Thursday, June 18, 2009

Everybody Into the Pool!

Last Tuesday, a nice lady and her also nice mother stopped into the studio unexpectedly. They had a hand-tinted photo that they wanted to have restored, wondering if we did that kind of work. Kinda. It's my favorite thing to do here, because as much as I like working on the DH's photos, this is something that's just my skill, you know? It's true; I don't play well with others.

The piece is badly faded, bowed, and damaged. You can see here the big pieces that are flecked away, but there are tons of smaller areas that are gone too. The whole was mounted in a frame that has convex glass, and you can see the unusual shape. For those of you that have never been, it's obviously the Washington Monument, and the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. I believe the trees are full of cherry blossoms. While they're hard to view here (the original is about 20" wide) there are men and women in clothing that looks to be circa WWI to me. High hats, frock coats, full beards...but it's only a guess. One of my hobby-horses - date your pictures for future generations!

Now here is what a few hours of my time has wrought...a little more time, I confess, than I charged her for, but I know you'll be stunned to hear I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Lest you think I did all the coloring, much of it came back using the techniques I know. I added a hint of pink to the trees, and touched up the sky a smidge. The original color that showed where the frame had protected it was actually a very deep, almost robin's egg color, and I didn't want to go that far. It would look too fakey here, even though I have seen the sky that color in D.C. Now off to the lab for printing, and we'll cut it down to fit the owners frame.Ironically, as I was finishing this up we got a mail piece for some company in our town that was advertising their retouching prowess to my DH. Somehow I think he's happy with the person he already has.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


As some of you know, the origins of this blog lie in my inability to suffer fools gladly. Unfortunately, there are just so dang many of 'em out there, and way more than my share (pretty sure) find their ways into my life and business. Today we had a prime example.

Every year, we do pictures for several local dance studios. For two of them we do the traditional posed costume pictures, and for them and a third, we do action pictures. We take them during dress rehearsal and sell them to slavering parents who circle our sales table as if they were Great Whites and the photos were delicious chum. We refer to this as the "feeding frenzy," and cupcake, lemme tell you, it can get ugly.

Dance parents can be some of the most seriously entitled people (And what does your Goddess say about that, boys and girls? one is entitled but me. And today, the DH. It's his birthday.) that you'd never want to meet. Let's face it. By definition, most of these people have fairly substantial money. They pay for the classes, and judging by the remodeling one local studio owner just did to her home, they pay handsomely. And she earns it, don't get me wrong! They pay for costumes, where one silly, but cute, little hat can cost $25. Just the hat! Add shoes, tights, unitards and usually several iterations for different classes. Then there's competitions, extra lessons...let's just say that the pictures they purchase from us are just a small drop in the bucket.

Which is why, to my mind - a relatively good mind, all things considered and don't ask what things, it's none of your business - it's ridiculous for a few of them to behave as they do over these action pictures. Let me fill you in on how these work. Our photographers shoot the actual dances, aiming to get a few pictures of each child in each costume. Sometimes this is difficult. In very large classes, not everyone gets to the front. Often a picture where one child is centered will have a couple other dimpled darlings on either side.

After our first time selling, about ten years ago, we had to set up rules. Since these are one-of pictures, we tell the parent that they may only purchase a picture if their child is centered and in focus. If you cannot tell which child is the focus of the picture, we will tell you, and our ruling is final. This prevents greedy parents buying pictures because their child's elbow is in it....and oh! How I wish I were kidding! I have had parents call me from the field, wanting me to chew out my employees for not letting them have a photo. Guess what folks? Won't happen. I back my people 100%.

So last night, our most senior employee and an assistant were selling photos for one dance studio, while the DH was shooting at a reception for the local high school baseball team that just won state champions. Our employee warned us this morning that he had a grandmother who threw "a hizzy" (his words) because he wouldn't let her take a picture. Why? Because said picture was of the dance studio owner doing a major leap across the stage, with a group of children seated on hay bales behind her. This woman's child happened to be seated in the crowd on the bale! So of COURSE the picture was about her, not the featured dancer, right? Wrong. As it was, the woman went away with fifteen photos, for which she paid the amount we set for the 13 to 20 photos range. Now understand, these photos are also available for purchase online. Since they aren't mass-printed like the ones we sell on location, they do cost more, but she can get that shot if she really wants to.

Cut to today. Same woman, as we later find out, calls. We have action shots from last year. Usually excess are destroyed after six months, but through an oversight, these weren't yet. Our employee mentioned to several parents that they were still here if they didn't get to see them last year, hoping for some extra sales. When this lady calls, she tells us that since she bought in the up to 20 price range, she wants to come in to look at last year's work and get the additional pictures to "make up to twenty." She further tells the DH that the employee told her she could do this, and she is on her way in.

What? I think not. This guy has worked for us for 8 years, he knows that we don't combine deals across years or different jobs. For example, you cannot buy pictures from football and expect to combine them with baseball and get a price break. Never been done. So we call him up and ask what he ACTUALLY said. Nothing of the kind, of course. He told her he was just an employee and couldn't make deals. All he did was write on her envelope the number of pictures she bought, the amount, and his initials. No promise of anything else. Nor did he agree that we owe her more pictures so that she gets to the upper end of that 13-20 range. And he informs us this is the person who had the fit last night. Greeeeeeeaaaaaaaaat.

Woman arrives, and DH goes out to wait on her. He clarifies to her the policy on whose picture is whose, and the pricing structure. He tells her, very politely, that she got what she paid for, and if she wants additional photos, she'll have pay for them too. She maintains an even voice tone, but she is ticked and letting him know. According to her, the honor of our company is on the line. Our employee promised and wrote his initials to prove it. Of course, no promise is written on there at all. She would not have driven an hour and a half (later she admits she drove 20 minutes out of her way) and from another state without his word having been given. The DH points out after looking through her envelope that she even managed to snag another child's photo without being spotted, but doesn't take it from her, probably because he values his fingers. Remember the chum analogy.

As I walk down the hall from the office to the kitchette, she's holding forth about how she has a management position in DC (oh, there's an endorsement) and she knows a company should treat a person better, because "you don't know who they are." She also tells the DH that he is not living up to HIS expectations! Really? And you know what they are how, exactly?

I come back up the hall, and interject that she's right. We don't know who she is, but we do know our employee, we know he knows our policies and she doesn't, so out of the two, we know who probably misunderstood. She wants to know if I think she's making this up. I reply again that I feel she misunderstood, but that I know she was not promised what she thinks she was. She tells me she would not have driven all this way without being told that, and I informed her in polite terms that that was kinda the definition of "misunderstood." With what I felt was admirable restraint, I omitted the "DUH" I felt the situation called for. I'm sure you're proud.

Then she capped it with a threat to badmouth our company on all the social networking sites and the internet. I reminded her that libel laws were alive and well. She has absolutely nothing promising her anything, and while I also refrained from saying it to her, her greed-induced misunderstanding is not our fault.

The most fun part of it all was after she and her companion left. I turned to the DH and opined that she spent more in gas to come here than she would have saved getting the five extra pictures she mistakenly felt she was owed.

Now I can say it. "DUH!!!!"