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Photographer disappointment...needing some advice, please?

Hey Knotties.  I'm having an issue with my photographer and am hoping some of you can shed some light on the situation.

I posted back in December about my photographer cashing my check but not getting my copy of the contract to me for a month- despite me contacting her several times.  She said she couldn't figure out her scanner.  Here's the post.

In January, I received the contract and figured I'd cut her some slack because of the holidays.  My engagement photos were to be taken in March, and she said she'd call me with dates.  By beginning to mid-March, I still hadn't heard from her, so I started contacting her.  She took awhile to respond- as in close to a week- when I reached out to her again, she was quite snarky with me and explained that she DID have other stuff to do, and hadn't been feeling well.  I shrugged it off, but thought that the attitude was unwarranted. 

When we finally did schedule a day for the photos, her and I bounced a few ideas off of each other for the shoot (it was a lifestyle engagement shoot at our home), which was nice.  But after responding to one of her emails and asking some more questions, she stopped responding.  I hadn't heard from her, so one week before we were scheduled to shoot, I emailed her to confirm that we were still on.  She then tells me that she has been meaning to cancel and reschedule to shoot with me.  She proceeded to send me 5 emails detailing how it was her husband's birthday, and both her and her child had spring break the same week so they wanted to go to Texas to celebrate; plus her MIL was having surgery; plus they never get to see her Texas family.  She asked me to reschedule the shoot. Unfortunately, I told her that wasn't really possible because my engagement ring needed to be remade (because of an error by the jeweler) and I had extended keeping the ring several weeks in order to have one for our photos.  She said that that was okay, but requested to at least have the photos in the am so that she could drive to Texas that night and meet her husband and child, who were driving out that Saturday.  We agreed.  (Though, I was frustrated by the fact that she only notified me she needed to reschedule AFTER I had contacted her; how long would she have waited to contact us, had I not emailed her that Sunday?)

Flash forward to the day of the shoot- 15 minutes after she was supposed to have arrived, there was still no sign of her.  I happened to check my email, and saw that she had sent me an email saying that she slept through her alarm.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem (though it was rude of her not to call/text), however, she had told us that she needed to leave at a certain time because she was meeting a friend for a photoshoot (apparently she was postponing her TX trip?); by being late, she was cutting our time short.  This was frustrating to us, but we figured we'd try to make the best of it.  ((On a side note, when she did arrive, it was her husband who dropped her off (and picked her up), which made us wonder if the entire Texas/sick MIL/spring break issue was not true....but we didn't say anything))

During the shoot, she was not very helpful with poses or giving us guidance/direction.  Neither one of us has had professional photos taken and, though I had tried practicing beforehand, we both were at a loss with it.  Actually, rather than help us pose and give us direction, she kept asking what we wanted to do/pose/etc.  It was just not something I was expecting from a professional photographer.

When she left the shoot, she said that she would call to schedule another shoot we had agreed upon, and also told us that our sneak peek woudn't be available for a few days because of the Texas trip, which we understood.  However, that night the sneak peeks were posted on her Facebook page, without our permission. 

At first glance, the photos looked good- at least some of them, but after looking at them further, I noticed a lot of imperfections & blemishes; the photos didn't appear to be edited.  (When I hired her, I have email documentation of me asking her her editing policy and her assuring me that she NEVER releases photos without being edited).  When looked at other photos on her site, they all appeared edited, without blemishes or imperfections, so I was confused as to why mine weren't fixed.  I figured I'd wait until we received the rest of the photos to decide on their quality.

Well, as per the way she appears to operate, at almost one month after our photo session, we still hadn't received any photos or any word from her at all.  By this time, I had hired a wedding planner to help me since I had just started a new job.  When the planner saw the sneak peek photos, they were unimpressed by them and agreed that they needed to be edited.  On my behalf, the planner contacted the photographer, asking about the editing, whether the rest of the photos would be sent to us, and what was going on with our other shoot.  The photographer refused to reply to the planner, and instead, sent me an email saying she would only speak with me because I was on the contract. 

