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I had a look at all thepics on flickr and they are fab - MUCH better than the school photos we get. Perhaps you should have suggested if the other parents's photos didn't look too good, maybe it wasn't all the photographer's fault? Or is that the "too much honesty" you were talking about? (Not that I've ever laid eyes on the other kids, I'm just guessing they are nowhere near as G&D as Adam & Kate).

I love the pics. I really do. But that doesn't mean that everyone is ready for "cutting edge" school photos. Some people like those ugly poses with the tie too high and the blazer too tight and blah blah.

Along the lines of honesty I think that those mothers were well within their right to say that the didn't like the photos. Your friend was paid a for a service that she offered (rate is irrelevant) and if the mothers paid for their photos they should be allowed to express their honest opinions. If they were being snooty because of jealous feelings or something like that then they should shut their pie holes. But honesty, I truly believe, is the only and best way to go in the long run.

While not "traditional" in the US sense of school pictures, I loved them. For that very reason. You are able to see the kids personalities in these photos and they look well, like, people. Not cardboard cutouts!

As for to much honesty... my opinion is that if they didn't like them they could of said something a little more tactfully. Even if they didn't say it to the photographers face, talking that way is in poor taste all around.

Did she ask 'why not' and see if there was something she could adapt for next time to cover more likes. I thought they were great. Such a nice change from the old sort (as Nic sai above).

By the way - my God-daughter is 3yrs old and received her first report card from pre-school and my friend was devasted to read 'XXX is not computer literate!' Wow! She had no idea that was expected so early!

Hard one- I feel like you and remember the one bad comment and worry about it.

Did she ask 'why not' ? Perhaps there is something she could adapt for next time?

I thought they were great. Such a nice change from the old sort (as Nic said above).

By the way - my God-daughter is 3yrs old and received her first report card from pre-school and my friend was devasted to read 'XXX is not computer literate!' Wow! She had no idea that was expected so early!

I am a professional photographer working in Joburg and I really love her shots. I think they are very fresh and clean and young (perfect for the subject). I also love the reaction she got off the kids. In my humble opinion I think she should keep on doing what she’s doing. It’s fantastic. Don’t listen to the old farts – just because the kid’s not sitting on a ball of hay half smiling with their hair plastered down, doesn’t mean that you’re shots aren’t good. I’d recommend her any day.

Tertia - your kids are so gorgeous they would look magical even if the dog took the pictures. xxxxx but i do like the neighbours style. Very cute.

i think the pics are wonderful! wish your friend would come to our creche.

I think honest criticism is great if it's well tempered. There's nothing of value in just saying you don't or do like something, especially when it's someone's work and you could benefit them by explaining what it is you don't like - but people should also be aware that even if something looks easy to do, it might not be, and show some appreciation for effort or at the very least, some kindness for what seems to be a really great deal. I'm a creative person, and nothing annoys and crushes me more when reactions are just negative without any reasoning behind it. What purpose is that supposed to serve? No wonder we get to thinking it's more to do with us as people than the work. I personally love the photo you posted. I think it captures real character in the children, it doesn't feel stiff and posed, but kind of organic and playful, the way children are.

I think that most of the time when people aren't happy with pics of themselves or their kids, they are just not happy with themselves or their kids...

Hmmm, that's tough. On the one hand, she should know that she can't please 100% of people 100% of the time. On the other hand, I'm the kind of person who always looks for something good to say to temper the bad. So I think their comments were harsh.

Perhaps the mothers expected or wanted a more traditional photo, or perhaps their child wasn't as cooperative and those particular pics didn't turn out the way they'd hoped. Personally, I love the pics and think they turned out fabulously. I would have been thrilled with her work. But, of course, everyone is different.

Ah well, maybe those other mothers had ugly kids to begin with!

The pictures are adorable but not ones I think of when you say "school pictures" and maybe that's why the other mothers were not pleased with the pictures. I am not sure what school pictures look like there but here, the kids are all basically in the same pose that is then put in the Yearbook, those pictures are usually taken in the fall. In the spring, the more casual photos are taken with a variety of poses that are not put in the yearbook.

I do think that the other mothers should have gone on to give constructive criticism, rather than just saying they didn't like the pictures, but they had every right to admit to not liking them. Your friend has to remember that some people just don't have the creativity and the eye that it takes to see the beauty in these photos. Some people expect horrid backdrops and fake roses in their kids' school photos and just aren't ready for anything else.

