I will never forget a 2 day period in January a few years ago. Within a 2 day period we had two clients come to pick up their huge canvases.
Client #1: Ordered a 40×54″ canvas of their family. It is still one of my favorite images to date. We had custom designed it to fit within a nook in their home and they wired a light to illuminate it. It was going to be fantastic! The parents were super hip– and the dad is to date one of the best dressed men I've photographed. He picks up his REALLY large canvas which they needed for a party in two days and said “I love it, by why did you not retouch out my beard stubble?” I was thrown for a loop because I thought that was his desired look, or he would have shaved, right? I spent several hours removing some serious stubble and reprinted the image with a rush so they would have for his party.
Client #2: A gorgeous three generation portrait. The grandmother came to pick up her photo (a 24×36 gallery wrap) and promptly explained “What is this wrinkle? I do not have a wrinkle there!” (We had already done some significant work to this image) In my head, my first thought was “Oh yes… I forgot that we used the camera that puts on extra wrinkles and that wrinkle is not really there– we added it” Again.. we retouched the image even more and reprinted. It was January and the studio (like most) is running on a tight budget to begin with so two large canvases was irritating to reprint.
Out of problems, comes solutions! Enter, the work print!
Here is the policy our studio properly implemented that has saved us THOUSANDS of dollars and eliminated frustrated customers when an image was not exactly as they client pictured (often to no fault of ours)
For any images larger than 16×20 we print a small photographic “work print” (8×10-12×18 in size- unmounted) and the client comes back to preview the image. This allows them to look at any details and make any changes before the “big” image is printed. We make sure to print it the same proportion of the final portrait. For example, if it is a 20×24, we will print an 8×10 work print. If it is a 16×24, we will print an 8×12 work print.
We “stamp” a photoshop brush on the photo. The client then will circle any changes and sign off. Here is what our brush says:
I love it! I approve Shoot the Moon Photography to print this image as is and agree to accept the final image as shown.
I love it but need minor tweaks! I have circled the items needing changes and approve Shoot the Moon Photography to make the changes needed and proceed with printing of my final image. I agree to accept the final image as shown.
It is almost there! I have circled the items needing changes and approve Shoot the Moon Photography to make the changes needed and request another work print. I understand that up to two work prints are included in the price of my wall art.
If you don't know how to make a photoshop brush, check out this video I made for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdypjbWj5-Y
No longer do we have clients comment on small things like a tooth shine, gap in tooth or mole they are self conscious about that they may not have expressed to us before printing. Additionally, this extra step elevates the piece to an important work of art and they appreciate the care we put into making the image perfect, even though it requires an extra trip to the studio.
A client may also choose to decline a work print and agrees to leave the final retouching in our very capable hands, but most of the time they appreciate the extra care and attention we give their final art piece.