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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk
Thread started 16 Jun 2017 (Friday) 08:17
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What to do when client tastes do not match with your own?

 
Nathan
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Jun 16, 2017 08:17 |  #1

Okay, these are not paying clients. They're more important than that. My father-in-law and a local group of war veterans are hosting a reunion in Boston in August. Among other assistance, they've also asked if I'd photograph the guests.

Now, I know that the photos they really want are couples/friends photos against a backdrop of the groups' logo. On the one hand, they want the venue in the photo, but they also want this giant billboard thing in the back. I think it's going to look awful. The venue is, I think, at a conference room at a Ramada or similar inn.

Any suggestions on how to pull this off? Sample photos would be helpful.


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drmaxx
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Jun 16, 2017 09:07 |  #2

I can not remember any Ramada conference room that was worth a picture or even as a nice backdrop for a picture (all I can remember are low ceilings and awful light). Put up a photo booth with the logo and hijack the obligatory flower bouquet and then add some candids to the mix. Alternatively, can you go outside? There might be a better location where you could add a logo or give them a little flag with the logo to hold.


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nathancarter
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by nathancarter. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 16, 2017 10:43 |  #3

1) Ask them specific questions about what they want. "Photograph the guests" is so vague that it's almost meaningless.
Are they providing the logo/backdrop? What size is it? What color is it? Do they have photos of it?

2) Opinion: Even with the venue in the photo, the emphasis should be on the people. Make the people look good, everything else is secondary.
With that in mind, if the venue is ugly, underexpose the ambient by a stop or two, and use flash to light the people.

3) I agree 100% with the photo-booth-style setup suggested above:
- Use a bit of blue painter's tape to mark a small "X" on the ground where you want the subjects to stand (3-4 feet in front of the backdrop):
- Put a Speedlight in a brolly box to light their faces. A single light will be easiest and simplest, or you can do main and fill if you want the extra hassle (but that's one more light stand for people to stumble over)
- Expect to make 3/4-length portraits framed vertically for individuals or couples, or bust-length portraits framed horizontally for small groups of 3-5.
- Full-length shots are unnecessary: We care about faces, not shoes.


P.S. I don't understand the thread title of "tacky clients."


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Nathan
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by Nathan. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 16, 2017 11:56 |  #4

Okay... maybe tacky clients is some of my own bias... the photos usually that this group usually opt just isn't how I like to take photos. In fact, they do like full length photos. I'm just going to have to get more info about the venue and make my own decisions about how to approach this.

What I meant with tacky clients is that how they like photos to be taken just isn't how I take photos. I volunteer for few events throughout the year and the photos that I like are never selected for publication... in fact, I've learned to just hand them over shots that I'd consider more like snapshots and those are inevitably their favorites.

I like the advice about setting up some sort of booth + lighting and the blue painter's tape.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jun 17, 2017 08:58 |  #5

Wonder how they'd feel about being labelled "tacky clients" just because you don't like their logo. One might imagine given them being a group of war veterans it could well have special significance for them.

I'd hope for your sake non of your potential clients see what you might be saying about them behind their back on a public forum.

Tip... labelling clients "tacky" on a forum with your web address etc showing... not smart.


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PhotosGuy
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Jun 17, 2017 09:14 |  #6

nathancarter wrote in post #18379878 (external link)
1) Ask them specific questions about what they want. "Photograph the guests" is so vague that it's almost meaningless.

2) Opinion: Even with the venue in the photo, the emphasis should be on the people. Make the people look good, everything else is secondary.

I agree. People hire a pro & then tell him how to do their job. A lot of pain can be avoided by listening to them & then starting with, "Gentlemen, this is how we're going to get this done."

With that in mind, if the venue is ugly, underexpose the ambient by a stop or two, and use flash to light the people.

Good tip!


