PDA

View Full Version : Yesterdays Nightmare Wedding question


JustKat
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 16:25
Six months ago, I was contacted by a friend that wanted to hire me to photograph her daughters wedding. I was already booked for that date so I had to turn her down. I recommended several other wedding photographers in the area to ask, unfortunately none of them were available either. So, the daughter(bride) hired an old high school friend(amateur)to shoot the wedding. I need to mention that I was also invited to this wedding as a guest. I got done with the event I was doing for the day so I raced over to the wedding, found a seat and sat down 10 minutes before the ceremony was to begin. I did not have a camera on me. Next thing I know the photographer was in my face, wanting to know what the *#*#!! I was doing there. Then without even waiting for an answer, she walks away, packs up her gear, and leaves! The Bride then approaches me in tears, wanting me to take over the photography. I felt bad for her, but sensing problems that I wanted no part of, I explained to her that I didn't have a camera on me and had to leave shortly after the ceremony( the camera was in the car, not on me, so I wasn't lying:) ). There were plenty of guests with cameras so I knew she would get some photos. I'm really not heartless, just cautious. The Bride called me this morning and told me that the other photographer contacted her and said she was returning their check and that they would not be getting the photos that she took(all the getting ready and formal shots, which were taken before the ceremony). When the Bride asked her why she was doing this, the photographer told her that she felt she was back stabbed by my presence there, as no one would want to purchase reprints of her shots if they had mine to compare them to. I DIDN"T EVEN HAVE A CAMERA, there was nothing to compare!
So, my question is does anyone have any insight or knowledge about who legally owns these photos if there was never any contract signed between the parties and the photographer returned the payment? Does the bride have any rights to them at all? And hopefully the photographer didn't erase them.
What a nightmare! I wish I would have just went home!

IainB
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 16:50
Not sure about 'legalities' but the bride (or parents) should be on the phone to the photographer who may have cooled down by now, and may listen to reason. Afterall, when she understands that you were there as a guest- not even taking photos - she may see that she was in fact honoured! Clearly as an amateur she felt under some stress. I know how it feels! A bit of sweet talking could just do the trick, and the bride may at least have some shots to treasure.

Carzee
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 16:54
The other shooter has a premature evacuation problem LOL. What a twit she is. How embarrassment. This story will go round town and do her rep no good at all.

OdiN1701
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 17:10
Yeah I don't see why the other photog left at all. Sounds like she acted downright immature.

therosefairy
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 18:03
oh my gosh! im not sure of the legalities either, but if i was that bride left w/no photos i would definitely be brining her to small claims court. she should really look over any contract they may have had and fight it. you figure even if the contract stated she has to be the only photographer, you didn't have your camera. photographers attend weddings all the time, and not just to work.

and that is a friend of the daughter??? doesn't sound like a friend to me...plus there is always going to be someone better than you, accept it and move on. if shes going to feel that threatened by another photographer then maybe she shouldnt be in the business. heck, ive done a wedding where the couple hired 2 photographers, (myself, and someone else). she should have tried to be understanding and professional. plus she shouldn't have approached you in the first place.

bpuppy
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 20:20
How/why did the other photog even know you WERE a photographer if you didn't have a camera?

Might be a time to call that person and beg for an ounce of professionalism/decorum/common sense. Unless you did something or have a history that makes them feel threatened ... is there more back story here?

Smooth1
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 20:26
WOW, that is downright immature and inconsiderate. Her rep will surely suffer or at least one would hope so.
Unfortunately since a contract was not created and signed your friend has no right to get the images. Going into that even further, the photographer actually has a right to display the images where ever she chooses without consent as long as it's not for profit. Same rules apply as if she had just been taking candid shots of random people.

SuzyView
23rd of July 2006 (Sun), 20:28
You must be a very good photographer to be so threatening even without your camera on you. ;)

I went to my niece's wedding in UT in May and was asked to shoot the wedding. I got there and a pro showed up from the groom's side. I was a little uncomfortable with it, but thought "what the heck?" I liked the idea of not having that responsibility and let the situation slide down my back. I took about 200 pictures and the other photographer did the whole day's worth. He was a family friend and did it for cost. I was glad it worked out. I don't understand why two photographers are not better than one. I would have slapped you in the back and said, "Show me your stuff!" and made a duel out of it. Much more fun and a lot less insecure. Sorry about the mess. Contractually, the other photographer is obligated to do the shoot or the b&g can sue. Hope they had a contract.

