Post # 1
Our photographer was a friend, if not close, and I like her, but we’re extremely fustrated and we want our photos.
The last time we heard from our photographer was via e-mail on april 23rd, saying she would send our trash-the-dress photos "early next week." When we didn’t get the photos after a couple weeks, we tried e-mailing her from both our e-mails, leaving a voicemail, and even putting a meessages on her facebook profile. There has been no responses thus far. We also sent her a FTP site for her to upload the files, so she wouldn’t have to mail a CD. We only need the raw files, since we can process the files ourselves.
We told her we needed the photos to complete the albums weeks ago. Because of the delay we’ve missed out on some great album coupons and won’t be able to make the albums in time for my mom’s birthday. I sent her an e-mail last week to reiterate to her the problems her lack of responsiveness has caused and asked her to contact either of us this week to understand what the situation was. Of course no response thus far, even though her facebook profile has had activity over the weekend.
I’m not sure what to do next, if she doesn’t respond in the next few days. Should I just go to the BBB? Is there another step we should try first? I’ll take advice from any brides or other photographers out there.
Fyi, she also went MIA for about 3-4 months before our wedding, when we tried to get ahold of her to book her flight and hotel for our wedding. We were concerned, but then she
started responding immediately to our e-mails and started picking up her phone. Usually she never picks up her phone and 95% of the time her voicemail box is full. We had already given her a huge part of her fee so
decided to stick with her. We got our wedding photos already, because we download the files from her
memory cards after our trash the dress shoot.
Post # 3
Did you pay by credit card? If so you can let her know that you are planning to do a charge-back for $X of her fee if you don’t receive your photos by a certain date. Maybe that will spur her into action?
Post # 4
Yeesh. How important is maintaining this friendship? My first inclination would be BBB and threatening small claims court, but that seems drastic for a friend.
Do you have a mutual friend that can verify some terrible circumstance hasn’t befallen her? Or can a mutual friend help to light a fire under her?
I’m guessing she’s too far away for a face-to-face meeting, but if you have a friend in the area, perhaps he/she could talk to the photog? Maybe go to her with a flash drive and just download the pictures on the spot?
Did you sign a contract for the trash the dress photos? Was there a delivery date on there? If so, the BBB or small claims could be an option, but sounds like a lot more trouble and expense that finessing the photos out of her.
Maybe her e-mail inbox is as full as her voicemail?
Perhaps one last e-mail (or perhaps a certified letter that she has to sign for and can’t deny getting in the mail) saying, "I really feel like you painted me into a corner on this. We want the photos we paid for and have been very patient thus far. I’m not sure what is going on with you, but I would like to resolve this without having to resort to something as formal and ugly as small claims court or the BBB. Please don’t let ruin our friendship!"
You don’t just want to come out and threaten her with calling the BBB because you may never hear from her again.
This really sucks! Good luck and let us know how you make out.
Post # 5
Yeah that’s the thing, we didn’t get an official contract from her. We just had all the e-mails which what she said she would provide, etc.
Her camera broke last year, and she needed a new one pretty urgently. Since we trusted her, we sent her her fee without it. *_* Do you think BBB is as bad as small claims court? I was hoping it wouldn’t be.
We don’t have any friends in her area. Also I’d be more worried about her if she wasn’t adding friends on facebook every few days.
Post # 6
Just keep posting public comments on facebook. I doubt she has a professional site and blog? If she does, leave comments on her blog. That would speed up any pro…
To everyone else: Unfortunately, this is what happens when you don’t take wedding photography serious enough and you hand it over to a friend.
You wouldn’t ask your friend who wants to be a surgeon someday to perform open heart surgery on your child. Heck, most people won’t even go to Mexico to get their teeth worked on even though it’s cheaper. Why? Because your teeth are too important to take a chance on just to save some money. Similar idea with your wedding photography. If it’s EXTREMELY important to you then budget for that and pick wisely. If it’s not, do as you wish…
Post # 7
Are you seriously comparing taking a photo to performing open heart surgery? Give me a break. I like a beautiful photograph as much as any other girl but the condescending tone, and ridiculous metaphor would tell me to stay away from using you as a vendor. The whole "Let this be a lesson to all of you, little girls" attitude is incredibly insulting. Ugh.
IAMAL, but I think in most cases those emails would constitute a contract or an agreement. BBB is in some cases a worse option than small claims court because you get to leave negative feedback but there is noone enforcing that you will get your photos and you may alienate her further.
Post # 8
Sorry for coming across condescending… Now that I reread it, I can TOTALLY see how it came across a little harsh. Honestly, not my intention at all 😉
Unfortunately, I’ve known far too many people who go a non-contract route with their wedding photographer friend and something like this happens. I actually feel terrible for people who find out after the fact that there are tips out there that can remedy situations like this before they go bad. It’s just usually not a good idea to go with a friend for wedding photography and then it’s an even worse idea to not have a contract. Sometimes it works out perfectly – but most times it doesn’t 🙁
Either way, I really don’t think I implied condescension such as "you little girls…" or anything like that. Hopefully you believe me;)
As far as comparing surgery to photography, I think you misunderstood where I was drawing my equivalence. It wasn’t that photography and surgery are on a similar skill level 🙂 My brother got a near perfect score on his MCAT’s and my best friend is almost done with med school at UCLA. Believe me, I’m surrounded by the amazing minds that make up doctors. No comparison there 🙂 Where I was comparing was the worth and value of the photographs (not the photographer’s skill vs. the doctors). Most people will run into their burning house to grab old photos so I really don’t think I’m being ridiculous here. 😉
If photography is extremely important to someone – something that you aren’t open to risking – then you only want to entrust that task with the best, that’s all. Now, if it isn’t at that level for some then of course it’s not worth stressing about too much. There are pleanty of people who couldn’t care less if they have disposables at every table – and that’s perfect for them 🙂 Bummer is that I know too many who think photography is extremely important, don’t understand the potential problems of choosing a friend, and then get screwed over after the fact. It happened to my sister (before I was a wedding photographer) for starters. I feel terrible that we didn’t think more about the photography for her wedding.
I hope that clears it up a little bit. Obviously, people can have differing opinions on how much of a priority photography should be – there’s nothing wrong with that – but I hope you see I wasn’t belittling anyone here or calling people "little girls" 🙂
Thanks! Bobby Earle
p.s. posts like this are what get me really sad…
Photography Regrets! Help!