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How to just say NO!?


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#1 NCmermaid

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:04 PM

I am seeking advice on a subject that I am a little embarrassed to ask about. I am a dive shop owner in the Caribbean and teach UW photography at the shop. I also offer a service (like most resort shops) to dive with clients and take photos or video for them to purchase and take home. We don't sell a huge amount of it because I don't push it that much but it is a service some customers request. I much prefer to go out with my own agenda and work on improving my photography skills.

For the sake of clarification, I will break our clients into three categories:
1. New clients
2. Repeat guests that we see 2 to 3 times a year and know by name.
3. Guests who have become our personal friends and we enjoy diving and traveling with

Category One clients buy the photos if they want them. Category Three clients/friends know how serious I am about my photos and would NEVER ask for copies of my images...besides, most of them are photogs also. The problem seems to occur primarily in group number two. Because many of our repeat guest enjoy occasionally diving with one of the owners (it makes them feel special and I want all our clients to feel like they are the most important guests we have), I will jump on a boat with them and go for a few dives. There is always a guide in the water so I will usually bring my camera. These "category two" guests all know I am into UW photography so we often discuss what I may be looking to shoot while we're diving. (we all know how frustrating it is when you have the fisheye on and everyone wants to show you sea slugs!) Now, here's the rub, after the dive, I am constantly asked to give/send/burn a disk of my photos. I know that part of this comes from the "familiarity" that these guests feel with me but I don't want to give away my images and I don't know how to tell them that politely. It's not like I went out and took a bunch of photos of them...that might be different. These are images I shoot hoping to improve my portfolio, possibly publish, or enter in competitions. I always shoot in RAW and most non-photogs don't know what that is so they have no idea of the extra work required to "just email them to me". It's very frustrating. I don't want my "Category Two" clients to become the "never come back" clients because I offend them or they think I have delusions of grandeur...but DAMN! I work hard on my photography and I don't want to give it away! I even have a photo CD for sell in the shop of stock images so asking for free photos is just RUDE! (okay, now I'm getting mad! ;) One more thing to add into the factor, this is a busy shop and I can't just go diving anytime I want so when I DO get to work on my photography, I seize the opportunity. So, anyone have any experience with this or advice on how to manage this problem?
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#2 james

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:12 PM

Perhaps just let them know that it will take about an hour to develop and tweak the photos - and would they mind paying for that? Alternatively, you'll be in the bar :-)

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#3 Marjo

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:32 PM

Oh I get this one all the time too... not so much for underwater but constantly at sporting events - even when it is completely obvious that I am there working, not playing around. It is usually people who know me by name, but who are not really close friends who ask for this. I have a simple solution: I tell them that e-mailing images is clumsy but all the images will be available on my (sports photography) website within a day and give them the address (business card with website address) where they can see them. That's all. When they go to the site they can of course view the images, but they can also download images there at a fee or order prints or other photo products. I think this is the polite way to go about it, but only works of course if you are interested in selling images.

#4 NCmermaid

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:51 PM

Oh I get this one all the time too... not so much for underwater but constantly at sporting events - even when it is completely obvious that I am there working, not playing around. It is usually people who know me by name, but who are not really close friends who ask for this. I have a simple solution: I tell them that e-mailing images is clumsy but all the images will be available on my (sports photography) website within a day and give them the address (business card with website address) where they can see them. That's all. When they go to the site they can of course view the images, but they can also download images there at a fee or order prints or other photo products. I think this is the polite way to go about it, but only works of course if you are interested in selling images.



That has potential...some version of that might work for me too although the chances of me getting ANYTHING posted in a day are slim to none! ;)
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#5 scubaspud25

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:28 PM

I had almost the identical problem. I too run a busy dive shop and regularly got asked to give up my images. I solved this problem recently by making a small gallery of my images in the shop and classroom. This had 2 affects.

Firstly people saw my photos as more than just snap shots and from seeing them properly framed and hung on the wall, now consider them art pieces. Suddenly all my guests stopped asking me for images. Instead they started asking me for prints which has become quite a good side business and has funded quite a lot of my photography.

Secondly it has brightened up the dive shop, our bookings for UW photography are up and more people are joining our dive trips with a view to capturing their own snaps.

I will admit that the initial cost of printing and framing was pricey but now that i've started selling these prints it is pretty self sufficient and i no longer get hassle from guests about sending them copies. The odd thing is once i hung my photos on the wall i never once said anything to any of my guests they just assumed that i was a professional photographer (which i'm far from by the way) and they ceased asking.

I'm not sure if this would be something you would be willing to try but it worked out great for me and by a look at some of your shots you could do very well from selling prints.

Mike

Edited by scubaspud25, 02 December 2008 - 01:32 PM.


