Need a quick feedback on a client situation

FoquesFoques He who caNPosts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
edited October 6, 2014 in Weddings
Hi everyone,

I really need your advice here..

There is a couple that wants me to do an engagement shoot for them. They've seen my work, they liked it.
The lady of the family sent me sample pictures of what she found online, and liked. Those look like higher end images; I am sure I can handle those. I am unsure that she understands that there is no way that every shot of the session is going to be a keeper, but i'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now, she'd just enlightened me that there will be a total of 7 people in the shoot. :huh

How should I proceed with this one, you think? Should I advise that we're looking at the family session rather than an engagement? I am unsure how to set the appropriate expectations without sounding like a dick.

thank you in advance.
Arseny - the too honest guy.
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Comments

  • michaelglennmichaelglenn Major grins Posts: 442Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    When I was first in the field, I had a client who wanted me to shoot like another photographer and I made the mistake of trying to mimic something that wasn't my style. I would let her know your work and style of photography is based off what you show on your website/portfolio. If she feels a connection with the work, then let the photoshoot take it's course. Otherwise, she should look into other photographers that fit what she is looking for.

    And that's not an engagement shoot. Did you have this shoot booked and she just brought it up prior to the shoot? Give her the price of an engagement shoot, and let her know you offer family sessions at whatever price you charge.

    I get a bad vibe from clients like this, but maybe I'm wrong. Just be sure to sell your own product. Don't let her take control of what you're worth and what you offer.


    Just my two cents thumb.gif
    wedding portfolio michaelglennphoto.com
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  • trooperstroopers Major grins Posts: 317Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    ^ what michael said. Stay true to your style, product, brand and business plan.
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    thank you. I just wanted to make sure that I am not in the wrong here.

    I do plan on shooting in my own style, but I like to ask clients to tell me what kind of images they're looking for so that I can add an appropriate fleur.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    sorry, Michael, didn't mean to omit the second part of your post.
    And that's not an engagement shoot. Did you have this shoot booked and she just brought it up prior to the shoot? Give her the price of an engagement shoot, and let her know you offer family sessions at whatever price you charge.

    I get a bad vibe from clients like this, but maybe I'm wrong. Just be sure to sell your own product. Don't let her take control of what you're worth and what you offer.
    That's my take on it as well. I'm going to let her know that we can do both - a family and an engagement session, but we'll need to start shooting earlier in the day (current plan for for 4.30pm).
    My biggest concern is that the whole crowd will take away from the intimacy feeling.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,522Administrators moderator
    edited September 3, 2014
    Foques wrote: »
    My biggest concern is that the whole crowd will take away from the intimacy feeling.
    Plus there will be the inevitable cell-phone camera distraction issues to deal with. I'd push for getting an hour or two with the couple alone, then have the rest of the family show up for the second half of the shoot.
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    kdog wrote: »
    Plus there will be the inevitable cell-phone camera distraction issues to deal with. I'd push for getting an hour or two with the couple alone, then have the rest of the family show up for the second half of the shoot.

    I am thinking of offering to do a family session before the actual engagement shoot.
    By the sunset map, we're expected to see full sunset at 6.45 pm; if we start shooting around 4.30 - by 5.30-6, it'll be fairly dark, wouldn't it?

    Just to ensure that we're on the same page - i'm not questioning or criticizing your suggestion. More so thinking outloud. If i'm wrong, please, educate me; i've learned more from this forum than i've learned from working with pros in person.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,522Administrators moderator
    edited September 3, 2014
    Either way -- those are the sweet light hours and I would think you'd still have some pretty good light to work with even after the sun went down. I'd be all about a sunset shoot with my clients, but it depends on your environment and what you're comfortable with. Balancing a beautiful sunset with diffused flash and gel can make for some pretty spectacular shots. I didn't see any shots like that from a quick look on your site, but judging from the quality of your work you should be able to handle that easily. But again, either way. I just think it's important to have alone time with the couple. The one issue I worry about with shooting the big crowd first is that it may be difficult if not outright impossible to chase them away after you're done with them.

