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Just wondering...

Discussion in 'People' started by ponykilr, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    I did these(took shots of two kids, but the dress on the girl was very unattractive) of a coworker of my wife back before Christmas.

    I really liked these shots and thought that they were very unique. The customer never bought one print. I asked my wife after a few weeks what was wrong. She really hadn't wanted to tell me, but the customer wasn't happy with the pics, and went to walmart for her Christmas gift pics.

    Now go ahead and tell me, are these that bad? Am I missing some element that makes these unacceptable?

    I thought I was over the pain, but I found these looking for something else tonight...and it dredged up so many hurt feelings(he says with his best "sad eyes") ...:wink: The story is true, what say you.


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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2007
  2. If it were my kid I would have bought copies of #2 for sure.
  3. Well....I suspect it's that very uniqueness that is at issue. The parent may have been expecting more traditional angles and perhaps closer-up photographs of her child, especially if she were planning to use them as Christmas gifts for Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, etc.... In the first two, the odd angles are a little disconcerting for viewing, and in the last two, the child's face is not visible at all. I suspect that in this situation the parent was expecting more of a portrait approach showing the child to good advantage, where the viewer's attention is going to be on the subject, not the odd angle at which the image was taken. Just my perspective on this, anyway....
  4. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    i bet she wanted a more "traditional" look
  5. Firelarz


    Feb 26, 2006
    Chandler, AZ
    Since you asked, IMHO, they seem far away images. There is no eye contact and the angle looking down is not very flattering. I personally like to try to shoot either a little below the subject or even with the eyes. They are cute images.
    I would not take it personally, you can't please everyone. There will always be someone out there that doesn't like something you do. Believe me I know. I have been working on business cards and have gotten hammered many times. LOL, but I think it makes us better. Take the advice you want, toss the others.

    Good luck!
  6. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    I guess maybe traditional still sells:smile:

    That isnt really what I want to do and I try to give examples of my style to every customer prior to the shoot. I have never had someone not buy anything...except this time.

    I do have other pics of this shoot that are more traditional but as far as eye contact...can you say "wild". The parents had zero control of these kids.

    Thanks for the comments guys, a different perspective is always appreciated and needed.
  7. First of #2 is definitely a winner.

    I think the angle should have been different. It's like you're shooting down on the subject. Get your pants dirty, get in the grass with the child. Come down to his/her level and really interact with the child. Get your subject's attention - these pics look like the baby didn't know/didn't care that you were there...

    Not many people would send a pic of that back/top of a child's head as a gift. IMO those two shouldn't have been shown to the client.
  8. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    LOL, I chased that kid for an hour to get what I did get. I was dirty from head to toe.:tongue:
  9. StephanieHelen


    Jun 9, 2006
    Paul, maybe the parent wanted a traditional look as suggested earlier. You can't please everyone, found that out this year too when I did children's (in costume) pictures for the dance studio; eventually I did the 'no-no' and let the parents in the room, downloaded the shots, let them see it, let them order then and there, found that it worked best for them and for me too.

    I had one grandma say that her granddaughter is prettier than the pictures showed, several things came to mind, but I tried to be good, and listened to the details, turned out that she didn't like the makeup on the little girl. I posted on this forum for help in removing the makeup, (Gordon did a top notch job on one image), then I made a few custom edits, grandma loved the pictures and couldn't be happier.

    One parent said she wanted a plain blue background after the second shoot, took 40 minutes when it should have been 10. This was my first time dealing with customers and I felt really low when she told people that the pictures were 'crappy', I know she loved the three shots until it was time to pay. All in all, I think she wanted the photos for free and thought that badmouthing my work would let her have them free if only to stop the bad PR. I didn't know what to say, couldn't believe I was in that situation, then other parents told her and others how much they appreciated my photos, but it did hurt. I had to learn to ignore the impossible and move on, I have many happy customers who made me feel great, now that I understand the motive. BTW, that parent apologized profusely to the dance studio in my absence, didn't say why she behaved that way though.

    When the parent is not around, I take a series of traditional shots, then whatever I like and that worked out. I did research a bit on childrens' portraits so I could be ready for anything (except manipulating parents :) ). I found that parents will tell me what they love about their babies given half a chance, and I follow that a bit, add my thing, include a bit of contrast and punch sometimes. All can't be winners but, if it was my kid and I could buy only one photo, would it be tough to choose from the bunch? I would have purchased the 2nd shot posted, but then I love expressions :) 
    Don't be discouraged, there are many others who want a different look from the usual.
  10. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    Thank you stephanie:smile: I guess I should explain more of my motives in posting this and explain a few more details of the shoot.

    The parents were there but had zero control of the kids. We were in a park that they picked in a bad neighborhood with rundown homes and trash everywhere. I shot more "down" than I normally do to keep the bad elements out of the pics. I tilted the lens some to make the downward angle not so "shooting kids from standing" like most snapshots that parents take themselves. I call this "making lemonaid from gutter water" in that I did the best I could with the situation.

    I basically chased the kids around, tried to make them look at me and stay still a moment while the parents looked on and offered zero help. I was frustrated, but determined.

