The problem with returning the cost of the album is, you are talking about the retail cost of the album, which includes some mark up by the photographer for her design time and handling of the album order, as well as possibly the fact that she shot the images being used. It is unlikely she will agree (again--speculation), but you can try.
     
  40. Dont get me wrong here but i think think your just a way to bossy about the album. I mean you want the album from a to z in a to z format and scale and to look just like you want it and everything... if your not satisfied after 130+ slides then i cant see that anyone other than yourself can design the album. You looked at her albums and liked how they were because she made designed them herself, not by the client. I believe that the photographer is trying hard to fix and finish the album and your just not letting her do it. I've gone though similar clients and no matter what i did nothing satisfied them and it was not good enough for their standard.

    I personally feel that you just want to get your moneys back from the wedding photographer.. I'm sorry but without the other side of the story I would have to go with the photographer... I just feel its photographers choice to design the album the way their style and taste is, after all thats why you picked her to shoot your wedding..

    Give her a break and let her design and build you an album with her style, and after all is done im sure you will like it at the end.

    Just my 2 cents so please dont take it personally.
     
  41. Many helpful suggestions have been made, and Tolik has made a good point. You did after all hire this lady because you
    liked the way she does things. The designs she has provided to you so far are a reflection of that. They will be a
    representation of her unique style and her vision of your wedding. As a creative professional she will understand which
    layouts work, where a series or a montage will be appropriate, where black and white images will give impact (hence the
    order and number of images being different to that specified) and where cropping will be necessary.

    It would be unthinkable for clients to dictate how most photographers do their job, for reasons stated above. Beyond
    selecting their images, and changing their minds about one or two inclusions, mine accept at the outset that I control the
    creative process. It seems your photographer has made significant efforts to provide layouts you will like - what
    explanations has she offered each time you've rejected them? I know how easy it can be to get carried away and frustrated
    when things aren't exactly as we wish, but it can't hurt to sit down and look at her designs once more. From what you've
    said, she's done a great deal of work in the hope of pleasing you. Whilst I can sympathise with any client who feels they
    are not being listened to I nevertheless think that she probably knows best.

    Take a look at her layouts again - are they really so dreadful? The images she has converted to black and white (against
    your wishes) - are they not pleasing? Is your layout, as a non-photographer, truly 'better'?
     
  42. To recent posters, thank you for your comments.

    My photographer told me that the album would be designed and manufactured according to my satisfaction, and only
    upon my approval. So, whether the layouts are "better" or not is, to me, a subjective question that only I as the client
    and final "approver" am qualified under our contract to judge. I appreciate that not every photographer operates this
    way, but that is the way my photographer operates, so those are the circumstances under which we're working.

    I have tried to focus not so much on design or style at this point, as I'm just trying to get the photos I requested in
    the order I requested (the "objective" part of the equation), but I am also very unhappy with the style of the albums
    she has provided thus far. For example, my bridesmaids wore strapless dresses; some of the photos she cropped
    were cropped in such a way that the bridesmaids appeared topless. On another layout, for example, she placed a
    headshot of my father directly on top of another photo of the groom from behind - so my father's head was on top of
    my husband's posterior.

    The above, and the rest of the work provided, is definitely not indicative of the album design work I saw her
    in her portfolio previously, otherwise I would not have worked with her. I have never received an explanation as to why
    my requests weren't honored, or why a layout was designed the way it was.
     
  43. I see, then I think the only thing you can try to do at this point is try once again to speak to your photographer at length, this is a reasonable request and one hopes she would not object to it. Go through the rationale for the layouts being as they are, and make the point once more that you feel the work is not representative of what you were shown at the outset. I'm sure that if the two of you could get together, calmly, then this could be resolved. Even though you may not feel like it at this stage, this will involve some diplomacy on your part. I say this because in criticising her work, even where there is cause, she will be sensitive to that. At all costs, try to avoid the legal avenue, which will be immensely stressful for you both.
     
  44. Rachella--what have you done so far?

    I am puzzled as to why you both are unable to communicate. Have you asked her directly why she keeps designing the layouts as she does, seemingly ignoring your requests? Because if you are both unable to communicate, you need to do something to move this issue one way or the other.
     
  45. I'm guessing that Rachella is still waiting for a response to the last she sent on November 14th....did you also send her a bookmark of this thread? I'll bet that would likely get an interesting response....
     
