As promised on Wednesday’s post, the Garofalo’s story.
I met Kristie and Jason the same way I met many of the families I have photographed, while caring for their precious babes during my time teaching at the Goddard School. Simply put, they are amazing parents. I’ve never seen a father so smitten with his daughter, other than my own of course. Every morning at drop off, from the time London was an infant to present day, Jason has taken a picture of her on his cell phone before he leaves. He has hundreds of pictures of his little girl, symbols of his devotion to her, to his little family with Kristie. Last year, their family welcomed Branson, and he continues to be the perfect addition to their circle of love.
In the fall, Kristie contacted me to do family portraits of the kids. I was elated at the opportunity to work with them! The day of the session came, and we had a great time at Belle Isle in the city. I chased London, held her hand, pushed Branson in his little wagon. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and the Garofalo family felt at ease in front of my lens.
At home later that afternoon, the time came for me to edit the photos…
…and this is when the problems started.
This was around the time I had purchased my first set of photoshop actions. I thought they were the greatest invention. Ever. So, instead of manual edits based on the need of the photo, I just posted the most bright and contrasty image enhancers available. I thought the pictures looked wonderful, and was certain Kristie would agree.
When I received her email after viewing her images, I was heart broken.
Kristie was gentle in her words, much nicer than she needed to be. She told me that the images themselves were great, but there was something about the editing she didn’t like. They were too bright and just not the style she had envisioned when she viewed my previous work. I apologized a million times and agreed to re-edit and resend her the images. At this point, I wanted to do anything I could to make her happy with her experience.
In all honesty, if anything great comes of my photography career, I owe it to Kristie and that email.
Because of her honest feedback, I took a step back and evaluated my work. I realized that Photoshop actions might not be the best tool to use for my editing, and soon after switched to Lightroom (a change in my workflow that has changed everything).
I thought I had seen the last of this family after this incident. Much to my surprise (and might I add, pure delight) she emailed me last month to take pictures for Branson’s first birthday. I couldn’t believe that after the way I butchered the fall session in post she would want anything to do with me or my work again.
When it comes down to it, the way you treat your clients is equally as important, if not more than the product you offer them at the end of the day.
I firmly believe that Kristie believed in my work, saw my potential, and appreciated the service I provided them. The genuine interactions with her family and commitment to making her happy with her experience working with me made all the difference in the world. And ultimately, it’s what brought her back to work with me again. (Thank the Lord!).
The following are side-by-side comparisons of the images of Kristie and her family from our session last fall and the session we did last week.
This post is a hard one to share. It’s never easy to look back and criticize your own work, especially when you’re your own biggest critic. However, in the process of trying to better my business, it’s necessary. My style has definitely evolved, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Kristie & Jason, your faith in me and my art has changed my work for the better, and I’m ever thankful to you for that!