It isn’t easy to share my wedding photography story nightmare, as I am still upset about what happened to us. I do feel the need though to share my story in order to release it from my life and move on. So, I hope this may help someone through a tough time and also share more about who I am and what I stand for.
In 2005, Chris and I got engaged! We started the planning process in 2006 and had taken a recommendation from his friend’s sister on a photography company to use. This company was across NY, PA and NJ. I thought, wow, they are big and they will make sure to have someone the day of our wedding. Not so fast… I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories about someone’s wedding photography… we’ll here’s mine.
We set-up a meeting with someone from the company a year before our wedding. As it turned out, when we got to the random office building, it was someone I knew from high school. That made me feel really at ease. We discussed a package, settled on a price and walked away paying for the entire package at once. We were thrilled!
A few days later, we looked through photographer galleries and we chose our guy. He was awesome and his photos looked amazing. For the next several months we told everyone about the great photographer that we booked and the great package we were getting. We talked it up so much that on our actual wedding day, no one really took any photos at all.
Cut to a month before the wedding, I had a hard time getting someone from the company on the phone. The person I knew no longer worked there. They were supposed to contact me with the final details and they were MIA. This should have been the first sign of trouble, but I just thought they were busy.
Finally a day before the wedding, they contacted me to ask questions, set up the locations, etc… I never actually spoke to my photographer or met him before my big day. I just went on faith that everything would be okay. On our wedding day, he did show up. Thank goodness.
The nightmare really started after our wedding. For the next few months, I couldn’t get a hold of anyone who to answer my questions. I’d call, leave messages, get no answer. I’d get an email response, but it would just be that they are still editing the photos. Three months later, they still had nothing to show me. Then they sent e-mails that they were re-organizing the company, changing the name, etc… I thought, okay, where’s my photos? What’s going on here?
Then my mom called. She saw the company on the six o’clock news. It closed down and went out of business. All of the offices in three states were emptied and locked. No notices, no phone number to call, no way to get in contact with anyone! The owner just walked away, went to PA and started a new photography company in a new name. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of brides had no photos or no future photographer after just paying thousands to book their wedding date!
Panic set in. I asked anyone who had taken photos to send me some, please. I needed something. A few people took some photos. They just assumed we had an awesome photographer and we’d be set. I had taken hundred of photos at my brother and sister’s wedding, so they had back-ups if something happened. I didn’t. We assumed that our photography would be awesome and never thought this. I asked my aunt to help me figure this all out and find our photographer, as she’s great at locating people.
After a few days, now it’s four months past our wedding, we finally get a hold of my photographer. We had to set-up a meeting at a coffee shop to pay cash for our photos. Not only did I pay a lot to start with, I ended up paying more to get images that were unedited and no album. I finally had photos in my hand. Whew.
Throughout the time I was trying to locate my photographer, I found out that the person I knew from high school had left the place shortly after booking us. She wasn’t getting regular paychecks. That really hurt. She may have known something wasn’t right, but she didn’t say anything and took our money anyway. She is now a wedding photographer herself and I hope she’s more honest with her own clients.
My photographer, while we had to pay more to get images, was awesome. He was so kind and only asked for what he would have gotten paid by the company. Many other brides were dealing with photographers who wanted double the price, album purchases, etc… He just wanted what he would have gotten. Okay, fine, I understand.
When we met up to exchange the goods, he told us that he hadn’t gotten paid for 14 weddings before ours. He also had never given the photos to the company, so they lied when they said they were still editing them. They never had them in the first place! He knew he wasn’t going to get paid for our wedding, but on his own wedding day his photographer never showed up. His wife was so upset thirty years ago, that he said he’d never do that to another person. He knew he’d get paid somehow. I am so thankful I chose him. So thankful! He had a true heart. Reading through what other photographers were doing to rip off brides in a tight spot, I felt blessed.
So, now we’ve had our disc of images for 2 1/2 years and I haven’t done much with them. During the four months of the wedding photography debacle, my dad was battling cancer. Those images were the last healthy and happy images I have of my dad.
I’m thankful to have been blessed with the photographer had. Experiencing this has offered me a true understanding of how important the images are that I capture for other people. I wasn’t a photographer at the time, but now I will not allow this to happen to a client of mine. This really taught me that while a company may be big, they can still fail. Sometimes it’s better to embrace the little company.
We have our images and I’m so thankful that years later I am in the business where I can do the work myself and with care. It’s taken me a while to share my story, but my goal this summer is to go through our photos as if they were my client’s images. Giving the same care I give to my clients images, I plan to edit and create an album for us.
I look back on this experience as one that was needed. I don’t feel I would be as extremely caring and careful with my clients images as I would be, if I had not been through this experience. Just like our photographer, who showed up because he had his own wedding photography mishap, I know this is my calling to pay it forward and do the same.
I will always be there for my clients, for as long as I live.