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What to do When You Encounter Criticism


I've only been criticized (to my face) twice in my photography career. Once was from a mini-session where the parents could not control their children. The children would not cooperate with their parents, and they definitely weren't having anything from me either. I've only encountered children like this once in my entire (albeit, short) career. There were multiple head-swaps that took place in Photoshop, and I spent more time than I should have on a mere 20 minute session -- the editing took at least 2 hours. Never the less, I wanted the client to be happy. And she was still unhappy. She threw a tantrum, just like her children. She poked and prodded for her money back, but instead I offered a re-do session for free. I never heard from her again.

The next unhappy customer was recently. She is a kind real estate agent who had valid concerns with her photos. Unfortunately, weather and indoor conditions are not always easy to work with on a limited schedule. Part of the outcome was my fault, and part was hers. We were both to blame in the situation. I took her criticisms to heart and noted them in my mental note taker for next time. I am not as experienced in real-estate photography and wanted to learn and understand better, though I had done much research before getting into the situation -- such as not touching furniture (even small things) as they could be an insurance liability. Again, I offered a re-do, and deeply understood her concern, but did not offer money back. 

I would rather be criticized to my face than behind my back. What most people don't realize is that most photographers want to know what they did wrong, or what you -- the client -- prefers. It helps us grow, and your constructive criticism creates building blocks on the road to greatness. This doesn't mean that you get to nit-pick, but it does mean that if you are completely dissatisfied with your experience, we want to hear about it (in a humble manor). There are two different types of photographers -- ones that know they will never finish learning, and those who think they already know it all. I'm not the know it all kind, and therefore welcome your criticism to an extent.

With that said, there are a few different types of criticisms that you'll encounter in your photography career, if you're a photographer. And you must understand when it's the proper time to offer a refund, offer a re-do, or completely walk away from the situation.


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