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Parent Complaints

Lesson 71 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Parent Complaints

Lesson 71 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

71. Parent Complaints

Next Lesson: Unhappy Customers


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Parent Complaints

Why are there more measures or his or her side of the family? Oh my god, I am not a counsellor. I'm not therapy list. Please don't make me be your therapist. Please don't tell me your problems. Please. Please don't involve me in your power play of your family. I didn't know about it. I don't want to play this game. It's, when you wanna pull the covers over your head and go back to bed and be like, I'm not hearing this, I don't want to know, and a lot of times this complaint comes from parents. Well, you have tons of pictures of the bride's family and don't have any pictures of my family when you have, like, two or three. And I know that they sat at their tables the entire reception and the bride's family danced on the floor of the entire time and hugged and kissed each other and smashed plates and dead ahora. And we just sat here. And when you came over to the table, we said, no, no, no pictures. Thank you. Why aren't there more pictures of us? It's an instance where? And I'm going to ...

talk about this again later the customer is not always right, but they are always the customer. Which is one of my personal favorite phrase is in business to which I have to say and I don't like to have to tell people the truth sometimes listen, I wish there were more images of your side of the family I approached their table several times and every time they told me no no thank you I always ask people can I get a picture of you guys? No no thank you it's okay, okay, well, if you told me not to shoot you, I'm not going to shoot you or if you hid in the bathroom the whole time or if you stood at the bar the whole time, the opportunities to document you are not as strong as they would be to document the other people that are on the dance floor or the people that are interacting or the people that are participating in the evening and at which point I have to say, I'm so sorry these people were super active, they were in front of the camera the whole time they were grabbing me for photographs and this table that you wanted pictures ofthe told me no, thank you I'm not going to just apologize and be like, oh my god, I'm so sorry if there was an extenuating circumstance as to why I don't have those images I'm not trying to make excuses when someone complains I'm not being defensive and I'm not making excuses because if I've done something wrong, I want to own up to what I have done wrong, but if I have done everything I can and they're still dissatisfied for some reason I do need to be able to tell them why and defending yourself is not the same as being defensive. It just isn't any questions, so I'm ah lot of people are talking about as faras protection lady bacon foot says how can you protect yourself from past experiences from pre business days or negative feedback one more time? Yeah, take yourself from past experiences like if you've ever had any trouble maybe in the past from pre business days or negative feedback, you just have to keep going I mean, every once in a while somebody gets on a wedding chat board and is like soon circling is a jerk she shot my wedding and she was really mean and she charges too much money anonymous and I'm like you're a real client or are you a competitors just writing nasty stuff about me on the internet? If you find reviews of yourself on the internet that are not true or that are excessively harsh, I'm not saying that if you screwed up something, you shouldn't kind of take your lumps and move on, but if it's something out there that is intentionally defaming your character trying to get those reviews removed however, like let's say you come the wedding photography but maybe you had problems in a business that you ran in the past or a business you ran in the past went under or you know you did something dumb on the internet and it's following you you just have to get past it because that stuff will eventually drop off the internet and I can't help but think have any of you heard of the case? We've been following the case about that girl from new jersey who sued her parents? Yeah, she's awesome! This girl in jersey decided she didn't wanna live by her parents rules anymore her parents had to curfew she was dating a guy she didn't like on day said you're eighteen years old you either follow our rules or you can move out and she's like fine I'm moving out so she moved out. She moved in with her best friend and promptly sued her parents, saying, I want you to continue supporting me throughout my high school through all of college and everything because you should like do that and stuff that poor girl for the rest of her life anytime any potential employer or college or client googles her name she's always going to be that girl who sued her parents when she's eighteen which is why I tried to tell my kids especially my daughter who's about to turn thirteen anything you do on the internet will always be on the internet and even if you do it in it's dumb and you take it down there are these things called screen caps which will last forever so being extremely careful in everything that I do so that nothing bad about me ends up on the internet is step one but if something bad does happen over time it's going to drop off it's you know I was on a message board ten years ago and somebody went kind of nuts on the message board and there were a bunch of all these threads and websites and whatnot about this person that went nuts and if you google that person now those things don't even pop up so if you have made mistakes in the past own it and move on eventually those ghost will leave