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    Unimpressed
    6 May 2011 - 2:45 PM

    Good Morning All,

    This is going to be a long-ish post, I will try not to let it get into a rant!

    I hired a wedding photographer for my wedding in September 2010, and have had a few problems with the service so far. I am looking for some advice on where to take my case next, as speaking with the photographer direct has so far not got me very far.

    We chose the particular photographer because he is local to where we live, he had a rather impressive portfolio, and was a very nice guy to deal with. We wanted to spend a reasonable amount on our wedding photographs, as they are obviously the one thing (other than rings) that you can look back at over the years to come. We paid 2000, which was to include the photographers time from the end of the bridal prep through to the first dance. We also had a videographer who was independant of the photographer, and they had never worked together before.

    The photogher, from here onwards referred to as Pete (not his real name), had not visited any of our locations prior to the day, although he said he would try to take a look at them before the day. He did not get time to do this, which in itself was not so much of a problem. We had asked for a variety of shots, some to include whole groups and some alone, and a couple from a distance - shots of the entire wedding guests on a bridge. It surprised me that for the whole day he used just 1 camera, 1 lens, and 1 flash.

    Prior to the ceremony Pete and the videographer had asked the vicar where they could stand, and were told they had free reign, and just to stay out of her way. The videographer set up at the front of the church, facing us and our guests, and captured the entire ceremony from there. Pete decided to shoot all of our ceremony photos from the rear of the church. This resulted in photos like our first kiss photo being of the side/back of our heads from a distance, and is very poor.

    Our signing of the register pics, Pete was just snapping away, and I had to prompt him as to if he wanted us to look at the camera etc. He used 1 on camera flash, which left a VERY obvious shadow right behind and to the right of us. Admittedly the roof was high in the church, so bounce from the ceiling was a no go, but there must be some way of positioning a reflector etc so that some of the light filled in behind. This is his primary job, he must have had the same or similar lighting scenarios before. Anyway, the result was that the signing of the register pictures were, at best, poor.

    We had some group shots done outside which Pete was unable to organise himself, it resulted in my best mans wife needing to ask him what he wanted, and to shout for him, as he was too shy to be vocal himself. I cant really have a dig at him for being shy, but for a wedding photographer I expected a bit more interaction/personality!

    Our pictures from here on in were pretty good, we went to a beautiful location and captured some nice images. Nothing special from his point of view, it was mainly due to the amazing location.

    The cake cutting pictures were our next disappointment, they followed the same route as the signing of the registers. We held the pose for ages whilst he took a few shots, presumably with different settings, but the ones he gave us have huge ugly shadows rearing up behind.

    First dance pictures look like snaps taken by a guest, certainly nothing to shout about. No awesome, intimate shots like we had kind of expected.

    All in all, we certainly dont feel like we have received 2000 worth of photographer.

    Next, is the issue of album delivery. We got married in September, and due to honeymoon and moving house etc, didnt get round to choosing our images until the end of November. Today is the 6th May, and we still have not received our album. We have all the high res photos on CD, which we paid for, but have not received the album which we also paid for.

    I e-mailed Pete in Dec to ask for an estimate, and was told he had a backlog but would get it done asap. I e-mailed again in January and was told it was still not ready. I gave him until march until I enquired again, at which point he stated he had been unwell and had not had time to do our album but would make it his priority. In April I e-mailed a few times, and he still had not had time to do it. It clearly had not been his priority however, as I checked his website to find that he had been attending motorsport weekends for 4 weeks in a row. In a later e-mail he mentioned again about not being well, to which I said about the motorsports and the fact he was well enough to go there - I have had no reply with regard to that yet.

    Due to the delay, he has offered to give us a couple of nice canvas prints by way of apology.

    This though, is not good enough. We paid 2000, and have so far had a pretty poor set of photos on DVD, we might get two canvas prints 5 months after the selection of images was chosen, and we might get an album maybe 6 or 7 months after the selection?

    Am I being unfair, or should I be asking for some money back? I have e-mailed the SWPP, of which he is a member, and they have asked I supply them with the images, any contracts, and communication between us etc. We did have a contract but I cant find it at the moment. I am pretty sure it did not mention any timeframe to deliver prints, or that they would be good, but surely it is reasonable to expect these things? I asked Pete for a copy of the contract, however he replied that his hard drive failed a while back, and all data on it (including my contract conveniently) was unrettrievable.

