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Thread started 06 Aug 2013 (Tuesday) 08:01
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I'm getting screwed (Wedding/Payment)

 
PretendFriend
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Aug 06, 2013 08:01 |  #1

Hi everyone,

This is my first post on the forum but I've been a long time lurker.

I want to tell you guys what just happened to me in an attempt to A.) Get it off my chest, and B.) Hopefully gain some back-up by having people tell me I've done nothing wrong.

Okay, here it goes.

I've only recently (as in the last 2 months) started to take on photography jobs in a professional sense. Up until this point it's been a hobby but now I feel confident enough in my own abilities to start charging for my services.
I advertised myself as a second shooter for weddings and said I would do it for quite cheap, just so I'd have more of a chance to get hired which would allow me to build up a portfolio to land future work.
Soon enough I had an offer from a local wedding photographer who said he had a wedding coming up but couldn't make it because he had to undergo surgery. He asked me if I'd do it instead and I agreed. We didn't sign any contract (Always will in future now, lesson learned!) but had a verbal agreement that he'd pay me X-amount for the day. Now I'll admit I was jumping into the deep end but I was grateful for the big opportunity.
The photographer told me he had contacted the Bride and Groom to tell them the situation and they were both happy with me filling in for him. I even called them up myself to introduce myself and to make sure they were comfortable with me. No problems there.

The wedding comes and goes, and on the whole I feel for a very first wedding I did the best I could. I was happy with my work. It was a massive learning experience but I coped well with the pressure. I did a good job.

However, this is where the trouble starts.
I met up with the photographer earlier today to pass over the images to him and to receive my payment. He then told me he called the Bride and Groom yesterday to ask them how the day went, and he told me that they absolutely trashed me.
They disliked me so much apparently that they want a FULL refund from the photographer, which meant (surprise surprise) he couldn't pay me for the work I've done.

This is where it gets ridiculous though. I asked him what the specific complaints they had about me were, and they are completely unreasonable and in one case a complete lie.

The first complaint was that I didn't shoot the Bride in the morning having her hair and makeup done, as this was in the shot list they had provided. And yes it's true, I did not do that. I didn't do that because on the day, I asked the Bride if she was ready for me to take the pictures and she replied to me with "I've changed my mind with that, just wait till I'm completely ready before taking any of me". So there we go, case closed.

The second complaint was that I spent some time throughout the day changing and alternating lenses. Yes, that's how photography works? I don't have two bodies and the time it took for me to change to suitable lenses for certain situations in no way delayed the day or disrupted it. Most of the time I let the couple know I was going to change a lens and they were totally fine with it. In fact the only time I did several lens changes was when I was taking "artsy" portraits on the couple in the local park, again I explained why I was changing them and they had no issues.

The best complaint of all though is this. According to the photographer, the couple had told him that there was a period of time during the day on my break where I went to the bar inside the venue, ordered a drink and proceeded to fall asleep. They even said that they and other guests started clapping their hands together in front of my face in an attempt to wake me up! This is a complete and utter lie. There are no two ways about it, it is a lie! I barely had any time to sit down for 5 minutes during the day never mind take a relaxing nap. They also told the photographer that they have "witnesses" who can back up those claims which is also not true because I have people AND evidence that proves I was awake and functional for the whole time. My alibi is my mother, who happened to be in the local area at the time of my break, so I called her up to come sit with me for a while. My evidence is that I have saved sent and received text messages between myself and a photographer friend of mine discussing how the day was going. So in essence, these people don't have a leg to stand on whatsoever.


Keep in mind that the Bride and Groom have yet to see a single photograph of the day, yet they have apparently decided to ask for a full refund.
The photographer who hired me has shown a huge lack of professionalism by not paying me for doing the job he requested me to do, and for hiring a rookie in the first place to do a big wedding alone (Although as I said, I wasn't going to turn the work down)
And yes I did inform him I hadn't shot a wedding before, so he cannot claim I mislead him into thinking I was a seasoned pro.

Since I didn't receive any payment today, I kept all the images, so unless the photographer used some sort of secret RAW-file acquiring spell, I'm the only person with the image files from the wedding day.
He did look at the pictures today though (I watched him flick through them) and he said I had done a good job (Ignoring a few technical details here and there) and he claimed he could easily deliver the wedding album to the clients at the quality they requested.

So in summary;
I did a good job, took quality pictures, but I'm not getting paid and the Bride and Groom are making up stories about me. Strange, non?

Are the Bride and Groom trying to get out of their contract with the Photographer, or is the Photographer screwing me around trying to get work done for free?




  
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Old ­ Coot
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Aug 06, 2013 08:12 |  #2

Call the couple and talk to them. You have the photographer's side of the story, now get theirs to see what they have to say.


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HiepBuiPhotography
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Aug 06, 2013 08:15 |  #3

Did the bride and groom show any feeling of discontent on the wedding day with you? (ie. looked annoyed during portraits, etc) Have you spoken to the bride and groom? Since you're the subcontractor, all the contact between the bride and groom should be through the main photographer, but I feel this is a case where you should go directly to them and see if they express the same things that the photographer told you.

Here are a couple of mistakes that you could learn from:
1) Contract, contract, contract (you already know this ;))
2) It doesn't matter that they want a full refund. Your contract is with the main photographer. You worked, he pays.
3) Get paid before the wedding, whether it's a couple of weeks before, the day before, or the day of the wedding.
4) Get a back up body.

I would keep all the RAW files and use it for your portfolio. No payment = no photos. Period.


