- 4 years ago
While I have followed many posts on Weddingbee and gathered tones of amazing ideas and advice for our recent wedding, this is actually my first post! Unfortunately it is not a good one 🙁 I NEED YOUR HELP! There are actually a few issues, read below for full details:
We decided on an engagement/wedding photographer in the summer of 2012. We had looked into a couple, but nothing more than checking out their work. This was the first photographer we actually had a sit-down conversation with. We had our engagement photos done in October of 2012 and we were married August 24, 2013. We have no contract at all, since this was the first photographer we started looking at in depth and being newbies we didn’t really know it was typical to have a contract with a photographer. This photographer went to the Hallmark School of Photography, had an outstanding portfolio, and a great personality. We trusted in her, since she was supposed to be the professional; that however she handled things was how it was typically done in the photography world. All we received from her was a sheet outlining how many photos we would get for a certain price. The sheet also said we would get a complementary album with all of our photos (one for the engagement session and one for the wedding). There was also information on pricing for some extras (canvas prints and the like) if we wanted. One side of the sheet was dedicated to the engagement and the other to the wedding. She had also said there were a number of other things she could do for us with the photos, like invitations and save the dates.
After our engagement session I asked when we would receive our disc and she said she typically posts all the engagement photos online so doesn’t send a disc. That was fine by us since we’d have access to them. She did post the engagement photos online; however, it is February 18th, 2014 and not only do we still not have our wedding album, but we do not even have our ENGAGEMENT ALBUM FROM OVER A YEAR AGO! We paid her in full for the engagement session in the Fall of 2012 (after the shoot) and we paid her in full for the wedding the day of the wedding (per her request). Every time we asked about the engagement album she kept pushing it off saying “she needed full payment in order to order (which we gave her immediately upon request), she wanted to hand deliver the album, she was going to wait and give it to us at our wedding,” and now “I’ll give it to you when I give you your wedding album”. We also had our Save the Dates done by her using some of our engagement photos, which were late getting sent out because she kept pushing those off as well. But, like I said, we have no contract stating when we should have had these pictures by. At the time we did not even think of issues that could arise with a photographer, since she seemed so on top of things to begin with. We also kind of let the engagement stuff slide because we were so preoccupied with planning a wedding so we didn’t think much of it. Plus, we figured weddings were her top priority so they would be handled differently. Is it okay for her to have taken this long to get pictures to us? Can we do anything legally without having a contract?
She is now telling us if we want to see all the pictures we have to purchase additional albums. She is asking for $250 from us for an extra album since her publisher changed how many pages are in the albums and she now can’t fit all of our pictures in the one album she had originally told us we were getting with all of our pictures in it. She is claiming that she is actually giving us more pictures than she originally told us, so with that on top of the change with her publisher she will have to put the photos in three albums (which seems a little RIDICLOUS to me, THREE ALBUMS?! What are they 20 pages each?!). However, with the numbers she gave us it seems she would need the third album just to get the base number of pictures in anyway, but she says that would leave a lot of room so she wants to put the extras and she was going to do it at no charge until realizing her publisher changed. Still doesn’t make since as to why I have to pay then if she still has to use a third album? Anyway- we were going to say don’t purchase the extra album then, since that $250 was not in our photography budget, and we would just view the pictures electronically. However, she informed us she does not post all of the wedding pictures online (like she did with the engagement) and she is not giving us a disc or any electronic means to our files. She is worried that we will use poor quality printers to print the photos and does not want her name ruined (like she is not already ruining it with how she handles her business). This brought up another issue, as most things these days are done electronically and if we do not have our pictures in disc format how are we supposed to share with friends and family who could not make it to the wedding? How can we post to blogs or order thanks you cards or holiday cards with those pictures on them? Again, we have no contract so there is nothing outlining who has the rights to the photos, as we were not aware that that is something we needed. It was after realizing she was not giving us a disc that we started doing research and found you usually negotiate a contract outlining such details. We just assumed that since we were paying here $1600-$2000 we would actually be getting pictures since that’s typically what you hire a photographer for.
When she was going to shoot architectural pictures for my company (something that was talked about after our wedding and after we discovered her feelings of us not being entitled to a disc) she gave a sheet to me with some options to give to my company and one option was buying the rights for $300 (something that was not even mentioned while we were working with her for the engagement/wedding). Because we have been putting up a fight ever since discovering we do not get a disc and then seeing she is willing to give rights away for other photos, she is now willing to put the pictures on a disc and give us the rights, but is going to charge us an additional $600. Is this absurd to ask of us when she didn’t even present us with a contract outlining that we would not own the rights and would have to pay additional to get them? Can she legally charge us $600 for the rights on top of the money we have already given her? If it is, in fact, okay for her to charge us for the rights even though we were not aware we would have to pay extra does she have the right to charge this much when we have a sheet stating that for something else she was only going to charge $300?
OVERALL: Is it okay for her to add another $850 to her price for rights that were not legally outlined in a contract of any sort and for an additional album when it isn’t our fault her publisher changed what they offer? In hind sight we wish we did research on this before-hand, but had no idea that when we hired a photographer to take our wedding photos we would not, in fact, have current technology to share those photos and that we would have to pay even more to just see them in hard copy album format. Does she have the rights to our wedding photos? Can we fight her on this legally?
Also, a side note, can she be posting them on her website and Facebook pages without a signed consent form from us?
I am also going to post this to the legal board to hopefully get more input. Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated! Thank you!