She also sent me the rest of the photos, but there were only 54 of them- and 23 of them were the sneak peek photos.  Additionally, they were all unedited, and poorly posed.  Many of the photos are pictures of us looking the awkwardly, or other way, or in mid-movement during the photo (like repositioning ourselves).  And my engagement ring is only shown in one photo.

I am upset by her lack of professionalism, as well as the poor quality of the photos.  She is appalled that we are disppointed in the photos, and still refuses to speak to the wedding planner.  We are trying to decide what to do about this.  We are just short of 6 months from our wedding, so finding another (quality) photographer will be difficult in our area.  I'm torn because I see some of the work she's done, and its great.  However, our experiences with her have been increasingly bad.  I absolutely do not want to have poor wedding photos, but I'm worried I won't be able to find someone else.  Not to mention the lost deposit to her- plus the extra $250 that she wants to charge us for the engagement photos that she's already taken. 

I'm sorry this was so long, but does anyone have any advice?  I've been putting off posting about this because I knew how long it would be, and I was hoping the situation would get better.

Thanks in advance, ladies.

Re: Photographer disappointment...needing some advice, please?

  • At this point is there any way for you to get out of the contract and find a new photographer?  I know it may be a crunch and you'll lose some money but in the end I feel like the added stress and potential for not having your photos turn out the way you want them to is going to cause some major headaches that you do not need.

    Also, don't feel bad about your engagement ring only being in one photo.  I forgot to wear mine the day we got our photos done!  It was a Sunday and I normally don't wear any jewelry on Sundays, plus we were running late, plus we were dressed as zombies so engagement ring was not on my mind, lol.
    edenisle
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    I'm sorry I told you to cut her some slack, I would not have expect this and had you come back in March In would have given new advice.

    How much of a deposit are we talking about?

    I would ask my wedding planner to look into finding a new photog. You might be able to get a discount because of the timing - if they aren't booked by now, they probably won't get booked. Some vendors offer last minute pricing. 

    Her unwillingness to talk to the wedding planner is very unprofessional. Any vendors working int he wedding arena should know they will have to work with wedding planners as needed. 

    I'd lose my deposit. I would return the epics disc, break the contract and not pay her any more money. Did you sign anything stating you would pay $250 for the epics?
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • @BlinkyDink16 Thank you for the advice- that's where I'm leaning towards too.

    @Photokitty Not your fault!  Giving her the benefit of the doubt was the right thing to do, I think.  I just can't believe how this has turned out. 

    The deposit was $250.  She did not even give me a hard copy of any of the epics- they were all sent via dropbox! :(

    In fine print, it says that if the contract is broken after one of the photo sessions, the another $250 will be charged.  But since I'm not happy with most of them, I wonder if that would make a difference?  There are a few that turned out good, but I'm worried that my wedding photos will turn out like that too...one or two good ones, and the rest unacceptable. 

    That's how I felt about the wedding planning thing too!  Are wedding planners even on contracts usually?  They are just another vendor, so why would they be on the contract, unless just to address that they will be included in the planning?  Not sure how, but she's committed to riding that sinking ship. 

    A few of the photogs they suggested are already taken.  Hoping to just feel out some other photographers and see if they are even available while I am figuring all of this out.  So frustrating!  But the photos are the one thing I am willing to pay extra for to be perfect.

    Thanks for your advice!
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    edenisle said:

    @BlinkyDink16 Thank you for the advice- that's where I'm leaning towards too.

    @Photokitty Not your fault!  Giving her the benefit of the doubt was the right thing to do, I think.  I just can't believe how this has turned out. 

    The deposit was $250.  She did not even give me a hard copy of any of the epics- they were all sent via dropbox! :(

    In fine print, it says that if the contract is broken after one of the photo sessions, the another $250 will be charged.  But since I'm not happy with most of them, I wonder if that would make a difference?  There are a few that turned out good, but I'm worried that my wedding photos will turn out like that too...one or two good ones, and the rest unacceptable. 

