Need Advice - Trying to resolve an ugly wedding photographer experience

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Patty Smith, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Patty Smith

    Patty Smith TPF Noob!

    Dec 10, 2008
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    I was a bride last year and am trying to resolve an ugly situation with my photographer. I posted about my situation previously here:

    I finally hired a lawyer who helped me draft a cordial, but terse letter to him asking for my money back, explaining that I did not receive satisfactory service. He wrote back, now trying to rectify the situation, saying that he has never had another unsatisfied client.

    He went on to say that he no longer has the photos on his hard drive but has them stored on an online storage site. He has offered to "reedit them at high resolution". Does this make sense? The original files he sent me were so small.
    He sent me ~800 pictures, which were only ~370mb in size. How can he reedit them to make them bigger? In earlier email exchanges with him, he led me to believe that he didn't have any pictures larger than that. He took pictures with a Nikon D80, which makes me think there must be larger files of these pictures.

    He also added that since he will be reediting the pictures, they will not look the same as the ones he already sent. Should I be concerned with this? Honestly, the editing he did before didn't seem that great.

    Part of me would just like to have the raw, unedited photos and hire someone else to edit them. I'm not even sure that would make these pictures usable, but it hurts too much not to try to salvage some pics from what was supposed to be one of the most important days of my life.

    I appreciate any help you can give me!

  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2009
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    Unless the photographer transfers the copyright ownership to you (normally a pretty expensive deal on a per image basis, let alone 800 images), any person editing the images without the expressed, written permission of the copyright owner of the pictures would be commiting copyright infringement. Professional image editors are well aware of the copyright issue and protect themselves by requireing the proper documentation identifying, beyond much doubt, the copyright owner.

    The courts can award damages of up to $150,000 an image for a willful infringement. Serious money.

    Copyright ownership lasts for the life of the creator, plus 70 years. That's why some photographs can have such high value. Some images get sold over and over again generating thousands upon thousands of $$$'s.

    Most photographers won't sell the copyrights to their images. They provide their clients with a use license, commonly called a print release.

    My use license states the client can display the prints in their home or workplace, but that's it. I still own the originals, not the client. No scanning and copying the images, no editing, no entering them into photography contests, no printing them on t-shirts for sale or other commercial purposes.

    Hopefully, your attorney is familiar with intellectual rights laws (copyrights).

    You can check the US copyright laws at That's the web site of the US Copyright Office, a part of the Library of Congess.

    Your issue with the photographer is contractual and not copyright, so far. I thought you should also be aware of some of the copyright issues you may also face.

    Hopefully, the situation gets resolved to everyones satisfaction.

    Some other web sites you may find enlightening are
    Copyright Myths Debunked
  3. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Jul 27, 2009
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    First and Foremost, I'm sorry about your bad experience. We aren't all like that and the few that are - give the rest of the wedding photographer a BAD REP...

    A lot depends on your contract
    , what & how you guys negotiated. The fact that you hired a lawyer + what KmH told you is and should be a positive point...

    From my experience, it is UNLIKELY that you'll get a full refund only b/c you contracted him to do the job and he did spend time doing it (again, look over the contract).
    The fact that you didn't like his attitude, I don't believe there is a law against him being a jerk. Morally you're right and most will agree with you but legally jerk is a jerk.
    The fact that you didn't like his work (not the actual file sizes) again, is a problem b/c photography is very very subject thus what you might not like might be opposite of what I like and/or some one else - unless in every pictures he just cut the head offs or something really stupid like that...
    Acquiring the images... getting unedited would probably be the best situation for you rather then getting your money back. Ideally you'd like to have both but shoot for the unedited images first - you're correct about getting someone to process them and print you albums.
    Again, I'm very sorry about your bad experience and from the way you said, the guy is a jerk and I really hope you'll end up getting what you'd like.
    Carefully look over the contract and see what and how you can attack the situation.
  4. vegasvisionstudios

    vegasvisionstudios TPF Noob!

    Aug 16, 2009
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    Las Vegas
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    Well as has already been mentioned it should all be in the contract. I am going to sound like a jerk here in the rest of this post but I can tell you stranger things have happen everyday in wedding photography then what I am about to lay out.

    First off when it comes to contracts anything that is not in the contract does not exist, period. If it is not there you can not force enforcement of it. Also I have not read your original post so I can't speak to how the photographer behaved or if he was a jerk or not.

    At what size and resolution did the contract say the photographer was to deliver the images?

    Does the contract specify a specific number of images that are to be delivered and if so what size and resolution are they to be delivered at?

    800 small web size images sounds like nothing but previews for you to make your selections from. Which leaves me believing that one or more of several things occurred.

    1. The photographer failed to provide the agreed upon print resolution output

    2. You failed to provide the photographer with final selections for him to prepare and deliver to you.

    3. (hypothetical but honest question) Was he a nightmare photographer because you were a bridezilla? If you went all indignant on him saying you hated his work and wanted your money back and failed to give him information that he needed to fulfill his contractual obligations to you after he gave you the previews then he of course would not be in a position to deliver.