    I dont want to pursue this with the SWPP / small claims court if I am being unfair, although I really dont think I am. I can post photos if required so you can have a better view of his standard of photography.

    I am an amateur photographer, and I must say that if I was to shoot a wedding (and I wouldnt!) that there is no way on this earth I would be happy presenting the couple with the selection of photos which he gave to us.

    I am open to opinions, and I am aware that posting on a photography forum the suggestion I should take a fellow photographer to court may mean I receive some harsh replies, but so be it. The courts arent going to tiptoe around the facts, so why should you guys/girls.

    Many thanks to any of you who have managed to read this far, I await your replies!



    Unimpressed!

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    6 May 2011 - 2:45 PM

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    monkeygrip
    6 May 2011 - 3:35 PM

    Having a great portfolio is only 50% of being a good wedding photographer it doesn't matter how many cameras and lenses you use although it is good practice to have back ups and use different lenses for creative effect but not essential. Communication skills are absolutely essential and then the good business practice to deliver what you promised.

    There could be a good and fair reason for the delay in finishing the job illness, injury, family problems but if not communicated to you then your frustration builds the excuse im not well without detail and I have a large work load are just not good enough.

    It sounds to me like most small businesses at the moment he is having massive cashflow problems the money you gave him has produced an album for a couple 4 months before your wedding and the problem gets bigger and the time to completion longer until pop your gone.

    Ask him to come clean with the problem give him a fair time scale to deliver from now with an agreed date if you get nothing its time to go legal with no mercy drag him to court and take his house, car and business away to stop him doing this to anyone else.

    If he is a decent chap just having it tough and lets you know then a amicable agreement can be made but I cant see this happening now.

    scottishphototours

    Kiel,

    Firstly, don't go running this guy down JUST yet by sticking stuff on Epz - this is between you and him, and you'll get NO help from him if you start throwing stuff up on here...

    Here's my take on your situation and a plan going forward:

    - You MUST get him to attend a meeting with yourself and other half - take notes of what is said.
    - At that meeting you must put it to him that you asked him, and he promised, to make your work a priority and this has not happened. You need to know why.
    - If he blabs, ask him about the motorsport weekends. Has this got in the way of your orders completion?? - is he still doing weddings or is the motorsport a new venture?
    - DO NOT mention the SWPP or small claims court, just yet...
    - Big him up for what he HAS done well. Sure, you could mention the ones your not so happy with, but why bother?
    - TELL him the images that YOU want in your album - don't let him choose - and tell him you want to agree on layouts etc before you go to print.
    - AGREE on a delivery date for the album and the canvas prints, make it realistic - 3 weeks max, not 3 days.
    - THEN tell him that if he doesn't deliver, you'll be approaching the SWPP and the local press with samples of his work, and your story...... by now, he should be shi**ing himself.
    - If delivery does not happen at agreed time, call and give him 1 more week maximum. If he doesn't deliver, go to SWPP and Press.

    By the way, this is TYPICAL of the situation that so many people now find themselves in. Hiring a "photographer" who turns out to be a dud business person is as bad as hiring a dud photographer!

    For your info, we deliver every wedding album within 8 weeks of the wedding, all venues are visited, all officials are spoken to before the ceremony and we use 3 cameras with different lenses for effects throughout the day. Sounds to me like your 2000 guy isn't worth the money - but that maybe something to look at for the small claims court...

    Andy.

    digicammad
    digicammad  1121988 forum posts United Kingdom37 Constructive Critique Points
    6 May 2011 - 4:34 PM

    I second what Andy has advised.

    Even if you get to the stage of thinking about legal proceedings the first thing to do is warn him in writing (not email) that you are considering taking legal advice. If that doesn't work you can get a solicitor's letter which explains what will happen if he doesn't resolve the issue.

    Actual legal proceedings should be your absolute last resort.

    Ian

    scottishphototours

    By the way, a threat of a Press story should have far more weight than a small claims court action, which as Ian suggest is a last resort...

    peterjones
    peterjones e2 Member 123898 forum postspeterjones vcard United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
    6 May 2011 - 4:42 PM

    I think that the question is fair; presumably the OP knows that there are very many experienced photographers on epz some of them are even good business people Grin the OP hasn't identifed names locations etc however I wouldn't start posting images; if you want specific opinions please PM me or any other experienced wedding photographer you may know on epz

    Without going through the "snagging" list verbatum to take six months for delivery of the album after ordering the images is jolly poor customer service; huge ugly shadows on flash photographs demonstrates very poor technique etc etc.