  46. Thanks again for your ideas and feedback - your thoughts are very much appreciated.

    No, I have not heard back from the photographer since I requested a refund minus whatever costs she deemed fair for
    the approved work produced. I don't expect I will hear anything - honestly, she has my money, I prepaid for a service
    which she is not delivering satisfactorily, plus if I don't purchase an album from her, she gets to keep more of my
    money. I don't see that she has any incentive to resolve this situation.

    re: earlier communication - I have asked her repeatedly what I can do or provide to get the album in a state I can
    approve it. This has been going on for months, so I won't repeat every communication we've had, but yes, I have
    asked "why" as to certain things and there's been no response. I once expressed a concern about the process, and
    she emailed me back, "Please limit your emails to comments about the proof only." I can't really imagine a more
    decisive way to break off communication with a client. The process has been incredibly frustrating.

    I will give her another week to respond to my request or propose an alternate resolution, after which time I don't see
    any other option but pursuing mediation with the BBB and/or pursuing legal remedies. It's really too bad because I
    was so excited to work with her before the wedding, I told all my friends and family what a great job she would do for
    us; now I feel taken and cheated and disappointed. Not exactly the kind of feeling one wants to have when thinking
    about their wedding photos.
     
  47. I think it's time to contact BBB, you've waited long enough..........sending her a bookmark to this thread may help her to see the situation in a different light, for sure it's not likely to make the situation any worse.........good luck.
     
  48. I'm just curious, but have you SPOKEN to her directly about this? Either in person or on the phone? It sounds like all of
    your communication has been through email, and sometimes it's easier for people to skirt around a direct question or avoid
    answering a direct question all together when they don't have to do "face to face."
     
  49. >>my photographer never stated at any time that she would have full creative control over the album....

    My photographer told me that the album would be designed and manufactured according to my satisfaction, and only
    upon my approval. >>

    That's what she may have said, but it's not what she's doing. But at this point, whether or not it's because she
    does wish to have final say over how the album looks and is turned off to dealing with you or she's just not that
    good with people to begin with, it's all moot because she's not responding to your request for a refund or
    explaining herself - and I'm afraid that means you filing in small claims (if appropriate for the amount you're
    seeking), even if it's to get her motivated to settle once she receives the Complaint.
     
  50. Hi Rachella, I wonder if your photographer is being limited by the design software that she is using. To be honest, photographers are not always the best designers which is why I have a designer on staff to work directly with my brides.
    Please see this Administrative thread which explains the rules about posting websites for self promotion. http://www.photo.net/site-help-forum/00QbV5​
     
  51. Re: speaking to the photographer - We spoke directly very early on in the process, but most of our communication
    has been via email. There are two reasons for this: first, she asked me to always write out and send her my
    comments, and second, once it looked to me like there might be issues, I thought it best to keep a written record of
    all communication.

    Re: album software - I don't know what album design software my photographer is using. I was never told that I would
    be limited to particular styles, templates, or designs.

    I think someone had also asked about having another designer design the album and this photographer would just
    get it manufactured. This is an option I considered proposing, however a substantial amount of trust has been eroded
    based on her behavior, and I really don't trust her to not manipulate the other designer's work before submitting for
    manufacture. Perhaps if she would sign some sort of addendum to the contract that she would replacce the album if
    the final product deviated in some significant way(s) from the work submitted (i.e. photos switched or recolored or
    something) I would consider it, but I'm not sure of all the ways she could manipulate the work and therefore all the
    ways I could protect against it.

    Thanks again for all thoughts and ideas.
     
  52. Update:
    After not hearing from my photographer for several weeks, I sent my photographer a registered letter succintly stating
    the issues and the steps I had taken to resolve the problems and the unsatisfactory results, repeated my request for
    a refund for the album, and closed the letter by stating that I would seek all available remedies.

    A few days after sending the letter my photographer emailed me again and offered about 1/3 of the refund I was
    seeking, probably the material cost of the album that many of the earlier posters had referred to. I accepted the offer.
    I may have to pay a bit more in the long run, but at least I will be able to choose a designer who will actually commit
    to working with me.

    Thank you all again for your advice and ideas, it has been a tremendous help.
     
  53. Glad things worked out for you finally. I suspect the amount was the material cost of the album. Thanks for the followup information & best wishes.
     

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