    That's how I felt about the wedding planning thing too!  Are wedding planners even on contracts usually?  They are just another vendor, so why would they be on the contract, unless just to address that they will be included in the planning?  Not sure how, but she's committed to riding that sinking ship. 

    A few of the photogs they suggested are already taken.  Hoping to just feel out some other photographers and see if they are even available while I am figuring all of this out.  So frustrating!  But the photos are the one thing I am willing to pay extra for to be perfect.

    Thanks for your advice!

    I would rather lose $500 than risk it with her. However if she has only given proofs I would think you could get away with only losing your deposit. Make it clear you are unhappy with the images, that you do not want them and you want to break the contract. Refuse delivery of the images and do not pay any more money. You could consult an attorney, but I'd be surprised if she opted to take you to small claims court over the $250. Make sure you email her that you want to break the contract and specifics on why you are unhappy with the quality of the images. If she refuses to break the contract without the additional $250 demand a reshoot. Her un-professionalism would be a factor in court. Document the timing of all her correspondence and when she showed up late. Detail this in your email as reasons for wanting to break the contract. Also sight her delay in getting you a copy of the contract - assuming she ever did.

    GL!!
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • Where there's smoke, there's fire. If this is how she's being for your engagement photos, imagine what she could screw up on your actual wedding day. 

    I have cried many tears over my wedding photos. I was dumb and let a friend do it... No contract, no money. She screwed me over royally. I have lots of photos from my wedding, but they were badly done and she clearly over-exaggerated her abilities.

    I had doubts about her before the wedding, but I ignored them because I didn't think I'd be able to find another photographer so last minute. I wish I had tried.

    Trust your gut... Don't live in the same regret that I am currently living in.  :( 
  • Oh my gosh, @quirkybride15 I am so so sorry to hear that!  That is awful and is exactly what I am afraid of.  Thank you for sharing.  I have started contacting other photographers.  Unfortunately, the ones I've contacted so far are unavailable.  Starting to get scared. :(

    @photokitty thank you!  I agree, I should be able to fight it.  She didn't even really give us proofs.  Just photos uploaded to dropbox online.  I'm in the process of reaching out to other photographers to just get an idea of availability, etc.  Thank you for your advice!  I will keep you updated.
  • @edenisle Have you contacted the owners of your venue? Often they will have relationships with photographers who frequently shoot at their venue. Mine knew of someone, but I didn't think to ask her about it until it was too late. 
  • Sounds like a photographer that isnt really a professional and doesnt really know what they are doing. Very unprofessional conduct so far. I tend to side with photographers on these things but with lack of appropriate communication and the apparent bad quality of the images I would be leary of having her photograph the wedding. There is no do overs then.
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    2500 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Firstly, Screenshot EVERYTHING she has posted online with regards to you and a few examples of posts around the same time. Also, download everything out of dropbox and put it on your own computer. Pull ALL your emails, your WP's emails, and phone records you have documenting her lack of communication. 

    Read through your contract line by line and highlight specific examples where she broke the contract. Also read through your emails to show your agreements.

    You could very easily argue breach of contract if she tried to get the additional money from you. I would outline dispassionately exactly how she has broken the contract. If you have any lawyer friends, ask if they can help you draft it. 

     Dear XXX
    Due to the lack of communication and breaches of agreements and contracts, and failure to provide agreed services on your part, it is apparent that this commercial agreement to supply services to photograph the wedding on X date is terminated.

    The following agreements and terms of contracts have been broken by you:

    1.) Not showing up on time and not making that paid for time up or refunding the portion of the shoot. We agreed and paid for a X hour photo shoot which was only Y due to your known personal holidays and oversleeping.  (Example, if it was a 2 hour shoot and she showed up 1/2 hour late you only got a 1.5 hour shoot therefore you should have a pro rata refund for the 1/2 hour of 62.50).