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Zeus-cat
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Jun 17, 2017 10:08 |  #7

What you think is tacky might be just what they like. Taste is very subjective. There may even be a tradition involved with taking photos next to this logo, although being former Air Force I am not aware of anything like that. Also keep in mind that some of their comrades in arms may have died in battle at whatever this logo depicts. It may be very important to them to have a photo taken with this logo. Tread very carefully (like you are in a mine field)!

Take the photos that they want and if you have time take ones that you think are appropriate. They may like yours better, or maybe not.


Zeus-cat

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Nathan
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Post has been last edited 5 months ago by Nathan. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 19, 2017 08:09 |  #8

Looking back, I regret how I framed this discussion. I've asked the moderators to change the title of this thread.

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #18380477 (external link)
Wonder how they'd feel about being labelled "tacky clients" just because you don't like their logo. One might imagine given them being a group of war veterans it could well have special significance for them... I'd hope for your sake non of your potential clients see what you might be saying about them behind their back on a public forum... labelling clients "tacky" on a forum with your web address etc showing... not smart.

This is very good advice. There is no excuse for me to have treated this assignment with such disrespect toward the clients. Even if I am only a hobby photographer, I should still treat others with the respect they deserve. Not getting paid does not mean that I should not hold myself up to the standards of a professional. Lesson taken to heart and I appreciate the wake up.

Zeus-cat wrote in post #18380513 (external link)
What you think is tacky might be just what they like. Taste is very subjective. There may even be a tradition involved with taking photos next to this logo, although being former Air Force I am not aware of anything like that. Also keep in mind that some of their comrades in arms may have died in battle at whatever this logo depicts. It may be very important to them to have a photo taken with this logo. Tread very carefully (like you are in a mine field)!

True. I should be even more careful since this is my father-in-law and these people are a part of his history and experiences. The frustration on my part is due in large part to being pulled into this without much a way out to say no to the arrangement and being asked to do more for the group - starting with being put in the role of designing the logo only because I know how to use Photoshop. After many man-hours and several weeks of back and forth... well, it doesn't matter. I wasn't happy with the final logo they went with, despite having a hand in it myself. I think perhaps because I am not proud of my own work that I find the utilization of the logo tacky.

My apologies goes to these veterans and I will, thanks to all of your advice, approach this task in August with a more willing and open attitude.


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nathancarter
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Jun 19, 2017 08:50 |  #9

For these photos to be a success, they don't have to be something that matches your artistic vision or something you put in your portfolio; they have to be portraits that the veterans and their families are happy to look at.

Also, this is one of those few times when working "for exposure" might benefit you in the long run, if you're looking for paid work in the future.


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MalVeauX
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Post has been last edited 5 months ago by MalVeauX. 5 edits done in total.
Jun 19, 2017 09:05 |  #10

Heya,

I'm no master, but I've been in situations where I had to make due with venue changes, etc, last minute, recently and had to make it work. The environment was not something I'd call photogenic, as in, if it's in the composition it was distracting, straight up gross (garbage can or something), or just in general not good for a formal photograph (separate from a casual snap). There's nothing you can do to hide it, it's going to be in the photograph, you can't hide it with blur. But what you can do is craft it and direct attention with light.

So in my recent situations, I was pulled out to a high school football field on a rainy day and they wanted the ragged old bleachers, track, fence, field lights, etc in the image because they grew up with it and it was with their kids. Didn't matter that I didn't like it, it wasn't mine, so I rolled with it. But how to make it into a photograph? I dropped ambient and used a big light (600Ws with a 60" modifier at close range, at 17mm~19mm focal length) on the kids so that the attention was more the sky and the kids and their little graduation hats being tossed, less so much the old bleachers and track (also, to mask the track, we had the kids color with chalk and stuff to at least make it look less like a grimy old track). Got it done. Parents were all ecstatic. Images shared wildly, got more requests for more photos like that. I didn't like them. But again, doesn't matter, it's what they liked.

