Help – This Client Has Gone From Happy to Unhappy | Dear Devlin

Dear Devlin, Help – This client has gone from happy to unhappy!

I had a wedding booking from a couple who originally had another photographer but they couldn’t do their wedding now so they came to me because I was booked for their sister’s wedding day. I am a completely different style of photographer from their original who was very old school traditional.

The couple contacted me through my website and said they liked my natural photos. I went over everything with this couple at their pre-wedding consultation, I have a brochure I sent with details on how I work on the day, info about group shots and we also had another meeting 1 month before the wedding.

I ask couples for a short list of group posed shots up to 8 I feel is more than enough but if there’s a couple more that’s fine.

Everything was fine with this couple until 2 days before their wedding they still hadn’t sent the group list and when they did the night before it was a spreadsheet with 40+ groups! I said I’ll have to condense it because of what I’d already discussed and time etc and it was just loads of combinations. They said the Groomsmen would help on the day but they didn’t as you can imagine it was a nightmare!

This whole wedding day was taken up by group photos I’m not kidding, waiting for people to find people, the Groom losing his mind. In the evening the Groom told me to finish 15 mins early because I’d done a great job for them and they seemed to have a lovely time.

This Client Has Gone from Happy to Unhappy

I sent the gallery and they got back within a couple of days to say they were overjoyed and thanked me so much they’ll ‘treasure the photos forever’, so I’m super pleased and get on with my other bookings…..until…3 weeks after I sent the gallery they’re asking for more photos, saying I didn’t include a posed shot with the Groom and Groomsmen which I did with the bride in it, saying the Mum and Grandmother remember having a photo taken that wasn’t included- I included a photo with them both and the Bride as well as lots of shots with the Mum, Grandmother and Bride etc.

I again sent them the photos to show what I had taken and these are in the gallery. The reply I got was awful saying how ‘they can’t do the day again’ and they feel I ‘missed precious moments’ ie a shot of the Groomsmen, the Mum and Grandmother only. I’m in shock because I gave them 700 photos instead of the 500 in their contract, they were so happy but now they’re not.

They also said they want the unedited photos because they now feel the bridesmaid dresses aren’t shown in their true colours, wtf! But when I sent the preview photos a couple of days after the wedding they loved them plus they loved their gallery and I’ve edited exactly the same way. The dresses were pink and pink in the photos.

I photographed the sister’s wedding in the same style too and she loved the photos. I replied to the Bride and said I would give the unedited photos on the USB because it’s turned so sour with this Bride and I don’t know what the hell is going on.

Never been in this situation before because I never ever take these bookings…it’s my fault isn’t it? Any breathing technique recommendations? 😉

Shocked from Southampton

An image of a bride sitting on a bed with smudged makeup and a vintage phone to illustrate the article help - this client has gone from happy to unhappy

Dear Shocked from Southampton,

I can imagine the stress and frustration you must be feeling after encountering such a challenging situation with this couple. It’s disheartening when clients who initially expressed satisfaction suddenly have new requests or concerns. Let’s break down what you can consider in this situation:

What To Do When A Client Goes From Happy to Unhappy

  1. Understanding Client Expectations: Communication is key, but sometimes clients may not fully understand the process or the limitations of photography. In your initial meetings and discussions, make sure you’re clear about what to expect regarding group shots, the style of photography, and the number of photos included in the package.
  2. Contract Clarity: Review your contract to ensure it’s comprehensive and clearly outlines the services you’ll provide, the number of photos, and any limitations. Having a well-drafted contract can help protect both you and the clients.
  3. Professional Courtesy: You’ve already gone above and beyond by providing 700 photos instead of the agreed-upon 500. It’s important to maintain a professional tone in your communications, even if you’re feeling frustrated.
  4. Provide Evidence: If the couple claims that certain shots are missing, providing evidence of the shots you took, either through proofs or other gallery images, can help clarify the situation. If the images were included as agreed, make sure they’re aware of this.
  5. Addressing Concerns: Offer to address their concerns by revisiting the gallery and confirming the presence of the photos in question. If the photos are missing, discuss whether it’s possible to provide them. Be clear about the process and any additional costs if this wasn’t part of the original agreement.
  6. Unedited Photos: If the couple insists on the unedited photos, you can provide them, but I believe that this should be at an additional charge. Make sure to communicate the size and number of unedited photos to manage their expectations.
  7. Learning for the Future: While it’s a challenging experience, it’s also an opportunity to review your procedures and possibly consider more thorough pre-wedding discussions, including expectations about the number of group shots.
  8. Damage Limitation Mode: Most wedding photographers are people pleasers, and your instincts here are trying to resolve this so that they feel pleased. My advice is to switch that mindset into one that prioritises protecting your hard-earned reputation. You do not want this to escalate into bad online reviews.
An image of a bride sitting on a bed with smudged makeup and a vintage phone to illustrate the article help - this client has gone from happy to unhappy

In situations like these, maintaining professionalism, good communication, and a willingness to find a reasonable solution is essential. Sometimes, clients’ perceptions can change after the initial excitement of receiving their photos.

In most situations like this, there will be an external factor at play that you have zero control over. Their unhappiness may well be redirected from somewhere else. The pressure that wedding days should be these perfect happy ever afters is a very unrealistic expectation and when that doesn’t happen people can try to transfer those feelings elsewhere. You might just be caught in that crossfire.

It’s important to navigate such situations with patience and a neutral professionalism. Keep the communication to email so everything is written down and keep your responses brief but polite.

If that does not resolve the problem, reach out to your insurance company as they will have team members that can offer you legal advice. It’s part of what you pay your premium for.

An image of a bride sitting on a bed with smudged makeup and a vintage phone to illustrate the article help - this client has gone from happy to unhappy

As for managing stress and frustration, deep breathing techniques can indeed help. Try slow, deep breaths to calm your nerves counting to 4 on the way in, holding for 4, and then out for 4. If you find yourself in a situation where stress is building, consider taking a step back, to think about how you can protect your mental health.

Please remember this – You do not have to absorb their negative emotions.

I hope you find a resolution that works for both you and the couple. Don’t be too hard on yourself; sometimes, clients’ expectations can change, and it’s about finding a balance that leaves everyone satisfied.