you but also if a client ever does ask you you know hey I'm thinking about hiring you for my wedding but I read this thing about you on the internet that was kind of unpleasant you need to tell them what it was and why it wass and why it's not going to happen again yes that was a previous business that I owned or yes that was a dissatisfied client this is what I have done to make it better these are the steps I've taken to ensure that's never going to happen again I just hope they trust you thank you, yes, anything else from the internet but I can help with, uh, tammy and asked a season allow the parents to sign the contract so they will it would be legally the official client or does she always get the bride to said the contract? The bride is the only person who signs the contract, ok, not the groom, not parents, not the coordinator god, not the coordinator, only the bribe that's it because that's the person I'm working for and if parents are very insistent that they're the ones to sign the contract, that is something that I will defend, that I've got to be there for your daughter. I've I'm working for her and not you guys. I will include you in all of our correspondents I will include you on the questionnaire I will go to you with questions, but the bride is the point of contact always always because otherwise, if the parents signed the contract, I could have an instance where the bride wants one thing and her parents want something else and respectfully to the parents that's, not their wedding. I need to be able to do with their daughter wants, but they also need to know that they need to communicate with me if there are things that they want so that I could make sure to document them for them cool long sort of along the same lines from bethany and dan. Ah, client's mother was very upset. We didn't get all the formals she wanted, but we did all the formals the bright asked for. We just ran out of time. I would've been glad to take them for the mother. But there there was just no time. Sadly, she was furious. How do you deal with that there's? How I deal with it in my head. And then there is how I deal with it publicly in my head. A teeny tiny violin plays a little sad song for her. And I say that's rough and then I move on. However, even though the mom is not my client, the bride is my client. I still have an unhappy mom and I don't want her mom to be unhappy. All I can do is say I'm sorry, you know. Hey, I got the formal list from your daughter. We worked on it really hard together. She did not indicate to me that you wanted the rest of these formals or if she did, we knew that we could on lee do them. As time allows time did not allow they did not happen, I'm super sorry next say you're sorry and move on and a lot of times all how that happened we all do all the formals that the bride has requested and I'm I s an idiot. I assume that when the bride does the formalist, she talks to her parents and I tell them when you're working on this formal list, it needs to be a decision made by you and your fiance. You need to talk to your parents, you need to talk to his parents and you talk to anyone else who you feel like I might want to be involved in this because I'm not going to know if you don't let these people in a formal grouping I'm not going to know that you want a formal grouping of them, and if we run to the very end and the bride's parents are like, oh my gosh, can you get this one other image of these five other images were these thirty other images and I say, guys, I'm really sorry we did the list we've got we've got no more time at all my standard responses. I'm going to be here for the whole reception, I'm going to be here till eleven or I'm going to be here till whenever, just grab me at any point in time during the party and I would be glad to take any other pictures you wanted, then you put it back on them then if they didn't come to you and say, oh, we actually wanted this picture with the aunts and uncles I can say, I'm really sorry I asked you guys to grab me and you didn't grab me. I thought we got everything that you wanted and it sucks to be like it's, not me it's you you don't want to say that, but at the same time I'm not going to take responsibility for go down for something that I put back on them come get me if you need me if you didn't come get me, you must not have needed me that badly, and I'm really sorry if the parents are really, really furious. Well, giving them a couple extra pages in their parent album make them happy. Great well, letting them put uncle bob's crappy iphone picture of that family grouping that they wanted in the album make them happy. Great, we'll do that within reason, and you have to find in your own self where your level of reason is like, how far are you willing to go to make that client happy? If they're really mad at me? They were gonna get a free parent album like that's crazy, but maybe some eight by tens and make them happy and that's kind of something you have to find I can't tell you where your own personal comfort level is you have to kind of find it in yourself and this is a hard thing because when your clients are unhappy with you yet you've done everything that you possibly could fulfill the contract and cared for them as deeply as possible and they're unhappy with you for something that you didn't do wrong and you have to stand up for yourself it feels like you're giving them bad customer service standing up for yourself is not giving them bad customer service you can't let them run all over yourself I see photographers all the time on facebook and on message towards me like I had a client was unhappy so then I give them a free album then I gave them free prince and they still wrote about a review on me and I'm like let's back up to free album and free prints don't roll over I'm not saying don't be unfeeling there's a fine line between being unfeeling and just