Personally, I don't know that I'll ever buy the traditional school photos. I'd much rather take my son out and take some nice photos of my own, in a more relaxed atmosphere. Photos that capture the child's personality are always more well liked, imho.

I love the pictures! I am not one for posed photos. I am also not creative, which is why I like candid shots even better because they are so creative. I think sparing someone's feelings is the best approach, however many creative professionals probably have way thicker skin than I do, so they can handle a bad comment, or review. Sometimes I wish I were more honest, but I would never want to hurt anyone's feelings. I guess there is a fine line between being honest and telling it how it is and being more mindful about hurting someone's feelings with your opinion. Makes the world an interesting place to have both kinds of people.

Those pics are way better than our school pics which have that special "Yearbook Yourself" quality to them.

And, yeah, if the photog asked me if I liked the pics I would have said yes whether I did or not. I guess i"m just nice that way.

Is it possible they didn't know she took them when they responded that way? I can't imagine many people who would say that otherwise. If they knew she was the photographer, I would agree that it was rude. They didn't have to buy them, right? If you don't like em, just keep your mouth shut and go get pics you like done.

If the unhappy mothers had something useful to suggest to make the photos better, or a detailed reason why they were uphappy, then your photog friend needs to buck up and hear it. But if they were just complaining in a vague way w/ no constructive criticism, they need to have a bit more concern for others' feelings. I guess it depends on the details of the situation.

I do not see any issue at all with the other parents expressing their opinion when asked. She is a professional, and as such should not be offended. If she did not want honest answers, she should not have asked the question.

I looked at the pictures, and although A&K are absolutely adorable I don't particularly care for the pictures either. (Again, let me reiterate, the children are FAB, I just don't care for the picture poses, etc.)

Maybe their kids are just plain ugly and misbehaved and no amount of talent can make them cute or sit still and they have to blame it on someone else? I think the photos are great and you can really see the kids as people with personalities. Very awesome!

I think there's a way of delivering potentially crushing news in a useful way.
"Did you like the photos?"
"Did you like the photos?"
"Well, they were cute, but I wanted something more traditional."

I think feedback is useful, especially for someone trying to build a business. But a little tact makes the feedback easier to hear.

It's not easy taking criticism....and I can say that having been in newspaper graphics for over 20 years! I used to get in a huff about being criticised (oooh, they must SOOOO hate me!) but now I work with it. What do they want changed? What don't they like about it?

Of course I am not scared (now) of opening my mouth and blabbing outright about what I don't like about some suggestions and criticisms -- that comes with age and experience (hand me the walking stick, dearie).

For your friend's part, I think she should have asked right away what they didn't like. You didn't say if the photographer had told these woman that they were done by her, so I am not sure if they were aware she was the "culprit". If not, they may have been quite embarrassed had they been informed?

I think I would prefer kindergarten photos to show they are taken at the kindergarten. I have seen photos on the wall at my sons kindergarten and they are of the children doing things - making kebabs with grapes and other fruit or capturing them laughing together or doing something else. Maybe that's what they mean by natural - capturing a kindergarten moment rather than no sign of a kindergarten and trying to capture an unusual angle. The photos are not bad in themselves but maybe just not what they were looking for. I think I might say that that is not what I wanted but in a nice way not a mean way - otherwise she may offer next yer and what do you do then? put up with something you don't really like so that you don't upset someone.

A professional opens himself/herself up for criticism. You don't take it personally when you are criticized at work, don't you? Her job is making photographs, and she should take criticism seriously and ask specific questions so she can offer different options the next time she takes photos.

I think there is nothing wrong in criticism, and in a professional relationship, it doesn't even have to be tactful (although tact is nice, of course). Maybe it's a mistake to mix up professional and personal relationships, i.e., I wouldn't undertake a job where I am a mom myself. But as soon as she takes money, she is entitled to honest criticism.

Of course you can't please everybody, and of course photographs are a highly personal matter of taste. I have had pics taken of my children that I didn't like and believe me, I'm happy with my children and my life ;-) but I felt that the pictures didn't catch their "essence". So what?

I think the pictures of your children are perfectly lovely ... which doesn't say a lot... because who could make look less than gorgeous and divine pictures of your children????

