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When Things Go Wrong

Lesson 8 from: Real Estate and Architectural Photography

Mike Kelley

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Lesson Info

8. When Things Go Wrong

Lesson Info

When Things Go Wrong

Sometimes things do not go according to plan and this is another juicy section here (class laughs) You cannot be all things to all people. Some people will hire you and they're just miserable people, and you have to know when you cut your losses. I'm being completely honest here, so it might shock some people, but ya, some people just suck to work with. And the good thing is about our jobs; you only have to work with someone one time, and you can fire them and you never have to talk to them again. Some people are impossible to please, so don't be upset if it does happen, you can't save every single relationship. Again, a lot of gray area happens when you don't have a solid contract, you don't communicate clear expectations, you're not upfront in the beginning with where you'll be, when you'll be there, what you need. I personally make sure I get a deposit with all first-time clients. If I've worked with them five times I trust they're not gonna run off and not pay me, and I think they ...

appreciate that, because when you ask for a deposit it's kind of a trust thing and people like to know that they're trusted. But all new clients I get a deposit which is 50 percent of the creative fee. Things do...turn south, so to say, from time to time, and I have had to, unfortunately, end a job with a client raving mad about something. Whether it was I did it or not, something went wrong and we had to part ways. It may not have been my fault at all, they just disappear, but I have to 50 percent, you know. I've had some clients I shoot tethered, they can see the photos on location and they say, "These look amazing", and then they see them on the computer and they're like, "I hate this", and I'm like, "Well, you shoulda said something on the shoot day. There's nothing I can do for you", and they just get madder, and madder, and madder. It's okay to walk away when things do go wrong, but again, when you get a good contract like that in place it helps a lot with alleviating that kind of thing. If you screw something up badly don't try to hide it, just own up to it quickly. Bam, put it out of its' misery. I've forgotten shots, I have forgotten to shoot the third guest bathroom, and stuff like that. And I'm like, "I'm so sorry, I forgot it". If you just come out and you're honest usually it's not a big problem and people appreciate, again, the honesty. So whether you screwed something up, like just a few months ago I was supposed to shoot an editorial for a magazine and I didn't quite frame it so that they could put the text in the right amount of space and they're like, "Hey, do you have one with more, the art direction was we need sky so we can put text in there", and I was like, "Oh my god". It was my fault, they said loud and clear, "We need to put copy above the picture, make sure you leave some sky", I left no sky. I have to pay a re-toucher $300 to add sky. They didn't hear about it, I said, "Let me see what I can do". A week later they had the right photo, I bit the bullet, owned up to it, and that was that. Do your best to fix the problem if it is fixable, if it's not apologize profusely, hide in a corner, but just bite the bullet and get it over with. Like I just said, I bit the bullet on that retouching job. Don't be cheap or stingy when you can. I think spending 50 or $100 on retouching something out will have far more value in the future. Your client will say, "He screwed up, he owned it, he made it right", they won't run away, whereas if you screw up and you run away they're gonna tell every one of their friends not to work with you because you can't do the job right. Lastly, like I said earlier, sometimes you just don't get along with people. Sometimes people are very difficult to work with. A lot of times the stress and frustration of a bad job is just too much, it's not worth it. There is a point at which a job can negatively effect your life. It's happened to me, I come home miserable and it ruins my week, so just keep in mind, you can't be all things to all people. I don't want to say don't be afraid to walk away from a job, but be aware that it does happen and it will happen as your career grows. I have an anecdote here about this, for example, I shot a project for a very nice woman who was not so technically inclined. She was an interior designer and she'd never worked with a photographer before, but she's looking to improve her business visibility, so she hired me, brought me out. As is standard, I shot it and I sent her the photos on an online proofing gallery on my site, and I said, "If they look good I will upload them to Dropbox and that's that". And so I left her an email and I get a phone call and she's in hysterics, like tears, like, "The place looks horrible, all the purples look brown", and I'm like, "Okay, okay, okay, easy fix". I just got a brand new computer, wasn't calibrated, lesson learned, right? Calibrate your monitor. So I sent her brown photos and then I fixed that, and I'm like, "Okay, I'm so sorry", she was getting more high maintenance, "Do these look good?" "They look great", alright, upload them to Dropbox. She calls me back in hysterics, I'm not kidding. Tears streaming down the face, can't figure out Dropbox, which I think is a pretty standard thing, right? And I try to walk her through the whole process, I'm like, "Okay, select them all, right click, save to your desktop, there they are", and she's sobbing tears, and I'm like, "Okay, okay, back up, forget this all. I'm so sorry, I'm gonna FedEx you a CD that's gonna be there in the morning". I burned her a CD and FedEx it for $ and finally she was happy, so I'm not gonna work with her again, because she obviously can't handle Dropbox, but be ready to bite the bullet and make people happy. I mean, she's gonna sing my praises eventually to someone and it will come back and say, "Look, I couldn't figure it out", hopefully, "and he went the extra mile, he FedEx'd me the CD, we got it done". That's my story there, that I salvaged, it's just one little thing, I bit the bullet, I made it right, cost me a little bit of money, but in the end we're good to go.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Mike Kelley is fabulous, so many aspects of his work would make for great classes! I hope Creative Live brings Mike back for many more classes. He's a great communicator with lots of info presented in his class with understandable instructions. . . not that you'll leave the class being able to recreate his amazing images! Although he is very generous in the knowledge he shares on his great techniques. Only issue was not being able to hear/view most of the class as the "live feed" kept cutting out, which was so frustrating. So, I'm purchasing the video. Hope to see Mike in more courses! Excellent!

Victor Zubakin

Firstly this course should be renamed to just Architectural Photography. There's very little information here about shooting real estate photography. Mike Kelley is more of a fine art architecture photographer and the techniques he shows are not really relevant for real estate photography. Kelley's well-known for his blue hour shots and with these he often sets his camera up for a few hours and documents the changing light to later blend into one image. His work is very Photoshop intensive and each photo could require a few hours post-processing in PS. Real estate photography generally requires a complete house to be shot in less than an hour and delivered to the realtor in 24-48hrs. The course is more of interest to those wanting to shoot high-end architecture or interior design projects. Kelley gives some great tips on the business side - how to do marketing, attracting new clientele, how to maintain a healthy relationship with your clients, what to do when things go wrong. Kelley also discusses what gear he uses including the very useful tilt-shift lenses, geared head on his tripod for fine control, shooting tethered, and also some of the lighting he uses. The course features a photoshoot that Kelley did of a historic theatre, and he discusses the techniques he used to capture the images as well as how he processed them in Photoshop. The course was enjoyable & informative, and Mike Kelley is an engaging & fun presenter, with a laid-back style.

a Creativelive Student

Enjoyed this class. Took it to learn more about architectural photography because I know little to nothing about that area of photography. I feel Mike gave a solid introduction in the how-to's of getting into this business, offered some good outside sources, gave good supporting personal stories. Would have liked to lean more about balancing light color and to be referred to some outside sources on learning more about that. Overall, I feel this was a solid intro to architectural photography.

Student Work