People can be so annoying.

People can be so annoying.
Current mood:  chipper
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

People can be so annoying. First, I sent a company an estimate based on a set number of hours. After the job ran 5 hours over, I sent in the invoice for the full time. I think we’ve got it all figured out, but they were so confused that it would be more than the estimate. Um, it’s an estimate. The final charge could have been less than the estimate, and I’m sure they wouldn’t have said a thing. Oh well.

But the big annoyance was getting chewed out by a groom from last summer. Now, this couple is a friend of a friend of mine. Our mutual friend and I have kept up our childhood friendship, but we don’t share a friend circle beyond our respective immediate families. Her friend and I met briefly once (more like we were at a gathering for our mutual friend, and she was pointed out to me as being a friend I had heard about) and we met again to discuss her wedding photography. I wasn’t going to be available for her date because I was going to photograph another friend’s wedding that weekend. However, my other friend decided that mixing business and friendship made her uncomfortable, which I can completely respect and I really would love to see her wedding photos (hint hint!)

Anyway, so the weekend of my friend’s friend’s wedding opened up and they wanted to meet with me about photographing the wedding. We met at friend’s friend’s house (we’ll call her Bride) and had a nice talk. I showed her my work and explained the packages and the payments and all of the other little details, which are also covered in writing in the paperwork I leave with brides. Unfortunately, Bride didn’t have enough budgeted for photography to hire me. So mutual friend says if Bride wants to hire me, she’ll pay and it’ll be their gift. Bride accepts, contract is signed. Now, they have $500 allocated to photography that they could have then put towards 2 extra hours, but Bride didn’t think they’d need it.

Wedding comes and I shoot it. We’re into the reception and my time has long since run out with no end in sight. So, I do as I said I would and brought it to the couple’s attention that my time was up, they could hire me to stay, but if not, I would need to leave. They had already received a good 30-45 minutes of free time at this point. Some cousin pulled me aside and said “I’ll pay for it. How much?” I quoted him the rate I usually reserve for hours booked with the package (this is less than the price for hours booked on the day of the wedding). He said he’d mail me a check and I finished the reception (throwing in another 30 minutes at the end–totaling more than an hour of free photography).

Well, cousin never sent the check. I told Bride who said she’d talk to him about it. I posted their images (which isn’t standard for people who haven’t paid in full, but these are my friend’s good friends). Now, 8 months later, I received their print order that is included in the package (which our mutual friend paid for), saying they’d been really disappointed and that I should’ve stayed no questions asked because of our mutual friend. WHAT?! Um, we’re not friends. This is business. We just share a friend who is now having her very generous gift disregarded. Should I have stayed and then sent them a bill afterwards? That seems a bit underhanded to me. They also said they disliked the images, and that they were too dark and badly cropped. Well, they look fine on my color corrected monitor and I shoot to crop for 5x7s and 8x10s as well as 4x6s (it sucks to have too tight a 4×6 crop and then have to choose which Uncle to cut off the side. Trust me, it can get tight). But I know that the prints will look just fine.

Anyway, mutual friend called last night and we were having a nice chat just about life and what not. We hadn’t spoken in a while and we were just catching up. I didn’t bring up Bride and the letter. Well into our chat, my friend asked if I’d heard from Bride and Groom. I said they’d sent their order with a letter saying they were disappointed with the images but that I thought they’d be fine once they saw the prints.

After we got off the phone, she called them. Around 9 p.m., Groom called to bitch at me about dragging mutual friend into this (which I didn’t. She asked. I didn’t lie, but I didn’t make a big deal). I explained all of that, after he yelled at me for a good 10 minutes. Then he started in on how I should’ve stayed, blah blah, friends of mutual friend, blah blah. I explained that I was a professional and this is all I do for a living. Everything was covered in the paperwork. Basically, he’d bitch and then pause for a breath. I’d take the opportunity to explain the way thing really are and then there would be silence while he thought of something else to bitch about. Repeat. He said the images were too dark. I explained that it could be his monitor b/c they look fine on my color correct monitor. He came back with “I have a 17″ plasma.” No you don’t. They don’t make plasma monitors that small. He has an LCD. Plus, he could have a gold-plated, jewel-incrusted, nuclear powered plasma screen and the settings could be wrong, making everything look dark. I know a photographer who just readjusted his fancy HD monitor because it made everything look too bright. This is a professional with professional equipment and the settings affected the appearance of the images. I think a regular person could have this problem as well. Anyway, I have decided that in the future I will provide a set of proof sheets with the proof disk so that you can see the exposure as it will be as this could become a continual problem with people needing to adjust their screen settings.

