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Wait… you WANT the nip slip shots?

“We’re so disappointed.  We feel like you missed so many things, and we thought we’d get more pictures.”

I’m gonna admit right now that my initial response wasn’t good.  Even though I know better, I wrote back immediately, a tad defensive and very confused as to where the hell they were coming from.

It was a nine hour coverage with two photographers.  We promise an average of 50 edited and delivered images for every hour of coverage.  They received a total of 1,106 images – roughly one shot for every thirty seconds we were there.  That wasn’t enough?!  What are they smoking?  What on EARTH could we have missed, we were there from the first popped Xanax in the dressing room to the stumbling, drunken, whirlwind clusterfuck of a grand exit.

When I got the first email, the bride was specifically asking about some of the more unflattering photos – moments they wanted memorialized forevermore, moments that I would KILL my daughter for acting out, they wanted to see those parts.  I explained rather defensively that these moments were not flattering and didn’t turn out very well, which escalated the email exchange in a hurry.

They wanted every nip slip, every simulated act of fellatio.  They wanted it ALL.

The bride stopped talking to me and sent her mom in to deal with it. Mom had more complaints than her daughter.  Not only were the X-Rated parts missing, but so were pictures of Great Aunt Sharon.  Who the hell was Great Aunt Sharon?  I’d never gotten a list (even after requesting one from them NINE TIMES), and when we shot the formals I asked repeatedly if we’d gotten everyone.  Great Aunt Sharon wasn’t very important in the moment, but now that she was only in “a couple” shots, she was the most important guest at the wedding and she was SURE there were photos of Great Aunt Sharon in the outtakes.

Mom wanted me to just send over all the discards.  I explained patiently that the discards were not an option and that was when the shit hit the fan, and the groom was called in to deal with me.

Dun-dun-DUN.  When the groom is summoned to “deal with” a problem, you KNOW it’s bad.

It was then that I realized these people were not going to be happy until they got something from me.  All the effort I’d spent explaining and re-explaining the contract they signed, my editing philosophy, the state of their discards, was getting absolutely nowhere.  I could spend the next six months in a heated email exchange or, worse, find myself slapped with a frivolous lawsuit demanding that I turn over the discarded images that they “thought” would be included.

The groom’s email was kind and well written, unlike the bride’s and MOB’s rather hysterical submissions – this told me that he was prepared to long-haul it, and that I needed to figure out a way to swiftly end the conversation. Rather than responding right away (which was my mistake in the first exchanges with bride and mom), I sat on his email for about 24 hours.  Didn’t think about it too much, other than to call Kim and get her take on the situation.

The way I saw it, I had two options: stand my ground and keep arguing ad infinitum (potentially ending up in some weird legal battle), or concede, but at a price.  I chose option #2.

Dear Groom,

Thank you so much for your kind email.  I am sorry that you and your bride feel the coverage was incomplete.  As stated previously, we delivered over 100 edited images for every hour of coverage, more than double what you anticipated, and we do feel as documentary photographers that your wedding story was told beautifully and fully.  I won’t pretend to understand why anyone would want to see the “outtakes” from a shoot – the images we discard are technical failures (out of focus, motion blurred, etc), unflattering (subject caught mid-sentence with mouth in weird shape; subject’s eyes half lidded and Exorcist-y; dresses falling down, bits of fat where fat shouldn’t be), or duplicates (when we photograph details and formals, we choose the best one or two images from the set and deliver only those, as most people don’t care to have seventeen shots of their cake).

Your contract includes the edited selection of images that tell the story of your day, and as stated in the contract, we are the party that determines which images make it to that final cut.  Outtakes and discards are not included, but may be purchased for an additional fee.  If you feel strongly that you need to see the images that we purposely excluded from your take, I’ll be glad to invoice you our fee for processing and releasing those files to you.  They will be lightly edited, exported, and delivered in the same fashion as your original wedding files.  Our fee for this service is $1,000. Please let me know if you would like to proceed.

 I wanted them to recognize that their request was completely outside of the norm, was not worth what they’d potentially have to pay for it, and that their delivered images were plenty.

To my utter disbelief, they bit on the offer.  An hour later and I had their payment in hand.  What?

Right now, about 927 of our dear readers are thinking “I would never do that. That’s my ART. My name is on those images and they shall never see the light of day!!!”

And another 927 of you are thinking “1K? Fuckyeah, I’d do that”

In the course of our 30 some years of combined business Kim and I have run through so many scenarios where we’ve played out the pros and cons with each other where we boil it down to the nitty-gritty to figure out how to resolve issues. And two things that we find that come up over and over and over are these:

What does your contract say? (Mine said nothing about outtakes…it does now)

Is this a hill to die on? (Hint: it rarely is)

Thus was born our new e book “The Proven Awesomeness Formula: Preventing and Dealing with Difficult Clients”

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We have an interesting job – we’re invited into the homes of our clients, allowed to see them naked, vulnerable, self conscious, elated, on the verge of new life paths, with wonky nerves and insecurities all rolled up into one bride, one new mom, one nervous father, one aggravated groom, one insecure teenaged girl and her mother who is having trouble dealing with her leaving the nest. We get to visit with our clients on a personal level that very few other service providers in any industry do.~Charo

 

This book is a comprehensive guide on how to handle clients at their best and their worst, and how to handle yourself at your best and your worst.  We’ll walk you through scenarios with clients that will help you form strategic ways to handle client relations with proven results so that you can spend time doing what you actually make money at: shooting.

 

Here’s a sampling of what you can expect

Setting yourself up for success: Handy every day usable procedures to follow in your business that will just make your life a lot easier (and make your clients happier, too)

How to identify a problem client: There’s a difference between a problem client and an uninformed client… do you know what the difference is?

Now what? How to handle that email that rocks your world, and not in the good way.  How to respond, what to say and the steps to resolve the problem.

What to do when they really are a psycho:  How to break up with a client and the aftermath you can expect personally and professionally.

 

To show our love for our ACAD readers,on this, the one year anniversary of our blog we offer you a kick-ass discount of $20 off this comprehensive guide by entering the code ACADLOVE at checkout

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Stay Sane, Happy and Profitable!

 

~Charo

 

7 Comments

  1. I have had this happen on several occasions! One of which was my own brother! I took photos of his daughter and he wanted every single crappy shot, and this was after his daughters mom was complaining about a few didn’t have perfect smiles in the 80 photographs I gave them. Some people just have to see for themselves and out of curiosity they will pay. Great article! :-)

  2. Did they ever follow up with you about the outtakes or thank you for providing an alternate option? It sounds like these people were a real handful.

  3. Yeah, see, even when you work for yourself… you’re still not really your own boss. Some clients are truly difficult to work with, and never satisfied. You can provide the best service they’ve ever known, but if it doesn’t meet their own strange desires it isn’t what they wanted. It sounds as though you did the best you could under very trying circumstances. Curious to see what happened at the end of it all. Do share!

  4. This is a great article! What does your contract currently say about outtakes?

  5. I think you handled this beautifully and I definitely learned a lot from this post. Who knows why they would ever want those types of shots, but I look forward to reading your book and learning lots of other great tips. :)

  6. This is what stresses me out the most. I’m glad that I am not the only one experiencing this from time to time. I love how you handled it. Thanks for sharing!

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