Difficulty with production due to the expectations of the digital world
I'm yet again fighting the "digital culture of expectation".
I shot some photos of my friends kids using my Hasselblad, Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji Acros 100 - though they are my friends, they are a paying client (though largely just paying for my costs with a little extra). The results are quite outstanding, even by my standards! Arguably some of the best portraiture I have done.
After the shoot, I sent the films to my lab, who have done a great job of developing the film and, to keep costs down, I asked the lab to conduct initially just their "standard scan" from negative to CD so that the client could see the proofs and choose their favourites for final proper production. This, the lab has done, and pleased with the results the client is. I have then reduced the pictures in size (to about 70Kb) and watermarked each picture too, to prevent anybody just trying to do a bodge job print effort themsevles. I have reitterated many times "these are low res scans....proper prints from negatives are essential and key to optimum final prints" etc etc
However, the client has now asked if she can have the electronic pictures without the watermark so she can create her own little album and produce two more for her extended family. Note she still intends to place an order of 3 or 4 enlargements for her wall which will be done by my lab, but still.
I am now in a tricky spot and need advice on resolving. If I give her the unwatermarked but still low res scans (each original file is about 300Kb) and she just takes them along to Wallmart or wherever, we all know how they'll look. Though they may satisfied with them, I know they'll look a fraction of how good they'd look if I had the prints done properly from the negatives using my lab. And my name, as a photographer, will be affected. because everybody who is shown these little albums witll think that is the work of Ted Smith. I don't want people thinking, when they see these sub-standard prints, that it is a reflection of my work and will reduce my capability in future of generating clients. But likewise, she doesn't want to have to pay an extra £70 or so to have some sets of 5"x5" prints produced, considering it has already cost £35 for the film and 85£ for the development and scanning costs.
What the hell do I do?
Just explain to the client that once watermarked, you cannot delete it and only proper printing from the negatives is all you can do for her.
“What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”¯
what has happened is typical of what happens when one does work for friends.
why don't you SELL her the usage for the files much like a stock agency does.
if it is actually for a brag-book, have her tell you how many there will be,
and charge her a fee.
A customer that doesn't want to spend any money. I live in a town where everybody in it thinks if they've spent 20 bucks, they've spent a lot of money. People like that will be glad to let you bust your tail all day to make 5 dollars. Get rid of 'em. You've got better things to do. These people burn me up. That's my attitude about them.
Learn to spot the pattern. People like that will never be satisfied no matter what you do.
What Rick A said. Or just tell her "No".... any way you say it, it comes to no.... she's trying to scam you, Pal... I would not do it.... why are people we like, even, sometime so cheap?.... sorry...
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Your lab can probably prepare three small albums, with good quality small prints for you from the low resolution scans at a reasonable cost. Sell them to your friend/client with a reasonable markup, on the condition that you will deliver them upon receipt of payment for them plus deposit monies for the enlargements.
That will give you the opportunity to ensure the album prints are properly done.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Tell her the truth. Say that you work really hard to maintain your image as a photographer and that the quality of the photos is very, very important to you. It's your personal brand. You want her to have the 'brag books' she wants, but still be able to present the best quality alongside your name, as you're sure she understands. Then work out a deal with your lab for the books, and make it clear that the choice is really hers, how much she values what she wants.
(But be prepared for someone she knows to use a clone tool to get rid of the watermarks.)
I would go this route. Give all the reasons outlined by others about the quality being important. And license her the use of good scans of the selects - for a modest fee, you can explain covers the cost of the scans. Don't pay for and send her 100MB scans, but send the appropriate scan detail for the intended purpose. That way the brag books will look professional, but the quality still won't tempt them to make a mural to hang behind the couch. Tell them for a mural you would recommend a 100MB scan, and then go order that when the time comes.
Originally Posted by jnanian
I hope it all comes out to be a positive experience for you all around.
What is the alternative? She says no and takes only what you offered in the first place. She then scans the prints in oh her crappy scanner that is part of her home MFC and still does what she wants with them! (Don't think that will happen? I know from experience, my mother in law used to do it ALL the time!)
Be grateful if indeed she does print them @ Walmart (or some other chain), as they will be a lot closer to say printing at home on a crappy inkjet...
One good story that reinforces one should never do "paid" work for friends. It tilts things on its ear and can even result in the loss of friends.
Give her the low-res files to do as she pleases, but specify, in the nicest possible terms, that the original files are yours and if the client wants them, a fee is expected out of courtesy, if not need.
I have come to the impression that your costs are oustripping what you could reasonably have expected to have earned or been given for this task. I don't know if there was a written agreement (essential for this type of work) dictating what costs are involved, why and the alternatives, and whether she did or did not agree to them. There is the danger, as you pointed out, that the "substandard prints" may be interpreted by others as an example of your work and thus cause more problems. The way forward here is to speak with her, as a friend but also as a client who has engaged a professional, about your excessive costs vs the poor return for same. In a nutshell, she is expected to reimburse you for the costs and a bit more for your time and effort. That's it in black and white.
I did get a chuckle though that anybody could expect a decent print from a 300kb file. That's funny!