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May 06, 2007

Something Doesn't Seem Right: Robert Kim Photography

Many of you know that my sister (and Drew's wife), Jessica is a professional actress who's been in the touring companies of Fame and the Will Roger's Follies. She's currently working to take that one last step up and land a part of Broadway. Of course, to do this, she needs top notch quality headshots.

So though she certainly isn't rich, she pays an exorbitant amount to get those shots done by Robert Kim Photography.

Unfortunately, while her pictures were beautiful, she ended up paying more. Much more. And without agreeing up front. And now Mr. Kim is being... rude.

Here is a (in my opinion) polite email from Jessica to Robert, initially laying out why she was upset.

Dear Robert,

First of all, I want to say that I love my headshot--it turned out beautifully, and for that I thank you. I assume that you could tell I was upset at our last exchange and I wanted to explain to you why that
was. I felt used and taken advantage of regarding the extra pictures that you "assumed" I ordered. When you first handed me the prints, you told me to pick one shot from each group--the commercial look, the
headshot, and the 3/4 body shot. After I spoke with you on which ones to choose, I went away thinking that I was getting the headshot, the standing jean jacket shot, and the over the shoulder commercial shot
in the green shirt. I was very surprised when, upon returning to recieve the final three photos, you said that I had ordered not three, but six! And not only that, but I would be charged extra for it when I had already paid what for me is an exorbitant amount, but one which I was prepared to pay given the
quality of your work. I feel like it was unfair of you to just "assume" I wanted to buy the extra as well (why would I need six headshots, anyway?). The fact that you do not have a final order sheet for the proofs your clients decide upon, make it so that you can just say they ordered more than the agreed upon three. I understand that you may have misunderstood me, but if you had used a final ordering sheet, then that wouldn't have happened. Also, I will not use the other shots I supposedly ordered--the one in the green shirt is so touched up that it looks like I have had plastic surgery, and the other two I just don't like as well as the three I had intentioned to order. The whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth,
so I wanted to let you know.

Again, I do love the final product of my actual headshot; on that, you did a wonderful job. But, given my total experience, I will not be inclined to use your services the next time I need a headshot. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Jessica Copeland

Not overly emotional, and yes she has a good point. He should have an order form, with prices involved, if he's going to charge more than the upfront fee.

So how does this professional respond? Is the "customer" always right?

Ms. Copeland; First of all, I don't just arbitrarily select choices without the client's express permission. I can only send the retoucher those choices personally selected by the customer. To do otherwise constitutes charging for unauthorized purchases, which is utterly unethical, not to mention illegal. Secondly, six choices is not an extraordinary amount of photos to select, in fact it's typical of my customers (one customer just ordered thirteen additional ones, along with his first three original looks, this week). It is solely your responsibility of which and how many photos you require. What I resent in your message is any allusion that I forced you choose more looks than you did, which simply isn't the case. You yourself okayed each of your six final selections, then I submitted your order. As to any retouching issues you may have had with your order, my retoucher, like myself, fully guarantees her work and could have quickly and easily reduced or totally removed any or all of her retouching, in one day. All you needed to do was to place a simple phone call to me with your request and it would have been completed, without charge. Any further problems you may have with my quality, service, or written and dated policy can be taken up with my attorney. If you wish his phone number, I will be please to furnish it to you and we'll conclude any of your numerous allegations in a court of law, where they should have been directed in the first place.

Robert Kim
Robert Kim Photography

Now this is very strange to me. He quickly brings up the court of law, saying that is where a customer complaint belongs in the first place. What? Do all businesses want things taken to the courts first? "Please, don't tell me politiely what your problem is, instead just sue me!" To me, this seems like the bluff that he's very used to making, while squeezing extra money out of aspiring actors and actresses.

Jessica responds:

Dear Robert--

No, actually I do not wish to sue you. I just wanted to tell you how I felt. As I said, the instance could have been a misunderstanding; I only wish that I could have understood what you thought I was ordering, and therefore how much extra I was being charged. That could have been the case if you had an ordering form to fill out for the final picture count. Maybe that is something to consider in order to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. I would think that you would want to know when a client leaves
unhappy--especially when it doesn't have to be that way. This isn't a case for a judge; it is just something I wanted to share with you.
thanks, jessica

Very agreeable, in my opinion. No threats, she paid the money. She just thinks he took advantage of the situation, but it might have been a result of confusion, and that an order form may avoid this in the future. As a business owner, Robert Kim should totally and completely welcome this kind of feedback. Customers who reasonably point out areas of improvement are a godsend! So how does he respond?

