First off let me say that my clients experience is one of the most important parts of my work, which is why I want to share this. I debated for a while on whether to post this or not because it’s not something that other photographers have really done so honestly in the past but hey, I’m not other photographers and I’d rather treat you like a friend and be honest because that is what I would want! Now, I’m not one of those snobby photographers who says “It’s my way or the highway” and never listens to requests. If I decline a request or suggestion I ALWAYS have a good reason. Here is a little more about why I don’t take major editing style change requests after sending out a gallery, and what I am willing to do instead.
When someone hires a photographer there are a lot of things that influence that choice including: Budget, Location of Photographer, Desired Shooting Location, Familiarity with the Photographers Work (maybe you know someone who used them or even know them personally), How They Market and Present Themself on their Website and Social Media Platforms, Image Quality, Style etc…
To be completely honest sometimes as photographers we forget this and think that the number one and ONLY reason that you hired us is because you LOVE our style. A photographer’s style is like their baby. Something that has grown with them over time and developed into something that is uniquely them. Their beginning work may have been more exploratory and differ greatly from one shoot to the next or even one day to the next, but eventually it settles into something consistent.
If you’re working with a photographer who is still exploring and settling into their own style they may be more willing to worth with you on extreme editing style requests but the key is to always ask BEFORE the shoot. There is nothing that hurts a photographers pride more than editing a batch of photos and proudly sending them off only to get the request to change the entire style of the whole gallery. I don’t care if it’s a beginning photographer or one who is more experienced- it hurts.
I’m not going to lie and tell you that it takes me days and days to edit an hour long engagement session and so that’s why I don’t re-edit. Because that’s simply not true. It use to be true- but I have spent a hefty amount on education and experience building opportunities to realize that getting images the way I want has more to do with what happens in the camera not post processing.
I don’t want you to think back and feel awful for a time you may have requested this, ok? That’s not my point. I think that people (especially those exposed to instagram ads) are under the impression that the style of a photo is as easy as which preset you use. I am not against pre-sets, however IF an experienced photographer uses pre-sets they are more of a starting point. They don’t just slap it on and call it good. Well I guess I can’t speak for everyone but I would never do that to you, and I don’t personally know any photographer who would!
Another huge factor in style had NOTHING to do with editing at all! It has to do with the composition (how I set up the shot). I choose my locations, back grounds, times of day, where the sun enters the shot and hits my clients ALL with my personal style in mind. It’s not even something I can edit in or out later. If someone were to ask me to make my images “more dark and contrasty” I literally couldn’t! Because it’s not all about editing, believe it or not.
As photographers we may hide this fact from you because we want you to feel comfortable during the shoot but we are making very very strategic decisions about where you stand, interact, how you move and every little aspect of how the light is interacting with you, the background and foreground. It’s our job to make it look like we are just walking around having fun and taking pictures so you looked relaxed and natural in each shot. Don’t be fooled and think the pictures must have just turned out magically because photography is easy or that it was a coincidence (or worse think that it’s just because of our fancy camera *ouch*), we are working hard and thinking non-stop about what will flatter you and reflect our advertised style.
“So you mean when a photographer refuses to re-edit images after the fact that are 100% consistent with their current work they’re not just being lazy and trying to cheat me out of money?”
Ultimately, it’s about serving you best. Which is one of the main reasons for this blog. You can scroll through blog posts and get an idea for what my style is, beforehand. If you like it, book. If you’re unsure if I am willing to capture the look you’re going for ASK ahead of time! There are somethings I can alter though-out the shoot to customize it to specific requests and other things that are simply out of my style range and expertise. I have lots of photographer friends in the area with all different styles who I will gladly recommend you to!
I would much much rather refer you to another photographer than you be unhappy with my work!
So what if your gallery doesn’t look how you though it would?
I’m always willing to admit a mistake. If my editing isn’t a 100% reflection of the type of work I’ve done in the last year please send me an email! I will review the gallery personally and re-edit any images necessary.
Ultimately I hope this explanation helps you to understand where I, or other photographers are coming from when you make requests like those mentioned above! Thanks for reading! Please feel free to reach out with questions!
-Prevention is the Best Medicine: Make sure you are showing your clients what your work looks like BEFORE they book.
-Sometimes it’s Hard to Take Responsibly: If you didn’t explain something well in your contract or make sure that they looked at your work, if you gave a session for free and didn’t set boundaries, or didn’t post images on your instagram that were a true reflection of your work, if you don’t have a consistent style or maybe you do but it has changed and your portfolio is not updated- all of those things are your responsibly. Review the above if you find yourself getting this request too often. The other day I had someone ask me to “Edit them darker” and I was upset! BUT… I took a long hard look in the mirror, or at the images rather, and realized that a handful of the images were in fact lighter than my typical shoot, so I fixed those few before sending the final gallery.
-Sometimes it’s hard to stay Calm and resist being offended: Even leaders in the industry get requests like this after a Newlywed Bride spends a little too much time on Pinterest, Instagram etc. looking at a different style. Katelyn James (who charges upwards of $10,000 per wedding) and who’s style is widely know had a Bride request after paying her deposit that her images be edited to look more “filmy”. I’m sure KJ was taken off guard, who wouldn’t be? That’s like asking Picasso be more like Monet! But she kept her cool and explained that although film is a beautiful medium that wasn’t her style and wasn’t something she could do! Nobody likes it when someone looses their cool- even if there is a legitimate reason to be upset. ASK WHY, when that same person I mentioned earlier asked for me to “edit them darker” she gave me the golden nugget of explaining why! She wanted them darker for print. I was able to explain that ALL the images would be darker when printed than they appeared digitally on virtually all screens. (If you they have an iMac tell them it will appear printed at standard color settings and the brightness that shows at 50% luminance- sorry I’m not sure what an approx. equivalent on other computers is, but I do know it’s different- Leave a comment if you know.) How could I be offended knowing this when some screens make my photos look blown!
-Sometimes it’s hard to admit that we can’t fulfill a certain request because we don’t want people to doubt our own professionalism in an industry that is full of amateurs, pros and everything in between. Do it anyway.
-In the end, and after going above and beyond at doing our best to serve our clients well, it’s sometimes hard to tell the few people who do try to take advantage that we will not put up with it, because we fear bad reviews or loosing jobs in a saturated market. Do it anyway.