    No problem pushing back or thinking out loud. I'm just relating my own personal experiences which may or may not be useful for you. No worries at all.
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    To answer your original question, abut what to say in particular:

    Yes, definitely word it carefully to explain that if there are going to be 7 people there, you'll need to add time to the session, (which IMO should cost them a little more) ...and shoot the family groups separately, then dismiss them for at least some portion of the shoot so that you can work "more naturally, without distraction" with just the couple. Say stuff like that, talk about how in your experience this is simply the best way to accommodate their requests at the highest possible quality.

    Also, talk about how your style may differ slightly from the "high-end, polished" look that she is sharing with you, and be sure to think of a few descriptive words about your style that help her understand the slight difference. Tell her that you'll pursue both directions, though, because you believe in delivering a well-rounded product that achieves both your own artistic vision & craft, as well as their own expectations and needs.

    Good luck!
    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • michaelglennmichaelglenn Major grins Posts: 442Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 4, 2014
    Foques wrote: »
    thank you. I just wanted to make sure that I am not in the wrong here.

    I do plan on shooting in my own style, but I like to ask clients to tell me what kind of images they're looking for so that I can add an appropriate fleur.

    That's the thing though. A client visits your website and emails you because he/she shows interest in your work. If anything, they would be paying for your branded service. Think of some of the big time pro-photographers..do you think they ask their clients what kind of images they want? Or do you think these clients choose to pay for what the professional offers?

    Asking a client what kind of images they want takes away from your own branding. It puts you in a situation like the one you're in right now..where maybe you'll have difficulty producing a product you don't offer (ex: the high end images from another photographer's website).

    I don't mean to be highly critiquing what you're saying, but just take it as solid advice for future clients. Keep your branding consistent, and you'll start to realize that you will be getting the clients you want, and clients will be coming to you for what you offer.
    wedding portfolio michaelglennphoto.com
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  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 4, 2014
    kdog wrote: »
    Either way -- those are the sweet light hours and I would think you'd still have some pretty good light to work with even after the sun went down. I'd be all about a sunset shoot with my clients, but it depends on your environment and what you're comfortable with. Balancing a beautiful sunset with diffused flash and gel can make for some pretty spectacular shots. I didn't see any shots like that from a quick look on your site, but judging from the quality of your work you should be able to handle that easily. But again, either way. I just think it's important to have alone time with the couple. The one issue I worry about with shooting the big crowd first is that it may be difficult if not outright impossible to chase them away after you're done with them.

    No problem pushing back or thinking out loud. I'm just relating my own personal experiences which may or may not be useful for you. No worries at all.


    Thank you, sir. I plan on lugging my AB set up with me, it'll be.. interesting. :)
    This is an extremely valid point on chasing them off; I didn't think of that. Will need to be very clear on the process. thank you!
    To answer your original question, abut what to say in particular:

    Yes, definitely word it carefully to explain that if there are going to be 7 people there, you'll need to add time to the session, (which IMO should cost them a little more) ...and shoot the family groups separately, then dismiss them for at least some portion of the shoot so that you can work "more naturally, without distraction" with just the couple. Say stuff like that, talk about how in your experience this is simply the best way to accommodate their requests at the highest possible quality.

    Also, talk about how your style may differ slightly from the "high-end, polished" look that she is sharing with you, and be sure to think of a few descriptive words about your style that help her understand the slight difference. Tell her that you'll pursue both directions, though, because you believe in delivering a well-rounded product that achieves both your own artistic vision & craft, as well as their own expectations and needs.

    Good luck!
    =Matt=
    Thank you for your write up, Matt. I explained exactly that in my experience, an engagement session is about the intimate moments between the two people, and their immediate family members (kids or pets :D).

    That's the thing though. A client visits your website and emails you because he/she shows interest in your work. If anything, they would be paying for your branded service. Think of some of the big time pro-photographers..do you think they ask their clients what kind of images they want? Or do you think these clients choose to pay for what the professional offers?

    Asking a client what kind of images they want takes away from your own branding. It puts you in a situation like the one you're in right now..where maybe you'll have difficulty producing a product you don't offer (ex: the high end images from another photographer's website).

    I don't mean to be highly critiquing what you're saying, but just take it as solid advice for future clients. Keep your branding consistent, and you'll start to realize that you will be getting the clients you want, and clients will be coming to you for what you offer.