JustKat
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 00:41
[quote=bpuppy]How/why did the other photog even know you WERE a photographer if you didn't have a camera?

1. This wedding was in the town in which I have lived for over 30 years. My camera and I frequent many weddings so I'm fairly well known here.
2. This photographer just happened to be a girl that I mentored several years ago for her Senior Project, which was on photography. We got along great.
No more back story than that. I could understand that she might feel threatened if I came in and tried to take over, which I have no history of or would ever consider doing, but as I said, I didn't even have a camera!

This girl is immature and inexperienced and had no business taking on such a huge job. As I thought more about all this today, I am wondering if she realized what she had gotten herself into, panicked, and used my presense as a way to bail out and try to blame someone else. No other reason for her actions makes any sense to me, it was just insane!

I heard that the Brides parents are going to seek legal help tomorrow, They are really mad. So we'll see how that goes.

JustKat
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 00:44
Sorry about the Quote=b puppy thing. Not sure what I did to have that happen:o

IainB
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 03:27
[quote=bpuppy]

This girl is immature and inexperienced and had no business taking on such a huge job. As I thought more about all this today, I am wondering if she realized what she had gotten herself into, panicked, and used my presense as a way to bail out and try to blame someone else. No other reason for her actions makes any sense to me, it was just insane!



Now that sounds more like the reason!

grego
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 03:48
Holy crap!! The moral of the story, is always create a contract, even if they are friends and family, if there's money or a service involved in exchange for something important.

Claire
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 04:20
That must be the most unprofessional thing I've ever heard! She shouldn't just have left like that, and she's an amateur, not a pro with a contract stating "no other photographers". And even then, geesh, you were a guest!

SuzyView
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 06:36
Does anyone else have that "no other photographers" quote in their contract? I assume when you sign with the bridal party, they commit to paying for the shoot, with options on a package for the pictures taken. This person really must have been paranoid about it.

If you are that famous, I'd avoid future weddings you are not shooting. :) ;) Just kidding. A person can't even attend a friend's wedding without being harrassed for not doing something. Imagine that?

Claire
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 08:16
A person can't even attend a friend's wedding without being harrassed for not doing something. Imagine that?

Ah yes, and if you're a doctor you shouldn't be visiting a sick friend at the hospital... ;)

kev350d
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 08:59
This all seems very bizzare, my wedding consisted of two pro photographers (and about another 5 family members, friends who also shoot 35mm slr and dslr) not to mention the dispossable and point n shoot, no one felt trod on etc. (as i would expect any pro would understand this does occur at every wedding) unless hello mag has bought sole rights lol, Only time the pro's mentioned anything was to make people aware that the other flashes could/would hinder the outcome of their shots. (so the rest refrained) and only took pics outside, in between and after the album shots.

Myself and the missus were the only ones getting frustrated lol But on the upside we got a huge selection of candid pics that we were totaly unaware of.
And a fantastic album put together by two fantastic and patient photographers.

Im sorry to say this but had my photographer decided to pull a stroke like that on my wife's big day he/she would have needed his/her equipment surgically removed from their a**.

Did you manage to salvage any shots for them knowing your gear was in your car. (As a friendly gesture to try and up their spirits) or could it have become complicated.

I would go as far as saying a true pro is not just a fantastic photographer but would have to handle each and every scenario in a professional manner as to suit himself and client. A wedding day is truley one of the most important days of a couples life "and the moments never repeated" so for someone to pull a stroke like that is just darn right ignorant.

jamiewexler
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 09:58
If she agreed to photograph the wedding for payment - written or not - there's a contract. (i.e. we'll pay you money, you photograph our wedding). If she cashed their check then she's obligated to fulfill her end of the bargain. The fact that there was no written contract is more damaging for the photographer than for the couple. A judge is going to side with the couple, and there's no exclusivity clause to back up the photographer's reasons for bailing.

