(Closed) Photographer totally broke our contract… What to do?

posted 10 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 17
Member
2017 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

I agree with VMEC and some of the others:  you waited too long and as far as I can read in your post, you never explicitly asked for any remedy or partial refund from him.  Even if the statute of limitations has not passed, any judge will ask you why you waited so long to bring a lawsuit, so the fact that a year has passed will hurt you.

I hate to say it, but live and learn.  And you did get some of what you paid for, including some pics you were very happy with.

Post # 18
Member
393 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

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@Aubergold: Why lose money on something like that with court costs? It sounds like this photographer “threw in” a second shooter, that it wasn’t outlined in the contract that a second shooter at a rate of ___ per hour for ___ hours. Photographers pay second shooters maybe $20-$40 an hour or a flat rate of $200-$400 depending on the location/experience of the second shooter. You might pay that much in court costs and get a fraction of it back, but would likely lose. The first question that will be asked is why it took a year to take action. ESPECIALLY because the client asked about the second shooter after the wedding, the photographer gave her an answer, and the client didn’t follow up on that or ask anything further about the issue. In any business person’s mind, the case is closed at that point and there are no further issues, and I imagine that’s what a judge would take away from the situation too.

Post # 19
Member
1403 posts
Bumble bee

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@BeeM:  As an aside to back up the other post regarding a photographers salary in the northeast….in NJ, the going rate for a second shooter is around 500ish/day.

Post # 20
Member
5294 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 1993

The photographer we selected promised a second shooter, and our contract specified this.

I would ask him about this – obviously you do feel that the quality of your pictures suffered as you don’t have photos of things you wanted. If he refuses to do anything and you don’t wish to pursue legal action, politely say that you will be mentioning his breach of contract in all of your reviews. After reading the thread about how much photogs spend of their money on advertising and promoting their business, I would think he would want to rectify that.

I really, really sympathize – I had to deal with the runaround from my photog afterward and it really sucks because you don’t always know what you are entitled to.

Post # 21
Member
1403 posts
Bumble bee

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@hisgoosiegirl:  Again, was this black and white and explicitly in the contract and his advertised package, or did he say “I will most likely bring a second at no charge for you”

Post # 22
Member
3041 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

What do you feel would make things right? Would it be a refund? A photo shoot? Advanced editing? An album? Honesty, I think its been too long to expect money back but you never know. Do you still have a copy of the email you sent him that you didn’t get a response from? & how long ago did you email him?

Your first issue: What does your contract say/ the exact wording for the second shooter?

Your second issue: IMO, you don’t really have a case here since you told him he could leave early. Now, if he just left at 8 without asking, that would be different. If you wanted him to stay, you should have said so. Maybe he thought things were winding down & you didn’t need him to capture anything else. What time did your wedding start? Its too late to change this now, but in the future, you need to let people know what you’re wanting.

Also, I’m sorry this happened to you! I’m sure if it happened to you, it happened to others… is this photographer still in business?

Post # 23
Member
5294 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 1993

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@USER876: The photographer we selected promised a second shooter, and our contract specified this.
 I emailed him asking about this, and his response was that he had decided that he “worked better without a second photographer.” Okay, well that’s great for you, but our contract says we were supposed to have it!

Although the OP hasn’t given us the exact wording, that sounds a little more specific than “I will most likely bring a second at no charge for you”

Regardless, the fact that he failed to tell her he would no longer be bringing a second photographer sounds like poor business etiquette to me.

 

Post # 25
Member
3135 posts
Sugar bee

View original reply
@vmec:

So beautifully put!

OP: I hope it works out for you!!

Post # 27
Member
1144 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Even if you didn’t wait too long you agreed to let him go home. If you were worried about not geting enough/good enough pictures (which you may have gotten with a second shooter) you would have told him “No” I would like you to stay.

Post # 28
Member
1277 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

I would proceed with breach of contract, bear in mind that the burden of proof would fall on you…also keep in mind that you allowed him to leave early therefore negating that part of the contract so you can only really collect on the failure to have 2nd photographer there.  You do not qualify for emotional distress…since his breach of contract was not gross negligence, since his misconduct was unprofessional not gross negligence. (Sorry for all of the legal jargon taking a couple of Paralegal courses this semester)…You would need to file a file in Small Claims court to collect on that portion of the contract I believe….but I would still attempt to collect a refund prior to going this route since the  court would want to see a proactive move on your part…and you never know you could have give you a refund or a free re shoot for something else.

 

Post # 29
Member
1403 posts
Bumble bee

I think the only thing you can pick on is second shooter that he didn’t supply or refund you for.  Does his terms and conditions cover this?????  Just say you wish you had those varioius vantage points that were explained to you when you booked and feel you don’t have them

Post # 30
Member
2190 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

You wait too long. 

Post # 31
Member
706 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I don’t see why everyone is saying you waited too long and assuming that your first step would be to take your photographer to court. I can understand that there’s been some back and forth between you and the photographer and you (understandably) probably did not want to raise a fuss over the photos while he was still gathering/editing them.

I would definitely recommend attempting to resolve the issue with the photographer before considering court, since the legal fees may negate the potential financial gain of a case (even if you do win). You may want to meet with a small claims lawyer though, just to get an idea. I do, however, absolutely disagree that just because you waited for a few months after you received the photos to raise the issue, you have waited too long to request compensation. You have rights in this situation and deserve to at least make this photographer aware that simply not providing something that he promised, on a whim, is unprofessional and will not fly. I’m guessing that his second shooter probably cancelled at the last minute (or there was a falling out, or something), but you should not be responsible for that and he should’ve informed you of whatever happened.

Absolutely email or call him with a clear idea of the type of compensation you have in mind–would you like another photo shoot? Or would you like to ask him for a refund of the market rate for a second shooter? Get a good sense of that before you proceed, because you may have to do some negotiating. Do some homework on what second shooters are generally paid, as well as the value of what they would’ve added to your wedding photos. You can’t fault your photographer for you giving him permission to leave early and for you failing to give him a list of specific shots that you wanted (but did not get), so leave any mention of those things out of the conversation entirely. The only thing you should discuss with him, IMO, is the breach of contract.

I think that when you contact him, you should say something like “after some deliberation, my husband and I have decided that not providing a second shooter (as promised in the contract) was a breach of contract and the manner in which you communicated this to us (not informing is in advance and brushing off our concerns regarding said breach of contract) was highly unprofessional. We appreciate the work you put into our photos, but a large part of the reason that we selected you as a photographer was because you explicitly promised a second shooter to capture moments that you alone could not capture. We feel that our photos as a whole suffered because of the lack of a second shooter, and because of this are requesting a (refund/session/fill in the blank here). Again, we do feel like you are a talented photographer but do not feel that this situation was handled well and would like to put the ball in your court regarding this breach of contract before we explore alternative actions. Thank you for your time.”

That is polite, direct, and–perhaps most importantly–firm. You don’t want to give him an opportunity to brush you off again, which he WILL do unless you make it clear that 1) you recognize this as a breach of contract, 2) give him a clear idea of what you want from him to make the situation right, and 3) you make it clear that you are prepared to take other action against him if he does not try to rectify the situation in some way.

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