being business like because you're unhappy it doesn't even give you everything in the world to make you happy especially if you're being unreasonable so don't be afraid of your clients is basically what I'm trying to say and don't be afraid that they're going to see you so many photographers were like and then I gave them a free al because I was afraid she was going to sue me guys, it's gonna be okay. So along those same lines, so photo dog wrote, how do you compensate for a missed shot and so it's sounding to me like you're coming, you're you're kind of compensating on a case by case basis, it depends on what it is and what is that in this shot? Is it? My grandmother was dying and all I asked was for one portrait of my grandmother, and then I didn't get that portrait, and then she died when you feel really bad about that, so maybe I'll give a little extra something to that because, oh, that's kind of a sucky one, but I had postcards on every single place setting, and they were all different and you only photographed three hundred forty two of them, and there were three hundred forty three where's that last one. I'm sorry, like, really, I really do have the postcard at home, send it to me. I'll take a picture of it like it's a case by case basis. It's how egregious was that thing that I missed and how much in advance did they communicate that that was something that was important? I can't think of one single like a one off one shot that I could miss that would be that devastating cool one more before you keep moving. I mean, this is kind of one of those days where questions really fuel the day because people have unique problems and kind of weird things that happened to them and only them. So if I can help make any of the aftermath of those a little gentler what I'm here for, um, louise press, which had a good question, it sounds like a lot of your communication is with the bride as it should be. How often do you meet with the bride before the date and what do you discuss? Well, I mean, you know, we've been talking about this for thirty days, and we had one whole day that was about pre wedding planning, which talks about how I meet with them and going over the timeline and going over the formals and going over the logistics, and I'm not going to cover the whole day because that would take an hour and we don't have that long here, but, you know, if if they're looking at the course, that would be a really great day for them toe watch. I don't meet with all of my clients, I probably only meet with maybe fifteen to twenty percent of them in person. Before the wedding, I skype probably about another fifteen to twenty percent of them. People are busy it's way easier to just sit down at your computer and turn on the webcam and talk via skype than it is to like get all dressed up and get on the train and come in to meet me and what not another percentage of people I talked to on the phone, some people we only do it over e mailed, so it really depends, but I have built into my entire workflow kind of we've talked about these thirty days. I will have a pre wedding meeting with them, whether it's v e mail or skype er in person, I sent out a questionnaire two months to six weeks before the wedding that covers even more details, and I make this massive robust frequently asked questions on my website, not the one that you go to when you just go look at it. There's one internally that's password protected that's about four times bigger that covers things like what time in the day should I start? When should I have hair and makeup start? When should we do this? How should we do that? And it's for the clients who don't necessarily want to pick up the phone every time they have a question, but they just want kind of a database of answers if they you know feel free to go to my site feel free to look at my frequently ask questions if you steal it and you put it on your site I will find you please don't do that the very last question my frequently asked questions is I'm a photographer and can I take this and put it on my set my own site and my answer is no no you can't it took me a really long time to write it be inspired by it but write your own with the questions that your clients ask you copying the questions that my clients ask me is not going to help you at all anything else before we move onwards for good all right oh good let's talk about more problems like my stomach is queasy just discussing this oh, I love this one this is awful why are there more images in the other proofing galleries on your site? Great. Well we saw you know we only got seven hundred images what? We saw this other wedding that you shot and it had thirteen hundred images. Why it's very important for me from the very beginning with my relationship with my clients to talk about quality over quantity okay I would rather have three hundred of the best wedding images ever then seven hundred fifty kind of mediocre wedding images right? So I tried to tell them listen it's it's not quality and it's, not quantity, over quality it's the other way around. But it's hard to get that voice in your consumers head that goes more, more, more, I want more, more, more. We spent all this money, and we want mohr to go away because the more more more mentality and again I date myself of today's generation is really exhausting. It doesn't matter if there's maur if the quality isn't very good, but a lot of times, it's, because the other wedding was different. I know you've only got seven hundred something images and these other people got thirteen hundred images. You had me at your wedding for eight hours. They had me at their wedding for twelve hours, plus rehearsal dinner plus day after so there's a lot more going into making their gallery, or I was with you for eight hours, and you had eighty guests, and for four of those hours you just sat at a table and ate this other wedding that you're