The couple should pursue legal means, and try to get a court order for the photographer to NOT destroy the photographs as soon as possible. They should also make sure that if she attempts to return the money, they do not accept it until the court proceedings are over. Without a limiter of liability in a contract, the photographer could be liable for pain and suffering damages in addition to the refund she owes them. Unfortunately her little stunt could put her in a world of legal and financial trouble.

Claire
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 10:42
What amazes me is that she wasn't just leaving the wedding as a photographer, but she was supposed to be the friend of the bride! It's bad enough to walk out like that as a photographer,but to also do that to a friend... Well,that's the end of that friendship.

JustKat
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 11:09
No, I didn't manage to salvage any shots for them. I went with my gut instincts and chose to just stay out of this mess. I was so shocked at what was happening that I was just dumbfounded. When my brain kicked back in, my first thought was to go get my camera and help them out, but then I thought again. If I would have taken over, wouldn't that have somewhat justified the other photographers actions, like she was only needed until I could get there. I don't know, it was just all really weird. They had lots of people there with cameras so I'm sure they got pictures, maybe not as quality as they wanted but at least the memories are there. I tried to be as professional as I could with the whole situation so that I would hopefully not forever become a piece of this memory, I kept my mouth and thoughts to myself.
The Bride and her father called me numerous times yesterday to ask me questions that I truthfully could not answer(mostly legal stuff). I was polite and friendly and made sure not make any negative comments about the other photographer, or offer any legal advice.
Both the B&G's families are very prominent people here and I'm sure this situation could get very much uglier before it's over. I am very interested in what's going to be the outcome, and I'm sure I'll hear since the Brides mother is a friend, but I'm going to wait until she offers imformation and keep my nose out of it.

I also have worked multiple times with other hired photographers, shooting the same wedding, one of us hired by the Bride and the other by the Groom. I love doing it that way as long as everyone understands what their role is. Usually it works out great, is less stress, and fun as long as neither get bossy and try to take over. There is one particular husband & wife photographer team that I avoid working with because they are not very pleasant and they don't want to share the spotlight and don't make it known until you're trying to work with them. I always ask up front if I will be the only photographer and if there's another, who is it. If it's the mentioned team, I turn down the job and kindly explain that I just don't work well with them. They take great photos, but their personalities and manners clash with mine( I would rather turn down the job than put up with them for 8 hours).

JustKat
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 20:24
Jamiewexler - You were right on the legal stuff. Brides dad spoke with attorney today and was told that a verbal contract is as binding as a written contract as long as there is proof of agreement for "Payment presented for Services Promised".

He says that the proof is -
Photographer was given a check for downpayment, which she did cash.
Brides dad has carbon copy of the check for remaining balance that was written and given to the photographer last Friday with the memo stating "balance due on wedding photography"
Plus about 15 wittnesses that saw the whole thing happen.

I guess the war is on!

liza
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 20:54
Also, doesn't US copyright law specify that in work-for-hire situations, the person who purchases the service owns the copyright to the image? I think that's why photographers state in their contract that they will retain copyright. I may be wrong but it seems like I read that on this forum.

liza
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:12
I couldn't stand not knowing, so I Googled it.

http://law.freeadvice.com/intellectual_property/copyright_law/work_for_hire.htm

http://law.freeadvice.com/intellectual_property/copyright_law/work_for_hire.htm

This one conflicts the other two (sort of):
http://users.goldengate.net/~kbrady/copyright.html
(See "Myth 19")

liza
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:17
And another one:

http://www.digitaljuice.com/magazine/articles/2006_034_vtx.asp

I'm not sure how helpful it will be to the couple, though.

SonyaL
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:21
Its kinda like with friends like that who needs enemys.
It sure was not very proffesional of this person to just walk out like that geeze thats so kindergarten.She should have to give them a full refund and I am not sure what they could do about not getting any wedding shots hopefully run any chances of her shooting another wedding.


Sonya

jamiewexler
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:22
Also, doesn't US copyright law specify that in work-for-hire situations, the person who purchases the service owns the copyright to the image? I think that's why photographers state in their contract that they will retain copyright. I may be wrong but it seems like I read that on this forum.