    Michael. I wish i'd mentioned this earlier, damn it. You are absolutely right, and this approach will change effective immediately.
    I think I transposed this method from shooting cosplayers to shooting everyone else, and now I see that it was wrong. The reason it worked for cosplayers is because they would show me the actual comic/screen caps that they wanted to replicate and we would set off on a project. Way. Way different from any other portrait sessions.


    That said, I followed everyone's suggestion, and sent an email explaining that what they're looking for are two different sessions.
    the response was - let's do both... So, now I'm working out pricing for them. I, typically, would ask for 200 for a family and 150 for an engagement, but think that i'll roll it into one smaller fee instead.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • jonh68jonh68 Major grins Posts: 2,711Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 6, 2014
    It sounds like you are on the right track. I would try to keep two different days for these. If you have to shoot them same I would reserve the golden hour for the engagement and like others have said send the family away to just be with them. First you will have better light, and secomd they will feel more comfortable with you since they just did a family shoot. If you have the family around they will distract, try to direct poses and locations, take camera phone pics, and chit chat with the couple.
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 8, 2014
    This is exactly the plan. While the difficulty of getting rid of the family - as mentioned above - might be a concern, i'll shoot family first, and move onto the engagement session thereafter specifically to savor the golden hour.

    I would prefer to do this on two separate days as well - especially since I have a very physically taxing shoot the day before this one, but it is the only day when all schedules match.

    Now, I have to figure out how to give directions in Russian... :D

    thank you everyone for the input! I'll be posting the results of this whole thing within next couple of weeks.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • lightcatcher2014lightcatcher2014 Big grins Posts: 23Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 11, 2014
    My take is that you can discuss with the couple what images they need and explain how an engagement session usually goes. Clients need to be educated in most cases so do that and see if you can come to an agreement with them.

    You are right: engagement photography is focused on the couple and the photographer needs to focus on them rather on the entire group or family members. But on the other side they are hiring you to take their pictures. If you are confident you can photograph and pose them, go for it. If you do well on the engagement session, they are most likely to hire you as wedding photographer.

    Hope that helps,
    --
    Trifon Anguelov
    Portrait and Wedding Photographer, Mountain View, CA

    http://www.weddingphotographyblogger.com
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 13, 2014
    aaaand now the group grew to 13 people.. :|

    shooting tomorrow 4-6ish.. first hour is family, second engagement. we'll see how this goes.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • WillCADWillCAD Grinning Buffoon Posts: 722Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 20, 2014
    Good lord... thirteen people is NOT an "engagement" shoot, it's a FAMILY portrait session, which is totally different than an engagement shoot.

    I don't recall ever seeing an engagement shoot that included more than the couple and their children. I'm sure they exist, but they must be a tiny minority of the engagement shoot market. And an engagement shoot with a family of thirteen is simply ridiculous.

    Hope you had a good shoot anyway Foques.
    What I said when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time: "The wide ain't wide enough and the zoom don't zoom enough!"
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 22, 2014
    Well, this was interesting.

    It was certainly not an engagement shoot. Not that it wasn't obvious by now or anything. :)

    First hour-ish, we had all 13 people. this included Kids, grandparent, and the couple.
    After the group shoot, however, the bride knocked all of her family into gear and sent 'em packing. Quite literally. She was awesome at telling people where to go.

    Now, the kicker is that it was - essentially - a wedding shoot. Only without getting ready, ceremony and post ceremony coverage. The bride had bridal dress (and looked stunning!).
    I'll be posting some of the resulted shots here in next few days.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 22, 2014
    Foques wrote: »
    Well, this was interesting.

    It was certainly not an engagement shoot. Not that it wasn't obvious by now or anything. :)

    First hour-ish, we had all 13 people. this included Kids, grandparent, and the couple.
    After the group shoot, however, the bride knocked all of her family into gear and sent 'em packing. Quite literally. She was awesome at telling people where to go.

    Now, the kicker is that it was - essentially - a wedding shoot. Only without getting ready, ceremony and post ceremony coverage. The bride had bridal dress (and looked stunning!).
    I'll be posting some of the resulted shots here in next few days.

    Looking forward to seeing the images!!

    Sam
  • jonh68jonh68 Major grins Posts: 2,711Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 24, 2014
    Foques wrote: »
    Well, this was interesting.

    It was certainly not an engagement shoot. Not that it wasn't obvious by now or anything. :)

    First hour-ish, we had all 13 people. this included Kids, grandparent, and the couple.
    After the group shoot, however, the bride knocked all of her family into gear and sent 'em packing. Quite literally. She was awesome at telling people where to go.