    4. There is no contract, you cut corners with the budget and you hired a guy with a camera for cheap rather then pay a professional to photograph the most important day of your life and are essentially out of luck and got what you paid for. FWIW GWC's Represent themselves as PRO's all the time. The real indicators here are portfolio, equipment and REFERENCES BEFORE PAYING DEPOSITS.

    When dealing with professional photographers it is unheard of that you would expect to receive 800 finished photographs of your wedding unless you spent thousands and thousands of dollars on the photography which I doubt is the case here. After all your GWC is sporting a D80 and I am willing to bet a kit lens to boot.

    So yes the photographer should have 10 mega pixel files of the photos if they were shot at full resolution with a Nikon D80. The odds of him giving you full resolution unedited copies of 800 images is unlikely, I know if it was me and that was what you were asking you would get told to take a hike unless it was specifically in the contract that was what you were to receive. Your best bet is to take his offer to edit some hi res shots for you and count this as a lesson learned and hire a professional photographer next time you need one.

    OK I just went back and read your original post. If what you describe is indeed what is in the contract then he is in breech and he can be made to deliver what is in the contract. But seriously $1,000 for a wedding photographer and he is going to give you ALL THE FILES. This is not something a professional photographer will do. This is the way Guys With Cameras work.
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Jan 7, 2005
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    Kankakee, IL
    Here, I think you have decide on one or the other. I imagine a complete refund to you would be a good thing for him. In other words, he gives you your money, and you go away... empty-handed. Not so good for you. If he truly can rectify things, then you get your photographs.

    The "re-edit" part does make sense. He would be making the re-edits from the original files, and not from the files he delivered to you.

    Yes. There certainly were larger files. You have to hope he still has them intact. I worry a bit about this since he's saying they're stored elsewhere. In your first post, you say he promised you in an email "full-resolution" files. In my mind, this would have to mean files at the resolution they were made. That camera is capable of capturing images at different resolutions. So whatever resolution he chose to use would be the "full resolution" of the image created. It's likely the full resolution of the images created is much larger than that of those he delivered to you.

    Like I said earlier, if he does re-edit, he'll be working with the original files. There is likely to be some difference in the new edits. He's making this disclaimer now because he knows he's in hot water and is FINALLY getting specific in his communication with you.

    He MIGHT be thinking the same thing. He may turn to someone else to do the editing for him.

    And THAT'S what YOU have at stake. All he stands to loose is some money. So, STAY ON HIM. Don't let up. It may take some time, but if you don't follow through, I doubt he'll produce anything more.

  6. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

    May 28, 2009
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    To be honest 370MB is fairly large...
    On this website we use around 200kb - 700kb when we upload images, which is large enough for 4"-6"

    Could i ask the following.

    1. The name and website of the photographer
    2. Do you have a copy of the contract? if so - Upload it and show us it, if not email the togger and ask for him to send you it, If he doesn't have it, he is an idiot, You should always keep official documents for atleast 5 years...
    3. What exactly did you dislike about the images?
    4. What did you pay?
    5. 800 images... that is worth about £25 per image = £20'000
    6. For the Digital negative files (RAW) you would be looking at about £75 - 5'000 as it would be accompanied most likely with a full rights license, which could cost allot more than 5k

    Of course, Satisfaction should be served, And the photographer is offering to help your situation by re-editing the images therefore i see no reason for a lawsuit atm...

    Now if this photographer is one of those ones that charge about £200 for a full wedding and you choose him cause he is really cheap, You deserve what you get imo.

    A Lesson i have learned from this website is, "You get what you pay for"
    Now i dont know much about you or the photographer so cant really say much about it.
  7. RodeoFotocom

    RodeoFotocom TPF Noob!

    Aug 25, 2009
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    Killam, Alberta Canada
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    IMO, from the little bit I read, you have no right to a refund. IMO if you continue to fight for that you will end up with nothing.

    What you should ask for is something realistic. Your photos, in which you are entitled to.

    I can imagine that it takes two to tangle, and if you didn't get along with him at your wedding, I bet he didn't get along with you.

    Sorry, but I am big on trying to see both sides.

    If I was you, I would write to him - state you want to move on, just want some photos, etc etc. Be nice. If you can't be nice, find someone else to write the letter.

    Keep asking for a full refund, you are going to end up spending more time posting here and talking to lawyers then sitting at your computer looking at your photos.

    JMO! :lmao:
  8. Double H

    Double H TPF Noob!

    Nov 12, 2007
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    Around the corner from the Turkey Hill, PA
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    I hope you are able to get your hi-res images. A D80 is capable of producing images larger than a few hundred K. I could never imagine yelling at the bride for ANY reason. Sometimes you need to wait for the shot, sounds to me like perhaps this guy can't rely on finding shots on his own, but rather barking at people to get what he wants. Perhaps he was in over his head, and the stress was showing through, regardless the bride should never know this.
    Like someone else mentioned keep after the hi-res images, and not the refund.

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