Then he started in on my requiring payment for the final hour. His main complaint was that I brought up the fact that my time was up during their reception. This was not a secret that such a thing could happen. Again, it was discussed before hand. He also complained that the time wasn’t included due to their being my friend’s friends. So he said he’d send me the money for the final hour if I sent him an invoice. However, there was a catch. Nate and I ate dinner at the reception (well, shoved food into our mouths and then kept working. Standard at a wedding). Groom insisted that this was an $80 per head meal! Well, then, they got seriously ripped off. I’m assuming the $80 per head was for alcohol as well. Nate and I never drink at weddings. I had water. He had Sprite. But groom wanted to subtract $160 from the already discounted rate of $250. I explained that $250 was already discounted and he argued that. I know my rates. I know they have paperwork explaining my rates because he began to refer to it. Which I then pointed out that he was looking in the wrong column ($250 is to book an hour with a package, $300 is for the day of the wedding add on. It’s pretty clear, and I explained it at our meeting before the contract was signed). No more of the rate argument, but he still wanted his $160 meals. Nope, not happening. Meals are not required, but they are appreciated. I refuse to pay for an over priced wedding meal. I don’t get to sit and enjoy it. I shove what I can in my mouth and then get back to shooting. Plus, we were given left over meals from guest who didn’t come and had to wait to see if there would be any available. These meals are already paid for, thank you very much. You pay for them so that all of your friends will definitely have food, and I have never seen a lack of extra meals left over. So, I refuse to be bullied for the price of 2 meals that include alcohol we didn’t drink.

He then combined his tactics to insult my photography and my business practices. He claimed to be a concert promoter. This could be true, I don’t know. I had heard he was a contractor. Sounds similar, perhaps I was mistaken. He said he hired photographers to shoot concerts and that they don’t leave in the middle of the last act. Well, I didn’t either, but I also have been shorted for that payment. So I have those images, but they’re mine until someone pays for them. I am confident that these concert photographers are compensated for their time, and I expect to be compensated for mine. He also said they did a better job of shooting in the middle of a concert than I did shooting his wedding. Well, a concert has professional stage lighting, and you’re fairly free to move about. I’ve shot a few concerts myself, and it’s really fun. A wedding is usually in a pretty dim church where I must be at the back or in the balcony with no flash due to church regulations. I have learned to shoot within these requirements, and I think the pictures look great and print well. He complained that there were no close shots during the ceremony. Yes there were, they just weren’t from behind the altar or standing in front of his guests. There are images of him and Bride where the fill the entire frame, is that not close enough? Most people don’t like pictures of their individual pores.

So after a half-hour of being bitched at, I won. He kept getting upset and I kept my cool. He said he could’ve hired a “crack AJC photographer” with 20 years of experience. It would’ve cost $450 and the guy would’ve stayed all night. Well, perhaps that would’ve been a good idea. You shouldn’t pick your wedding vendors because they’re friends with your friends and so you think they’ll give you a bunch of deals. That’s just silly. Bride saw my shooting style and said she liked it. Groom could’ve seen my work on my website, I don’t know if he did. Everything was discussed in advance and is covered in writing. I feel completely in the right. They just expected to get the best-friend package without being a best friend. They’re just acquaintances, and not close ones. Every other bride from last year has said how pleased she is with the pictures and how glad she is to have hired me. These are the only ones to complain, and I don’t think I could’ve done anything to make it right. Even if I offered a refund, it would go to our mutual friend because Bride and Groom didn’t pay for a thing! Basically, I’m just annoyed that it took up so much of my night. But at least it was night minutes, so that was free bitching.

Oh well. I’m surprisingly chipper for having been so bitched out. This is my first really unhappy couple, and I think I dealt with it really well. It wasn’t a wedding where I felt like I’d messed up or missed anything, so I don’t know what else I could’ve done to make them happy. I’m thinking they just wanted to bitch, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m learning not to take things personally, even when they’re meant to be. 

And one final thing: Mutual friend (you know who you are, and are probably not reading this, but just in case) I do not hold you in any way responsible for the actions of your friends, and I am not at all mad at you. If you decide not to be the crazy lady at the end of the street with all of the cats, and some guy suckers you into marital bliss, I’ll come to your wedding and be nice to everyone. I was just brought up that way.

4 Responses to “People can be so annoying.”
Meghann Says:
March 1st, 2006 at 11:39 am edit
As former bride, I have to take your side without reservation. Contracts exist for a reason, and good for you standing your ground with this guy. Hell, you even went out of your way to give them more time the day of the wedding — lots of photographers wouldn’t have taken that random cousin’s word that he/she would pay you the overtime, and your experience with being shafted is exactly why.

Claire Says:
March 1st, 2006 at 6:17 pm edit
Thanks, Meghann! And congrats on your house too. Soon we’ll both be “grown ups”

Chuck Says:
March 2nd, 2006 at 10:08 am edit
Ahh, this is no good for anyone. That sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant experience, and I’m sorry it happened. Kelly and I both were more than a bit befuddled by their reaction, and I certainly like the pictures! -Chuck Koelemay

Claire Says:
March 4th, 2006 at 7:15 am edit
Thanks, Chuck. Sometimes you just can’t please people. I’m learning to accept that. It’s still a bummer.


~ by rebeccaclaire on March 1, 2006.

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