Reference photos should not be taken literally

The client sent in several reference photos that he liked before the photoshoot so I could create something similar using their products. They told me that I have creative control over how to take photos and have no restrictions.

After the photos were delivered, the customer complained about props (apparently wrong colors), styling (not enough / too many props), and “lack of pop”.

I sent a detailed email with their answers to my questions, how I had no restrictions, and most importantly, similarities in styles between the reference photos they liked and the images I provided.

Customer: In the future, if the examples provided are taken literally, we will have to go through them.

Me:

I’m still not quite sure how the reference photos are meant to be taken, if not literally.

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