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I took family photos yesterday for a family, and while quite a few photos turned out, there were some that didn't. The natural light decreased more quickly than I expected, and some of the photos are noisy. Since some of the shots that didn't turn out were the whole family photos, I'm wondering if I should offer to redo part of the session. I want to give them quality photos, and I know this is not my best work or what I envisioned. What should I do?

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    Have you essentially answered your own question? – osullic Jan 8 '18 at 16:09
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    I presume this was a paid job, and your photography business is important to you? – osullic Jan 8 '18 at 16:09
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    Have they seen proofs? Do they care? Are you giving them digital or prints if so what size? Would the noise be visible in the delivered medium? Are you able to reduce the noise in editing? – Crazy Dino Jan 8 '18 at 16:57
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    There will always be the risk of some photos not turning out. Your goal is not to give every photo you took, but to give the client the quality photos - doing the selection is part of your job. The only question is whether there are enough quality photos of every expected kind that client can be reasonably expected to be satisfied. – Gnudiff Jan 9 '18 at 5:46
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Instead of asking us, perhaps you should be asking your client what they would prefer. They're the ones paying you for your services.

Be direct with them and tell them the light died faster than you expected and it affected the quality of the photos taken near the end of the session. Give them several options as to how to proceed from the following possibilities. Only give options with which you are comfortable.

  • Do a reshoot at no additional charge to them
  • Give them a discount on the session and submit what you have to them including your best edits of the lower quality images
  • Give them a more substantial discount and only supply the images that meet quality standards with which you are comfortable
  • Give them a full refund with the understanding no images will be delivered
  • Give them a full refund and give them a few of the images that meet your standards and offer to give them a discount on a future session

There's no way that you can predict what their response will be, so only offer options with which you are comfortable.

Another session may or may not be convenient to them (perhaps some family members were only in town for the session?). Show them the best processing you can do with the shots in question and see if they are acceptable to them. They may be totally happy with them, they may prefer them to nothing if the session can not be redone, or they may decide they want to take their business elsewhere.

Whatever their response, be professional and continue treating them as a valued customer.

Then learn from your mistake going forward. One thing a lot of photographers do if at all possible is to take the large group photos first when a session has a mixture of large groups, smaller groups, and individuals. Another thing to consider, if you don't already, is to have off-camera lights available to mix with the natural lighting for late afternoon outdoor sessions. You can get some real magic with well used flashes during the golden and blue hours!

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    As a client, I would find the "don't give them anything" option very offensive. Even if you're not charging me anything, I already invested time into the shoot, and would be pretty adamant about wanting to get something out of that unless the circumstances were completely outside your control. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 8 '18 at 18:31
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    The clients are making a pretty big commitment to be at the shoot and visually ready for photos. It is appallingly arrogant to think that, Give them a full refund with the understanding no images will be delivered, would ever be acceptable. No photos would only be acceptable if the SD card got struck by lightning or something, since there are no photos to deliver. In either case, probably never getting another job from them again... – trognanders Jan 8 '18 at 20:03
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    @R. & Bailey - my understanding of the answer is that this should be one of several options offered to the client, and one to consider if the option of "full refund plus best images" is unacceptable to the photographer. The alternative is offering no "full refund" option. I don't see why offering options 1, 2, 3 and 4 would be offensive where offering options 1, 2 and 3 would not. Offense seems an extreme reaction to someone acting in good faith, at their own expense, beyond legal obligation and without affecting your statutory rights should you find their offer inadequate. – DeveloperInDevelopment Jan 9 '18 at 1:09
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    If it's offered as an option after they see the images and conclude that they don't want to pay some reduced rate for them or whatever else you're offering, it might be reasonable. But I'd still be rather offended if the photographer offered that. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 9 '18 at 1:17
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    To clarify, if I'm unhappy enough with the outcome that I didn't want to take any of the partial payment or re-do offers the photographer made, I'd also be pretty unhappy with getting absolutely nothing for the time I invested. And of course I'm speaking from a standpoint where there's a real problem with the quality of the results - think "I could have done at least as well just setting a timer on my phone", in which case I'd be unhappy getting less than what I'd have gotten if I set the timer on my phone - rather than a nasty client being disingenuous about the problem and trying not to pay. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 9 '18 at 1:47

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