I very much disliked the location, but, it's what they wanted:

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Another recent one, a maternity session, planned at the beach (they are not into intimate dreamy stuff, she wants big bold color, her wedding was a big colorful beach wedding; I used the beach wedding photos in the maternity photos to combine the moments). Well, Florida is all rain and storms right now, so we couldn't do that. They kept wanting to find an outdoor venue locally to use, but it's raining and all the places that are public and have a nice indoor appeal are full of people (because its raining). So all we could do was cancel, or try to make it work in their house. I opted to do it in their house, and let them know that if they're not happy with it, knowing the weather circumstances, we could just do it again outside if the weather permits soon. They really wanted that beach. But, they understand thunder and lightning doesn't play nice with what they wanted. So, I walked around the house, looked at the windows, picked a big room, we moved furniture and stuff and I did what I could to hide unsightly stuff from their house and instead, used their already printed pictures and stuff on their walls in their home, and their furniture, rearranged, to do formal maternity (they wanted group photos, dad, mom, son together). I dropped ambient in the house with the camera settings, and went wide angle with a 35mm (distortion alert!), and used speedlites (Yongnuo 560 III's placed around) to light the house where I wanted, and a speedlite (YN 560 III) on a boom stand with an umbrella (over subjects, out of FOV) to light the subjects. I was underwhelmed, but at the end of the day, once they saw the images, they were happy and didn't even want to worry about trying to go to the beach. Lights were the difference.

I struggled, I can do beach all day, but an in-house session while it's raining and the electricity blinking from the storm? Had to make something work:

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Ultimately, my point, is that lighting can really be a game changer, the home run, when it comes to dealing with an environment that isn't exactly great for a formal photograph. You can direct attention with light by exposing some things down and other things up. Treat everything like a studio at that point. And there are always things you cannot control in the environment. Just use light to put the focus on the subject and most people won't notice the blemishes other than people being critical (like other photogs!).

There's a difference between producing your own art and performing a service for a client. If you want business, you have to be mindful of this.

Very best,

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umphotography
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Jun 20, 2017 09:53 |  #11

The client is always right

Especially the clients writing the checks

If you cant meet clients expectations, advise then to hire someone else

Thats all you need to know on this topic


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Wilt
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Jun 20, 2017 10:24 |  #12

If I was a professional painter, and the client wanted the house painted

House color
Trim
Accents around windows
Door

...that is what pleases THEM and I would aim to please! As the professional, the old paint surfaces would be well prepped, the paint applied with spray gun and brushes without voids in the color, and window glass would be protected and/or suitably cleaned to be without paint residue on the glass...IOW 'professionally applied'. Taste is the clients, the quality of work is mine. Same for photography.


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Nathan
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Jun 20, 2017 14:38 |  #13

umphotography wrote in post #18382658 (external link)
The client is always right

Especially the clients writing the checks

If you cant meet clients expectations, advise then to hire someone else

Thats all you need to know on this topic

What if the client is not paying and you were not hired, but obligated because of family? Appreciate the feedback, but does not appear you read any details.


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TeamSpeed
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Jun 20, 2017 14:47 |  #14

Nathan wrote in post #18382859 (external link)
What if the client is not paying and you were not hired, but obligated because of family? Appreciate the feedback, but does not appear you read any details.

They are still your clients. A lawyer may choose to represent a client pro-bono, but that still means they are to do the best of their ability to represent the client, regardless of payment or lack thereof. I think here, just try some different shots, and if you are able to redirect their desires a bit to something of a compromise, than do that. Perhaps getting up a bit higher would help too with some creativity in the shot and still get the venue in the background?


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umphotography
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Post has been edited 5 months ago by umphotography.
Jun 20, 2017 18:56 |  #15

Nathan wrote in post #18382859 (external link)
What if the client is not paying and you were not hired, but obligated because of family? Appreciate the feedback, but does not appear you read any details.


does not matter one bit who is paying the bill or not paying a bill. You are asked to do a task so same things apply

meet the obligations they asked you to do or send it to someone else. Pretty simple to me. and I NEVER charge my family for my services. But I make darn sure they get my best and I treat them like paying clients.


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