I already looked (and commented) on the pictures at Flickr a few days ago and I cannot believe that parents didn't like them. I would MUCH prefer these kinds of photos to the standard school pictures.

And yes, every negative comment I get about something is the one that stands out over all the positive ones. :(

I defintely think there's a way to be honest about something without sounding rude or harsh or abrupt. They could have just said something like, "The pictures were nice, just not really my style." Because it's obvious they would have preferred the traditional setting of a "school photo", verus the natural poses and expressions that she specializes in. (I looked at her site, they are VERY VERY Good)

I would have been mortified for my friend too, in that situation (professional or not, comments like that still sting) and I probably would have said those other moms were idiots behind their backs later, to my friend, lol.

Well, I don't care for them much either, to be honest. It seems to me that it's more of a modern, artsy look. I guess I'm not modern or artsy. :) The kids seem kind of slumped over in most of the poses, and some are over-exposed.

That being said, it's so kind of your friend to volunteer for a reduced rate. If she had asked me, I would have said something like, "They are very hip and modern--lots of people really like that. For me, though, I guess I'm so old-fashioned, but I was thinking more of the traditional look for the poses for the school pictures." Honesty is best, but TACT is critical too!!

Love the pics. I'm sure the issue the other parents had was that they weren't traditional, but it would be nice if they could express what they were thinking more articulately.

I don't know how anyone could not love those pictures. They are not only adorable, they really catch the essence of your children's closeness and personality and that's what we pay the pros for. Cookie cutter school pics are boring!

I have to say that every time you focus on the teeny little negative things in favor of the massive amount of love and support and good feedback you get it breaks my heart a little. And that's my 'taking it personally' cross to bear. I do believe we all have one of some description.

I love the pics! Not only do Adam and Kate look adorable, but I think they're really great shots. I like they style and would love for my kids to get school pictures like these rather than traditional photos!

I love the shots of your kids! I'm a photographer as well (had a similar experience shooting some class pictures) and I think the biggest thing artists have to remember is that art and photography and writing is included here is a personal preference. I can't win over every possible client because not everyone likes bananas. If you can stay focused on those people/clients past, present and future that are "yours" and love and acknowledge your most awesome work those are the people you want to continue working with. You can tell when you're going to get an idiot and it just isn't going to mesh right and to those people I just don't seem to have any openings for them and might even go so far as to suggest another photographer for them.

They are different! Fun! But they don't look like school pics. I like them but can see why some parents would have prefered traditional school pics.

I love those pics. I've always preferred true natural pics over the typical posed school pic.

While I do agree that those moms were within their right to say they didn't like it, I would have maybe been more tactful...something along the lines of "They were nice but not what I would have chosen if given an option."

It boils down to personal taste and my child's portrait is very personal to me. After all - it's going on 'my' wall - not on the photographer's. I feel that when a photographer takes photos of my child then it should be to my taste. Discount or no discount, I'm still paying.

If you ask me a question I am going to give you an honest answer. I don't feel that I am doing anybody any favours by being dishonest. I don't perceive not liking a photo as being a personal attack on the photographer.

I like some of them but I don't particularly like the downward angle view. I also don't like the over exposure. It's not about the photographer's ability but rather about my taste in style and how I see my children.

I have no doubt that she could give me the kind of portraits I like if I had the opportunity of telling her what i wanted/expected. Maybe that's the key...

I think those ladies could have been more tactful about expressing their dislike of the photos. I also think being more specific about what they would have preferred would be more helpful than just stating they don't like them. They have every right to say they didn't like something, but the way they went about it is very off-putting and I can tell you people are much less likely to go out of their way to help someone if that's how they talk to them.

These are 100 x better than any school pictures we have ever had. I love them. If the other mom's weren't crazy about them, that must either have been because their chidren showed up that day ith some kind of blemishes, or they weren't being cooperative. In my mind, they wouldn't have made those comments if they were just not their style....I think they were just in a stinky mood because their kids didn't cooperate in one fashion or another

dude. those photos ROCK! here we get a haphazard class pic, laminated, and one shot of each kid against a boring gray background, in different sizes. loved that she used different backgrounds, different angles, and that you got different poses and colours! thought the pic of your two together was fab. wish she would come and take my kids school photos!