#6 dhaas

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:48 PM

NCmermaid,

I used to get the same request from trip customers (I organize a few trips per year) and simply tell them I was working on a project that was specific for a client and can't allow the images to be spread around. This is not a total lie as your client is YOU!!!

I also will OCCASIONALLY grab a few shots of my customers and email them small file sizes IF I HAVE TIME. But it's usually of them underwater or having a relaxing drink at the bar, etc. Certainly not my best critter images or whatever you are shooting for your business needs and photographic passion.

I have also gently responded to people requesting photos by educating them on the cost of the equipment including insurance, maintenance, wanting a new lens, port, strobe etc. Many times people "get it" when you detail the investment in not just time but hard earned $$$$ for the required gear to get good images.

Finally, I think Marjo's idea of handing them a business card where SOMEWHERE on it it insinuates you SELL your images.

I have one underwater equipment customer making DVDs with both his video (and stills into slide shows) from the destinations he travels to. He stunned me on the last trip by telling me he has sold 1300 of these in the last 1.5 years part time. At $19.95 each! Do the MATH!!!

I personally find making and especially selling prints of decent size (8 X 10 and up) a pain in the butt.......But I do it from time to time.

Good luck and I hope you find whatever method keeps your clients happy and doesn't cut into your photographic endeavors.

YMMV

dhaas
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#7 NCmermaid

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:48 PM

I had almost the identical problem. I too run a busy dive shop and regularly got asked to give up my images. I solved this problem recently by making a small gallery of my images in the shop and classroom. This had 2 affects.

Firstly people saw my photos as more than just snap shots and from seeing them properly framed and hung on the wall, now consider them art pieces. Suddenly all my guests stopped asking me for images. Instead they started asking me for prints which has become quite a good side business and has funded quite a lot of my photography.

Secondly it has brightened up the dive shop, our bookings for UW photography are up and more people are joining our dive trips with a view to capturing their own snaps.

I will admit that the initial cost of printing and framing was pricey but now that i've started selling these prints it is pretty self sufficient and i no longer get hassle from guests about sending them copies. The odd thing is once i hung my photos on the wall i never once said anything to any of my guests they just assumed that i was a professional photographer (which i'm far from by the way) and they ceased asking.

I'm not sure if this would be something you would be willing to try but it worked out great for me and by a look at some of your shots you could do very well from selling prints.

Mike



My little photo corner is small but I have printed and framed some images, heck, even put price tags on them, but maybe it's not enough of a "statement". On the other hand, maybe it says something about my images!!!! Also, the harsh caribbean climate is a killer on prints. My husband suggested buying one of those cheesy electronic image frames and hanging it with the images from the photo CD I sell. Maybe moving images would get their attention more and make it more obvious that I DON"T GIVE AWAY PHOTOS! Again, the problem is primarily with those clients who feel they know me more intimately than most clients. God knows they are important to us and we go the extra mile to keep 'em coming back, but sometimes I feel "used" because I have trouble saying no.
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#8 Nakedwithoutcamera

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:15 PM

sometimes I feel "used" because I have trouble saying no.

Well, there's your problem right there in front of you. It's not really the fault of the customers. They don't know what you said in your OP unless you told them like you did us. If I were one of them, and you explained to me exactly how you explained it there, I certainly wouldn't take offense. In fact, I would apologize and be embarrassed for being so stupid. ;)

You sound really nice and like an excellent dive operator. Just from your post, if I were planning a trip to your neck of the woods, I would definitely check you out.

Good luck in both your photography and your business.
Ellen B.

#9 NCmermaid

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:16 PM

I used to get the same request from trip customers (I organize a few trips per year) and simply tell them I was working on a project that was specific for a client and can't allow the images to be spread around. This is not a total lie as your client is YOU!!!


NOW we're talkin'! I think I can say that without without my nose starting to grow!
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#10 resappraiser

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:37 PM

My profession is residential real estate appraisal work. Diving and U/W photography is my hobby. Occasionally when I give a prospective client my fee quote for an appraisal, which is competitive with other residential appraisers within a 50 mile radius, they start to piss and moan. So I politley ask them if they are looking for a free appraisal, to which the response is always "yes". I then tell them that when I get some "free time", I'll call them back. ;)

#11 NCmermaid

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 03:31 PM

My profession is residential real estate appraisal work. Diving and U/W photography is my hobby. Occasionally when I give a prospective client my fee quote for an appraisal, which is competitive with other residential appraisers within a 50 mile radius, they start to piss and moan. So I politley ask them if they are looking for a free appraisal, to which the response is always "yes". I then tell them that when I get some "free time", I'll call them back. :)