Ms. Latshaw: If I did anything like you described, I would be liable for misrepresentation, or worse. You could sue me in any court in the land and win. But as you know, that wasn't the case. So why are you calling me to complain, particularly then I provided you exactly what you requested, the quality of which is so representative of my work that I actually put you on my website? Is this how you return my service and work on your behalf?

Never call here again.
Robert Kim
Robert Kim Photography

"Never call here again"!???? Unbelievable. This is the kind of thing that just burns me up. Being in a band, or trying to get a part on Broadway... so many people just lay in wait, hoping to rid you of your money. I can't believe the amount of people that want to take advantage of those chasing their dreams. It should be criminal. And it cracks me up that he says "Is this how you return my services and work on your behalf" as if he did it for free. NO, Robert, how she returns your service and work is with a large bundle of money, a sack that you managed to stuff a little fuller than she initially expected. That's the whole problem here, fella.

By the way, he makes it sound like he incredibly improved on her previous headshot. And while I agree her new one is beautiful, her old shot was certainly no bad shot either:


(Yes he put her on his website as a before and after example of how he turns toads into princesses.)

So... now I'm wishing Jessica could take him up on his bluff and sue him. How much is small claims court in NY, anyway? I don't see how he could win. He doesn't use any order forms, there is no written or recorded record of any communications... He needs to learn to clean up his business practices a bit.

And if you find this post because you googled his name, get everything in writing!!!

Posted by jason on May 6, 2007 06:31 PM


wow, what a wanker. i'm not sbout frivilous lawsuits, but hopefully one day someone pwns him hard, if he pulls more shizz like this.

good luck on getting on broadway, jess. are you currently auditioning for a specific role?

Posted by: childish on May 6, 2007 07:26 PM

man what a jerk face

Posted by: bsweber on May 7, 2007 12:35 AM

Robert Kim Photography ripped off the wrong girl.

Posted by: Anonymous on May 7, 2007 12:53 AM

I've got a digital camera and I will take four headshots for $599. I will make you look gorgeous.

Posted by: ian on May 7, 2007 08:32 AM

thanks for commiseration, everyone. really, robert kim made me so angry that I felt physically sick inside. i agree with jase--his treatment of the customer is utterly ridiculous. also, he made a comment toward me that could definitely be seen as sexual harrasment (as well as liberally making fun of homosexuals and overweight people). I am happy if I never see him again.

to answer your question, childish, i am auditioning for anything on Broadway...Just waiting to see if any doors open:-)

Posted by: jessica on May 7, 2007 02:54 PM

also, he made a comment toward me that could definitely be seen as sexual harrasment (as well as liberally making fun of homosexuals and overweight people).

I'm kind of amazed that one comment can do so many offensive things at once! I can't imagine what it might be, I'd kind of like to hear it.

Posted by: jason on May 7, 2007 02:58 PM

Robert Kim is a butthead.

Posted by: A Concerned Citizen on May 7, 2007 02:59 PM

lol--no it wasn't the same comment--they were different ones!

Posted by: jessica on May 7, 2007 03:00 PM

His behavior is petty, unprofessional and bombastic - all attempts to scare. Try going through the BBB. You may get nothing. But at the very least there will be an official complaint registered and if he does not provide satisfactory restitution, it will be listed as "unresolved" in the BBB's database.

Posted by: Mike on May 7, 2007 03:09 PM

So sorry about your bad experience with this guy Jessica. I sent him an email to find out about him doing some work for me! Check it out

I've heard your name in many places Mr. Kim, I've heard your life has many subplots, and I've seen how impressive your work can be. I mean, those before and after photos are like night and day. I half expected to see Shrek before I got to the end of them! Ha! Anyway, I was interested in having you take some head shots for me. I play in a band and would like for us to make it big, so I want to look good (that's where you come in!) I am just a little worried, I really only need a few pictures, but from what I've read on the internet people have gotten double what they ask for and charged double of what they expected. So, if I only want 4 pictures...should I just ask for two then? I am confused as to what the standard operating procedure here is. Please let me know, thank you!
- Jack "

Posted by: Jack on May 7, 2007 03:55 PM

I have heard nothing but terrible things about Robert Kim Photography. One story after another about people getting ripped off and taken advantage of.