comparing it, too had three hundred guests, and they danced for four hours straight it's kind of a hard thing. So while all of my gallery's air not open for public viewing, my featured galleries are, and if you go in there and you look around, I make sure that I have weddings with all different numerical values in them but I also have a reason for every single one this one that you're seeing with fifteen hundred images had five hundred guests I was there for fifteen hours it was an indian wedding and there were two shooters this wedding that you see with six hundred fifty images was eighty people in a backyard for seven hours so that there are reasons if someone comes back and they complain that they want more there are no more and we'll get to that in a little bit but I'm not going to go back and recall a raw take of images and find more images from somebody just because they're unhappy when I called on my images I really am getting to the best of the best and if I haven't delivered something there's a reason for it and I don't want to go to get back out and give it to them later because I could tell you that if I pull something from the rejects it's not gonna be a strong is what's there yes sir do you feel like that that's like something that came about in the digital age because back in the days of film that would've been fifty rolls of film amen right everyone thinks the digitalis free that's the thing that drives me crazy is why can't we just have more it's just digital that doesn't cost anything they don't understand that it takes your time right fifty more images is fifty more images that I'd say I but it's like our post has to go at it for me and that's more time and that's more money and it's because everyone's got an iphone and they can take a thousand pictures on their iphone they just think that well my professional wedding photographer should give me that many and there are some photographers out there that deliver an obscene amount of images for no reason whatsoever and it's hard to tell somebody a tighter better group of images is better than a field of crap or a field of mediocre why would I give you eight images in a row of you looking exactly the same and some people will do that like I've shot fifteen portrait's and they all kind of look exactly the same somebody give you all fifteen we'll all fifteen look exactly the same I'm gonna give you one it just doesn't I want but the always a bride will always have a friend who got more they'll always know somebody who got more and they always want more so I have to nip maurine the bud immediately there aren't any more which leads me to this my next question no we'll come back to that yes susan forrest please about the bright having a serious fifteen images yes that are very similar yes do you ever have brides who where you've picked one of those fifteen but they'll come back or somebody will come back and say, I want to see them or you show them or something happens and they pick a different one even though in your eye it's so similar. But for some reason, they think it's better of themselves. What do you do in those kind of situations? So are you talking about? I just make sure I got it dead, right? If you've got fifteen in a row of like picture of the bride smiling at the camera and to you all fifteen look exactly the same, saying there's minute differences and you pick the one that you think looks the best, right? But the bride doesn't like that particular one of herself, but she likes this one because she thinks she looks better in that way. So if there are fifteen in a row and I only pick one as faras, the bride knows there's, only one okay doesn't see those other fourteen because those don't exist. But if there are subtle differences like the head is kind of down or that is a little this way, I'll include those okay. Right? Like if the fifteen of them are all suddenly different she's going to get all fifteen but if it's really where I just went click click, click, click and they literally look exactly the same. You only get one but little subtleties. I know the girls were crazy when I'm crazy when it comes to my own pictures, I've watched I watched myself on creative live a couple of times it was really badly, I was like, that's, what I looked like, like that's, what I sound like, I am an idiot. Um, so I understand that people see subtle nuances in themselves in a way that maybe we don't, so if they are a little bit different, they are going to get all of them, and as far as they know, there aren't any more ok don't ever tell them there are more ever, and I have this terrible fear that one of my clients is watching that and she's watching this right now and is writing it down going I know there are more, but I mean, honestly, I feel very comfortable getting up here and talking about problems and talking about how I handled them, because it is all coming from a very deep place of respect not only for the work that I'm doing, but for the care that I'm giving the clients and even a little tough love even a little joking here and there are even no, you can't get the archives. It is I'm not being disrespectful in any way. How do you turn up any questions before we move onwards? Lots of curiosity that questions are lying. I mean, this is honestly very I don't want to say light content day, but I'm presenting these questions out there hoping that it does spark a lot of interaction from the internet because I know that you guys have sat through what now twenty six, twenty seven days of pre records and not been able to ask me anything and watching me wear the same clothes every single day. Those were good days, I'm never wearing any of those outfits ever again. By the way, how did the internet field ask me anything? Go for it, jen, and asked. My latest and greatest problem is other foe photographers, guests with cameras, family members, bridal party, which you've