Thank you all in advance for any insight/advice you can provide after reading through the following disappointing experience I encountered.
Recently, I decided to get serious about my photography. So, I joined Model Mayhem. My goal: Build a portfolio of outdoor portrait photography in an effort to combine my love for nature and landscape photography with people and portraits. Compensation: Time for prints.
After successfully completing several shoots, I’ve learned a lot—both technically and about the business. Mainly, I’ve delivered positive results and have received positive feedback from most models I’ve shot to date…all but one. So, here’s the long/short:
Model contacts me. She likes what she sees in my portfolio. She offers to be my “first paying customer” and proposes a two-hour shoot, to yield 8-10 retouched images for $100. Delivery of images: one week. I agree, clarify her expectations and the shoot goes extremely well. I couldn’t be happier.
Treating this “first paying customer” with kid gloves, I deliver what I thought was well above her expectations. Of the 470 raw images I took during what turned into a 3.5-hr. shoot, within four days I provided her with 39 retouched images. As I’m still honing my craft, I was and continue to be upfront about the fact that I am not a professional—simply an aspiring one.
Thinking she’d be ecstatic not only with the results, but also the speed with which I delivered a final product, things start to slide downhill…and quickly. She responds by saying she only likes three of the 39. Perplexed and pained, I try to get clarity. Instead, she repeatedly makes demands to see all raw images, thinking we captured more than what we did (e.g., better angles, etc.). Using microscopic discretion, I attempt to reassure her that the images I selected captured her, the location and our overall experience in the best way possible.
She continues to request raw images, though never once did she tell me this was an expectation of hers. I explain my discomfort with her after-the-fact request like this:
“As a general rule, I don’t share/have never shared raw images with anyone I shoot. Much like a book with no ending, any photographer will tell you a raw image is an incomplete rendition of a final product and as such, not representative of a final “work.” In fact, and as a matter of course, once I decide which raw images I will edit/retouch, I discard the rest, as they are of no use.”
I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet her expectations and am trying not to get discouraged about continuing my pursuit to perhaps do outdoor portrait photography as a side business.
How do you recommend I proceed with future arrangements with models to ensure I don’t run into this situation again? Although I did a great deal of work, I feel not an ounce of goodness depositing her $100.
As part of my own process, do I offer the model a preview of raw images (including a watermark) beforehand? What’s your process? How do you protect your images so as to not make your raw images a free-for-all? What do you do?