How Not To Do a Photography Shoot

imageIt was a long day yesterday.

My friend and I participated in a photo shoot – we had been stopped in the centre of Birmingham last month and offered a promotion (at a huge discount) for a new photography studio that had recently opened. As part of the package, there was champagne, a hand massage, manicure, professional make-up and hair and an hour long photography session, with a free photograph at the end and the opportunity to purchase further prints if we liked them.

We were excited, but a little apprehensive – neither of us had experienced anything similar before and didn’t know what to expect. However, we did as we were asked and arrived with some of our favourite outfits, no make-up and natural hair.

I’m not one for complaining when I go out – after years of working in various jobs within the service industry I know how awkward, demanding and rude the general public can be – so I always try and be as polite as possible. However, if I had paid the price that they are usually charging for the package that we had I would be demanding my money back, and then some. While I’m not going to go into too much detail, I want you to imagine that a couple of students woke up one day, hired out a couple of tiny rooms in one of the roughest areas of the city and employed their mate with an SLR camera to take pictures. The studio wasn’t a new one – the company ‘opening’ this new place had in fact arranged some sort of deal with an already existing, run down business.

My make-up artist was very inexperienced, and despite asking lots of questions about the sort of style and colours I liked she completely ignored everything I had said and proceeded to make me look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman, sticking bright red lipstick on me and putting one of my false eyelashes much higher than the other, which I then discreetly adjusted and improved in the toilet afterwards. Don’t believe me? This was the before and after…


It’s amazing what your own make-up, toilet lighting and Instagram can do isn’t it!


The saving grace of the day was my friend. I’ve known her for a long time, and she’s one of my favourite people. Neither of us were happy with the service we received, but she put a brave face on it and kept me feeling positive throughout the day. She’s a much stronger character then I am, which I was grateful for as she politely put the photographer firmly in his place when he was inexplicably aggressive with us when we first walked in. To be fair, by the end of the shoot he was laughing and joking with us, and we were making each other laugh by pulling silly faces at each other and after a while I was able to relax and enjoy myself. She’s a glamorous woman and was a natural, taking things in her stride and striking different poses in the beautiful outfits she had brought with her.

After waiting for quite a while after the shoot, we were given the opportunity to look through our photographs. I have huge body confidence and anxiety issues and I while I wasn’t expecting the camera to remove 60lbs from my frame, I was hoping for images that would make me feel a little more confident about myself. It had the opposite effect – the angles in most of the pictures actually made me look bigger than I am, and I was completely deflated. I did purchase a few of them (after lots of bartering as they initially attempted charge an extortionate amount of money for them), mainly because my friend looks great, but there was only one of me that I thought was ok. Here’s one of us together that I liked – we look like we are auditioning for the new series of The Apprentice…


I’m not going to include many of the pics, but this was the one that I originally liked. Unfortunately, when I got home and put it on my tv screen (which was much bigger), it looked totally different than during the viewing process. There’s a few issues that bug me… My left eye (which looks totally black) and The Hand. The poor lighting looks like a random person has shoved their arm in front of my face. The more I look at it, the more I hate it. It’s a dead hand.


I tried to experiment and cut it down, even adding an idea for a potential logo, asked for advice in Instagram and from my bloggy friend Steve, who is good at graphics and design, and The Bloke went to work on Photoshop, but it still annoys me.


Stupid dead hand.

However, it was an experience. I enjoyed spending time with a good friend and we had a laugh.

And the next time someone asks me to go and try out a new photography business, I’ll save my money and take more pictures in the toilet instead!

What about you? Have you ever received any poor services or had your expectations dashed?

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86 thoughts on “How Not To Do a Photography Shoot

  1. I really like the photo of the two of you – it has great sassy attitude! You’re right about “the hand” though – but think of it as a lesson learned. I had read before my book jacket photo shoot that you don’t want your hands in the photo – that they will only make you crazy later… I guess that advice was true!

    • I agree – although the good think is that I now have an idea of the new header image I’m going to use. The Bloke is a great photographer so he’s said he’ll do it for me… Minus The Hand haha!

