For what seems like an eternity, professional photographers have had to contend with others telling them how to approach their own work. And with camera phones now widespread, there is no shortage of ‘armchair’ experts who believe they are ‘qualified’ to take photos. Sometimes, this includes clients. What should you do when a client tells you that they don’t like your photos and want a reshoot?
As we’ve detailed in the past, a good relationship between a photographer and client centres on the principle of managing expectations. Where you’ve set your policies in place, there is less room for ambiguity when it comes to unwarranted claims and criticisms. But even with a contract, a client can still find reason to remain unhappy with the work you’ve done – leading to the request for a reshoot.
In these circumstances, it’s important to understand what is behind the request. That is, what’s the reason for their dissatisfaction? When one digs a little deeper, they can usually align the dissatisfaction to a specific issue. And often, this issue can be attributed to one, or both of, the parties.
One of the common grievances among customers stems from being self-conscious. They may be unhappy with the outfit or make-up they were wearing, or uncomfortable with their facial expression. This is where it might seem appropriate for a photographer to make a firm stance and charge full price for a reshoot, right? Sure, after all, you’ve already invested a lot of time and effort with the first shoot, and you didn’t pick out your clients wardrobe – nor their makeup.
While that might be the preferred option for many photographers, there’s also another approach one could employ in this situation. Why not consider offering a small discount for a subsequent session? Not only do you make it clear that you’re looking to satisfy your client and develop a long-term relationship, but you’re also respecting the value of your own time and work. And no photographer should be self-depreciating when it comes to putting a value on their profession. Alternatively, offer two or three specific photos for a reshoot, at a nominal cost, thus limiting any investment in a new session.
Think about other professions – would an electrician visit you for free because you attempted to wire your own lights? Would a plumber or builder return for free because you used a bathroom before the silicon had set? Would a lawyer grant you extra consultation time because you want to amend your claim against another party? With this in mind, a photographer doesn’t need to offer any more of their time for free when a client is at fault. And really, a compromise is only a reflection of their willingness to go out of their way and offer value to the client in the hope of strengthening the relationship.
However, in the event that a photographer is at fault for the ‘issue’, or there is a sufficient amount of ambiguity over what was specified, a photographer who places intrinsic value on the nature of long-lasting working relationships should take the onus and offer to redress any particular grievances (where practical). Most importantly though, with each experience, allow it to frame your future contractual obligations and sessions so that you can avoid the issue altogether.