Posted by: Screwed Actor on May 7, 2007 04:34 PM

Oh, everything is so much more clear now that I have gotten a reply back!

Sounds like you WROTE my website, my friend! Ha!!
I don't know what pathological liar told you that "...people have

gotten double what they ask for and charged double of what they

expected," though.
My price is clearly stated on my written contract. $699. for the
session, including three images to CD. Additional images are $25. each
and retouching is $35. per picture.
Simple, isn't it? What isn't as simple is finding out who your really
are and why you're wasting my time with these pitiful emails. Just
received another email from another
suspicious character, this one a woman with another questionable name.
You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

Posted by: Jack on May 7, 2007 04:45 PM

And it goes on

"I'll play your game you rogue, I wonder if this "email" is really from "Robert" Kim or just someone hired to respond to inquiring minds. You must think an awful lot of yourself to believe I would create not one, but two false identities to email you asking questions. Now, if I were just insulting you, directly not indirectly like I was, I could understand that. But, I'm not clever enough to make my second being a woman, I definitely would have gone with another male name. I am thankful for your clarification in your pricing, but I am curious though... what makes a name questionable? The only thing I know about that other suspicious character is that she had a questionable name, but then again you were the one that told me that. So, I guess we are even there. Although, I think this seems to be standard ops for you. I send one email, you come back and tell me you have two? Is that the whole double thing again? "

Posted by: Jack on May 7, 2007 05:01 PM

What a dumb f*ck

Posted by: Jenna on May 7, 2007 11:30 PM

I guess he doesn't want to take my pictures : (

"The next time you place a "sincere and flattering" message to anyone,
may I suggest that you eliminate any allusion to your photographer
ripping someone off, especially some unknown "internet people" who
according to you, are alleging that I overcharged them or acted in any
unethical fashion? If you think that by spreading such verbal horse
manure would in some way ingratiate myself to you or want to photograph
you for any purpose, you are sadly mistaken. How's that for

Posted by: Jack on May 8, 2007 10:25 AM

Maybe I can sway him

"Hello RK,
I am sorry for my earlier emails, my tone and demeanor were both unacceptable. I had been a fan of your work for some time and then after reading what I did on the internet I was torn. I'm sure whoever was spreading such rumors was just upset they didn't get a role they wanted and took it out on you. Anyway, I am willing to pay you up to $200 for my head shots and I will give you a signed poster of my band and our new cd as well. Please let me know how I can arrange to set up an appointment. "

Posted by: Jack on May 8, 2007 10:25 AM

okay, first of all...Jack, you are funny! I am sure you have made Robert Kim pretty upset (considering that I have seen him very angry over just someone not understanding how to work his faulty and confusing doorbell, I can only imagine how he is responding to you now).

Josh: People's Court would be interesting (and Jase would LOVE it) but, I am not sure that is what I will do at this moment.

Ian, I will consider you for headshots in the future--your rate seems reasonable but one question: does that include hair and make up?

And Jenna: the Clump of Hair may not be h*ppy about those w*rds...

As I said before--thanks for all the sympathy!!!!!!!

Posted by: jessica on May 8, 2007 06:06 PM

Jess, remember I was there...so you have a witness. I saw you settle on ONLY three. I also heard a perverted comment that he decided to repeat to you over and over until he was sure that you heard.
I don't think that Jesus or the clump of hair is very happy about his behavior.

Posted by: laura.r on May 9, 2007 09:26 PM

at some point if people keep alluding to this obscene comment, someone will have to say what it actually was.


OK, I'm going to start looking into how we can get this on The People's Court or Judge Mathis.

Posted by: jason on May 9, 2007 10:17 PM

i like the original better. a lot better.

Posted by: jd on May 10, 2007 04:33 PM

ok, jd, i guess you were trying to be nice...but the new one is my actual present headshot, so...yeah...

Posted by: jessica on May 10, 2007 10:22 PM

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