Wedding Photography and Videography Forum

Need to replace photographer.... Refund Deposit Possible?

In Nov. 2010, we booked our photography and paid a deposit of $750. 

In Jan. 2011, we followed up to request receipt of deposit.  Though I’ve followed up via email and phone multiple times, we have not received a receipt or any other documentation since.  It is now July 2011 and our wedding is in 3 months.
Scheduling our engagement shoot for August took about five separate email attempts and two phone calls over a period of six weeks and still the time has not been confirmed. 

I’ve found another photographer who pretty much rocks and I’d like to request a refund of our deposit and hire her!  We’ve not signed a thing binding us to the first photographer (since he never sent the paperwork).  And his package info and web site say nothing about the deposit being non-refundable. 

Can I request a refund?  Is it possible he’ll honor that?  What if he refuses and then we’re either (A) stuck with him, which would definitely taint the relationship and make it hard to feel comfortable with him on the wedding day, or (B) lose $750… which makes a difference when the couple is handling all wedding costs on their own.

I wish there was a standard clause out there that would guarantee a nice clean break from him and our refund!  Any insight?  Thank you!

Re: Need to replace photographer.... Refund Deposit Possible?

  • roseygbroseygb member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Wait, so you paid him $750 without a contract? Most deposits are non refundable, especially this close to the wedding, but I don't know how that works if you don't have a contract. I would say this photographer is not actually a professional photographer - real professionals don't reserve dates without a contract. Is the photographer actually working or do you think he might run with your money? It sounds super sketch at this point . . . : /
  • edited December 2011
    Good call.  Should have seen a contract.  I'm usually more on point w/ this stuff.

    He is legit though.  Family of my brother-in-law have used him.  He's even a "preferred vendor" of our venue.  When I expressed the situation to our venue, they said they've heard this problem from other couples and were considering removing him from their list.

    I'm not worried about him ditching us.  But at this point, I just don't feel comfortable with him and quite frankly don't feel like sharing our big day with him, ya know?  Your photographer is someone who should be likeable! 

    Anyway, thanks for your response.  I appreciate it! :)
  • Mrs.KristenMrs.Kristen member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011

    Hopefully you didn’t just pay him in cash and you can get a copy of the check from the bank. That in itself is at least proof of payment so that he can’t say he received no such amount from you.


     I would go ahead and email him and call him about the situation and that you are wanting your deposit back….the important verbiage  he used with you. Retainer or deposit. Retainers are always non refundable, deposits even if they say non refundable are up for debate and if you decided to take him to small claims court and it was always referred to as a deposit could be won. That also depends on your state etc, but this is normally with a contract. In this case reference whatever material is on his website (since that’s all you have).  I would also send a certified letter with your request for funds (he can’t say he never received that) and your attempts at contact and lack of response from him. If you have any emails referencing his lack of response and he’s acknowledged he hasn’t sent the contract etc reference that as well.

  • edited December 2011
    That is the perfect advice, Mrs. Kristen.  Through some research based ony our response, I've learned you are most correct.  Retainer = always non refundable.  On his print out of the package offerings, it is described as a "retainer" not a deposit. Bummer.

    We're weighing the options of kissing that money good-bye and hiring someone we really feel good about.  I've learned a lot through this process!

    Thanks for your feedback... best wishes to you
  • edited December 2011
    I'm kind of in the same boat. We paid a $1000 retainer :(
    We are doing our engagement shoot Sunday, but my gut is telling me we should have went with the other photographer we met with who was more pricey, but I liked her work MUCH better. I always see her updated blog entries and her work is PHENOMINAL. His website is very scarce, and is basically the same stuff we saw when we met with him. It was good, but it didn't WOW me. Hopefully the turn around time to see our pics from Sunday won't be too long so I can make a decision. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised and I stressed myself out for nothing. *Fingers Crossed*
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