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Turning down work, because it doesn't feel right.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Gr8Tr1x, May 18, 2007.

  1. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    Have you ever turned down a photo shoot because it didn’t feel right?

    I have been on the phone and exchanging emails with a girl who contacted me about doing some engagement shots over the weekend. I explained my process to her and informed her that a 1 hr shoot would result in 15-20 images that would be hers to keep as the final product. The images would be delivered on a DVD as hi-res images.

    She said she’d confer with her fiancé. Today I heard back from her, and she didn’t seem happy with that deal. She felt inclined to be owed ALL of the images since she was paying for them. I explained in detail how the process works, with RAW…the whole workflow, and the idea of not processing the same pose even if it is in 4-5 consecutive shots. I pick the best from the series and process those.

    I recommended another photographer to her. Her emails became increasingly terse and demanding, so I just explained that I wasn’t the best fit for her, wished her luck and reiterated my recommendation for another photographer.

    Luckily I don’t rely on situations like this for my livelihood. It just didn’t feel right to me. Anyone else have an experience like this?
  2. It's the same in any business. I run a landscape and lawn maintenance business on the side and do all the bidding for potential customers.

    I have run across several customers along the way that agree to a price for a scheduled service, only to nit-pick the work that was done to get a lower price than we agreed on or just drive you insane about this and that. In the end, you want to pay someone else to take them off your hands. Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way to see through new potential problem customers up front. When they start saying "will you knock a few bucks off for this or will you take a few bucks off if you do it this way" I simply say "no ma'am or sir, this is the price we do for the top notch service we provide.... if you want it done cheaper for less quality work, I suggest you call the next guy in the yellow pages who wont mind having his truck sitting in front of your house when the lawn looks terrible"

    On the other hand, I have people that I never hear from except Christmas time to deliver a gift and the rest of the year they send prompt payment, just wave when they see you pull-up and know they are paying for a quality service.

    So in a nutshell.... this one might not, but the next one will... and they will cause you less greif.... and that stands for any business where you are dealing with people. You may talk that girl into your photo package now, but when the job is done she will more than likely cause you more headaches than her check is worth. :wink:
  3. matthew.paul

    matthew.paul Guest

    Never had that experience, but I know what you mean. You only want to hand over you best, polished work, because its your reputation on the line when other people view it. And who would want to edit that many RAW's? You just pick the best and edit those.

    Hopefully they can find a photographer to put up with their demands...that might be hard to find. :biggrin:
  4. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I have experienced the same situation, both in photography and with the residential painting business that I own. I avow to do the absolute best job possible, but I do that under total control of the situation and if I cannot fulfill either the client's or my expectations, I am content to walk away from the job.
  5. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    Thanks Guys. I explained the situation to my wife, and she said I did the right thing. From the way the girl was speaking to me, she had all the symptoms of something I did not want to get involved with, especially for what I was charging her.

    I guess it was better to sniff that out early, than be involved with someone complaining that she didn't get enough pictures.

    On a side note, my wedding photographer only offered us ONE image from our engagement shoot, and we had to buy the rest from her. I thought I was offering a service at a reasonable price, but I guess you can't please everyone.

    Thanks again for the replies.
  6. Joshua, my observation about customers is that some of the ones you initially think are nice, reasonable people turn out to be jerks, but 100% of those you think are jerks up front really are. You did the right thing.
  7. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Glad you saw the potential of trouble and acted on it. Good for you.
    Over my long lifetime, sure I have refused certain things.
    A couple of photography shoots I did not feel right doing as well
  8. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    I'm glad I'm not the only one. I forgot to mention, I even offered to do the shoot for FREE, gave them the option to look at the proofs online, and if they didn't like them, they didn't have to buy them. That still wasn't good enough....

    Some people...
  9. Joshua, I for sure think you did the right thing. I had something very similar only it was after the shoot. The lady and her new husband arguing over whether she could buy a $5.00 4x6 print so turned me off that I just burned a CD with all of my images and gave it to her as a wedding present. The customer doesn't own you just because they want you to do a photo shoot for them.
  10. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    The impression I was getting from her was that I was lucky to have her calling me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the extra work, but I have a full time job that puts food on my table and pays my mortgage. She was giving me the vibe that she was doing me a favor. Oh well... I can sleep in a little bit longer on Sunday now, and perhaps go to Church with my wife instead.
  11. Josh, you definitely did the right thing. If it doesn't feel right, do not take the job. Any potential profit is never worth the potential aggrevation from a flakey customer.