mentioned, but she goes onto us, though I've stated in my contract that I'm the primary photographer, what do you do when you're actually there? Um, at the wedding, she said, I just deal fumes silently, but it's getting ridiculous, curious of your approach and how far you will go to make it stop. Ninety nine times out of one hundred I'm just gonna deal with it if I've got a bridesmaid who's up in every single picture with her camera or her phone, well, she's going to really enjoy looking through the gallery and seeing that every single picture of her has her iphone glued to her face the on ly time I ever will step in and say anything there's only two times one is if someone tries to follow me on the portrait session of the bride and groom alone or they try to come to the first look with me and the bride has been very clear that she doesn't want anybody the first look then I will say, no guys, listen, I understand that you want pictures of this, I totally do. These pictures will be online. I'm sure the bride and groom would be thrilled to share them with you, but this is time for just the two of them together respectfully listen, I get where you're coming from, I know you want to be here, I can't let you come with me. I'm super sorry and if they're like, I'm just gonna come anyhow maybe like guys I understand like, believe me, I do, I'm bleeding for you I'm not, but you can't come with me please don't make me have to go to the bride and talk to her about it, like, please don't because I go to the bride, the bride is going to murder you like in the face right now, the last thing I have to do is go to a bride to be like your bridesmaid is insistent that she come to the first look and I know that you don't want her there and she's not listening to me, you're gonna have to tell her not to come, because then I've made a massive enemy of that bridesmaid because I tattled on her, but I'm gonna do it if I have to it's I mean, we're talking like once every couple of years that I actually have to say something to a client about somebody else with a camera during the ceremony. If people get up and stand in the aisle like I will swipe you down in a clothes line, if you jump up in front of me with like, I'm ready for the kiss and you can see somebody coming out into the aisle, I have no problems kind of sweeping them gently with my hand and being like excuse me and getting it, they don't think they're not doing it to be rude, they're just so excited to take that picture that they just legit don't understand that they're going to be in our way. And I keep wanting that my assistant is actually here she's sitting in the corner of the room hi. Say hi, that's sandra she was going to be on with us this afternoon. We noticed that there were so many questions about kind of how we work together and what she brings to the enjoying flavor of the day. So we're gonna actually have her on you get an extra little bonus today of asking her whatever you want to ask within reason hopefully, but I mean, it sucks, right? Like it's, just one of the things that you have to deal with, but the only time I'm gonna intervene or go to the bride or anything like that is if I know that that person is actually going to hamper my ability to talk king of the day and then I go in a very kind of like, passive aggressive way. Hey, listen, I know she really wants to come to the first lug I'm breaking our heart she's mad at me and telling her she can't come but she's insistent on coming I think right now the only person she's gonna listen to is you back up then I then it's not my problem, then if the bride wants to say something to the bride's maid, she can and if she doesn't then I put it on her to fix the problem and if the bride's maid if she doesn't do anything about it in the bride's maid comes and screws things up I tried to fix it but it's one of those things where I would rather not instigate something with a guest with a camera even if I'm in the right or they're in my way because it's what I've talked about a bunch of times they're not going to remember the pictures they're going to remember how you made them feel and if I've made them feel like the guests if I have hurt their feelings or insulted them or insulted a guest and then they go to the bride about it that's what they're going to remember so I try to just as best I can just deal with it and if I absolutely have to last ditch effort I will actually have my assistant stand in front of that person like sandra has actually blocked somebody from shooting the cake cutting because they were up in my face she was witnessed in front of them also sorry my in your way I mean it's passive aggressive but it's I've got to get my shots or else they're going to get mad at me they're not gonna be happy that uncle bobby got his iphone picture they're gonna be mad that I didn't get my picture so yikes ok, so one more from the internet before we keep moving love that there are a lot of questions that is what today is all about excellent this is from pumpernickel I almost want to start this is dear abby I kind of kind of is right so I missed the first kiss for the first time because my assistant who I assumed wouldn't be holding my twenty four seventy and have it ready to hand me I had actually packed it up in my bag in the back of the room behind the fireplace I went to get it just is the kiss was being announced I missed the kiss she did other stuff that caused issues to new assistant new assistant new assistant but give them a chance it and that's something that's hard to answer without knowing the whole story is this somebody you've worked with for a long time that this has been a continual problem? Is this somebody in their first year of working for you that's just kind of ironing out the kings I would sit them down out of a very honest conversation with them about what's working and what's not working and give them a chance