by Dave Simm Published 01/02/2001
Then at least there is your contract.
The second photographer was guilty of overselling, over romanticizing what he could do for the client.
A person may like your work, but not understand what quality it is, he or she likes. They may not see themselves as models in over dramatised poses and may not realize that your display and presentation images reflect what you intend to do on their wedding day. A sales presentation involves some listening time on your part too. Never say, "we do it this way". You should be doing it the clients way, but you should also be every careful not to book someone who would not appreciate your artistry when applied to them.
Once you have secured a booking, you should have a final briefing with that client, during the last few days before their wedding. At that meeting try to establish their likes and dislikes, "would the bride be willing to sit on the floor, or lie in the grass?" show them lots of wedding pictures and solicit a response... yeah or nay. This should illiminate the possibility of disappointment on aesthetic grounds.
It doesn't matter what your qualifications are, this is someone's wedding, not a qualifications panel or a photo shoot, you are not trying to impress other photographers, if your client is a meat and potatoes kind of person and you have accepted the booking, then that is what you give them.... leave your creativity hat at home that day...... go out and fulfil the clients brief, nothing more-nothing less.
There may be divorces in the parents, would you know about that, you should, especially if you take family groups at weddings. You would not want to stand warring ex spouses next to each other on a picture.. at best they wouldn't buy a copy... at worst you are cause distress by trying to get them to stand together.
As you must be aware, a wedding is much more than just another photo assignment. There are so many people involved, not just a bride and groom, their siblings are a part of it. I had a wedding where the groom's twin brother, the best man, was openly gay. That presented only minor complications...
whom should he dance with during the bridal party dance?... People are complicated and people are our clients, we need to be especially sensitive to their needs if we want to succeed in wedding photography, taking good pictures isn't nearly enough.
These are only a small number of the thousands reasons for registering a complaint, some more grievous than others, but all very real in the eyes of the client and most could be avoided before they occur. How you sort the wheat from the chaff, is how you deal with complaints when they do arise.
Again don't be defensive, listen well, let them be critical, abusive or demanding, it is part of the healing process, it won't last very long. When they have had their say, address the issues one at a time, logically and sympathetically in a strategic attempt to turn the situation around, be optimistic that you can do something that they will be happy with.
At the end of the day if all else fails, you could hand over the negatives and previews along with a refund of all deposits and let the client find someone whom they would rather trust with their pictures. Sadly that is not good for you, it is not good for the client nor is it particularly good for our profession.
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