    I was nervous about how they would look, but was surprized at how much I liked them when I was done with PP. It was a little upsetting to hear that what I thought was a success from a bad situation(my wife has to work with the mother at DSS) was not appreciated.

    As much as I appreciate all the comments, I am very aware that the ideal is to be on the same level or lower than kids for the best results. However, winos and trashy slums make horrid backgrounds for Christmas cards.

    It is easy to make good shots when you can take your time with a model you are paying (or otherwise have an arrangement with) who is trying to help you make a good shot by following direction and keeping still when asked. It is also fairly simple when the person you are photographing for a paying session is old enough to follow simple direction.

    It is something else when you are shooting for money at someone elses chosen location (which was very poor in this case) on their schedule and with a 1 year old who has zero desire to make pretty pictures. Try it sometime.

    I started the thread to simply see if most thought that these were good or not so good.
    Most of my photo friends really like the angles and think that while not traditional, they are something that they would buy. I will say it again, this is art. Art is subjective.

    Thanks to all,
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2007
  11. I can relate to you on this one. I did a shoot for someone (15 people in family portraits) on 3 days notice. I scouted the perfect location in a park by the water with thick green grass, and checked the sunset/lighting at the time I told them to be there. The day of, it was changed to an hour later in a backyard, complete with chainlink fencing, a big brown barn and a white carport awning that I had to work with in the background.

    They did order some pictures, but I hated the fact that they would tell someone that I did them. Needless to say they werent posted here!
  12. Do you want to be a successful commercial photographer or an artist? The two roles are rarely consistent. Take Vincent van Gogh as an example. He is generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. But he was a dismal failure commercially, selling only one canvas in his lifetime.

    Photographers embrace wild angles, perspective distortion, and radically narrow DOF. But customers just want sharp, colorful pictures of their kids with nice expressions on their faces.

    This piece isn't art, but it was an easy sell :) . I made sure I knew what the customer wanted beforehand, and was so confident that I printed and framed it without the client's approval. As soon as I named my price, she pulled out her wallet.

  13. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    Those are indeed good shots frank. They even look old enough to know what "say cheese" means. Got any shots of 1 year old clients?:smile:

    Perhaps I should not try to photograph 1 year olds with no discipline again. I applaud folks who work with small kids, I do not think it is for me. I do not do studio work and to me kids are best shot being kids.

    I do this because I love it. I try to please the customer and my goal is to create a memory for them. I cannot be on target 100% of the time and this was my one great bust.

    I will take from the experience the understanding that I need to object when the situation doesn't work, insist that there be a certain amount of order, and know when to just say "I'm sorry, I won't be able to do this".

    I think that this one was art, and it was an easy sale. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  14. I'd rather have a kid make ugly faces than say cheese. It's a very bad approximation of a smile.

    One year olds? I haven't done many, but I think Isabella was about that age when her dad signed me up for a portrait session. I had him bring a blankie and some toys to help get her in a good mood.


    View attachment 102572

    This last one is the money shot. The big "ball" she's sucking on is her dad's shaved head.

    View attachment 102573
  15. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    Great shots, my hat is off to you. Kids can be tough.

    Say cheese is just an expression. I get them to say rumpelstiltskin.
  16. You are right in saying that art is subjective and I can relate to how difficult it is to take pictures of kids that are totally out of control. Normally shooting down on kids gives a perspective that many do not like. I have found that getting down to their level makes for a look that most parents like. I realize that you may have been trying for a more creative look and that is fine if you have an agreement with the parents before hand; however, if not I would go with the more traditional look. I like image #3 and #4 the best in your series of shots. Had you coupled that with some more traditional images you would have had a really good package to show the parents IMO.

    Here is a more traditional look taken at the level of the child:

    NIKON D2H    ---    28mm    f/4.0    1/60s    ISO 800

    NIKON D2H    ---    35mm    f/4.0    1/125s    ISO 800
  17. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    That is great work Gordon.

    I did actually have some more traditional shots in the package, and I met the client at another location of her choice to take some in front of a huge Christmas tree. They were the epitomy of traditional. I may have given the impression that these were it, they were not, but they were the ones I suspected gave the client pause.

    I think a huge part of this stuff as a business that cant be stressed enough is to really dig into what someone expects for their money. This lady had viewed my work online and wanted some of "what I do". I should have really gotten them to talk to me about it more.

    I do this as a side thing because I enjoy it. If it were my sole source of income, I would stress over every job and it may cease to be enjoyable. I have made a lot of money in it, and to be able to do that while being smack in the middle of your favorite activity is something special.

    As far as being a "commercial photographer" goes, if I am not doing what I like, or if people cease to like my work, I will just revert to being just a hobbiest again. As it stands, I seem to be as popular as ever. I think a lot of people are tired of the "same old stuff", but it seems there are a lot who still want it. The same thing happened in wedding photography, and non-traditional is winning the race.
  18. and parents want to see the kid happy and smiling and whatnot
  19. ponykilr


    May 23, 2007
    Not too terribly hard if they are able to cooperate.

    The little fellow's sister.

  20. Pretty little girl, but what an unfortunate choice of clothing! Good grief!
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