    Out of interest occasionally prospective clients when booking me want some kind of recommendation from previous clients; this I am happy to arrange.

    I would keep contact with "Pete" succinct and business like, definitely mention the small claims court; it concentrates minds wonderfully; get a time scale that is acceptable and ensures he sticks to it.

    G'luck, Peter.

    Last Modified By peterjones at 6 May 2011 - 4:43 PM
    Unimpressed
    6 May 2011 - 7:14 PM

    Thanks all for the replies so far.

    I have had an e-mail from 'Pete' now, which says he has ordered my album after making it a priority, and it should be here in a few weeks. I am a fairly opinionated individual, and I speak my mind. I worry that for every one of my type out there, there are dozens of other couples who will be treat the same but not speak up. Indeed he said that all his other couples had been happy with the 6month delay - something which I am not sure I believe.

    I did tell him exactly which images we wanted in the album - but we chose them for the content and not for the quality. For example, my wife really wanted a photo of us signing the registers in our album (understandably), so we chose one from those he took. None are any better than the others, and all have ugly shadows. The one we chose was not chosen for being a worthy photo, it was chosen purely because it was the best of a bad bunch. Same story for the other pics in the church - there are two photos we chose of us stood at the front in church, but all you can see is the backs of us - this unfortunately is again the best of a bad bunch.

    I think we will get an album from him now, it sounds like it actually has been ordered. I just really dont think it will be up to standard at all. We never got a say on the album layout, and have no idea what it will look like. We chose the style about 8months before our wedding so that should be ok, but the actual content? Who knows! I assume (and it is merely an assumption, so if I am wrong then I apologise) that if you guys/girls took a photo that was wonky, with a horizon that was off, that you would do a quick edit on it to get it right before giving it to the customer? It's just that on some of the pics, of the 6 or 7 I am actually happy with overall, the horizon is off and it looks 'wrong'.

    I already mentioned SWPP to him and said I had made initial contact, this was the point he told me his HDD had broken and he had lost all of his data. Surely a pro photographer would make backups of this kinda stuff? Luckily I have a copy of it at home. I am out of the country at the moment but when I return I will do as advised above and meet with him. By that time our album should be there, so that will probably be when we receive it.
    I just dont know what to do if I am completely unhappy with the album? We have already paid him in full (about 2 months prior to the wedding), so I cant just refuse to buy it.

    Thoughts? Thanks again for the replies so far, it really is appreciated. Oh, and I didnt want to start posting images on here really either, but I may pm some over to one of the experienced wedding photographers for their opinion.

    Thanks!

    BigRick
    BigRick  82085 forum posts United Kingdom3 Constructive Critique Points
    6 May 2011 - 7:23 PM

    Do you have PS? Only asking as if you do not, then as you have the images on a CD I would be happy to Edit them for you for gratis as far as the horizon etc is concerned.... (we had our wedding photos taken by a lady, and ALL of the photos had wonky horizons that i had to fix, and as it was in front of a castle, the castle towers were also wonky Sad) I would even have a look at the shadows you dont like, and see if they could be 'shopped out too. Smile

    PM me if you like. Smile and i hope you get it sorted out.

    scottishphototours

    Kiel,

    I'm a firm believer that not EVERY picture in a wedding album is a stunner - there are some that are merely records - but those that are in there should be straight, colour corrected, colourful, happy and sharp. Naturally there maybe some taken on a slight angle for effect or where you're not looking at the camera etc.

    Whether he does this kind of editing is something you should have had covered before the wedding - but as a rule, most good ones would...

    I don't think you have any recourse other than to accept the album as its delivered. If its that bad, then seek advice from the SWPP if required before considering a small claims court action to recover some of your money - but you'll have to prove that you have either been poorly served by the guy or that he has under-delivered on his normal product in the court. Also, this guy should have professional indemnity insurance to allow you to challenge him in this manner and if he loses, his insurance should cover him. This would indeed be the case if the guys suffered a HD crash that lost all his data, though it should have been backed up as you say.

    Hope it goes well for you.

