Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photographer Heartbreak

As promised a post about the heartbreak we had with our wedding photographer.

I feel as though I should have seen some sort of red flag when we interviewed our wedding photographer. I feel like we did everything the right way. We did our research and found a photography style we loved and then found a local photographer with that style and whose pictures we loved and who was within our price range. Our price range was not small. I believe that wedding pictures are a place to allot a larger amount of money as that is the only thing from the wedding day besides the relationship and the rings that lasts. So we allotted a large amount of our wedding budget to the photography. To our particular photographer with the particular style that we loved and with a portfolio that we loved. Clean beautiful clear pictures.

Sadly by the time we realized what we were really dealing with it was…TOO LATE.

With only four months to plan our wedding we did not have time or extra money to find a new photographer once we realized truly what we were going to have to deal with.

It did not take long to learn that our photographer was quite impossible to communicate with. We had to contact her several times to get a response. And anyone who has planned a wedding knows that in the midst of everything you have to do to pull off a wedding the last thing you need is to have paid someone any amount of money and have them not communication well with you. Our photographer was a terrible communicator, a source of immense frustration.

When we finally nailed down a date for the engagement shoot at literally the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning our photographer arrived late. We did not mind the crack of dawn part as we knew the lighting was good then and we all wanted to get done before it got too hot. It was the middle of summer. But the arriving late part was a bit concerning but that early in our relationship with our photographer it wasn’t a great concern yet.

As the shoot progressed we realized that we were going to be the ones coming up with poses and ideas for the shoot. She gave little to no instruction and that did bother me a bit. Thankfully Mr. Wonderful did a really great job coming up with great ideas!!

Following the photo shoot we were given a time line which was not met. I then had to contact the photographer multiple times and was finally given another timeline that was not met. Again let me remind you readers that we got lots of promises and we paid for specific things and we had only four months to plan our wedding and the photographer knew this. We got a print to go in our signature mat the day of our rehearsal dinner…four months later. Frustrating…Yes! We only had our complete gallery open for a little while at that point. But God is faithful and we did get a print just in time for the wedding.

I had been told by the photographer that she would help with the timeline for the wedding day. I contacted her again multiple times to get a timeline or to get help with a timeline as I had out of town guests and coordinators that were waiting for this information. When I finally received a response it was that she would try to get to it and a week later again I was told she would try to get around to it. I finally did my own research on wedding day timelines and made a timeline myself and sent it to the photographer and let her know that she would be required to follow the timeline I came up with as I received no help from her. Thanks for the follow through photographer!!!

The wedding day finally dawns and at this point I have decided that nothing is going to bother me on that day. And nothing did Praise the Lord!!

The photographer showed up 30 minutes late so my hair appointment had to be swapped with my mom so that we could wait on the photographer to get there and have pictures made throughout the whole process!

When she does arrive the first thing she does is lay down on the floor. This would not be the first time that she would lay down on the floor throughout the day. In fact my pastor found her in his office asleep on the floor. She did not ask to be in his office nor did anyone know she was there until he found her. Several times we had to find her to get a photo we wanted. The second shooter that was there that day truly SAVED the day! She took ALL of the detail pictures and ALL of the pictures of the guys that day. Sadly we do not have many photos of the guys. In fact, we only have a handful outside of the ones that were scheduled to be taken. At least we have those thanks to the second shooter! And thankfully I was pretty blissfully blind to this ALL day! I have since learned that many of my peeps in charge were beyond frustrated with the photographer and she was even quite rude to my wedding day coordinator.

So the blissful day comes and goes and we head off on our honeymoon. A cruise which blissfully takes us completely out of touch which we very much needed! Upon reaching land once again we had a very nice surprise…we did have a preview of our wedding pictures on facebook and on the photographers blog. That was the only nice surprise we had since hiring the photographer.

I waited a whole month before finally giving in to myself and contacting the photographer to find out when we would get to see the rest of the photos. I did not receive a response from her until another month later to which I was told that she was in the middle of a Christmas rush and she gave me a timeline that SURPRISE…WAS NOT MET!!!

From there I contacted her once every two weeks rarely getting a response and when I did get a response it was chock full of excuses and timelines that…were NEVER met.