to fix it and if they can't fix it new assistant it's not worth it you know you need somebody who's got your back one hundred percent and sandra have been working together for five years and we still every once in a while have to reassess how we do things because it's not running as smoothly as it could be, but I'm not gonna sacker because one time she left a camera in somebody's house and we had to go back and get it I mean, not that that ever happened that it totally happened that one time that was awesome she's so happy she's here right now, but listen, if it's a one off or if it's something that just overtime or experience are working with them or communicating better with them ah what a lot of times they can be mean they can't read your mind they don't know what you want there thinking one thing and you're thinking they're thinking another thing having honest conversation with them give them another wedding to get it right and if it's not working, just look for somebody else. It sucks yeah, I hate all the rain and my pictures from my wedding day where it rained god seriously like I can't right like I cannot control the weather I don't and these air the complaints that come in where I end up in the corner of my room chewing my hair and rocking back and forth there is nothing I can do about this like I don't know what you thought I was going to do on your day that it rained we couldn't go outside you don't have any pictures outside were so disappointed there are no pictures outside. I mean, I know it rained all day long and we didn't want to go out under an umbrella, but we're really angry there are no pictures outside, right? Yeah. Okay, I don't know how to answer that one because it's it's, I understand that rain on your wedding day and I understand that you're unhappy. Believe me, I do like I sympathize it's awful. Nobody wants that to happen, there's nothing that I could have done short of hiring a production crew to scream the entire venue and then relight it so that it looked like it was sunny to fix that I couldn't do anything about that that's what I'm going to offer a post session, and if I feel super terrible for them, maybe all discount the posession of hundred bucks just to I don't know, it depends on how bad the rain was and how crushed they were and how kindly they come it's amazing when a client comes back and they're disappointed, but they're apologetic about it how quickly you want to help them versus someone who's disappointed in your face angry it's, hard for me to have sympathy for someone who's screaming at me on the telephone, but someone who's crying to me on the telephone like uh um and I wish that there were lessons in how to complain as a customer if you are dissatisfied being perfectly honest I sell these think books right? If any of you went to go buy one from my sight recently for about a week the think book compendium the printed version was back ordered the reason being we get them in bulks of a couple hundred at a time and when we opened our very last box of them there was something we realised there we had a binding issues we had some problems with the book, there was really nothing I could do about that so long story short, I contacted the print company and I said, listen, this is a problem that I'm having I want to make sure that we can get these books reprinted if anyone's got a book in their hand that's falling apart I need to be able to replace it I've got to do the right thing by my clients over here. Can you do the right thing by me either refund me a little bit so I can go somewhere else or reprint the book for me so that I have a quality product I was gentle, I was polite, I was respectful I even apologized for my own complaint which was weird I'm really sorry for this thing that you gave me that was broken weird, I offered a bunch of different alternatives to make it better, and there were alternatives I thought were fair to which the guy wrote back and he's like, I need to see what's wrong with these books send me a few and I'm like, great, I'm gonna send in these books and he's going to think, you know, we're gonna make it better it's gonna be awesome! He wrote me back and he's like these books or consistent with books that were broken on purpose, we're done with you. We no longer have a relationship with you. There is nothing that we're going to do to make this better basically go away and I was like, yeah, that's not customer service that's crazy town and if a client came to me with a respectful, legitimate complaint that she didn't scream in my face, I would fall over backwards to try to help her. But the way I was met with the door slamming in my face with a very respectful, legitimate complaint just makes me go back even further to my own business and look at how I handle people that are upset. So every time in my day to day life, when I call comcast customer service, when I have an issue with the bill with my insurance company, anything like that, I'm always looking at how people are treating me versus how other people are treating me yesterday sandra and I after our pre production meeting we went downtown and we walked around we went into fancy stores we went into not not fancy stores everywhere from old navy to chanel and we went we went into barney's we got the up and down look from the barneys salespeople who were like and then they didn't help us nobody offered us help I mean I was wearing beat up leggings and like an old grandma sweater and I was not looking fancy at all but they just looked at us like we were dirt me hustled out of the store right away but we when we went into chanel it was ladies hi how are you doing? Is there anything that we can show you you know are you from here? This one starts up a convoy station with us we talk about buying handbags in italy like the customer service was extraordinary so you remember how people make you feel and customer