We have clients all the time come in and want to negotiate the price of an open water class. I always ask them what part they want me to leave out? ;)

Yeah, folks don't have a clue how much time it takes to dry off the camera, find a "safe place" to open it, remove camera from housing, beg husband to get off my computer so I can download RAW files, sort images, save as jpegs, minor PS, burn to CD. It's not like they can't see that I'm trying to run a dive shop!!!
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#12 deepsea

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 07:04 PM

This is also a common question to us especially with the whales, I like you hate to give away photos, I make sure that my staff try renting cameras to the guests and they also always mention buying a cd with photos of them and the whales on there from me. I tried the printing method but have not had great come back off this as for most people they don't want anything else to carry back with them. So they ask me to email them, I still ask for a small fee for this, as it is time that as we all know we don't always have.

I will however allow people to use my photos for education and research ie Fluke ids, so if they show me a good project or reason I will donate some photos to them.

Now I am building a new website which I will direct all clients to, they can have their own account which I can place their photos on and hopefully from that they will understand there are some small costs involved.

Its not only photos people want for free, someone asked me for a free dive this year cause they did not have any money!!!!!
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#13 Christian K

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:07 AM

Just say that the images are intended for an article and that you can't give them away until they are published, sorry. That's what I say, even if I have no clue at that point if the images are going to be published or not (but it's my intention). Most people seem to respect that.

cheers

Christian

#14 Rogier Willems

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:10 AM

Since digital photography the "value" of the image has come down :-(
Indeed showing and selling prints is the best alternative.

#15 pmooney

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 02:09 AM

Be straight forward at the beginning of the day.
Introduce yourself to all the guests on the boat and explain your function and the intended purpose of the images.
If they are available for purchase - tell the guests how to view and in turn purchase them, if they are not available for general purchase also tell them
We offer digital files of approx 4 Mp Jpg on discs - no print option is offered on day tourism images simply because a disc travels better.
As an operator we have far less issues with digital files than we did with 5 x 7 prints.

Edited by pmooney, 03 December 2008 - 07:28 AM.


#16 Nakedwithoutcamera

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 06:07 AM

There are always going to be people trying to get something for nothing, or at a discounted price. I have friends who are doctors and lawyers and someone is always trying to hit them up for free medical or legal advice. People bring me their writing and want me to edit it for them for free. Hell, that's what I get paid to do, and that's what I tell them. If they aren't my friends afterward, then they weren't really my friends to begin with. Of course it is a little different for the OP because she wants to keep her customers. But I still think honesty is the best policy and like pmooney's approach. But I really don't think customers would be offended if you say what dhaas suggested. But then again, I'm pretty easy going and it takes a lot to offend me. ;)
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#17 scubaspud25

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:56 AM

I suppose if the majority of your customers are transient day trippers or Holiday makers then prints wont sell as well as burnt CDs. The majority of my customers are Irish residents that love to take home something for the mantlepiece. I used to make videos for guests on a live-aboard in Tahiti and it was always made perfectly clear before any diving began that my job was to take video of the guests which could be purchased at the end of the week. There was never any guests trying to get free copies.

It really just needs to be stressed in your briefings that the pics are for sale after the dive and not for free.

#18 John Bantin

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 02:48 AM

People are generally very naive about intellectual property rights. I get people on trips asking me for copies of my pictures all the time (don't know why!) but I tell them they belong to my magazine and I would get fired if I gave them out because even though they might be personal souvenirs, digital pictures can so easily get into the 'public domain'.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#19 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 06:35 AM

I even have a photo CD for sell in the shop of stock images so asking for free photos is just RUDE!


Hi Karen,
Can I approach this from the prospective of the client? I have never worked in a shop, I have paid for a lot of air though. Like you said, it's nice to feel a connection with the operators we dive with. I think if you explain to your "friends" that you have a lot of work to do to get the pictures ready for prime time they would understand. If I were diving with you and you took me aside in your shop and showed me your CD with your images on it, or a nice print, I'd feel pretty good. If you wanted me to have a copy and offered me a discount I'd feel even better. You make a sale and I'm happy.
If you have a professional looking CD with a nice cover and label like "Diving with the Mermaid" it's pretty clear your in the business of selling pictures, even to us rum soaked vacation divers.
Cheers,
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#20 trouble

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 07:07 PM

As a part time DM I see how much work, investment and stress goes into keeping a dive operation running. I would have thought that as a shop owner you would jump at any chance to have an ongoing dialog with your clients...it might be the difference in them coming back to you or going to experience another location.

It does not take much effort to export some fairly low res images from Lightroom and email them to the clients with a upbeat note on some upcoming trips and activities?

To me if you did not do that it would be an opportunity missed!

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