I do think that when someone asks for feedback, ("did you like the pictures?") they should be prepared to receive it. And if your friend is just starting out, in fact feedback will be really really important, as it will help her fine tune her product into something that buyers will love. However, I do think its very rude to just respond "not really." The polite thing to do, IMO, is to say "yeah, I did like them, and it was very kind of you to do it at such a low price! The only thing I would have liked better is if they had been more traditional" or whatever. That's honest, but also gives feedback in a kind and specific way that is both easier to hear, and easier to implement.

Wow, I see a lot of Sister Mel in Kate in that photo up there! At that angle her bone structure looks SO MUCH like Mel's!

I think honesty is good but it should always be spoken tactfully and lovingly. There's a way to say things (which, to my shame, I have learned the hard way) and being blunt or "honest" is sometimes used as a way to be rude while appearing to be socially above-board. My guidlelines for honesty are: Why do I want to confront this person? If I relish the confrontation, I need to go back and think about why because 99% of the time the answer lies below the surface issue and has nothing to do with it. How do I plan to say what I am going to say? Am I speaking about this issue behind my friend's back? If I am, then again I am not being honest, I am being rude and I need to clean up my own heart before I apply a critical spirit to another human being.

Constructive criticism can be amazingly beneficial but if it's rudeness couched as "honesty" it's going to damage, not help. I think the key is determining which of those is my motive and only then proceeding forward. If my heart is right, even if my honesty misfires, it won't cause the damage a wagging finger and a sharp tongue will.

I think the photos look great. The other moms could try and be slightly more sensitive. On the other hand, since your friend is being paid, her 'clients' have a right to criticize, that's the professional world.

I'm a web designer/programmer, so I'm well used to criticism. If you make money by selling designs to others, it comes with the territory!

I like the photos of Adam and Kate a lot, but I can understand where the desire for something more traditional comes from, especially if the moms in question have kids in other schools that take more traditional photos. The older kids will look boring in their frames next to the vibrant pics of the younger one.

Another thing the traditional school picture pose offers is a frame of reference for growth. It's harder to compare year to year if the camera is at all different angles and the saturation levels differ greatly.

Maybe next time your friend can take a few traditional shots and a few casual ones and let the parents pick which ones to purchase.

When you posted the first ones I had to think about them. To be honest it had to do with the way Kate is sitting and there is a hint of a view of well, what her skirt is covering. But then I realized that based on how you describe Kate that is PRECISELY how Kate would pose. And then I remember being photographed as a tiny kid. I have a large birthmark over most of my hand and wrist and the photographers inevitably tried to make me cover it with the other hand. It wasn't natural, it felt wrong, and I had no idea why I should ever need to hide it. I'd much rather have had silly natural poses with my sibling.

There will be time for the more stuffy school photos when it is time to go to big school in uniform. Right now the pictures depict the kind of school /age/ class they are in.

I so hear what ur saying about criticism and creative jobs. It is really difficult because it is so subjective. What I have found is that the longer you do what you do, the better you get at anticipating your client's expectations and at addressing these typical problem scenarios ahead of time, by offering them multiple options or simply pointing the issues out before doing any work. When you have to please a lot of people at the same time however...it becomes more problematic.

I think what Renee did fits in perfectly with her portfolio and in that sense she delivered on expectation (unless she was specifically briefed to do the portraits differently from her usual style). She might want to mention this problem the next time she does a similar job.

In my opinion, what lovely pics!

I have never bought school pictures as they are lame. Posed pics of my kids capturing one second of their lives feeling uncomfortable, nervous, and silly posing at school are just not worthy.

The pic your friend took of your kids is gorgeous. I would pay for that. Otherwise I just rely on shots we have taken at home, so much more beautiful.

I think the fellow mom's were out of line. When did being rude become socially acceptable? Don't like it, don't buy. Too rude to critique in front of her.

And on that note perhaps those parents would be better off with the stiff, awkward shots of old.

Not me.

A couple of responders have discussed this, but I really think it's just the style that could be a little off-putting. Custom, modern children's portraiture isn't for everybody. There's a trend right now in children's photography for the bright (not neccesarily over-exposed, but bright) skin tones, big sparkly eyes, non-traditional settings. I've been in many discussions about how there isn't any money in daycare photography. You spend hours and hours working it out with the daycare, lugging your gear, getting candid expressions from each kid, custom editing for each photo, plus having to enormously discount your rate just to make the parents buy anything. Then the parents end up wanting the standard, cheesy grin sitting in front of a terrible backdrop and don't buy any of the gorg. custom work. Go figure. So I hope she doesn't take it personally! Hopefully she'll get a few referrals and sessions booked from some other parents who did like them and I would suggest NOT doing daycare photography again!

