Engagement/Wedding Photographer Dilemma – PLEASE HELP!

posted 3 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 3
Member
260 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

The amount of money you paid is a tell tale factor that you did not hire a professional. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you can do anything legally without a contract. The contract exists to protect both parties in case a situation like this arises. If you had a contract that said it costs $600 to buy the CD and rights to those photos, then you can make a decision on how to spend your money. 

I would ask the photographer nicely if she can just fulfill the original agreement you had, where you get an album for your engagement, and to give you prints of the wedding photos since she can’t buy the original album she was supposed to give you. That way, you get your photos, and they are printed through a high quality print lab. 

The other option would be to pay up the extra $850 she’s asking in order to get what you want, your wedding photos in a CD, and learn the lesson. Since she still has your photos, I would not mention her name here, and I would contact her nicely in your communications. Once you have your photos in your hands, then write your review.

Post # 5
Member
260 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

Having an education on photography unfortunately does not mean being professional. She could be just starting her business, that’s what I meant. There are wedding costs that are universal, like camera equipment, advertising costs, website development, insurance, etc. These don’t change depending on the state you live in. Also, a professional with an established business is paying taxes including a self-employment tax which in total eats up about 30% of what we are charging. It’s not feasible to make a living on what she’s charging you. But the other reason I thought she was not a professional is the lack of contract. An established photographer will have a contract, to protect him/herself, and the client. If they don’t have a contract, they don’t know what they are doing.

Just be firm but not mean, until you get what you want.

Post # 6
Member
550 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

“dear photographer,

I sincerely regret that we do not have a more formal contract, but I do have the piece of paper you gave us saying what would be provided in addition to having saved all of our email communication. My expectation is that you will give us what you said you would…at the price you said you would. If you do not want to spend additional money to give us an album with all the images (per your provided statement), I will be happy with a disc of full-res images with personal use rights. I would welcome your recommendations for printing so that we will both be happy with the quality received. If you still will not release the images without an additional fee, then I suggest you find a new album supplier so that you can hold up our original agreement. I expect that you can take care of this in a timely manner (within a couple of weeks), and I appreciate your efforts.

–mpoley” 

Post # 7
Member
1634 posts
Bumble bee

I would send an email similar to @cateyes:. You have something from her stating what was included, and its up to her to find a solution when one of her supplliers doesnt come through. I think the price you paid is fine if it’s similar to others in your area. Some people just arent professionals no matter what they charge! Give her a few options (Find another supplier or give the engagement album & wedding prints). You should only have to pay for extras if you asked for extras.

I think the $600 for photo rights isnt outrageous, especially when there’s likely at least double the photos of your wedding as there whould be for an archetectural shoot that she’d charge $300 for the rights to (if I read that correctly). I’d be tempted to pay that, but insist on the album you were promised at no extra charge.

Post # 10
Member
550 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

I would also ask what kind of album she’s talking about…if she’s printing everything, is this an art book, or is it a proof book with a thumbnail of every image?

Post # 11
Member
4896 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mpoley2214:  Unfortunately, graduating from the Hallmark School of Photography doesn’t promise a professional. 🙁 Usually the first red flag is price. You mentioned paying $2,000 – but without know everthing that is included, it’s hard to tell. 2k is usuually a bare minimum price (like 4 hours, 1 photographer, digital files — no engagement, albums, etc)…so while 2k seems like a lot in reality for a professional it’s not. The next biggest flag is no contract. No wedding vendor, right on down to the cake person, works without a contract. Sadly, without a contract you really have no legal recourse. I personally would not even push the issue for an album – at that price point it’s most likely not going to be a quality album. I would focus more on what it will take to just get your digital files. It’s really going to boil down to had much you want to fight her on it. If you can find it in your budget to purchase the files, I would do so and wash my hands of her. I know it’s an exepsnive lesson to learn, but I would chalk it up to a mistake on both parts (her not having a contract, and you not asking for one) and leave a review accordingly that outlines how you feel. 

Post # 13
Member
4896 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mpoley2214:  Honestly, I highly doubt it about her publisher as to why she needs to charge more for extra books. It sounds like it’s a proof book, becuase she says she can’t fit all the images in? Basically, it’s a spiral bound book w/ the images printed as thumbnails on each page. You can go as small as 16 images to a page up to 4 images to a page. 4 images makes them larger. Most likely, she’s come realize (probably after booking a lot of weddings at that rate and including the “album”) that she can’t afford to include a book at that price and is now telling you it’ll cost more money for “extra books”. Sounds to me like she’s marking them up to cover costs. True professional albums are expensive, several hundred dollars at *my cost* as a pro photographer, so that’s why there is some question on her package pricing.

FWIW, it’s not the price that is a red flag – but more what you get for the price that makes it the red flag. There is nothing wrong with a 2k package, it just usually includes limited time and only digital files (if even that) – becuase it’s the products (like albums) that cost so much money. I personally would NOT pay that extra money for whatever kind of album she’s offering because even at those prices it’s not going to be a quality album.

If in fact it is a case of a change in product from the supplier, that’s on her. Part of doing business, is marking up your product enough that you can cover when things like that happen. Just this year my album company stopped producing the album I normally provide and replaced it with a different one and it’s also more expensive. Unfortunately, there are several weddings I have to “eat the cost” on because they were booked with the old album as par of the package. That’s just part of doing business and is not my client’s problem. 

Here’s what I would do : I would tell her that in leu of any albums, you want the digital files from both your engagement session and wedding. If she says no, I’d send this:

Dear Photographer,

It should not be in any way our fault that your supplier has changed their product. This is something that should be factored into your cost of doing business, passing your hiccup onto us is unacceptable. We have no interest in paying any additional money to recieve the product promised to us prior to booking, and what is outlined in all of our email corespondance. You have delayed every request to provide us with the album from our engagement session, which we have already paid you for. I would prefer to settle this matter between us, without the need for lawyers or negative reviews, but the ball is now in your court. If we do not recieve either a) the product promised to us prior to booking (and outlined in our emails), or b) all the digital files from both our wedding and engagement, we will proceed with legal action and make sure to leave the approriate reviews wherever possible.

 

I’m gonna be honest – I’m not one to jump on the lawsuit bandwagon. I think it’s absolutely a last resort and if we’re being real, the court costs for small claims court would probably be more than just paying her the $600 for a disk and washing your hands of the woman. However, as a professional photographer it CHAPS me to see people running their business like this (and giving true professionals a bad name). Trust me, you are not the only bride who has no clue about what is normal for booking vendors (contracts, etc) and vendors like this do nothing to help educate brides on how important hiring professionals, who conduct their business in the right way, is.

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