  2. Well, it wasn’t photography, but,

    Our dog kept jumping the fence, so we had a new 6 foot fence installed. The contractor and one of our neighbors got into it, and the contractor left without putting any gates in, and never came back. He kept saying he would, but never showed up. We hear that he has been bad mouthing us around town.

    When winter was over, we hired another contractor to put in gates so that we didn’t have to take all the garden items through the house to get them into the front yard.

    It took a while to find a contractor willing to work on the fence, as the original contractor did such a bad job. All of the new people say that the fence needs to be torn down and rebuilt -expensive.

    We are in contact with a lawyer, of course.

    Not quite like photography, but certainly bad service…

  3. Hi Suzie, sorry to hear it. When I read yoru post about it, I thought ‘this is a brave girl’ accepting this kind of thing. I’d never do it, one time I got a discount coupon for hair style, I hated it so much that I’ve never bought any coupon for beauty stuff again. But at the end the experience is worth, and you won’t fall in this trap again. Have a great day!

  4. Oh no. After reading your post about this a couple of days ago I was hoping you’d have a brilliant time. I’m sorry it was disappointing. For what it’s worth, I think you look great – dead hand or no! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks my lovely! I’m not using this one, but The Bloke has an idea of the shot that I want. He’s a good photographer so he will do so,e pics for me… Without The Hand!

  5. Oh Suzie, sorry to hear you had such a disappointing day. I actually really like the photos you’ve shared, though I agree about the make-up and the ‘dead hand’ – it reminds me of when I was a photography producer for department store catalogues and we had an ongoing joke about the ‘disembodied hand’ that could creep into a photo and spoil it. You must be very glad you didn’t pay the full price, that’s for sure! I can’t say I remember having such bad service myself though there have certainly been times I was disappointed. I do tend to avoid Groupons and similar things, maybe because I worked in retail and advertising for so long and heard too many horror stories. Hopefully this will be something you and your friend can laugh about over a bottle of wine or two πŸ™‚ xx

    • Thanks Helen. I’ve done spa days with Groupon that have been really good, but I’ll certainly never sign up for new promotions again! I agree about The Hand, it’s like a random mannequin’s hand!

  6. I like the photos. We are always our worst critics! You did a good repair job in the toilet tho!! I always get my expectations too high and feel let down afterwards. At least you had a new experience!

  7. You are adorable! I love the wee black and white shot, so cute and the sassy one with your chum is classic! Body issues, yes we all have them but you are allowing us to love you for YOU and that can make many of those issues disappear… cheers girl

  8. That made me smile. Especially the dead Hand! Well, and the eylash is hillarious… But hey, wasn’t there champagne involved? Glad you had a good day.

  9. I think your photos are lovely, but I agree about too much makeup in the first photo.
    I used to be extremely photogenic and couldn’t understand why my mom had such a problem smiling for the camera. It must be in the DNA because it hit me about two years ago. I couldn’t believe how bad my pictures were when traveling in Barcelona after my boobectomies. Chin down, shoulders up, hunched over, weird smile…. where did that come from??? My daughter grew up in a digital world of deleting photos and helped me get back on track. But I always do my own makeup!

    • Haha! I’ve seen photographs recently where I thought I was giving a killer ‘Blue Steel’ look but I just looked really drunk… Thank goodness for digital cameras!

  10. Pingback: Accepting Average | Suzie81 Speaks

  11. That sound like an awful experience… The photograph (the one you took in bathroom, I think) is beautiful though! πŸ™‚ xo

  12. I think you look great in your photo! Gorgeous!
    If the hand bothers you why not crop it out and use the opposite half of your face? The eye hiding behind your hair looks brilliant I think. I like the smile crease on that side too. Gives you a mischievous look!

  13. So now I will say that you on a day where you think the make up and such are bad is still better than me on a normal day…but I will also say that I know how it feels. We are our own worst critics, not that it ever stops us anyway.

