Here are a few hypothetical examples:
1] "Production started on 13 April 2015. Rigorous QC testing is being conducted on the first batch of 10 machines, and we expect to begin shipping machines to customers by 11 May 2015."
2] "We hope to commence production by 18 May 2015, and we are targeting to have the first 50 machines shipped by 30 June 2015."
3] "We had hoped to commence production by now, but we are still trying to correct some mechanical problems with the rug mechanism, as well as iron out some reliability issues identified during extensive play testing on one of the prototype machines at the Texas Pinball Festival. Hopefully, the production line will start rolling by 15 June 2015, but it is of paramount importance to us to address these issues now before shipping machines to our customers."
4] "We are awaiting parts shipments now. Admittedly, cash flow is tight, but we are working with our bank, ABN AMRO, on a 1.0 million EUR (€) line of credit to finance the first phase of the manufacturing process. All financial due diligence by the bank has been completed, and we are currently in the final stages of document review by counsel. We expect to close the bank loan by 1 May 2015, which will help ensure that we can start production in earnest by the end of the 2nd quarter (30 June 2015)."
Not one of those messages contains photos, but they each clearly communicate an expected production timeline that would help manage customer expectations. And regardless of whether the statements are "positive" or "negative", each one conveys a message with greater transparency than has been communicated to date.
Like Aurich has said many times before, just tell it like it is. Customers are very forgiving and understanding if they believe that you are being honest and transparent in your communications.