I'm a professional photographer, and one of the things I do with all of my shoot subjects is a pre-meeting to talk about the concepts of the shoot before hand and what my clients want. Then I take a million photos. Then we debrief the shoot and look at the photos as they choose the ones they like. They receive their prints in custom gift box, wrapped like a present. The vast majority of my customers are now rabid fans, the ones who arent become people who 'teach' me. I welcome criticism, and when I find out that a client has an issue I really talk them through it so I can learn from it. I tell them why I want to know, and often offer a re-shoot if they are truly unhappy. The customer is always right, and my referral business is everything.

I'm glad your scan turned out well. As an infertile woman, I can't imagine putting myself through a pregnancy again under those conditions.

The shots are great! I love them and I prefer this type of portrait that captures their essence. But, as an artist, I believe most people don't want art they want familiarity. They want those dumb portraits that "look the way all the others they have seen look."

Also, as an artist who sells my work, what your friend likely needs to do is manage expectations. Which is easy, show people these photos she has taken. People like you, me and many others here will buy, but many won't.

The shots are fabulous. Technically great. Thanks for sharing them.

I can not believe that those moms told her that they don't like her pictures. Her photos were great! I love them. Way better than the traditional school photo where your hair is sticking up in a weird position, and the photographer doesn't even bother to tell you to slick it down! I think, like the last poster said, that the kids character really shines through in those photos.

I saw some of the photos you posted on Facebook -- of course your kids are cute, as I'm sure all the other kids are as well -- that wasn't the issue for me. BUT, and this is a big but, almost all of the photos were EXTREMELY over-exposed! Which made the children and photos look quite unnatural.

For the parents who did not like the photos, and who do not have professional photography training and/or art training -- perhaps they just didn't have the terminology and/or background in photography/art to recognize the exact aspects of the photos they disliked?

Hopefully the photographer is not insulted by any criticisms, and she is able to use the critiques to improve her future work. :)

There is such an ingrained urge to be "nice" even when doing so would be a disservice to both parties. How would it have helped your friend develop as a professional if they had lied and said "Oh yes, lovely photos"? She loses out on the possibility of improving and valuable experience dealing with an unsatisfied client, the other mothers end up with photos they hate, nobody wins. You didn't say if the mothers went on to say what it is specifically that they didn't like, so it's impossible to tell if this was a constructive meeting or not. But I bet she learned something about setting client expectations and painful or not, it's a useful lesson.


Our little one is almost the same age as yours (within 2 weeks) and we have yet had "professional" pictures taken. I admire beautiful professional pics, but I have always been partial for the natural pictures that tend to show more personality. I take A LOT of pics of our little one and prefer them to overly posed ones. Just think of the really old sepia pics when people did not smile just stared and often looked angry. Were they happy? Who could tell? They tend to freak me out.

As for the honesty question, everyone has a right to his/her opinion. I am fairly creative and quite sensitive as well. I tend to take negative comments too personally, but eventually get over them and move on to create something else. Besides, I have also taught in school and I do not think everyone (students and parents) will be pleased all the time.

Best wishes and calm thoughts on your new little one.

I'm sorry, in my book the other moms were rude. If they didn't like the pics, next year they could discreetly lobby for someone else to do the pictures and come up with a plausible reason for this that didn't involve embarrassing Photographer Mom.

What happened to the concept of allowing people to save face? I am appalled when people do things like this. There's honesty and then there's honesty, yk? I don't think there is any proper response to a question like "do you like X thing that I spent a lot of time doing and am obviously proud of" than "yes it's great!". If you really hated it or it was *offensive*, there are even tactful ways to get this across without a blunt "NO".

Saying "no I don't like it" is not only rude, it lacks imagination. A talented diplomat can find a way to say how they feel without crushing the other person or putting them on the defensive.

I really do like the pics, by the way. Those are some cute kids, I tell ya. My dd is 4 months younger than A&K and she looks a lot like K, uncannily so even, which is odd b/c my DH and I couldn't look more *unlike* you and Marko. You never know with genetics!

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