    Now, the kicker is that it was - essentially - a wedding shoot. Only without getting ready, ceremony and post ceremony coverage. The bride had bridal dress (and looked stunning!).
    I'll be posting some of the resulted shots here in next few days.

    I don't know how I would feel about that. This is becoming a trend where brides want stuff on the cheap. They get caterers and photographers thinking it is a casual family reunion, get together and turn it into a wedding. They are essentially lying to everyone to get a better rate.

    http://offbeatbride.com/2010/06/should-you-lie-to-vendors-about-your-wedding
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 24, 2014
    Wow, John, that's.. an interesting read.
    Quite honestly, if the couple was not related to my mother's good friends, I wouldn't bend backwards for them as I did... But it was a good practice, I made a little cash, and I have more ideas for the actual wedding i'll be shooting in the same area later.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • dominozdominoz Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited September 25, 2014
    Hi need help
    Thhis is the first time im doin a product and commercial photography. My client needs a complete shoot from start to end. Below are the details
    Product : Fish Company
    Shots : Catching, cutting, workers (15-20), cleaning and packaging. Indoor and outdoor
    detail shots : full fish shorts, cut fish shorts and packaging shots

    How much do you reckon I would need to charge. Need help pls ASAP
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 29, 2014
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    and when I thought we were done with this....
    Plot thickens.

    Now, client is trying to muscle me into providing them with high res images for no charge.
    My current business model is to provide gallery (6mo expiration), and low res images edited for Facebook posting. Technically, those should be enough to print 6x8s, but have a watermark. If ordered through site, watermark is removed, and -obviously - high res images are used.

    Weddings, however, are treated differently; for weddings, I give the high res AND facebook versions (since stupid facebook really cuts down the quality)

    Any disagreements on this way of running things?
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • WillCADWillCAD Grinning Buffoon Posts: 722Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    Foques wrote: »
    and when I thought we were done with this....
    Plot thickens.

    Now, client is trying to muscle me into providing them with high res images for no charge.
    My current business model is to provide gallery (6mo expiration), and low res images edited for Facebook posting. Technically, those should be enough to print 6x8s, but have a watermark. If ordered through site, watermark is removed, and -obviously - high res images are used.

    Weddings, however, are treated differently; for weddings, I give the high res AND facebook versions (since stupid facebook really cuts down the quality)

    Any disagreements on this way of running things?

    That sounds perfectly reasonable to me Arseny. However, here are the most important questions:

    1) Did you discuss the deliverables with the client at any point during the booking process?
    2) Do you have a signed contract specifying what deliverables are included with the package they booked?
    3) If no contract, do you have ANY sort of documentation such as emails, printed materials that you may have shown the client, or web pages that you referred them to, which shows that they were aware of what the deliverables were for the package they booked?

    If you can't prove that they clearly booked X and knew they were booking X and you have delivered X, and at no time did you guarantee, say, or imply that you'd ever deliver Y, Z, or AA, they're going to pound on you and threaten you with lawsuits and reputation-ruining bad reviews and word of mouth until you deliver. And even if you have documentation to prove that they are only entitled to X, they're still going to bad-mouth you to everyone they know unless you give in and deliver the kitchen sink.

    No matter what, this situation is going to leave you with a sour taste in your mouth afterward.
    What I said when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time: "The wide ain't wide enough and the zoom don't zoom enough!"
  • FoquesFoques He who caN Posts: 1,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    1) Yes-ish.. I didn't specify that the free images are watermarked low res. Mea culpa.
    2) that's a no.. :|
    3) That's a whole bunch of yes.

    i'm thinking i'll create a digital purchase package, stating that if they're buying, say, 30+, they get 5$ off per image; Given that I sell 3mp versions at 10$/image, that should drop their costs a bit, and still make sure that i'm above water on the selling fees.
    Arseny - the too honest guy.
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  • jonh68jonh68 Major grins Posts: 2,711Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    This goes back to my original warning about cheap/lying clients. They lied about the shoot, and now they are trying to squeeze more out of you. Politely tell them what your normal wedding rates are and stick to it. They booked you for a family session and it tuned into an after wedding shoot. Bad customer.
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