service issues so I'm always trying to assure my clients and make them feel like even though there's a problem even though you might not be happy with me right now I value you as a customer I value your problem the second you complain to me I'm not going to send this horrible hostel email and tell you well I fulfilled all my terms of my contract so I'm done with you like that print company guided to me that's not how you treat people so I've told you to go with the principle of it's not personal it's just business but that doesn't mean it's cruel and that doesn't mean it's unfeeling and a lot of times clients just want to feel validated when they have a problem. We talked about this why aren't there more pictures more, more, more, more, more, more, more you know we talked about it there aren't any more well can you go back and can you look at the out takes and can you see if there are any more? My standard response the images that are delivered to you are edited one at a time by hand they are selected because they are the absolute best of the best the only images that are not delivered to you our true out takes eyes closed someone walked in front of the camera I took a picture of my foot you're in between facial expressions and you've got that weird sort of kind of drunk crazy look on your face that everybody gets in between facial expressions I'm not editing to a quota I'm editing for the best of the best so anything that doesn't exist is it true out take the out takes or not archived and therefore they're not available the out takes or not archived and therefore they're not available you want more? There are no more even if I wanted to give you more there are no more they're always mohr because I always keep all of my files just in case they don't need to know that and I'm not telling you to lie to your clients but if you tell them that there are more they just can't see them it will make them crazy so I just tell them the images that aren't delivered or not archive and therefore there are not available there are no more instead of focusing on what you don't have finally focus on what you do have and I'm not trying to be a but when I say that but you have eight hundred beautiful images please stop obsessing that your friend got fifteen hundred and you only got eight hundred why don't you appreciate the relationships in the moment and the beauty in those eight hundred images that you got and eight hundred are the best of the best can we see all of the out takes no you can't they don't exist next can you add my uncle's pictures to our album nice I got this great picture from my iphone or my uncle took these pictures from his camera or this that or the other can we put them in our album nine times out of ten? My answer is no I cannot guarantee they're going to be of the same quality I can't guarantee that I'm gonna be able to match them to the color of the rest of the pictures is your uncle or really good amateur? And he shot raw and the pictures are really nice and he got ah, family formal during the reception that I didn't get okay, we can put that in there, I just need to get permission from your uncle, so my answer to a lot of that is, listen generally, no, generally, we don't put additional images from someone other than ourselves in the album, but if you're just looking to put one more in maybe two more in will you send me the high resolution version of the file? And I'll see if I'm able to get it in there if it's a blurry pixley iphone picture, I have no problems going back and saying, hey, listen, I mean, I can put this in your album, but the biggest I can do is a wallet because the quality is it going it's going to obviously stand out next to the other images is being not by the same device, but if it's a great picture, if it's a great snapshot and it's just one thing at a client last year who during the after party she didn't contact me through the after party, a friend got a really cute picture of them just sitting exhausted on this bench at the end of the after party and she's like, can you put this in the album? I pulled it into light room, you know, messed around with it and photoshopped the quality was pretty good, I got it to match and I was like, sure, I said, I just need written permission from your friend who took the picture that I could put it in the album and why not sure its not my own mom, why are there pictures of these people we didn't even tell you about, um, if you've got aunts and uncles or third cousins or best friends from childhood that you didn't include in your family formals and that you didn't write down as important extended family or friends, I don't know that they exist. This is back to what I talked about earlier, that I don't know your family and I don't know you and maybe we're friends on facebook, but I don't know that your great uncle came all the way from sicily for your wedding, and but you didn't include him in the formals, but I'm supposed to know he exists and take a lot of pictures of him during the reception, so I try to be very clear when I send you this questionnaire and I'm asking for who the important people are, I need you to ask everybody for input on this because all I know is what you're going to tell me and I hate having to write an email and saying, listen, I'm really sorry that there are no pictures of these people, but I didn't know that they existed and I didn't even see them in the evening I'm sorry next, you know, I'm not going to deliberately exclude somebody or I'm not oh, you got an uncle, I don't like his face, so I'm not gonna take its picture like it's not isn't there's no maliciousness here at all or selectivity, but if you've got an uncle and he didn't want to get on the dance floor and he just sort of sat in the corner of the room, he kind of was on his phone the whole night. I need to know that he existed and a lot of times when I do family formals, when