If you’re a photographer, you know that one of the WORST feelings is not hearing positive feedback from a client/couple. What’s even worse is hearing that they are not happy with their images. Maybe they asked for a refund. Maybe even for a re-shoot since the images that they received were not what they were looking for. I know it may seem like the end of the world, but trust me when I say it’s not. Sometimes it can seem that clients hate their photos and you’re sitting there thinking… now what? Luckily over the years, while this hasn’t happened often it has happened once or twice. That’s why I’m going to give you some of the best wedding photography tips to deal with unsatisfied clients. Basically, these are the steps I take to remedy the situation with little to no battle scars.
Remember That One Piece of Negative Feedback Does *NOT* Mean You’re A Terrible Photographer
Okay, so someone may not be the most thrilled with their photos. That does not mean that you’re terrible at your job. Or worse, that you should quit together. I’m sure that this is probably what some of you think when you receive that dreaded email saying “hey…”. Instead, take a deep breath and recollect yourself and whatever you do, don’t freak out. Give yourself 30 seconds or so to process, then move on to the next step.
Not Everyone’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation
I know that so many of us want to hear these kinds of things:
“ We love our photos “
“ We are obsessed with our photos, thank you so so much ”
“ These are the best photos that we have ever seen ”
However, please keep in mind that not everyone’s love language is words of affirmation. In fact, there are plenty of times when you may send off a gallery, feeling good, and then receive no response. While we immediately think “they hate our photos”, that might not always be the case. They may be busy, they may have forgotten to respond. They may be dealing with an emergency or frankly, they are nervous to give you a response. Even if it’s a good one! I encourage you to reframe this mindset and don’t immediately jump to your clients always hating your photos if they don’t give a response. It could be all in your head.
If it’s not though and they come back saying they aren’t thrilled with their final images.. this is what you do.
Remind Yourself That Sometimes Insecurities Fuel The Rejection
It’s important that when you’re dealing with a client who’s not happy with their images, to understand it’s not a direct reflection of your work. Instead, it’s important to remind yourself that sometimes their insecurities are what fuel the rejection.
Our work is entirely based on the confidence level of our subjects. If there’s something that they’re not happy with internally (or externally), no matter what you do, they may still not be happy. Even if you’re absolutely obsessed with the photos and post them all over socials and your website. They still may never end up posting a single image from your photoshoot. This doesn’t mean that they hate the photos themselves, but they may be fueled by their own insecurities. In turn, this can prevent them from sharing their images and being unhappy with their final photos.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do in this instance. Except make sure that our clients are feeling confident in front of the camera on the day of the shoot. I also highly recommend discussing said insecurities with your clients prior to your session. That way you can come prepared as best as possible. Knowing different angles and ways you can shoot that best hide their insecurities and emphasize their best assets and features.
Contracts Are There For A Reason!
Always make sure to look over your contract and make sure there’s something in there that discusses your creative control. You can always remind your unhappy client that you do have these terms & conditions put in place for a reason. If your client is unhappy that the images are “warm & moody” and that is the work that you showed them and are providing, then you are not obligated to give them a refund, re-edit or reshoot their images. Of course, you want to keep this client in good graces (because we love repeat clients), but you’re not required to make changes. Especially if you have a clause in your contract that goes over your creative control when they book you.
Remember: You’re Allowed to Say No!
At the end of the day, it’s all about weighing your options. Doing what feels right for you and your business. You are allowed to say no! You do not have to make those changes and you do not have to do a re-shoot if it doesn’t financially make sense or you just don’t want to. That is totally and completely fine. Just remember that your client will react based on this decision. This could result in either a not-so-nice email or a bad review. Stand by your decision and don’t have any regrets before you move forward with saying no to your client.
What You Can Respond With If:
A client asks for you to alter their body, photoshop their outfits/ face or anything that you personally choose not to (or can’t) fix:
“I’m so sorry that you are unhappy with your photos. I try my best to prepare all of my clients before the shoot in order for things like this to not happen. Typically I send over my outfit/location guides to prepare my clients for their photoshoots the best way I know how. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to make the request changes that you are specifying. These are changes that are outside of my scope of work and I personally do not feel comfortable making these changes if I am not 100% confident that they will turn out the best that they can possibly be. With that being said, here is an option for you:
1.) I am open to scheduling a reshoot at a discounted rate of _____ if that’s something that you are willing to do. (Keep in mind that this does NOT have to be something you have to offer to your clients, but is an option. This completely depends on how comfortable you are. Also how important this client is to you and your business).
What You Can Respond With If:
A client asks for you to alter their body or anything that you can fix:
Maybe your client has come to you with a problem that is actually fixable and reasonable. Woohoo! While this isn’t always our most sought-after option, this is the better option of the two that I’ve given. In this case, here is how you can respond to your client who is wanting some changes that are within your scope of work:
“I’m so sorry that you are unhappy with your photos. I try my best to best prepare all of my clients before the shoot in order for things like this to not happen. Typically I send over my outfit/location guides to best prepare my clients for their photoshoots the best way I know how. I, of course, want you to feel heard and listened to. I also want you to have the best experience possible when it comes to working with me. Depending on the number of changes that you’re wanting and the type of changes, I am more than happy to look into making these changes for you to give you the best possible results.”
If it’s something you need to outsource:
“With these changes that you are specifying I will be able to fix it with the help of outsourcing the work. If possible, could you please choose X amount of images that you would like changed and that I could send out to help fix? Unfortunately, I am unable to fix the entire gallery. However, I am more than willing to help fix a handful of images to make sure that you are receiving some that you are absolutely happy with. With the cost of outsourcing to fix these images, I am unable to edit the entire gallery but want to make sure that you are able to use some 🙂
If it’s something you can personally fix:
“I am more than willing to go into your gallery and make those changes that you are specifying. I want you to be completely happy with your experience. Again, I want to reiterate that I am so sorry that you are not happy with your images. Please give me ____ amount of days/weeks to get these edits completed and delivered to you. I want to make sure that I am giving you all the edits and changes that you requested and that it’s the best that it could possibly be done. I appreciate you being open and honest with your experience and thoughts on your images. Hopefully, I am able to remedy this situation for you”.
Wedding Photography Tips: Clients Hate Their Photos, Now What?
While of course, I hope none of you have to deal with an unhappy client, it’s best to be prepared. Hopefully, these wedding photography tips on how to deal with unhappy clients come in handy (only a few times of course). You can find more tips on how to deal with unhappy clients (especially if it’s a wedding day) and the best ways to respond on my podcast, Clearly Focused!
For more wedding photography tips on how to handle clients who hate their photos, check out Episode 26 of the Clearly Focused Podcast!
My blog is somewhere where I also share a ton of other wedding photography tips! Here are some other blogs I recommend you check out while you’re down here.