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PretendFriend
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Aug 06, 2013 08:23 |  #4

HiepBuiPhotography wrote in post #16185254 (external link)
Did the bride and groom show any feeling of discontent on the wedding day with you? (ie. looked annoyed during portraits, etc) Have you spoken to the bride and groom? Since you're the subcontractor, all the contact between the bride and groom should be through the main photographer, but I feel this is a case where you should go directly to them and see if they express the same things that the photographer told you.

Here are a couple of mistakes that you could learn from:
1) Contract, contract, contract (you already know this ;))
2) It doesn't matter that they want a full refund. Your contract is with the main photographer. You worked, he pays.
3) Get paid before the wedding, whether it's a couple of weeks before, the day before, or the day of the wedding.
4) Get a back up body.

I would keep all the RAW files and use it for your portfolio. No payment = no photos. Period.

Agreed mate, thanks for that.

On talking to the Bride and Groom, they're in Mexico for 2 weeks for their honeymoon, so the next time I'll be able to speak to them is when they're back.

And I didn't detect any discontent during the photographs, the Bride was stressing out all day long because she wanted everything to be on time, but no criticism towards me was ever aired (at least not to my face)




  
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M_Six
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Aug 06, 2013 09:01 |  #5

Was "Uncle Bob" with his DSLR there? I wonder if the bride and groom think they have enough decent free pics and decided to weasel out of the paid ones.


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PretendFriend
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Aug 06, 2013 09:37 |  #6

M_Six wrote in post #16185350 (external link)
Was "Uncle Bob" with his DSLR there? I wonder if the bride and groom think they have enough decent free pics and decided to weasel out of the paid ones.

That's also something that crossed my mind. There were several family members taking pictures all day, one guy did have his DSLR round his neck.
Sack off the official contract by blaming me to get a refund.




  
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mike_311
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Aug 06, 2013 09:50 |  #7

tell him you want the images back, no money no images, he has no right to use your images without a contract either.

so they are trashing you but not your images? they dont have to like you, they have to like your images.

seek professional counsel.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Aug 06, 2013 10:04 as a reply to  @ mike_311's post |  #8

your camera files are also time stamped, so that would be an additional point that could be made to support you not sleeping on the job.

i would be careful in approaching the bride and groom. It might be that they have done nothing that the photographer said. Try to reach them by email or facebook, (so it's all in writing) and tell them you are following up to get a feel for how the day went and leave it at that.

document everything.


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1000WordsPhotography
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Aug 06, 2013 10:10 |  #9

You've learned no contract no work so I won't belabor that point. The next thing is that in the future make sure you have your money before you release photos. In every single case almost without exception. In fact the only time I make an exception to this is when I have a contract with a large business entity that gives them terms because Blue Cross Blue Shield or Ford Motor Company probably aren't going to stiff you.

I won't lie, I probably lose out on one opportunity a month because they don't like the idea of paying in advance. Such is life.


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1000WordsPhotography
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Aug 06, 2013 10:16 |  #10

Also if you KNOW you are are right, you are 100% certain that things went down the way you say, there is no value in talking to the bride and groom. They don't owe you money and have no obligation to you, and they can't make the photographer pay you.

All that can happen is that by opening this whole ugly thing up in front of them is that they can tell their friends about what a nightmare working with you became and possibly that you cast some dirt on another photographer. Sorry but I just don't see any way that this turns out positively except for you to politely pack up your toys and go home. That lets you take this as a learning experience and keep it classy rather than getting down in the mud which still won't get you any satisfaction.

Lastly in my mind this is a problematic phrase "The wedding comes and goes, and on the whole I feel for a very first wedding I did the best I could. I was happy with my work". That part in bold is not a ringing endorsement and leads me to believe maybe there were some shortcomings in your delivered work. I'm not trying to offend you just telling you how that reads.


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PretendFriend
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Aug 06, 2013 10:26 |  #11

Addiction2k wrote in post #16185546 (external link)
Lastly in my mind this is a problematic phrase "The wedding comes and goes, and on the whole I feel for a very first wedding I did the best I could. I was happy with my work". That part in bold is not a ringing endorsement and leads me to believe maybe there were some shortcomings in your delivered work. I'm not trying to offend you just telling you how that reads.

No offense taken mate, I just worded that poorly.




  
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flashpoint99
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Aug 06, 2013 10:56 |  #12

Look at it this way. You gained invaluable experience and you have all the images. Balls in their court.




  
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Lindman
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Aug 06, 2013 11:02 as a reply to  @ PretendFriend's post |  #13

As others have said, try to contact bride and groom and ask for feedback.
As I understand only you have the images. Even if it was the couple who wanted to back out of the original contract, I have a feeling that sooner or later they are going to want those images and then they will pay for the services.




  
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mike_311
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Aug 06, 2013 11:09 |  #14

which begs the question, if the original photog says he isn't paying the OP, does the OP have the right to sidestep him and deal with the bridge/groom directly down the road?

there is no written contract...


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kryptic4l
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Aug 06, 2013 11:18 |  #15

Once again I'm gonna speak from a consumer point of view.... As I have no professional and only little hobbiest experience.

Do you think most people would even notice a photographer changing lenses ? And not running two bodies. I can't say I'd put this on my " noted " list as it seems normal, my reaction was more shocked when I have seen a dude with two cameras. And didn't even know the purpose of both. However I do think it was a bold move to roll without a second, even if you need to Craigslist a old body for the day. I drill million dollar oil wells, and having a back up for my quarter of a million dollar electronics is not an option. Not even a billionaire could buy those photos back from missed time from a failed camera.

I find it strange someone would be displeased, before seeing the end result, unless you were constantly in the way.

Regardless if it is the uncle bob scenario, process , watermark through the middle of the picture. And sell your work of the day :) 5-10 pictures sold could equal what you were going to get payed from the other dude.




  
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I'm getting screwed (Wedding/Payment)
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