Bad photos… is it the photographer???

So you hired a photographer and you now have bad photos, so is it the photographer or is it you????

Over the years being in the photography industry I have taken many photos and have talked to many clients and photographers. I have heard many times from clients that they had hired a photographer before coming to me and they were really unhappy with the photos (never heard from most after I took the pictures what they thought of the work that I did), I have also talked to a number of photographers that have told me they heard that one of their customer’s were unhappy with the work they did.  So after a recent incident a client of mine had with another photographer it got me thinking of some of the problems that I have heard about, or experienced, in the past with photographers, is it really the photographer or could it actually be the client that caused bad photos?

The client that got me thinking asked a photographer to take images of an event, the event was too far for me to cover and still be cost effective to the client so they hired a photographer local to the event.  The request was “We need images of this event”. When the client got the images they got what they asked for, images from the event of people talking, eating, drinking, making speeches, ribbon cutting and more.  The client was NOT happy to say the least.  As soon as I saw the pictures I knew why, they did not want pictures of PEOPLE they wanted pictures of products with at the most a couple people in the background very out of focus.  Unfortunately for the photographer they did not know this as they had not shot for that client before (and probably would not again as this client will not be back in the area).  For me I knew what they wanted as I had a chance to grow with this client and as they changed the wants and needs for pictures I was kept in the link, more by trial and error than anything.

Another couple of customers that I dealt with a few years back had the same problems with the pictures that I delivered.  I got the assignments with a request from the one customer to “take pictures of a concert” and another customer asked me to “take a staff picture”, after what seemed like an eternity with each one trying to find out what type of images that they wanted I had no more information than they wanted pictures.  I went to the website of each client and they had ZERO images of the type that I was asked to take.  Another communication or two with each client and they still told me no more than the initial contact told me.  So I went and photographed each assignment, corrected the images and submitted to the clients.  The concert pictures were amazing (if I may say so myself 🙂 ) but after looking at most of the images I was told they expected a different look to the images, I asked what type of look they wanted and they could not tell me.  Then as they got to the end of the pictures they fell in love with several images at the very end that I had tossed in but were not really of the concert.  What were the images of?  Buildings, equipment with weird lighting – NO performers or guests.  Why did I take the images because I liked what I saw. They were so excited as that was what they wanted and this is the first time they had gotten what they wanted (believe me when I say it was a fluke that I took the pictures and submitted them, not planned at all on my part).

The other customer asked me for a staff group portrait.  The business that they were in was elegant and official, I asked for some additional information and got nothing but they wanted a picture that they could use in advertising and on their wall.  I asked a lot of questions and got no commitment for anything.  So the day of the shoot arrived and once again I tried to get some idea of a pose or location, or background and still got nothing but “yah”, “I don’t know”, “maybe”, “possibly” and on and on. I took the pictures, corrected them and delivered them.  The owner looked at the pictures and did not like any of them, one was a possible but that was it.  In a phone call I asked what he wanted for pictures and I got “We were hoping for a fun, less posed, more relaxed image.  All these look like a portrait and the staff look very formal”.

So what could have been done by the photographers to deliver a better image and not bad photos?

  • Really not a lot other than what was done.

What could have been done by the clients to get good images?

  • A lot, a list of images that they would like would be a starting point, an idea of the look they wanted, some samples of images that they wanted (or even did not want) overall a lot more communication with the photographer would really have helped.  This is also true of weddings, grads, family pictures and so much more.  A week back another photographer came in to get me to print an image, they mentioned to me that they hated the image as it was poorly exposed and not that sharp, but the client wanted to see that image as they hated the rest as it was not the look they wanted, the image they chose was a test picture that the photographer took with everybody sitting, standing and talking and not looking at the camera and not posed (one person was actually completely blocked by another person). This was the look the client wanted but they never told the photographer.

So before heading out to take pictures a few things to try (I know that many clients will not help with giving the information, but at least try):

  1. Where and when does the client want the pictures taken?
  2. Who is to be in the picture?
  3. What does the client want in the background, what is the focus?
  4. What is the look of the final image (artsy, formal, fun, dramatic)?
  5. Does the client want posed images or un-posed images?
  6. Where are the image(s) being used? So photographer can help add or eliminate colors in the image that may distract or add to the look.
  7. Do you have any images that are close to what you want, or not what you want?
  8. Is there a graphic designer, web site or advertising person that may have an idea what is wanted or not wanted?
  9. Does the image have to fit in a space or be cropped to a specific size?
  10. Ask them all over to make sure that they gave you the right information.

Hopefully by pestering the client they will let you know what they want and we can deliver the pictures that they are after!

Paterson Photography Ltd.
1263C 2 Ave South
Lethbridge, AB

Who are we……….

Paterson Photography Ltd. has served southern Alberta since 1985.  Mike has done work for many individuals, companies and organizations.  With work published locally as well as internationally and photos in collections around the world Mike has been taking pictures longer than many photographers have been alive.

Paterson Photography Ltd. offers a variety of courses, workshops and adventures around Canada.  From our classes at our Lethbridge studio, our one on one classes, group classes, adventures and more you will love learning your camera. Mike has been teaching for over 20 years and offering courses through his studio for over 10 years. Visit our web site, E-mail or call for more information.

Paterson Photography Ltd. is the only custom photo printer in Lethbridge and area.  We offer prints from wallets to 44″x100″ on a variety of media.  No cheap, poor color poster prints – all our printing is done on archival media at the highest resolutions. We print for many individuals, companies and groups that want quality prints that look amazing.

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