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Archive 2012 · First big portrait session a disaster.
  
 
nguyencs
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · First big portrait session a disaster.


I was contacted by a business magazine to do a portrait session of an executive of a big bank here. The sample work they showed me wasn't all too amazing. I was confident I could do better so I accepted the job. I was told that all I had to do was show up and there will be someone there to help me and to show me all the locations to shoot. I scouted the location beforehand just to be safe.

Problem started when two of my assistants cancelled on me. When I showed up, there was no one there to show me what locations they wanted. The executive came down by herself and she asked me if I knew what we were doing. I froze for a second and tried to be confident. The location I scouted quickly left me with no ideas. There was also a cold breeze and I could tell she was getting uncomfortable. While trying to hustle, I left my bags in one of the shot. My White Lightning didn't fire near the end of the shoot. I tried to move forward my speedlite. My confidence was pretty shot by now. I decided to call it after a short shoot.

I'm thinking I should just stick to the small jobs



Feb 09, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Ho1972
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · First big portrait session a disaster.


Why did the magazine contact you? Did they have a reason to expect that you could complete the job in a competent manner (portfolio or published work) or were they just expecting a nice, cheap price?


Feb 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
nguyencs
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · First big portrait session a disaster.


They did see my website before they contacted me. Weird thing is that they contacted me through my personal email instead of my business email. So they might have been referred. Maybe the the other magazine company I occasionally do work for. They are still paying me the large amount of money for the shoot. It just I don't feel like I did enough work for that much money. I do believe I still took many great shots for the magazine. It just when things start to not go my way, I get self-conscious lol.


Feb 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Taoguy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · First big portrait session a disaster.


There is a learning curve with everything. Hopefully you have sat down and created a list of things that went wrong and what you could have done to prevent them. You have heard, make this a learning moment, your lesson has begun.

It sounds like you were intimidated somewhat by the bank exec., that is more common than you think. Never be fearful of asking questions, When she asked if you knew what you were doing, a simple response of, "Yes but I'd like to get your thoughts". Or If you didn't know the plan, the truth can't hurt, "No directions from anyone yet, what are you hoping to see? " Then you begin sharing some thoughts, etc.

I wasn't there but self confidence in what you do comes from within. might be too much too soon. Calling it in early would trouble me as a client. I've hired many contractors from many fields over the years, if they need input from me based on themes or ideas, I'm fine with that. I welcome it. Even asking what I'm looking for in the end product I see as an intelligent question concerned about pleasing me with the end product.

Should they begin asking me about techniques or other technical questions, I know I've hired the wrong contractor.
Never ever quit, I'd rather pay for work that the best effort was put forth and not meet my expectations than pay anything for incomplete work.

Good luck in the future - remember this shoot and how you feel about how it went, should be a good motivation to plan/prepare for the next one.

Gerard



Feb 09, 2012 at 09:51 PM
nguyencs
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · First big portrait session a disaster.


Taoguy wrote:
There is a learning curve with everything. Hopefully you have sat down and created a list of things that went wrong and what you could have done to prevent them. You have heard, make this a learning moment, your lesson has begun.

It sounds like you were intimidated somewhat by the bank exec., that is more common than you think. Never be fearful of asking questions, When she asked if you knew what you were doing, a simple response of, "Yes but I'd like to get your thoughts". Or If you didn't know the plan, the truth can't hurt, "No directions
...Show more

You're totally right. There's lots of things I wish I did differently. I also emailed the business magazine to tell them that no one was there to show me around like they told me in the original email. I got the response:

"We tend to assume the photographer has a better of idea what looks good as opposed to the subject or support staff at the location."

I guess I mistook them telling me someone was going to be there to show me around when in actuality there wasn't anyone. I found the statement a bit passive aggressive though. I might have blown my chance at future gigs.



Feb 10, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · First big portrait session a disaster.


Don't worry about the water that has now passed under the bridge. School of hard knocks is a pretty good school. Try to remember, you are hired for your photography skills, it's a given that those skills must be real. Many times clients expectations are that I'll handle every aspect and detail.

Your communication skill set helps make sure everyone is on the same page. I have questions for every client, they help me understand what they expect. I never assume anything, regarding what will be on sight, timing, personnel, do I have a power source, what access do I have, etc.

Good communication helps deliver the finished product. If you think of it as taking an order for a meal at a fine restaurant it might help. A good waitress takes an order that is complete, no surprises on the meal. If she fails to ask how you like you steak, oops! Then the client is not happy.

If you have to explain after the fact, why things didn't work, you have already lost.

So one mistake doesn't make the year, the month, or the week. If your heart is in this, you'll keep getting up and trying again. Work on your communication/sales skills to match your photography. I can guarantee you my sales skill far exceed my photo skills.

Good luck.

Gerard




Feb 10, 2012 at 02:00 AM
 

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Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · First big portrait session a disaster.


To emphasize Gerard's point. Draw up a Creative Brief. Make the points and questions (logistics, creative, your clients goals) specific to each client, and have them answer it, or you answer based on your aural conversations with them. When writing it, consider what's important for you to know going into the specific job.


It's also a nice thing for you to fall back on once the job has started. After the client has signed off on it, you can refer to it in the likely circumstance when you'll need to say, 'well, we've agreed on this prior, it's here in our brief'.




Feb 10, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · First big portrait session a disaster.


Skarkowtsky - Better explanation than I gave, Thanks.

Also, Get as much as you can in writing. This is where email is a real blessing today. Following up on Skarkowtsky said, the brief can be emailed and you end up in with the agreement in writing, memories work better with the actual written doc. Even when clients call me for changes or add ons I ask them to email it to me so I don't forget or have not misunderstood, all the info goes in the clients folder. Just good business.

Gerard



Feb 10, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Shasta
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · First big portrait session a disaster.


I'm going to be in a similar situation today and I think you went in deflated from the get go. You obviously enjoy photography, and I think like myself, need to go into these situations with a clear head and let your creativity come out. Not one photographer will tell that every image they compose is a keeper or close to it, if they do, they are liars, thats why you choose your best shots. I think if you have a good handle on your equipment the rest will come naturally and you won't have to rely on any assistants or direction.

Today I personally am going to look through my shots and try to ensure the surrounding area is just as appealing as the foreground, but I'll make mistakes, that's normal. Lessons learned right, and no sense pointing fingers, you inevitably had creative control.



Feb 12, 2012 at 02:48 PM
marti.g3
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · First big portrait session a disaster.


Equipment malfunctions always occur at the worst time....Murphy's Law....that's why a working pro always has backup gear for everything. Cameras, lenses, strobes, stands, remotes, cards, everything. Always fall back on what you know are your strong skills when feeling intimidated. There's comfort there.


Feb 14, 2012 at 01:38 AM
aboudd
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · First big portrait session a disaster.


I've been a working pro for over 35 years. I can assure you that you will learn from every assignment and will make more mistakes in the process. Relax.


Feb 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Danpbphoto
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · First big portrait session a disaster.


All of the above is great advice.
A high school teacher had a saying in preparation for exams:
"Repetition is the Mother of Learning!"
My first assignment was similiar to yours and my next in June 2012 is becoming a real challenge! I am dealing with pros who want no part of an "outside photographer" being involved and an organization that is very reluctant to change to include 1specific function even though it will increase revenue and advertising.
Heed the above advice and don't be discouraged. The only bad/dumb question is that one that IS NOT ASKED!
Good luck!
Dan



Feb 18, 2012 at 06:20 PM





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