I see these groupings, when I see these families, I'm like, okay, you're the aunt, you're the uncle, you are the niece and nephew, so I go looking for them during the reception to make sure that they're documented. But if I didn't know you existed, how do I know to go look for you buyer's remorse? This is one to which there is very limited ways to combat this other than to be sympathetic and understanding when the wedding is over, when they have the postpartum wedding depression, when they get the final amex bill, and they realize what they've spent, and they feel like they've overspent on everything, they're kind of regretting some of their choices. And then they get their pictures, and their pictures are not plated in pure gold, and they get buyer's remorse, there's, nothing I can do about that. I mean, that's. The one question today too, which I throw up my hands and say, I don't know what to dio it's. Nothing I did wrong, it's. Nothing that's wrong with the coverage. They like the pictures just fine. They just regret the money that they spent. So my first. You know what my first kind of line of defense for this is? Just take some time with the pictures. Just sit with them. Enjoy them. The post wedding time can be very stressful. It can be a little depressing for people. There was a lot going on, and now there is not just sit with them and enjoy them for a while. Share them with your family and friends. I hope that you love them as much as I love taking them for you, and then you back off this is when the psychology comes in this is when well but I thought that there would be more fun pictures with me and my bridesmaids but my bridesmaids and I had a fight and then they really weren't liking me during that part of the day and then we were arguing and then we still aren't talking and I'm like this is not about me that light bowl moment when you're like this isn't about your pictures this is because your pictures illustrate the problems that you're having with something else I get it to which I say god I am so sorry like that's got to be terrible listen things happen amongst friends I'm sure you guys are going to work it out if they were so happy to be there for you look at all these pictures of them dancing during the reception weddings make people crazy you guys were gonna be cool don't worry about it so then I try to figure out what the underlying problem really is what are you really remorseful about and just give a little soothing on top of that and then just move on sometimes they have to work through it on their own and there's nothing that you could do to help we thought about it and we don't want an album anymore we want a refund ah lot of times this comes about because they spent too much money during the wedding and they're trying to recoup things and they want their money back for an album you can't have your money back for the album I'm really sorry you pre purchase that is part of the package it is not something that can be broken out it is in a separate line item it is in a separate in voice you've got the album in your package I'm ready to work on it whenever you want, but the cost is not refundable now if something terrible were to happen, the bridegroom broke up or it's something awful and I felt that a refund was warranted I would just refund them the cost of making the album the end. I had an awful situation one time where a couple broke up on their honeymoon and it was devastating and it's been years and it still breaks my heart to think about because they it was the nicest woman ever she didn't have an album in her package, but if she had and she'd come back looking for a refund, I would've refunded her the five hundred six hundred dollars it would cost to make the album the end. I'm sorry if you have buyer's remorse and you want your money back. I want a lot of things in life sad story I realize this sounds completely heartless, but I can't sit around and be really depressed over people who mismanaged their money or didn't think correctly or didn't budget correctly and now want me to do something about it album changes post ordering this is a good one. I know we ordered the album a week ago, and I know that you sent it off to the printer, but I really want to just change this one picture out, or can we change the other picture on our cover? I'm gonna see what I can do. I'll pick up the phone, I'll call madeira. What point are we at in this whole thing? Right? Like, have you gone into production? Is there still time to make a change if we've gone into production and I have to go back to the client say, guys, I'm super sorry we've gone into production already we can make those changes, but I am gonna have to charge you for it because the album company is going to charge me for it if I deliver the book and they're like, you know, one second thought we really don't like the picture on the cover, we want to change it. Sure, send it back to me, I'll send it back to them, pay for shipping, pay for the changes, we'll get it done, no big deal, not for free. My sister broke up with her boyfriend and he was in the formals, you could just photoshopped him out, right, never say no say how much my friend allegra, who I've been friends with for years and years, we go back, kind of to the very beginning of my photography career, she always says, never tell them no, tell them how much it will cost. You. Want a photo shop this dude out of every single one of your wedding pictures, they're your wedding pictures. I'll do whatever you want, but I will quote you for the retouching, and if you want to pay for it, I'll send it out. I'll get it done. Sure, I'm not going to do it for free at all, but I will do it for you.

Class Materials

bonus material

Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
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Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

Student Work