Photographer help needed

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mdarcy Posts : 107 Registered: 2/8/08
Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 6, 2009 10:02 AM

Ok, after more than a year and a half of good behaviour I've had it, my first bridezilla moment.


We are 4 days from our wedding and our photographer has bailed on us. I've heard people having a friend of the family doing the pictures and have them gone bad. Our situation is at the other end of the spectrum.


My FH wanted to have a state of the art photographer because he wanted to like a picture of himself for once in his life. Back in November, we booked this amazingly good photographer with a package worth 5000$. On top of that, we agreed to pay about 500$ to make her stay in the city the wedding will be held in. Plus she's charging 800$ in copy rights if we want them.


We booked her because she was not part of an agency, because she showed us HER work and because she told us about her vision. She was supposed to do our wedding with the help of an assistant.


We gave her a 1500$ deposit and did not have contact with her until yesterday.


When before she was taking every call she received, she now have an assistant who called us to tell us it would be another photographer who would do our wedding. When we called back to say that it was unacceptable and that we wanted to cancel them, we finally got a chance to talk to the photographer herself.


We told her we never knew we could get an other photographer she told us that she have some notes saying that we knew it could be a possibility... It's not true... She was always talking about her coming to our wedding... she does not believe us...


She will not be at our wedding and that is it. She gave us the name of the other one... her partner as it seems.


Well, we did our investigation and we think we found the website of the other photographer, which is clearly not the same quality of work.

We booked a package, but she was 2800$ only to have her take pictures, no prints, no album, no copy rights included. I really do not think that the new girl is worth that kind of money.


We told her we would give our final word by the end of the afternoon.


I'm sorry for the long rant; I'm trying to organize my thoughts right now.

Thanks for your help


Edited by: mdarcy on Oct 7, 2009 8:53 AM

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 6, 2009 10:56 AM Go to message in response to: mdarcy

Dear MD,

Three suggestions:

1. Hope that Howard sees your message. I have faith in him.

2. Carefully review all your paperwork and see if there is anything in there that specifies which photographer attends the wedding and takes the photos. If you have the time, see if you can get a lawyer to review the contract. You may be able to fax it to the lawyer's office for a quick consultation by phone, since time is short.

3. If you cannot resolve the situation by W-Day, and you have no other alternatives, go ahead with the sub, then following your lawyer's advice sue for breach of contract.

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mdarcy Posts : 107 Registered: 2/8/08
Re: Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 6, 2009 11:55 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Thank you very much aunt.


As it is, we were so disgusted by this kind of behaviour that FH called this morning to cancel the photographer. Guess what; it seems that she's been more into fashion than wedding photography lately.

One of our friends recommended another photographer who lives in the Quebec City, where the wedding will be held and he's free on Saturday. Otherwise, the new girlfriend of a friend is a wedding photographer. So I guess we still have a couple of options.


I read the contract and this is bullet proof protecting her. It says that in case of illness or schedule conflict that the assigned photographer can send and other one instead. (Sorry, I'm trying to traduce from French) It doesn't clearly state that she is doing the photography instead. We will need to see her and make our point and try to get back our deposit.


We noticed that she has a blog on her website. Until January 2009, she always wrote in terms of «I», her vision, her photography her stuff. Then next post, in July, she then starts using «We » and our team when she speaks. Since the last time we spoke to her was November 11th 2008, I hope we will be able to get to her with that. Because right now, she states that we knew she did not work alone, which is absolutely wrong.


I sincerely hope we'll be able to settle that without going to court.

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 6, 2009 11:45 PM Go to message in response to: mdarcy

Sorry for the delay in getting back with you, I took most of the day to be a dad (part of the reason I do this for a living). The kids are finally in bed and I've got some time to take care of business. I can certainly understand your concern about not having the photographer you thought you were getting. Personally, I believe that if a person agrees to do something, signs a contract and then takes money, they are obligated to follow through on their responsibilities. They should not be able to back out because they have changed interests. But that is just me.

Next, I took a look at the web sites you provided. While both photographers are technically competent, there is definately stylistic differences. You hired your photographer for her style. However, it also appears that you are guessing this is the replacement photographer's web site. You really should ask your contracted photographer to provide you with a chance to see the work of the replacement photographer. For it is possible that you've found another photographer. Now if you did in fact, find the right photographer, then you do have a valid complaint.