Six months after our wedding we still had not seen any wedding photos outside of the twelve she posted while we were on our honeymoon. We then sent her a certified letter demanding our photos within 15 days. To which we received…NO RESPONSE. Nothing, not an email or call or pictures…NOTHING!! I then began to contact her everyday via email and calling and leaving her messages. To which she did not answer except once to again give an excuse and say she is working on it. UNACCEPTABLE UNACCEPTABEL UNACCEPTABLE.

At that point we were past the six month mark and only one month to moving out of state. I was terrified that we would never see our photos even after paying her IN FULL and ON TIME. I then contacted her lawyer husband via facebook and pleaded my case to him. He assured me that he would get our photos to us as quickly as possible. I waited two weeks, which at that point was very generous, and contacted the photographer again. Quess what I got…yep…NO RESPONSE. So I contacted her husband again. This time it took him a day to respond to me and then another day for her to respond to me. She actually set up a time for us to pick up a disk of our raw photos…THE DAY BEFORE WE MOVED a full seven months after our wedding.

We did not get the work we paid for, we did not get some of the products that we paid for, and we most certainly did not get the experience we wanted.

I am very very thankful to have gotten the photos at all honestly. I have several wonderful photographers who have offered to edit some of the photos and for that I am beyond thankful and blessed. But I am truly heartbroken at the entire experience with our photographer and the fact that she took all of our money and in return we got only heartbreak.

I understand she is sick with an autoimmune disorder, but I feel that when you have a client that has paid you in full and been MORE than patient with your lack of communication and lack of integrity then you find a way to get that clients photos done and you get them what they paid for. I do not feel we deserved the way we were treated and I do not feel like she tried to make amends for it at all. She never offered to return any of our money to us, which honestly it is not about the money. I want the pictures more than I want the money. She just never took responsibility for the way we were treated and never tried to have integrity and do what she said she would do and what she was paid to do.

In fact my God mom has an autoimmune disorder too and even still she follows through with her commitments or finds someone who can help or take over the commitment. That is having integrity. Our photographer has had no integrity in any of this and that breaks my heart the most!

This past week is the first time I have gotten to be the slightest bit excited about our wedding photos. I think that is heartbreaking! But again I am so thankful to finally have them and am so thankful that God has opened doors for professionals to help with the editing. I have tried my hand at some editing and it just doesn’t compare to what I paid the money for. I had such an idea of the beautiful photos that I wanted and would have been proud to pay for but those hopes and ideas crashed hard.

I truly hope that no one else has to go through this with their wedding photographer and I still do not quite know what to do to make sure no one else gets burned by the photographer that we hired. I will not compromise our integrity and our character but I do feel like others need to be well informed so that they do not find themselves in the position we were put in with her.

And that my friends is the saga of our wedding photographer heartbreak. Long and heartbreaking. Still makes me angry at her and breaks my heart when I think about it all. As I was truly very sweet and understanding in the beginning giving the benefit of doubt. I WAS WRONG.

And because almost all of the photos are raw and our families have not seen them, as we were hoping to give them gifts last Christmas or at least by Mother’s Day – didn’t happen, I will not be sharing any of the wedding photos yet.


The Hairstons said...

WOW.WOW.WOW!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE the photographer did that to you! There should be some sort of lawsuit you could file, right?! You did pay her and she didn't follow through on what you paid her for. Makes me so mad!! I'm so sorry you have had to go through that :(

Tabbie:) said...

Thank Leisha it has been heartbreaking and with us leaving we had no time for any real action against her. But at least we got our photos and for that I am thankful!

Jamie said...

ooohhhhh!!! I can totally sick em for you Tabbie! :) This happened with our wedding video. We paid for a 30 minute video with complete editing. We got a two minute (less than most news stories) version with a lot of raw unedited video. Thankfully, my hub and I both worked in tv. So we let it go! I'm so glad you got your raw pics though. That is HUGE.

Tabbie:) said... sorry about your video issue too. I'm glad I got the pics as well and that God is so sweet and caring to help me cover the editing, He is faithful and cares about the smaller things that we care about!