Need some advice about a wedding I did ...

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by heavenlymom, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    If anyone can give me some advice I'd apprecaite it. I'm going to sum this up because it could get long lol and no one wants to read a ton of stuff about this but here is basically my issue.

    I tell people before they hire me for weddings that I am not a seasoned photographer and only have a dozen or so behind my belt as I am learning the wedding photography business. I don't charge very much at all and I usually get those who don't have a big budget and need someone who needs the experience who doesn't charge more than a few hundred dollars.

    So I did a wedding a little bit back and had some serious problems. My bride and groom and I had decided to base things on a time line so we could get things done in time as they had only a few hours for the rented church and reception hall. I asked if they wanted me to take pre photos just in case and they said no, I asked if they wanted after photos (when they got back from the honey moon) just in case and they said no. So on the day of the wedding we have our time line set out. It's a good time line, gives them time for everything and time for us to get photos taken.
    I was early, but the bride, best man and other wedding party participants were extremely late (like arriving about twenty mins before the wedding begins late). But even before the bride arrives I start taking pics of who was there. The groom tells me to wait for him and his best men while they put their tuxes on, I wait and wait and wait and finally find them goofing off in the grooms waiting room. Next thing I know the wedding cordinator is yanking me aside explaining how they were late to everything and never show up on time and I am not going to get any photos done and I might as well refund the money, pack it in and call it a day. I just looked at her like she was crazy.
    I had driven a long distance to this wedding and have a signed contract, it's not my fault they were late. Keep in mind I kept saying we need to do something and I kept getting left in the dust. So I started doing candid shots, I needed something. Finally the bride shows up and just as she does we start doing grooms family photos. There is tons of people snapping at the same time and I keep commenting on how their flash is going to screw up mine and of course No one listens. After getting as many as I could in as little time as I could (the wedding was supposed to have started ten minutes ago at this point), the bride's girls starting calling me to the dressing room to get photos of her getting ready.
    The groom gets mad because I being pulled away to the bride and I am stuck in a position where someone is going to get pissed off. Finally I go to the bride as what else could I do, she wouldn't get ready till I was in there and the wedding planner is telling me the wedding has to get going or else!! The groom gets pissed off at me and so I just shrug it off.
    Okay here is the real kicker, apparently the officiant lost his speech or something so when the wedding began what I was planning on being a fifteen twenty minute wedding was actually on about four freaking minutes long (SERIOUSLY), I had places mapped out where to go to get the coverage they wanted at the angels they wanted, but without me knowing the wedding was being cut in time over 50% I was in the wrong places at the wrong time!! I wanted to cry!!
    Then we get rushed out of the church and I tell them we'll do family photos at the reception because the darn wedding coordinator was pushing them out the door and telling them they had to be at the reception in minutes or they would start without them. Now I know the groom was getting more pissed at her than me but I was still getting the back lash of it. When we go to the reception, once the bride and groom photos were done (thank god we got some beautiful ones of that and a few family ones at the church) the alcohol came out and family photos were forgotten.
    I gave up and started just doing candid again.
    Now I got some great photos, but not everything they wanted.

    Did I mention getting chewed out by the best man (who was drunk) for sitting down and having a glass of water?? I'd been on the move for some time and yes I did tell the bride and groom what I was doing, they had the videographers and d.j's all sit down and get something to drink and eat while everyone ate. But the best man yanked me aside and told me to get my ass out there and take photos, I wasn't getting paid to sit on it. :confused: I'd only been sitting down for about 4 minutes!

    My question is this since I am newer to wedding photography.
    Do they deserve a refund if they ask for one? Put yourself in my place, would you give them one? No one has asked yet but I am concerned it will come up. I was there, I did my darn best to do it all but they were the ones super late and they were the ones blowing me off. Trust me I was using my voice, no one was listening was the problem.
    I got over 600 photos, and they will get them all unedited and a good portion also edited on a cd with full printing rights. They paid $500.00

    Thanks in advance and I hope it wasn't to long and not to many misspelled words. LOL!
     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I'd say refund but no pictures. If they accept, fine, if not, you get paid.
     
  3. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    now im no pro...however...
    if i spent my day being ignored by the people who hired me, and forced to rush the job, and verbally reprimanded by tipsy groomsmen...after the effort i imagine you put in...forget it...they lose.
    people were late (not you), people were neglecting the need for photos (not you)...
    you developed a contract, made your scope understood, drove to the site, had all your equipment set up, mapped out where you wanted to be shooting from, had a timeline in mind...i say you earned your $500.
    sorry to be harsh to them, but F 'em.

    pros might say otherwise. im just a punchy hobbyist. :D
     
  4. PhilGarber

    PhilGarber TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, if the contract says 'you may request a refund', IMO, you've got no choice but to give it to them. Though, as Sw1tch said, they shouldn't get the photos if you don't get the greenbacks.:meh:

    Phil,

    PS-They all sound like total @!$^-heads.:grumpy:
     
  5. rein

    rein TPF Noob!