    Andy

    MeanGreeny
    6 May 2011 - 11:02 PM

    Just to stir the pot a little..........

    Are these as bad as yours ?

    Robert_Malcolm
    7 May 2011 - 11:20 PM

    At least the cards didn't say 'Saliva and Mark'.

    But seriously -

    OP could try a dispute resolution service - there are several reasonably priced ones that operate online for personal DR. It might take the emotional sting away a little.

    Unimpressed
    8 May 2011 - 12:35 PM

    Morning All,

    Thanks once again for all the advice.

    Andy, I dont expect all of the photos to be stunners either, but I did expect that, for 2000, more than 8 of them would be decent. Maybe I was expecting too much? I know now that we should have discussed editing before we hired him, and we should have had a much more comprehensive contract. I shall not make the mistake again of trusting somebody to just get it right with no timelines or standards written down. I am due back in the UK in a couple of days, I will call Pete and ask to meet asap to discuss where to go from here. I already know I will be unhappy with the album though, because I just know he wont have edited any pictures to straighten them etc, and those ugly shadows will still remain.

    BigRick, thank you for your very kind offer. To offer your time and experience to a completely new guy on the forum is a very kind gesture, and I really appreciate it. However, I would like to see what 'Pete' comes up with first, and I approach him about the editing. It is only fair that he makes right his mistakes - he should not be able to rely on other people to fix his errors! If I don't get anywhere with him I may well take you up on that offer, and send over a couple of the ones which need editing. Thank you.

    Meangreeny, No, my photos arent as bad as those! Most of the people in ours have heads, although they also have huge ugly shadows as well, so maybe less is more!

    Any further advice welcome!

    Thanks

    BigRick
    BigRick  82085 forum posts United Kingdom3 Constructive Critique Points
    8 May 2011 - 4:05 PM


    Quote: Morning All,

    Thanks once again for all the advice.

    Andy, I dont expect all of the photos to be stunners either, but I did expect that, for 2000, more than 8 of them would be decent. Maybe I was expecting too much? I know now that we should have discussed editing before we hired him, and we should have had a much more comprehensive contract. I shall not make the mistake again of trusting somebody to just get it right with no timelines or standards written down. I am due back in the UK in a couple of days, I will call Pete and ask to meet asap to discuss where to go from here. I already know I will be unhappy with the album though, because I just know he wont have edited any pictures to straighten them etc, and those ugly shadows will still remain.

    BigRick, thank you for your very kind offer. To offer your time and experience to a completely new guy on the forum is a very kind gesture, and I really appreciate it. However, I would like to see what 'Pete' comes up with first, and I approach him about the editing. It is only fair that he makes right his mistakes - he should not be able to rely on other people to fix his errors! If I don't get anywhere with him I may well take you up on that offer, and send over a couple of the ones which need editing. Thank you.

    Meangreeny, No, my photos arent as bad as those! Most of the people in ours have heads, although they also have huge ugly shadows as well, so maybe less is more!

    Any further advice welcome!

    Thanks

    No problem.... if you get nowhere, then pm me and i we can sort something out. Smile Good luck.

    FrankRobinson
    13 May 2011 - 1:56 PM

    I don't think your requests and needs are in the slightest bit unreasonable. My wife and I paid 1400 for our wedding photographs, so substantially less. The photographer was impeccable - we had a good chat during the 'prep' photos - after that we barely saw him, he was so unobtrusive but the final output was absolutely spot on. I would happily name him to 'big him up', but have to respect that he may want his privacy.

    I'll just say that if YOU out there were shooting a wedding at a military base in Wiltshire in Aug 08... thanks! Grin

    Unimpressed, you have the right to expect better - don't let him get away with it.

    peterjones
    peterjones e2 Member 123898 forum postspeterjones vcard United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
    13 May 2011 - 2:13 PM

    When I proof clients' wedding images I don't convert them all to masterpieces worthy of out and out international exhibition winners however they do get corrected for colour and exposure; dupes and dross (eyes shut; unflattering expressions and that kind of thing) are weeded out and where I have tilted the camera I straighten the image.

    Adobe Lightroom to a wedding photographer is like manna from heaven and makes easy work of the post processing workflow; I think it is quite reasonable for clients to expect good proofs however much or little they have paid. I think you are right, it is up to "Pete" to sort your proofs out despite the kindness of epz members or maybe because?

    Peter.

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