No. We as photographers are providing a service - NOT work for hire (unless you enter into a specific work for hire agreement). As a photographer I own the copyright of all photographs I take, and so does the girl who bailed on the wedding. She's not in trouble because she's holding the Bride and Groom's copyrighted photos (she owns those), but because she refused to perform the service that she was paid to perform...she didn't hold up her end of the bargain.

An example of Work for Hire where you no longer own the copyright to your photos is some photographers who shoot for a larger studio. Studios often employ photographers on a work for hire basis, where the photographer signs over the copyright to the studio.

SuzyView
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:27
As far as the contract -verbal or written- the hired photographer should be liable for not finishing her contract with the B&G. She should return the money from the downpayment and apologize for being unprofessional. If I were the family of the B&G I would definitely get the word out that this photographer is unreliable to all their friends, if they don't already know it. This way she learns something. Otherwise, this behavior will just keep going on and others will suffer. Was she a good photographer?

agosling
24th of July 2006 (Mon), 21:32
I am just blown away that anyone would behave in this manner, I've worked weddings where there have been other photographers as guests and in most cases they have had cameras with them and used them, as long as they haven't gotten in my way there is no way I would even care let alone walk away. I can only agree that she was in over her head and looking for any excuse to get away, you just happened to be that excuse.

As to whether I would have stepped in and taken photos after she left I can see your problem, I have a feeling I would have done it, if there were so many witnesses and she had left the area completely my thought would have been for the couple who were going to suffer by not having any quality shots of their wedding through no fault of their own. really tough call though.

JustKat
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 00:50
Suzie - You asked if she was a good photographer? I don't know what her wedding photos look like and from the looks of things right now I may never see them. I have seen some portraits she did several years ago and they were pretty good, nothing spectacular but not bad either, I think she had potential.

agosling - I do feel sad for the B&G about their lack of photographs. Had I not actually been in this situation I think that I would say that I would have stepped in and saved the day. I can't explain why I didn't but it just didn't seem like the thing to do at that moment. I don't have any regrets about the choice I made, for some reason I just feel that it would have made things worse.

Rob612
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 01:06
I don't know what to say, that's really unprofessional. I am curious to know how things will sort out at the end, will you keep us posted ??

Thompsunshine
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 01:32
Wow. Unbelievable! Absolutely unbelievable.

JustKat
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 01:41
I will keep you posted. It has been great to be able to discuss this with others on this forum and hear their opinions. I don't want to discuss it with anyone that was there because then it feels like gossip.

Thompsunshine
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 13:09
JustKat: I would like to say that you are an incredible person with an enormous amount of honor and diplomacy. I for one, am very impressed with your behavior with all of this.

braduardo
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 18:46
I have a question that is somewhat related, but not completely. A very close friend of mine will be getting married in Feb. and I am invited as a guest. I think she would have liked me to photograph their wedding, but I don't want that responsibilty, and told her that she needs to hire a pro, but that I will be there with my camera, too.

My plan is to have a lot of the gear that I will need by then, or rent it for the weekend so that I will be properly outfitted for the event.

Is there anything special I should do, or have her do so that the official photog. doesn't feel like I'm stepping on his/her toes? I figure I'll just be sitting in the audience snapping a couple shots, and maybe taking some candids and such afterwards.

I want to be able to give my friend some wedding shots, but at the same time, I don't want to be cutting into someone else's work.

Any suggestions? Oh, and I agree with Thompsunshine... I really don't know what I would have done in a postion like that. Sucks that you had to make that type of decision. I would probably feel guilty if I did take the pictures, or feel guilty that the bride didn't get pictures. Tough spot.

