Bad Review after a Free Newborn Session

Image Copyright Stefanie Carlson -

Today’s scenario features a portfolio building photographer in the beginning of her business launch who took on a newborn session, and got a lot more learning out of it than she planned!



Dear Stefanie,

This client was one of my first ever newborn clients during my portfolio building.  Our agreement was that she would receive 20 digital images from the session.  I traveled to her house for the session, and when I arrived her whole family was there waiting for me, including three toddlers!  I had only planned on doing baby shots, but I ended up photographing the whole family. It was a nightmare!  In the end, I gave her 28 digitals.

After this, she contacted me wanting more digital files, for free. I told her that I’d sell her them for $10 each.  She didn’t take it, and then I saw this review on my Facebook page:

“She is the worst photographer ever. Had the worst experience. She doesn’t respond back when needed after she gets what she wants from you.  Have emailed and called and texted and am still waiting to hear back from her.  Will never use her again or refer anyone to her. Horrible first time experience.”

What do I do?



Dear “Pushed”

Since this is from one of your first sessions you’ve obviously learned a lot about client management and setting expectations ahead of time just from this one session.  Things like what happens when you go to a newborn session and they try and upgrade it into an extended family portrait party.

Yes, regardless of whether or not you were being paid for this shoot, the client took advantage… but you let her.

Yes, you had a contract, but she’s ignoring it… ’cause you didn’t follow it. You said Newborn Session + 20 images. You gave her extended newborn family session + 28 digitals. Why?

You teach clients how to treat you. You have taught her that you are a pushover, you’re cheap, and that your contract is worthless. Also she’s found that if she pushes you’ll cave. Now you didn’t cave, you just offered her a price that wasn’t free, and she’s mad. Because you broke the pattern.

So yeah, this is a learning experience. And it’s great that it happened early on so you can use it for future prevention.

Moving forward, the sweet and loving response to the review is the way to go. You could report the review to Facebook, but i don’t know if they’ll remove since she was an actual client even if her pants are on fire.

So here’s what you need to do. Go back through your communications with her and see if you have an email or anything in writing talking about how much she loved her images.  If you do, then you can easily and publicly call her bluff in response to the review, but in a nice and professional way.


“Dear Liar Liar Pants on Fire”

I’m sorry to hear that after our last conversation on (date) – in which you told me you loved your images and wanted to purchase more than the 28 you’ve already received- that you’ve changed your mind about the quality of service that I offer.

I have not heard back from you since (date) when we confirmed the pricing on additional images, and was waiting to hear your final decision before proceeding. I’m so sorry that you feel I haven’t been responding to any of your attempts at contact since then! I’ve checked my email (including junk) and my Facebook messages plus double checked my phone voice mail and have received nothing! 

I strive for 100% satisfaction with all my clients and will be calling you (this evening?) so that we can resolve this.


And looking towards the future and using this as a learning experience, I sure hope you’ve reevaluated your pricing and contracts for the future (even if you’re not yet at the raising prices point, you have mapped out where you’re going to start getting sane clients).  Because $10 digital files will continue to attract the ‘crazy’ clients, the deal seekers who want it all but aren’t willing to pay for the whole Happy Meal.


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