How To Photograph Real Estate and Vacation Rentals

Do You Share Images With Clients on Set?

There’s nothing worse than wrapping up a shoot that you’re really proud of only to have your client tell you that they’re not happy with the final images. If this happens, you really only have two options: either take the time to re-shoot or provide a refund. Either way, there’s about a zero percent chance that you will get a referral from them. By simply sharing your images with your clients on set, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page and you can begin the editing process with peace of mind and confidence that your client is going to be thrilled with your final product.

A lot of the clients I work with rely on my creative vision for the shots they want. This can be frustrating at times because after all, the images are for them, and I’m not a mind reader. A client might say that they don't know what they want out of an image, or I hear, “I don’t care, it’s up to you, you’re the professional.” True, I am a professional, and I know what I want out of the shoot, but when they say they don't have an opinion that is almost always a lie. If they’ve already hired you, they definitely have an idea for the final product. It’s our job as photographers to figure out what that is, and deliver. 

A final, client approved image from a recent shoot. We were able to review the images on set and work together to figure out which poses worked best for what the client needed.

The easiest way to make sure you and your client are both headed in the right direction is to simply not be shy about showing them the images on the back of your camera. I don't mean that you should stop after every frame and show them, but take the time to let your client review the images as you’re taking them so they can adjust their pose or expression. I have only had one or two clients ever say that they didn't want to see the images. If you ever run into this situation, just tell them that you want to make sure that they are happy with the images. But remember not to be too pushy. If they are really adamant about not reviewing the images then just let it go and continue with the shoot. As I previously stated, I have personally never run into this situation but I’m sure it’s happened to some of you.

For this image there was a parking lot and a restaurant behind my model which obviously concerned her. By showing her the image on the back of my camera I was able reassure her that my photo went along with her vision.

Companies like Tether Tools make it simple to share your images in both studio settings as well as on location with their new Case Air which transfers images from a DSLR to a smartphone or tablet. I personally mount an iPad to my stand on location and face it toward my subject so they can view the images as they come through. Of course, if you’re in a run-and-gun situation and don't have the ability to tether to a computer or tablet, showing your client the back of your camera every once in a while will suffice. After all, your client is as much a part of the creative process as you are, even if they don't know it. It’s only fair for them to be in the loop every step of the way rather than being in the dark.

For this shoot I was using the Tether Tools Case Air which transferred the images from my camera straight to the tablet that was mounted to my light stand. This allowed my model to view the images in real time and adjust accordingly.

There are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle when it comes to the argument of whether or not you should show your client images on set. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself “what is best for the client?” I have always found that being as transparent as possible is the best plan of action. Even in a collaborative situation where the images are just as much for you as they are for the model or whoever you’re shooting with, it’s still important to share your images because it’s not all about the photographer.

So I guess the question stands, do you share images with clients on set? If you don’t, why not? I would love to hear an alternate opinion on this. I know you’re out there.

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51 Comments
Steven Gotz's picture

Not only do I share with the client, I use the fact that I tether during the shoot to help coach the client. I show them the difference between having their chin up, or down. I show them the difference between when they slouch and stand straight up straight. And most important, I show them the expressions that work, and the ones that don't. They can then be a cooperative part of the shoot.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I absolutely agree, especially when shooting with people who aren't models. It's good for them to see what looks good and what doesn't.

Percy Ortiz's picture

Added bonus is they can select the images they like as the shoot progresses. no more preview galleries, no more emails back and forward asking for a final selection so you can start post processing

Jeff Carpenter's picture

True, I still send preview galleries sometimes though. Sometimes they get caught up in the moment and select photos they didn't want or miss one that they did want. I like to give them just a little more options, even if they don't end up using the gallery.

Cesar Calderon's picture

I usually share my images, and the awesome part is that if they like the raw photos, they'll definitely like them after post!! The best feeling is when they're looking behind my camera at some of the shots repeatedly saying love this one, love that one.. It keeps the motivation throughout the shoot!

Jeff Carpenter's picture

Definitely! When they get excited about an image that only gets me more pumped.

Papa Osei-Bonsu's picture

I had a situation where I showed the client the pictures during the shoot so that she would be getting the look she envisioned. Two days later the client picks her five edits and before I could even start working on them, I get a message saying she's unhappy with the pictures and demands a refund. How can I avoid situations like this?

Ryan Cooper's picture

I've experienced the same. Most clients aren't aware of just how transformative post processing can be. It can help to educate them better with examples but ultimately sometimes you just end up facing a client who expected perfection in the proofs.

