I am creating a flyer for a gym. The client has given me very little details in what they expect. I provided the design, they like it but they want to use a different photo. I would prefer to handle this situation and future ones where we aren't constantly going back and forth about images.


How do you handle a client who doesn't like the photo you used in the design?

My thoughts

You do not have to answer the below thoughts specifically.

  • Is it unprofessional to send a client a link to a stock website and let them choose?

  • Do you use a watermark image in the initial proof?

  • Do you save multiple images in a folder and send that along with the proof?

  • 1
    Hope you didn't already purchase the image you used. Watermarked low-res comp images are very acceptable to show to clients in place in your design, for this very reason. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 17:47
  • Can you ask the client for a favourite photo that they have taken in the past? If it works then consider hiring a photographer to do a professional shoot based on the client's image.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 2:08
  • @Criggie That is an option but I think hiring a photographer is somewhat unrealistic for my question. I phrased my question to deal with stock photos specifically.
    – AndrewH
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 13:38

5 Answers 5


It's always best to show a client photo options in the context of the design. Trying to show images separately from your layout is akin to asking your client to composite the design in their head, which I recommend against.

Using watermarked images is standard practice in mocking up a design, just like "Lorem Ipsum" and "TK" are for copy, and is a part of every graphics department I've seen.


You ask them what they don't like about the photo. Ideally this conversation is in the context of business objectives rather than personal tastes. You hopefully get enough feedback to find another couple of options.

That said, I've also just had clients go 'shopping' for their own photo if I knew I likely wasn't going to get great feedback.

  • Yup.. option A.. then create 2 or 3 iterations with only different photos.. chances are you'll get one that works for the client.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 17:35

If you are hired to execute a design it is your responsibility to do as much as possible to finish the job as much as you can. The point is to make the client to do as less as possible. In large companies usually there is a budget for photography, or they provide the content themselves. In your case that is not so. What I would do is use watermarked photos for proofs, create 3-5 variations with different photos. If at that point the photography weren't agreed upon, create a folder or shoot them an email with links to pictures and let them choose. Chances are you will be able to find one...unless the client is super difficult and needs something specific, then you can say please send me pictures of your liking ( makes sure you tell them the necessary specs ) but on a flyer job I wouldn't go that crazy, and if they are being difficult, it is always a good idea to say how many edits they have within your price. If they keep asking for revisions over and over then you reserve the right to charge more.

***In personal experience: These small jobs always come with lots of headaches. I know at times it is necessary to deal with it, especially if you are just starting out or whatever reason may be. I would suggest charging a lot more than a going rate this tends to weed out the headaches. People know if they are paying top dollar the job will be done. People who will spend more will always give you less problems, they know the value of work. That is of course just an opinion


I hope you just did not choose one option.

Your responsability is to know diferent stock sites. Download 3 previews of 3 diferent sites (9) and show them 3 best options.

If still don't want one of them, show another 3.

If that does not work ask them to send you the photo. Don't give them the link to your resources, does not matter what obvious they are.


Consider yourself to be designing a power point for the client. You will need to discuss the current state, what the goal is, what you are trying to convey, a timeline, potential outcomes, what things you CAN manage once you hit a certain stage (half way point), what things you CAN'T manage after a certain point (which portions you two have committed to...this may include layers of an image, for example).

Then on your end you should look to provide an understanding to the client of your "template" (via layers). Help them to understand that you NEED them to make a great design concept; A client knows what they want, a designer knows where to apply their ideas.

Research a bit on SCRUM. Once you understand project planning, project management will be very easy!


  • Your answer might be useful for someone asking about production timelines, but I don't see how it's relevant to the question being asked here.
    – Manly
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:12

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