    2.) Posting unretouched photos on social media without permission after explicitly stating in an email dating X/Y that only retouched and agreed photos will be used on social media (Get screenshots of these!!)

    3.) Persistent lack of communication when scheduling appointments (an appointment was only booked after I emailed you multiple times on March X and Y even though you had agreed to contact me in "early March". Taking well beyond the reasonable number of days to respond to emails or phone calls). Persistent last minute requests rescheduling due to non-emergency, known in advance personal commitments showing disorganisation and inability to manage time effectively. 

    4.) Refusing to deal with my wedding planner after I specifically had given permission for her to discuss a solution to these issues with her. 

    5.) Only sending X number of images when the contract and emails state you would provide in the area of Y images (for example, hypothetically contract/ email says she will send 300 photos but only sent you 50).

    6.) Edited and retouched photos not sent in the agreed amount of time of X days as stated in XXXparagraph YYY page of contract (Again, contract/ email says photos will be sent within 30 days). 

    7.) The quality of photographs provided are impartially not up to the standard of photos you advertised and we agreed on. Photos are also not edited or retouched persistant with Paragraph X page Y of contract.

    I have reasonably tried to discuss this with you and find an amicable solution, however, I have instead been met with delays in communication, mendacity and hostility. Due to the breeches of the contract, failure to provide adiquate services and lack of functioning working relationship, the agreement dated XXX is terminated. As a goodwill gesture the $250 payment on DATE can be kept by you to cover the cost of the engagement shoot even though you did not provide several of the agreed services. No further money will be paid due to your breech of contract and failure to provide services.".

    Also, (US lawyers help me out here) a lot of places a deposit is often legally a payment of monies for services provided. If the services provided are not up to the agreed standard or agreed times, that is a failure of delivery. 

    Remember: she can't get money from you unless she takes you to small claims court, which she will lose and be more costly for her. 

    Have her keep the $250 deposit for the engagement shoot and find a new photographer- STAT! 
    photokittyAprilH81JerseyBeachGal22
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    2500 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    edited May 2015
    edenisle said:

    @BlinkyDink16 Thank you for the advice- that's where I'm leaning towards too.

    @Photokitty Not your fault!  Giving her the benefit of the doubt was the right thing to do, I think.  I just can't believe how this has turned out. 

    The deposit was $250.  She did not even give me a hard copy of any of the epics- they were all sent via dropbox! :(

    In fine print, it says that if the contract is broken after one of the photo sessions, the another $250 will be charged.  But since I'm not happy with most of them, I wonder if that would make a difference?  There are a few that turned out good, but I'm worried that my wedding photos will turn out like that too...one or two good ones, and the rest unacceptable. 

    That's how I felt about the wedding planning thing too!  Are wedding planners even on contracts usually?  They are just another vendor, so why would they be on the contract, unless just to address that they will be included in the planning?  Not sure how, but she's committed to riding that sinking ship. 

    A few of the photogs they suggested are already taken.  Hoping to just feel out some other photographers and see if they are even available while I am figuring all of this out.  So frustrating!  But the photos are the one thing I am willing to pay extra for to be perfect.

    Thanks for your advice!

    A lot of photographers mistakenly write their own contracts in what they think is "legalese". Does it say verbatum "If the contract is broken after the photo shoot, $250 will be charged" because legally you could argue that SHE broke the contract and owes YOU $250 unless it says "If BRIDE breaks the contract, PHOTOG will charge $250". 

    Almost all contracts will have a clause about "If PHOTOG cannot provide services, XXX will be returned"- what does yours say.... 

    I am willing to bet this contract is a mess and she wrote it herself.
    photokittyhaleyk620ceceperksAprilH81
  • Everyone's pretty much covered what I'd suggest!
    I will suggest that you take all the evidence (e-mails, texts, etc.) to a lawyer. Lots of lawyer's do free initial consults--see what they say.
    As far as posting photos on Facebook, is it in the contract that she is allowed to post them to Facebook and/or her website? Unless there's written consent, she can't do that.
    image
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