Thursday, September 6, 2012

When Cheap Headshots Are Too Good to be True

Published 9/6/2012

I recently embarked on what turned out to be an epic journey to get new headshots and  I have to say, it was less than pleasant. I probably got what I deserved for Googling “cheap headshots” and picking a name , but as I remain without fame and/or rich benefactors, my options were limited.  What follows is my Yelp review of Monesson Photography, which I advise you to take as a cautionary tale of headshots gone horribly long:

Joshua Monesson took the most gorgeous headshots I’ve ever had… but it took almost a month to receive them, a month in which I was subjected to gross unprofessionalism, unanswered emails, returned payments and a general aura of sketchiness. I shall elucidate.

As a struggling actress I was thrilled to find Josh’s 125 “summer special” promising unlimited looks in an hour. This was great since I needed four new looks. After my  initial email inquiry went unanswered (which I should have heeded as a warning), I called Josh and he assured me that he would be able to  execute the number and style of headshots I wanted and we proceeded to arrange a shoot date. 

The day of the shoot arrived,  and the previous reviewer may be slightly exaggerating about black fingerprint smudges on things, but messy his studio definitely was. Despite all that, Josh is friendly and  efficient and I felt extremely comfortable with him. I’ve worked with photographers who have a singular vision for their clients and don’t care at all what they want, but Josh listened to my ideas and incorporated them for beautiful shots.

When the shoot ended, Josh offered the retouched images at 15 each, or the CD with all the images from my shoot for an additional 125, which included five retouched images.  I have to admit that after reading the ad and after our initial conversation, I was under the impression that I would be able to use and have my selected photos edited for super cheap, but  whatevs, 250 for what turned out to be SIX, yes six looks, is still a great deal.

 This was Tuesday, August 7th.  Late that night, Josh sent me a link to view my photos. On Saturday I emailed him and indicated the photos I wanted to have retouched and asked if I should pay through the link that he sent me, even though there was no way to select my images.  I also wanted to avoid the lengthy transaction times of Paypal.  I did not get a response, so on Monday I paid the for the CD through the link he sent and listed the photo numbers to be retouched. In less than an hour, Josh emailed me and said that he refunded my payment because “there is no way to select the images you want to have retouched.”  Wait, what? That is EXACTLY what I said in the email  I sent him.

I was then told that he would send me a Paypal invoice and that I should send the payment again.  I told him that I didn’t feel comfortable paying him again until the first payment was refunded, which could have been avoided if he had simply responded to the email I sent. After many phone calls to Josh and my bank, which had no record  of any reversal of charges for at least a week, it was finally processed. Before I had a chance to tell Josh and proceed with the Paypal payment however, I received my five edited images on Wednesday the 15th. This was perplexing to say the least, one because at that point in time, they were technically not paid for,  and two because it proved that Josh could have edited my photos and sent my CD AS I REQUESTED IN MY ORIGINAL EMAIL. But alas…

I proceeded to process the Paypal invoice and entered into the next phase of this unending saga.  After sending multiple emails, all of which went unanswered: to let Josh know that I sent the invoice, when it was estimated to clear, and ultimately that it did clear, I heard nothing and received no CD with the remainder of my images.  On the morning of the 23rd, I called Josh and he assured me that he had put my CD in the mail. Friday, Saturday and Monday came and my CD did not. It does NOT take more than two days for anything to be shipped from Venice to Burbank. On Monday I called yet again and suddenly Josh wasn’t sure of my address, or if my CD had been mailed on Thursday or Friday.  He promised to look into it and after securing my address once again, which by the way was on the original payment form, he said that he would put my CD in the mail the next day. I FINALLY received my CD on Thursday the 30th, but there is absolutely no reason it should have taken that long.

I blame myself for being pulled in by the dubious summer special, the dates of which continued to be extended . Again, the pictures that I eventually received are great, but the majority of my experience consisted of unanswered emails, emails that were not at all capitalized, and payment arrangements that bordered on suspicious and were unorganized at best. As a photographer, Josh is pretty amazing, but business man he is not. Ultimately the superior quality of his photos do not outweigh the near-month of unprofessional shenanigans I had to endure to get them.  Patronize him at your own risk and only if you have no immediate need for your headshots. Otherwise steer clear.





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