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    man i was imagining how that woulda felt! sorry man, that was a bad day, yea. like what they said, no green no print
     
  6. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    My contract states no refunds unless I don't pull through for some reason. I'm just trying to decide what would be my best way to go if they request it. I definitely wouldn't refund my service fee as I did everything but the cd price I may or may not.
    I honestly don't think they did it to be jerks, I think they just didn't plan on it being the way it was, but tardiness at your wedding is just not a smart move imho
     
  7. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Chin up! Never predict the worse. And above all do not look back. Be confident and provide them with your best. Issues can be ironed out. I doubt that they will ask for a refund. Sounds like you did a good job for 500.00. Chalk one up to experience and move on.

    Love & Bass
     
  8. hedonia

    hedonia TPF Noob!

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    Never refund if it wasn't your fault. However, there are other little customer-service things you can do to make them feel better if they go totally crazypants on you - instead of losing money wholesale (like giving back $100 cash), you can lose a lot LESS money retail: give them a $100 print credit. If you normally charge $20 for an 8x10, and pay $3 for it, you can give them $100 worth of goods that only costs you $15. They feel like they got something extra (even if they don't deserve it), and you're not out a lot of money.

    If you choose to do this, make sure that you're not assigning blame, either on yourself or them. Say something like "I'm so sorry that your wedding was chaotic! I know there were a lot of shots we didn't have an opportunity to do, so I wanted to give you a few extra prints so you could remember your special day!"

    The goal here is probably not to get referrals (do you really want to shoot more weddings like this? I bet their friends are all just as bad), but instead to avoid negative word-of-mouth. Try to make it sound like you don't think they're dirtbags, even if they're treating YOU like one, smile and get through it. If they ever ask you to shoot anything again - oooh, sorry, you're totally booked!
     
  9. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    You did your job. $500 ain't that much for a wedding. It's not your fault that these douchebags ccouldn't get their s--t together. If what you say is accurate, and you've honored your end of the contract, then let this be a lesson to them (that they can't just treat people like crap because they got a deal), and a lesson to you (don't take s--t from morons). Whatever you do I wish you the best of luck and kudos to you for getting the contract.
     
  10. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As a business point of view, I agree with Hedonia. If they are not too satisfy with the result and it is obviously not because of you, they may want something to compensate. You did your work and your work worth at least $500.

    As Hedonia said, give them something extra in stead of refund any money. Maybe offer another photo session at a great discount price (charge them at less discount price on prints). Try to find opportunity in a negative situation and come out in a win-win situation.

    If you just refund the money and did not get any prints, I am sure they got what they want but they are not going to be happy. And I am sure you are not going to be a happy as well. I will say it is a lose-lose situation.

    Remember, positive experience of your clients will spread around. But negative experience will SPREAD around even futher. (10x)
     
  11. visualpoetry

    visualpoetry TPF Noob!

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    People you do for low cost are always the ones who are more difficult, or so it feels. In my paperwork I ask them if dinner/drinks are provided and if they are, then we get a little relax time. Afterall, shooting for 6-10 hours is hard work.. especially with a hungry belly or dry mouth. If it was in the paperwork, you'd have every right and a good argument. Keep that in mind for next time.

    NO refunds. Make sure your contract says that. Weddings always run a little late and rarely go off a time line. I dont do timelines. I tell the couple, prior to the wedding with ample time, to put either the best man or maid of honor in charge of a list for the formals. That way, it's organized. To save time, I take bride w/ bridesmaids and groom w/ groomsmen photos before the ceremony. After the ceremony I do full wedding party, bride and groom only then family formals.

    No wedding ever goes exactly as planned. There's WAY too many people involved for that to happen. So, wedding photography takes alot of patience.. thats for sure. You have to make do with the time and situations you have.

    See why wedding pros charge the big bucks?! It's crazy hard work..
     
  12. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everyone for the great advice!! I haven't heard from them yet (I've sent about five emails) and so I am just waiting to hear back from then. They haven't even seen their portraits yet (I have them up online waiting, but who knows when I'll hear back from them).
    I apprecaite the advice and tips and will absolutley keep them in mind. I don't do weddings often but when I do it's never been like this lol. I did get some great shots though and I myself am proud of the ones I did get. I've had a lot of compliments on them, hopefully they'll like them even though they didn't get everything they wanted.
     

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