From what you previously stated, I think your photographer has a clause that goes something like this:

Photographer may
substitute another photographer to take the photographs in the event of
selected photographer’s illness or of scheduling conflicts. In the event of
such substitution, photographer warrants that
the photographer taking the photographs shall be a competent professional.

which is what my contract said five years ago. Until it was pointed out to me, I could have double booked the date and sent another photographer. I could have decided to go on vacation and sent another photographer. But that is not what I meant. After a couple of client questions this is what my contract currently says on the matter:

MMP may
substitute another photographer to take the photographs in the event of
selected photographer’s illness or a scheduling conflict (excluding double/over
booking) due to an unanticipated personal/family crisis or other unforeseen
event of similar personal importance. In the event of such substitution, MMP warrants that the photographer
taking the photographs shall be a competent professional.

The intent of this clause is to let the client know another photographer may cover the wedding in case an emergency arises and the photographer is not available. This is the clause I invoked the weekend my mother passed away.

It seems that you've already decided you can't trust your 1st photographer and have decided to part ways. I know you already have a lot on your plate this week with your wedding. But you really do need to speak with a lawyer about your options. Did the photographer break you contract? Was there fraud involved? Are you entitled to damages? What reason did the photographer give for sending a different photographer? All of this will determine your options going forward. For now, it seems like you have another photographer to cover your wedding and can relax on that front. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.



Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography

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mdarcy Posts : 107 Registered: 2/8/08
Re: Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 7, 2009 9:26 AM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

Thank you very much Howard for your detailed answer. Your kids are lucky to have a dad

Like you!


The problem is that all along she showed us her work and her vision and it was a one woman show plus an assistant. We never had any other contacts than with her. We did not have any news from her since last November. Now suddenly we are supposed to be aware that we could get another photographer. It does not make any sense.


When the assistant called, she never gave us a reason why the initial photographer won't be there. When we called back to say that it was inacceptable and that it was not meant to be that we, the photographer itself just called back, said that she would not be there, she did not tell us why AND said that we knew all along that there was that possibility. She then talked to us about her «partner». The thing is, to this day, her websites is all about her and no one else.


As for the replacement photographer, we asked if we guessed right before putting it off and we guessed right. Since we cancelled with the assistant we did not hear anything from the photographer.


The clause you previously had is exactly what it is. She could be doing what the hell she wants this weekend, does not change a damn thing. I totally understand that clause and would not complain too much if she was sick or a loved one was. But we got no reason whatsoever. Just something along the line of «she won't be there, you should know about it, it was previously discussed» No it was not discuss, that's the point.


We already hired another photographer. FH did not want to call a lawyer, saying it would cost more than the deposit we left. I'll try to get him to call one (he's the one who signed the contract). I don't know what it would take to prove if she broke her contract. I don't think that would be considered like fraud... I hope not.


Do you think it is a breach of contract? Do you think that a photographer that bails a few days from the wedding without giving any reason would be in the wrong? I would like to get your photographer's perspective.


One thing is sure; we really feel that with the substitute we would not get what we pay for. We thought about it and in the end, if we are not going to have the quality of pictures we were expecting and paying for, we would be less upset to have a local photographer do the job at a much better price. I'm just so sad about it because it was our splurge for the wedding.


Thank you very much!

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Photographer help needed
Posted: Oct 7, 2009 3:57 PM Go to message in response to: mdarcy

I don't know how lawyers operate in Canada, but most US lawyers will give you a complimentary 30 minute consultation to discuss your case. In addition, you may have small claims court available to you. Here in the US, a lawyer is not needed in small claims court. However, without seeing your complete contract it would be hard to give you any sort of layman's thoughts on the matter. However, I suspect that since the substitution clause was exactly the same as my old clause, I'm willing to be she used a standard photographer's template with minor changes for her contract (perhaps it is even a template I provided years ago). That's why you really need to have a lawyer take a look at the matter. If you can't afford one, perhaps there is a legal aid society available to you.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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mdarcy Posts : 107 Registered: 2/8/08
Re: Photographer help neurteded
Posted: Oct 7, 2009 5:13 PM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

Thank you very much Howard,

We will first try to meet her after the wedding and try to get our deposit back. If she does not want to collaborate, we'll go to small claim court. We will start building our case quite soon. My maid of honor studied law, I'll make her read my contract this weekend and she if she thinks we do need a professional advice to get prepared for the court.

As for the contract, I'm pretty sure she used a generic photographer contract, just like the one you were talking about.

Once again, your help is greatly appreciated.

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