Post # 1
Lurker bee here looking for some advice. Sorry for the long story in advance! I booked a photographer in January that I had known through work for several years to do my wedding in August. I worked at Wal-Mart for 4 years and he came in to print photos all the time. It has been about 3 years since I worked there but I always thought he was very nice, and have heard great things about him.
I called him to see if he was available on my date, and he was. He was very vague on the phone as to what was included in the packages, as well as exactly how much it cost, just gave me a starting price. He said that I needed to bring in a check to hold my date because he was filling up fast, so I agreed to bring one the next day before I worked at noon. I went to what I guess is his home/studio and his wife made me stand out on the porch in the freezing cold to write my check and then went straight back inside. I contacted him again and asked about a contract and he said he would mail me one. I received a list of photos to choose from and an envelope. I mailed it back to him with a letter asking him about package details and the actual cost, as well as when payment was expected. I waited 2 weeks and then attempted to email him and call, and have heard nothing as of today, a week later.
I was referred by a friend to a lovely photographer and have been speaking with her. She is super friendly, her work is beautiful, and she is clear about what is expected and included. Best of all she is the same price as the other guy’s starting price and includes edited photos with release. I want to book her to do our engagement photos and wedding but my fiance said to give the guy a while longer to respond because he doesn’t want to lose our deposit. But if this is how he is professionally, I don’t want to rely on him at our wedding. I am thinking of writing a letter to him telling him we no longer need his services, and including a copy of my contact attemps.
SO, should I just go ahead and book her, or would you give him more time? And would you ask for your date deposit back from him or just count it as a loss?
Thanks a million to anyone who reads all this and responds!
Post # 3
EEK! That first guy scares me. I would be so afraid of losing my money, or having him just up the price last minute with no contract, or not even showing up.
I would 100% go with the second person. Try to get your deposit back, of course. It never hurts to try. Was it a large deposit? I think that even if you can’t get it back, it’s just the price you have to pay to have reliability and peace of mind.
Post # 4
I’d say yes, you should book the new photographer. The guy sounds a little shady. If he hasn’t responded to you in 3 weeks or given you a contract, imagine how hard it’ll be to get your actual pictures! Most likely, you won’t be able to get your deposit back, but you could at least try!
Post # 5
ejay15 that’s exactly what I said, that he was acting shady. It wasnt a terrible lot, but we are hard working students and a couple hundred IS a lot to us right now. Ya know? Thank you guys for confirming my feelings. I am definitely going to book her today.
Post # 6
Cancel for sure!! a couple hundred is a lot but it isnt worth the bad experience that you will remember forever!
Post # 7
Maybe you can get him to do a couple hundred dollar engagement picture type shoot….? Since you haven’t signed the contract yet, it might be an option and at least you’d (eventually, if he isn’t real speedy!) have something to show for it!
Post # 8
Did you get a receipt for the deposit? As long as you have that, you are entitled to either your money back or his services for that amount.
Post # 9
I’d go with the 2nd photographer in a heartbeat. The first one just doesn’t sound at ALL professional!
Post # 10
I would be concerned with the fact that you gave him money before you signed a contract…
It sounds like you gave him money without knowing what you were giving him money for, technically. Not to scare you, but this could go very badly.
Post # 11
I would go with the second photographer. I am a photographer. I never ask anyone for money with out drawing up a contract. I usually like to meet them too if possible with my second shooter, so that we are all comfortable with one another. Do not feel bad. Ask for a refund and see what happens. A lot of times though, the retainer is non-refundable unless it is stated otherwise, and since you do not have a contract…. It is better not to have to deal with that type of unprofessionalism, and a few hundred dollars (depending upon your situation) is a cheap lesson learned.
I say this to everyone: demand professionalism, ask all of your questions up front, get firm pricing and expectations, get a contract, money should be the last thing that happens. Non-refundable deposits are standard, but if you have done all of your homework, then you will be confident and comfortable before a single penny changes hands.
Take care everyone.
Post # 12
It has been a while since my Contract Law classes, but I think you should be entitled to you deposit back from a legal perspective, your photographer has not provided you with anything of value in exchange for your check and there is no contract. I’d demand your deposit back, in writing, referencing the fact that you have no contract and that he has provided no services. Hopefully you’ll get it back, but if not I’d threaten small claims court.
I’m sure you’ve learned it already, but in the future never give money without a signed contract. Good luck!
Post # 13
I would definitely book the new photographer! I would try to get my money back from the first photographer as well. If he refuses to give the money back maybe you can still use him on a different day.
Post # 14
I hate to say it, but it sounds like you got scammed. He created a false since of urgency for you to give him a deposit because “he was filling up fast”. In turn you gave him a check for services you know nothing about, he gave you no packages, no information, no pricing… and most importantly no contract. And on top of it, now he is non responsive and still hasn’t given you a contract to sign. I would DEFINITELY go with a new photographer, and sit down and talk with them first and make sure you sign a contract before you give the new photographer money.
As for the old photographer, you can try to get your deposit back, but without a contract its going to be hard to argue what you gave him the money for. Hopefully you have kept all written correspondence between you and him, you will need it. First I would talk to him directly (in person if possible) and as for your deposit back. Since there was no contract, he can not argue that the deposit is “non-refundable” since the terms were never set forth in writing. If he refuses, I would see about sending him a certified letter from an attourney requesting the money be returned. If all else fails, you can attempt small claims court. I hope things work out and you get your money back, but in all honesty, given the situation, I would not say that it is likely.
Post # 15
“It has been a while since my Contract Law classes, but I think you should be entitled to you deposit back from a legal perspective, your photographer has not provided you with anything of value in exchange for your check and there is no contract. I’d demand your deposit back, in writing, referencing the fact that you have no contract and that he has provided no services.”
I’m a photographer as well, and there is no way I’d take a retainer without a signed contract in place. I think you may be well within your rights to get the retainer back since there is absolutely no reason he should have it. However, whether or not you are successful (even if the law is on your side) is another story. Definitely run like hell away from Photographer #1, and consider any lost deposit money a small price to pay for finding out in advance that he’s totally shady.
Post # 16
I know, I know, I shoudn’t have given him money without a contract. All my other vendors have provided contracts up front, I guess I just figured I could trust him since I had worked with him 3-4 times a month for several years. I spoke with the 2nd photographer and she is working on my contract now. I am going to send him a letter asking for my deposit back as well as copies of my attempted contact. But like many of you have said, I am not going to plan on ever seeing it back and am going to chalk it up to a lesson learned. Don’t trust anyone, even if you think you know them. Thanks to everyone for the advice!