SuzyView
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 18:56
If you are unsure, ask them to save up for a pro and you can communicate with that pro to be a second. That way there is no pressure on you, but you can enjoy the ceremony more.

braduardo
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 19:17
They are going to get a pro... But I want to be able to give them pictures I took... Sentimental reasons, and financial ones... I wouldn't want to be a 'second' at her wedding because I do want to keep the pictures and do with them as I please, and I wouldn't want her to have to pay for my pictures. If I get any stellar ones, I would give them rather than sell them.

ejsjrnc
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 19:41
You can always talk with the pro at the wedding and explain that you are a hobbyist and would like to be able to take some shots to give to the couple as a wedding gift from you. I would think that most of the more professional photogs would not have a problem as long as you don't mess up their shots.

braduardo
25th of July 2006 (Tue), 19:45
You can always talk with the pro at the wedding and explain that you are a hobbyist and would like to be able to take some shots to give to the couple as a wedding gift from you. I would think that most of the more professional photogs would not have a problem as long as you don't mess up their shots.

Maybe I'll just ask my friend to pass on the photog's number and I can give him a call ahead of time, and ask him if he would be offended or if it would cause a problem. Of course I would stay out of the way.

I don't think it should be too huge of an issue. Anybody with a camera can capture a 'once in a lifetime' moment. I'll just be going for it with a bigger camera. ;)

JustKat
26th of July 2006 (Wed), 01:40
Thompsunshine - Thank you very much for the kind words.

JustKat
28th of August 2006 (Mon), 01:00
They settled this last Friday (with attorneys). Photographer originally promised 5 hours of wedding coverage and 300-400 photos in an album in exchange for $1000. in pay. Photographer handed over 4, 24 exposure, canisters of unexposed film at this meeting on Friday. I don't know what either party said, but I know the outcome.
B&G have a judgement against photographer for $3000. to cover-
B&G attorney fees
Cost of re-renting mens suits for a re-shoot
Cost of paying another photographer to come and re-shoot the formal shots.
Misc. charges to reunite wedding party for re-shoot
Hardship losses

DiscoLizard
28th of August 2006 (Mon), 01:08
Thanks for updating us JustKat, I'd imagine the damage to her reputation to be just as costly as the financial penalties.

PIXI_666
28th of August 2006 (Mon), 07:05
What I think is, if she is an amateur and no contracts were signed then really if she returned the cheque then i guess its her porogative to keep the photos?

What a muck up on her behalf....personally i would have taken over if i had my camera with me - its so easy for me to switch on and off wedding mode...i can be a guest at a wedding and the photographer and 2hrs into the reception i turn off and become a guest, before that i am working.

Del

jamiewexler
28th of August 2006 (Mon), 09:57
They settled this last Friday (with attorneys). Photographer originally promised 5 hours of wedding coverage and 300-400 photos in an album in exchange for $1000. in pay. Photographer handed over 4, 24 exposure, canisters of unexposed film at this meeting on Friday. I don't know what either party said, but I know the outcome.
B&G have a judgement against photographer for $3000. to cover-
B&G attorney fees
Cost of re-renting mens suits for a re-shoot
Cost of paying another photographer to come and re-shoot the formal shots.
Misc. charges to reunite wedding party for re-shoot
Hardship losses

Good for the couple! I'm so glad that the "photographer" was held responsible for bailing on her commitment, and causing so much stress on someone's wedding day. If you ask me she got off easy - I think she should have been on the hook for more $$$!

richy5497
28th of August 2006 (Mon), 10:35
I just read this story and feel sorry for just about everyone in it.

I feel sorry for you JustKat, as you didn't actually do anything wrong and walked into a nightmare!

I feel sorry for the Bride & groom although they have been compensated, so they are okay, but have lost the memories of the day.

I also feel sorry for the hired photographer. While the whole mess cost her $3000 and probably a lot of lost work in the near future, it was ultimately a stupid thing to do. But i don't know her and so i cannot judge her actions on the day.

I can however see her predicament, she shoots her (possibly) first wedding and the pressure is on! Obviously because she charged $1000 she had to do a good job. But then you show up WOW, pressure is REALLY on!

What she should have done though, was said "B*ll*cks, now i have to perform!" and got on with the shoot, When she saw you weren't here to take pics, she should have approached you and asked you if you'd mind 'keeping her right' discreetly, as you were her old mentor.

Thats what i'd do!

Bl**dy women! Unpredictable!:rolleyes::p

Well done on keeping your distance, i think you acted very well!
Richy...