I think most people are aware of things like skin retouching and liquify so don't worry about that sort of thing but most simply don't know about the impact that stuff like dodge and burn or color grading can have, they think the effects of those things should be already in images right off the camera.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

It honestly just sounds like that's the kind of client that's not happy with anything. Unfortunately there people like that out there. I personally try to get my images as close to perfect in camera as I can so I don't have to spend a ton of time in post production, but I typically shoot with the hopes of producing a pretty natural portraits/headshots so I can do that pretty easy. If there's ever a situation where I think they might have a concern about something in the raw image, I will just assure them that I can fix it in post, before they even ask.

michael andrew's picture

I usually send a proofing gallery with 1 attached "processed" image, that way they get an idea of how the images will go. Unprocessed Raw proofs are tough to see.

Brad Delaney's picture

If you shoot tethered & the client can review as you go and they select at the end of the shoot I might be tempted to say bad luck to them. Did they give you a reason why they changed their mind ? If I was in this situation I might refund but it would be minus a deposit.

Dave McDermott's picture

I always do this. It's especially useful when you need to adjust a pose, and as Cesar said, its nice when the person tells you they really like the photos they see on the back of the camera. I don't do a huge amount of retouching, so what they see on my camera won't differ hugely from the final product. Photographers that do a lot of heavy retouching may be more reluctant to share images during a shoot if the final product is going to look completely different. I've heard other photographers say they don't do it because it interrupts the flow.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

Same here, I try to get my images as close to perfect in camera as I can. Mostly because I hate editing haha! I can understand the logic with people who don't share images. At the end of the day, it's personal preference.

Jacob Colmenero's picture

Shooting 90% film it can be kind of tough sharing my photos with my clients on set haha

Jeff Carpenter's picture

Yeah that would make id difficult haha!

Jacob Colmenero's picture

Polaroid backs are great! Hahaha

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

honestly i absolutely against the practice of showing wet material to client of course its depend on clients but... not so many ppl really ready to see themselves without retouching and in many cases if they see their picture without edit they can disappoint and it can ruin the rest of the shoot... and i choose what to retouch +)

Jeff Carpenter's picture

You definitely have a point about some people being self conscious about seeing an image that's not retouched. I typically shoot with a hair and makeup artist so they're well on their way to being pretty perfect as it is haha. Have you ever run into the situation where your client wasn't happy with the image you chose to retouch?

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

maybe a few times... and i retouched another pic chosen by me +)

Rob Mynard's picture

When I show the client it's usually on the back of the camera so it's too small to really see any jarring details

Sada Domonkos's picture

What type of holder do you use for holding the ipad?

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I honestly couldn't tell you haha! It's just a universal tablet holder with a boom arm and I clamped it into the knuckle of my C-Stand. I know Tether Tools has a tablet holder that's really sleek.

Sada Domonkos's picture

yepp i know , but tether tools thingy is high priced and if I upgrade to another ipad version for example rightn now the little pro to the big pro i need to buy again a lots of stuff :D

Please if you find that one brand post it here :) i like it this shape because of that size can be changable . thx

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I hear ya there, this is the one that I have http://ashleyentertainmentcorp.com/product/spectrum-ail-ats-universal-ta... It actually is a stand but I removed the bottom half and just use the bendable arm. I got mine at a discount store so I only paid about $20.

https://www.amazon.com/Ipow-Universal-Tripod-Mount-Adapter/dp/B00Y4FF1OM... This one I found on amazon has a 1/4" thread so you can mount it on a tripod or light stand.

Dominique Richardson's picture

i use Auray IPU-105 Universal Large Tablet Stand Adapter its $40 from B&H it doesnt have the boom arm but it breaks down so it can fit in my backpack B&H got me 2 day shipping and will hold an ipad pro 12" so when i upgrade im set

Ryan Cooper's picture

I think it really depends on your style of shooting and to what degree your style calls on post processing. The more radically you expect an image to change in post, the harder it will be for a client or model to make that connection while looking at the LCD, which in turn can lead to feelings of disappointment.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

Absolutely, I don't do a ton of post processing so I can get my images pretty close to how I would deliver them in camera. That definitely makes it easier for me to share my images because it doesn't require much imagination.

Marius Pettersen's picture

Depends on the model. I've had experiences where a "bad photo" has been enough to throw an unsecure model off balance. So it's really something that I choose then and there. It's awesome when the model gains motivation and energy from seeing a great picture of themselves.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

True, I typically go through the images and show them one that I like but sometimes they might accidentally see a photo that isn't the best. If that happens I just blame it all on myself and deflect haha

Tony Clark's picture

Those of my shoots are Commercial so I shoot tethered to a large display via Capture One Pro. The images are adjusted and the client views them as they are captured. If you're going to show someone the back of the camera, they've got to understand the difference between a calibrated display and an LCD.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I don't think it makes a huge difference whether or not they understand difference between and LCD and a calibrated monitor. I usually just want them to see the pose, expression, and composition. People with an untrained eye probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two displays anyway. I also think us as photographers are more in tune to colors than the average client would be.