    The Hand pic…hmmm…maybe we can say Thing from The Addams Family photobombed you? πŸ˜€

    • Haha! I recently did one of those silly quizzes on Facebook and I was supposedly the same as Thing… Perhaps the universe is trying o tell me something!

      You’re a beautiful woman and you shouldn’t put yourself down. But you’re right, we’re all our own worst critics – we can offer support to everyone else and yet don’t take the advice for ourselves!

  14. I love the photo of the two of you- very sassy! But I agree, the make up looked better after you had a go at in the the bathroom! Luckily, when my friend said she was starting a business, and offered a similar deal (for my son), it went well. I was afraid the opposite would happen though!!

    I’m sorry this experience sucked 😦

    • Thanks my lovely – I like that one of us two… I think if it was a friend that was running it I would have felt comfortable enough to complain (in a nice way) and ask for what I was promised… Never mind. It gives us another memory to talk about!

  15. And no champagne! Barstewards! Buy a bottle, let BF take your pics and send them some of how it should be done. I hate poor service even if it is a bargain. If something’s promised it should be delivered. They’ll not be in business long if they can’t deliver. Sod them, Suzie, it’s Friday, go get that champagne and pose for all your worth. πŸ™‚

    • Haha! Thanks my lovely – I’m taking my friend out for a congratulatory meal tonight (she got a new job) so I’m sure there will be cocktails involved! The Bloke said that they wouldn’t make any money after he went through the pics too! How’s things with you?

  16. Congrats to your friend. Cocktails sound great. If I could summon the energy I’d have a few! Got that TFIF feeling and hoping to muster the necessary (after a nap!) to indulge in a red or two with a leisurely dinner. Three and a bit weeks till the summer hols and hanging on in. You remember what it’s like – a mad term in many ways. Now just need some sunshine in the next few weeks and I’m sorted. πŸ™‚

  17. sigh, yes. My wedding photo’s were a bit of a bust. I asked all my friends to give me their photo’s instead and we made an album of that. I mean the photo’s where not that bad, but for the money we paid…..
    It is when I learned how to Photoshop, since I Photoshopped a lot of the friends photos. πŸ™‚

  18. You found the positive out of the experience and that’s what matters. Looking forward to seeing your new banner. Exciting!

  19. I love it! You look absolutely fabulous!!! You are gorgeous! Now post that picture everywhere and use it on your Suzie 81 blog. That is you and it is fantastic!!! ❀

  20. The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster for me, body-wise. When one autoimmune condition goes into remission, the other wakes up, so I feel like a hostage in my skin. My hive and rash covered skin. Sexy. But the worst part has been feeling weak/not strong enough. I used to be strong. Muscled. Healthy. I still have some muscle tone because I walk an hour every day, but I don’t feel like I can climb a wall or run 5K. This guts me. But now that I have a new doctor and diagnosis, and I have a timeframe to see the meds and diet work, I am hoping that I will feel well enough again to exercise again. I like that you don’t mention the numbers, but how your clothes fit. Far more sensible. Good luck with the training!! And you rock that red lippy & the pose.

  21. Hi Suzie,
    I also am sorry to hear it was a strange experience to say the least. I had one of these done 25 years ago and I looked like Sweet Baby Jane (bad Bette Davis Makeup). at 26.
    One other good thing came of this experience, you made me laugh today, I’m having a real weird day. I will laugh each time I think of your big hand. Yes, now you point it out it’s big and dead. But I still really like it, you pretty. Thanks for a funny post, well funny to me.

  22. That sounds like appalling service. These days when every person and their dog takes photos 24/7, professional photographers need to offer just that – professionalism. It’s disappointing you didn’t get the product you should have. Um yes, the dead hand is not good – but the banner looks like it’ll be fantastic!

  23. Your bathroom selfie is fab! That picture of you and your friend is great. It looks like a PR photo for a sitcom featuring two really feisty females. I think it’s safe to say you have zero love for that other picture. The edit is really good though.