    As others have mentioned, it is the same in any business. After a while, you get to recognize certain red flag signs, that tell you stay away. In my years of practicing law, such red flags would be things such as the potential client who already had two or more other attorneys work on the case, or the potential client who wants to proceed because of the "principal" of the thing, etc. Usually, instead of getting into the "I don't want to represent you" discussion, I would just quote a ridiculous fee, that no-one would pay. Then, I would watch them walk out of the office.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2007
  12. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    Good advice, Cliff. Thanks.
  13. Thank you for reminding me why, in my latter years shooting weddings, I turned down as many as I shot. After you've been in the business, that's really ANY business, you'll learn to trust your instincts about taking a job or not. The best thing to do is make it very plain, up front.. what you'll deliver and the price you'll do it for. If you're in the wedding business, show the client a complete wedding you've done, not just your best shots from several different weddings. Then quote your prices and stick to them. If the cajoling and the dickering about prices start, the best thing you can do is smile very politely, glance at the time and say you have to run, you have another appointment. But be nice about it.
    Again, thanks for the reminder.. :) 
  14. A women call recently for a price on electrical work.
    She said she was getting three bids and going with the lowest price.
    I told her she called the wrong electrical contractor, that we have high standards and are never the lowest price. Goodbye.

    Dealing with wealthy, pain in the @$$, demanding customers willing to pay for high end work is another story. I add 20 to 30% on top of the normal bid. They hirer me anyway because I've been referred. When they ask for something extra or want something moved two inches, I smile and say no problem, it's a good thing we like you.
  15. biggstr6


    Apr 26, 2005
    I can echo all of the above. I do it all the time in the limo business.
    THe customer is not always right,and sometimes its best just not to take the job.

    I will add , alot of it comes from people having NO IDEA about youre business ,whats involved in running it for a PROFIT, But they THINK they know everything about it.

  16. :biggrin: After talking with certain people a few minutes, I've learned the best way to not have to deal with them later is to doubt the quote I hand them before I leave. It's a good way to make sure you never hear from them again... :biggrin::wink:
  17. If is doesn't feel right don't do it. I have turned down business at work (financial adviser) several times because it just didn't feel right. In every case, as I found out later, it was the correct decision.
  18. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    I don't think anyone will EVER really be able to satisfactorily explain to a client why the pictures you took of them and that they paid you to shoot, are actually your (the photographers) personal property.

    It's just a terrible business practice imho. Photographers (especially the old-school ones), as a group of professionals, have let this business practice hurt the entire field imho. I don't think many photographer's appreciate how this practice makes the customer feels extorted.

    Customers (for the most part) want the freedom to show and do whatever they want with the picture of themselves after they pay for it to be shot. Just like we want the freedom to be able to spend the money we made on anything we want. If you need more money as a photographer, then raise your prices. But the game of copyright is viewed as a "game" by clients that are small, or individuals in need of family pics.

    And again, all IMHO of course. I know I go against the grain, but there is a fairly adversarial relationship between photogs and clients that does exist. And it seems mostly based around this issue.
  19. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    I think that you are missing the point. I am not about to give any client a picture of themselves with half shut eyelids or a weird looking double chin that doesn't flatter them. The client in question in my original post wanted engagement pictures. I would have been happy to deliver 15-20 quality images at the price agreed upon. I would not be happy to give her the shots that I would normally cull or delete. Quite simply, I am very liberal when it comes to giving my client the 'real work'. I give them hi-res images that are theirs to keep...no proofing process, no choosing, but ultimately, I decide what to show them.

    Anything that doesn't meet my standards goes in the trash.

    Do you give your clients every frame you shoot during a session?

  20. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    My post wasn't aimed at you Gr8, as there are a million good reasons to not take a job imho ;)  , but I was expressing in general that I thought about this aspect of the business. But it was not an attack at all on you or anyone, sorry if it came across that way. I think photogs in general need to rethink this practice.

    Why not if they want them too? You don't have to edit them or anything. Are you afraid the client may suspect that you occasionally don't take great pictures? Every client/person knows about culling. You (as the photog) definitely have no need for the culled pictures, but the client may find value in them even if they aren't the best ones. At the very least, you're letting the client 'share' in the decision making process, rather than forcing them to trust your judgement. If it's a worthless picture, why not give it to them? I think most customers would treat the "I have my standards" argument as nonsense, as almost no one in the real world is on that high a level. Annie Lebowitz can get away with it. I doubt many others can.

    I just disagree with this, that's all. It's not personal though I hope you know!

    If they ask for them and it would make them happy? Yes, absolutely. Many clients don't want the culled ones either, but the ones that do, I give them.

    But I have been on the customer end of the transactions in the past, and so I have a different view of things. The copyright law protects the photog tremendously, but it's a power that shouldn't be needlessly used imho. It can lead to clients that present YOU with a contract first, and we hate that. ;)  (just my opinions here again.)
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