Michael Kormos's picture

I've seen engagement and wedding photographers shooting in Central Park flat-out hand their camera over to the bride, who then sorts through the pictures while walking, and looking down at the LCD. I'm always left wondering how much these photographers trust their clients with their gear in a busy park full of obstacles.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I hear ya there, although I have definitely given my camera to a client to look at images before. Having the ability to tether to a tablet on location helps ease my mind about them dropping my camera though.

Lenn Long's picture

Is this another example of the millennial "I want it now!" culture? (Best old man voice) I remember when we had to put a polaroid back on the camera and wait 30 seconds with it under our armpit because it was cold outside!

Jeff Carpenter's picture

The Times They Are a-Changin' (Best Bob Dylan voice) haha

Luke Adams's picture

Not only do I share my images with my models, I also share my RAW files since that is what they always seem to want for some reason. . . just kidding! Yeah, for sure, I think it gives the model a ton of confidence when they see that images are coming out great. If the images are turning out crappy, well, er . . .

Jeff Carpenter's picture

It definitely helps when the images are good haha!

Kirk Darling's picture

I show a portrait client a good shot or two to get them as excited about the progress of the session as I am. But I don't depend on them to tell me what is good. And I'd never set up a monitor that they could watch as I'm shooting. I want their eyes where I tell them to put their eyes.

Brendon Fidek's picture

What kind of scrim are you using in the cover photo of this article?

Jeff Carpenter's picture

just sent you a message with the link

B L's picture

Jeff, how do you like the Case Air? Have you tried Cam Ranger?

Dominique Richardson's picture

i have both the case air and camfi...both seems to disable the back of your camera which makes my chimping habit nonexistent...you would think this is a good thing but its hurts your workflow 1000% i use a light stand and place the ipad where the client and i can both see the ipad since this will now be the back of your camera....case air doesnt have a true full screen like the camfi...meaning with the case air there's some app button overlay which i hate...case air is small and sexy camfi is not ....i glued a cold shoe mount to the rubber door on my nikon 500 to hold my case air when using my v6ii ....if your doing an engagement session were your running and gunning let me save you and your reputation... forget about either option...if your a 2 man team and your have 15+ mins in each location sure...5 mins will be re-setting up your case air....I used this for high school portraits where you stay put and they come to you and it worked out pretty well....hope this helped

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I own both, and both have their issues but I definitely like the Case Air a little better. I had an issue at first with the back of the camera being disabled with the Case Air, but as long as live view on the app is disabled and you're in capture mode the images show back up on your camera. The connectivity issues that I had with the CamRanger don't seem to exist with the Case Air, except I have had the app crash a couple times but it rebooted with no problem at all. I have actually been talking with a representative from Tether Tools and they are trying to work on an update that allows for a client mode with the case air that will eliminate the overlay on the app as well as (hopefully) add a rating system similar to the cam ranger app.

Dominique Richardson's picture

you shouldn't have said that lol so i can send all my ideas to you since you have a direct connection to tether tools right? tell them the client mode and star rating system is much needed

Jeff Carpenter's picture

definitely needed, and hopefully in the works!

V Paul Bowers Jr's picture

Jeff, what Buff softbox were you using? Thanks for the article.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

Thank you for taking the time to read it! In the above images, I am using the PCB 35" octa which is pretty much my go-to modifier for a lot of my portraits. here's the link to where you can buy it. https://paulcbuff.com/fob.php

Ellen Steele's picture

I totally show them a couple of the better images on my camera during shoots. For exactly the reasons you mention. Here are two of my examples:

1. When I do portrait sessions with families the kids love to see themselves and when the kids love an image, Mom and Dad are likely to as well.

2. I just did a head shot session with a woman whose career is leading corporate communications and regularly sets up these sessions for others. Talk about someone who knows what she is envisioning! I could tell immediately from showing her the images which looks she was going for-it helped me understand HER vision and be able to focus my session in that direction.

Jeff Carpenter's picture

The family aspect is definitely something that I see all the time but forgot to mention in the article. I just did a family session yesterday and getting the kids excited to see the images made the process really smooth!

Rob Mynard's picture

When you're shooting weddings, you're usually working with clients who haven't had any more experience in front of a camera other than a couple of bathroom selfies and they can feel very self-conscious. Often showing them a couple of shots that you're excited about can get them excited too and when they start to have fun with it you get better shots.

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