  24. I like every photo. Everyone (well, except for the first one with the joker comment!) I don’t like the bait and switch tactics, but I do find value in each photo. You’re lucky to have a friend like yours… and that photo of the two of you may look like a reality show wannabe, it is actually a lot of fun.

    You look great, dead hand and all.

  25. I’m glad you could see the funny side of the experience Suzie!

    The photo of you and your friend is just brilliant. You both look confident, beautiful and ready to kick ass!

  26. I had a very similar experience – I was 17, vulnerable and ‘model spotted’ – in real life I should have known it was a fake. I’m only 5″7 and have boobs and hips so hardly model material. It ended up costing me Β£400 for the photographs which I was bullied into buying (the shoot was ‘free’). I ended up hating the photos. They were taken from weird angles and my make up was so full on I looked like a drag queen. Needless to say ladies if you get ‘spotted’ near Oxford street, ask them if they need a photo shoot first – it’s a scam.

  27. I think you look great in all the pics. I only noticed the flaws you speak of when I looked at the pics on my laptop as opposed to my phone. I do like the sassy pic of the two of you. It’s a shame the experience wasn’t more positive but it sounds like you have a great friend who can turn a routine physical into a party! Hopefully you get another chance and they turn out the way you like.

  28. Oh lord, that sounds’s the worst thing when you’re promised great service but end up in some bootleg place with people who are just trying to figure it out themselves. But may I say I actually like the make-up? It looks super good on you, natural and effortless in a way but still popping! Kind of see what you mean with the hand haha but as a logo photo it would be quite cool!

  29. I actually really love the black and white photo and the one of you two together. I’m sorry it wasn’t the best experience, but look at the memories that were captured!

  30. Aren’t dear friends just the greatest?! I do like what your friend did with the photo you dislike though; the hand looks less dead after his edits. I had an experience sort of like this in Las Vegas where my husband and I stupidly fell for a time-share promotion. We should have known better, but the guy flat out promises that “this isn’t one of those time share things where they sit you down and try to get you to buy something.” That’s exactly what it was and we never received the actual event tickets that we were promised for attending. Instead we received some C-list program tickets that we never ended up using. Live and learn!
    Brandy from

  31. I’m always stunned by how much people charge for photos – I was once quoted Β£35 per image on a disk. I’ve been for a few, and the experience itself hasn’t been too bad but I actually hate having my picture taken so I’m not sure why I put myself through it. I really like your photos, although I know what it’s like when everyone says it’s nice but you don’t agree.

  32. Poor You! At least you got a fab story out of this experience. But I do agree with some of your other ‘posters’ that you are too hard on yourself. I think you even look good as The Joker (!)

  33. Oh no! What a disappointing and negative experience! The aggressive sales techniques do not come as a surprise, however! It’s very common for studios to put people in a “get out your credit card and pay through the nose now, or you lose these images forever!” Situation where they feel almost mugged!

    I’m not offering champagne and hand massages, but if you want some nice photos for your blog, I’m looking for some friends to model for me! Totally free of course! Do your own hair, mind!

    • That’s so nice of you Andrew! The Bloke is also a brilliant photographer and he has just bought a Canon 7D Mark2 so I’m being his guinea pig while he tries out some ideas. Are you looking for people for a portfolio?

      • Yeah, I love doing weddings, but they’re so hugely time consuming! I’m trying to get some more portrait work, and just want to fill up the website a bit, with the help of a few friends!

      • I’ll do you a deal. I’m not hugelly confident at the minute – so we need to start training for that marathon first. When I’ve done it, I’ll do some portrait stuff and see if i can get my friends involved too!

      • I’d forgotten all about the training! Are you still interested in a run around the reservoir?

  34. I bought a new camera recently – a Canon SLR – and I think I have been irritating everyone. I’m good at that. But I really need some lessons, so I might have a bash at some courses. I can’t recall having had a bad service. I’m sure I’ve had one at some time, but I really don’t remember it.

  35. Gah! Nice experience. I like the makeup you did MUCH better. O_o Also, loved the black and white photo until you mentioned the dead hand. Why?! Why did you mention The Hand? (I still like the picture.)

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