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  • Being too hard on yourself

    I used to do photo restoration and retouching as more of a hobby and favor for friends and family. Overtime it came more naturally and everyone would tell me "you should really do this for a living", well... ok.. how else could I stay home with my kids so I decided to give it a go. One problem I have noticed is now that it's for money I am way too hard on myself. I think this is just out of fear of not making ends meet. I have done some photos for clients that my really critical (but I don't mind him) husband says "Wow that's beautiful honey" and then the client says there is something wrong with it. Then I'll have another photo that I spend way too much time on thinking it's horrible and the people love it. Does anyone else go through this? Do you just do your best and say "if they like it they like it" or do you ever get really frustrated? I know any job has it's frustrations, but I'm wondering if it's because my business is fairly new, if it's normal, or if I'm just stressing over nothing. My main reasons for doing this business is because I enjoy being creative and helping people and I want to stay home with my kids. Also, my husband has been working two jobs FOREVER and we never see him so I want to get enough business to have him home more. I just want to know how everyone else deals with the stress, if they get stressed at all. Am I making sense lol?

  • #2
    When doing work on wedding photos and family photos-- I found the ones I criticize myself over the most are the least liked, and the ones I just "go with the flow" and let them judge it for what it is are the ones that have the most success. Sometimes, you just have to be less critical of yourself in order to do something properly. Perfection is in imperfection, especially true when working on family photos. One important thing I do too, before taking a job, is state what I can do and what I can't do for the photograph, and why, and I make sure the client tells me what he/she is expecting. That brings any potential, unrealistic expectations of a "miracle" down to a realistic level, and when I do pull off the miracle they're so much happier for it.

    But I go far to satisfy even critical clients-- so much so my policy states if a customer doesn't like the result they don't have to buy it, and they don't owe me a cent. And if they see something minor they want changed, I do it for no extra charge and then re-present the proof. And that's what keeps the critical clients coming back for more, because they know even if they don't like the first result, I'll get them something they will like for no extra charge. So if it comes to someone faulting my work (haven't had anyone turn down a proof yet), at least they can't fault my service.

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    • #3
      I like that. Letting them know what you "can't" do. I have a place where clients can state on the order form their expectations for the photo and actually had one put "the photo will look as if it were taken today" and it was a heavy textured water damaged stuck to the glass photo from the early 60s with half of the hair missing. I too offer the 100% satisfaction guarantee which is maybe why I do stress out so much. When you're just starting out, most of what you bring in goes right back out to advertising, etc. So, if I were to have to refund (knock on wood not yet) and still pay for advertising, etc. I would get no where. I guess once business picks up enough it wouldn't be such a hard hit if I had one. Right now, every customer I get, it's like "Oh look honey, I got another customer WOOHOO!" I told my husband it seems all I'm getting are major to extreme restorations which are great profit wise but... It's like come on, dontcha have just one weeee little photo with a tiny little scratch you need fixed. Dontcha dontcha? Oh well... all great learning experiences right? I just have to be greatful for any business at all. I really do appreciate your advice. I'll have to try that "what I can't do" thing. It's funny, kind of reminds me of highschool. When I would just quickly write a report I'd get an "A" and when I would really really try to make it good, I'd get like a "C". HAHA

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      • #4
        I can completely relate to the experience of working way longer on a restoration or a photo-art portrait than I need to. My work is good, I always get great feedback, and I've never really had a complaint. On the other hand, I'm not getting the amount of business yet that I'd need for this to be enough income to pay my bills,, etc.

        Any ideas on how to get the business??

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        • #5
          According to speaker consultant, author Naomi Karten, Customer Satisfaction = Your Performance / Customer Expectations. Be careful not to assume Joe Consumer is ignorant and not up to knowing what is satisfactory and what isn't. As you develop your skill sets, things will become apparent. Andy Warhol was not initially accepted but can you imagine Joe Consumer not accepting his work now? Not that any of us can attain that level but I think your skill level and experience will ultimately work in direct proportion to client satisfaction. Note, you might have to invest a small amount in some good noise reduction software.

          Cheers

          Dave
          Last edited by Duv; 10-23-2005, 11:05 PM.

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          • #6
            It has already been said, but worth sayng again ... customer satisfaction is all about expectations - so under promise and over deliver, this creates referrals. If you over promise and do a great job you won't get as many referrals. It is not fair but thats life

            I would not let them put their expectations on an order form - you should be in charge of what you can do and what the customer expects. You can also offer tiered pricing so that the customer is responsible for what to expect and what not to eapect... to do this much for this and if you don't want to crop the photo so as to include the foot and the hand I will have to recreate them so it would be this much more - or the cracks and stains for this much and the tiny salt and pepper spots that are everywhere would add this much ...

            Regarding the easy jobs;
            We have three part pricing, scanning, art work and the printing. Light art work and global adjustments, easy stuff is included free in the scanning fee. We will always do a test scan for free. We tell people (and it is true) if they give a perfect original we spend time making sure we keep the delicate detail in the whites and blacks, if it is problem original we spend time on adjustments so all images get work done on them regardless, which is included in the scanning charges. This helps to give people a reason to give us the easy jobs; they get the confidence we will do the best job possible and they don't feel so much like they are paying extra for the service.

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            • #7
              Make a few prints along the way.

              What i mean is. dont spend tooooo much time before you make your first print. Because you might be spending time on something that the customer doesn't even notice or care about. Make a proof as soon as possible and ( I guess) expect the customer to want to fix something. At least in my experience so far they always want to adjust something. That seems to be a given, so the trick is to find out as soon as possible what that is. Hope this makes sense.

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              • #8
                Yeah I had a gentleman tell me that he wanted more definition to the eyes, so I added some and he didn't like it which is fine but then... I put them back to the original and he told me they looked fake. I told him they were the original eyes but to show him I cropped out the eyes and put them side by side so he could see.

                I guess not having that on the order form would be a great idea. After all, if they have a specific idea they usually tell you anyways. I am now finding that I have a hard enough time just getting them to fill out an order form. They always use the contact me page.

                I'm sure over time I'll get to a flowing point. Where it's more comfortable to quote and send over proofs. It's just when you start out and you are trying to build up a business I think the extra stress is there because there's the thought of "is this going to take off?"

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                • #9
                  I find if I give my clients a form they skip through it, much better if you can, speak to them face to face and make your own notes and then give them a copy of your notes as a job sheet and have them concur. This gives them the opportunity to make any changes and also provides them with a copy of the agenda or requirements as specified by them.

                  It also adds to the 'personal' touch and builds repore.

                  Once in a while, you will realise that nothing you do, will fulfill a difficult expectation or a non understanding of what is able to be done, and then it is best to advise that you are not able to fulfill or complete the request to the satisfaction of the person and forego any form of payment.

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