There were two things wrong with this:
1. Conjunctivitis is very contagious. Why would I want to be exposed to it, and then risk passing it on to my family, friends and colleagues?
2. While my Photoshop skills are OK, I'm not a magician.
I told the mum we'd need to wait until the problem had cleared and gave my reasons. After a bit of, 'But can't you just fix it? It's OK if you can't get rid of all of it as long as most of it doesn't show', I made it clear the shoot couldn't go ahead until the problem was fixed. I didn't hear from her again, however, a friend later told me she'd had the shoot done by someone else and hadn't liked the photos because the photographer hadn't been able to fix the red, crusty eyes.
This incident has inspired my list of things to consider before a photo shoot:
- Conjunctivitis - I cannot fix red, crusty eyes.
- Ear wax - yellow/brown ear wax in profile shots looks ickety!
- Cold or flu - no child is going to be cheerful and on their best behaviour if they're feeling miserable. And I'm not always able to effectively remove mucus from a child's nose or face, or fix a crusty, red nose.
- Tiredness - if your child has not had a good night's sleep, or has been unwell, they will rarely produce good images.
- Teeth - while I don't require my subjects to smile in every shot, it's great if I can get some smiles. Teeth and gums should be clean and not discoloured by cordial or lollies or similar.
- Hair - no one likes to look at photos of people with oily, unkempt hair.
- Clothes - these should be clean, stain-free, and in a good state of repair (eg. without holes, or bits of cotton hanging off them). Any of these can be distracting in the final image.
I'm always happy to reschedule a shoot should your child be unwell or suffering any of the above.
And, since you're probably wondering why I've only listed seven tips above, here's one more, this time for adutls (usually females): don't discolour yourself. This can be in the form of foundation on your face and/or fake tan all over your body (often a weird and unnatural shade of orange). Both of these forms of makeup are accentuated in the final, colour images and usually look ghastly.
I think this list is reasonable. Do you?