IS THE CLIENT KING?



In photography – like in many other branches of the Arts– your photographic style is akin to your identity. Indeed, we think it’s fair to say that most people could recognise a painting by Picasso or Van Gogh, even if they don’t know much about painting.



Talking about painting, we recently watched a great series called Leonardo (Da Vinci). In episode 2, Leonardo (Aidan Turner) is commissioned to paint the portrait of Ginevra de Benci by her husband, who asks for a lively and happy portrait of his wife. However, that’s not how Ginevra feels inside. Ginevra de Benci is neither happy nor fulfilled, and that she clearly shows when posing for Leonardo.


The character of Leonardo is therefore faced with a serious dilemma: representing the truth as he so often does, or pleasing his Client, the husband who commissioned the work. Leonardo opts for the first option, as it is the very reason why he does what he does, and depicts Ginevra’s realistic, yet reserved, and somewhat impenetrable expression. In the end, Leonardo is proud of his work, Ginevra is delighted with the masterpiece too, but her husband is really not. He ends up throwing a tantrum, breaking the painting in half, and sending Leonardo away without a penny (or a florin, for that matter!)


This may ‘just’ be a TV series, but this gritty drama about the life of the artist has a point. Just like Leonardo, what if a Client asks you for a photo job that is not in line with your style? With yourself? It’s happened to all of us at some point, we’re sure. You like your photos slightly underexposed but a Client wants them MUCH BRIGHTER? You like showing things as they are, but a Client asks for breasts or abs that simply aren’t there? Or the kind of romantic sunset that has not blessed the local land in decades? Where does it stop?


Firstly, you could be spending hours editing their photos without them understanding why you want to charge them extra for that, and secondly, what if they then share the pictures far and wide on social media, when you really don’t approve of the work and don’t recognise yourself in it?


After all, in the land of the Arts, the Client is King (or Queen, let's be inclusive). Ultimately, they pay for the work and should get what they asked for; or at least that’s what some would argue.


What do you think? Where do you stand? Have you had similar experiences? Let us know!


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