So, your client isn’t happy. Why?
If you don’t know why, and if you are surprised at your client’s reaction to your images, then maybe you didn’t set up proper expectations.
The key to an excellent relationship with a client is communication. Never assume anything. The reality is you can’t please everyone all the time. However, if you lay down the plan and details for your work, photographic process and work flow, the chances of success are greater.
The more information you provide the better. I have a document called Working With Rosh. I keep it on my desktop and attach it to emails as a PDF for new clients. The document explains much of what I tell new clients before we begin work. Yet, it adds more detail to the little things that only a few people may care or wish to read about. For example, I’ll explain my workflow, what the client will receive and when to expect it. I explain my pricing structure, offer information about copyright and details on photographic terminology.
Often, communication breaks down because we think everyone knows the obvious stuff in our industry. A client may expect one thing based on your conversation, yet, the industry standard is completely different. Never assume.
Ask for examples of the type of work they like. Ask if there is a favorite photograph on your website or portfolio that represents their expectation for the project. Maybe it is a combination of other work they’ve seen online. Ask them to email links or examples.
I’ve found that the best solution to understanding client expectations is to ask: When all is said and done, what do you expect to see and receive.