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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 18 Jul 2011 (Monday) 16:37
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First all-Asian wedding - a complete disaster!

 
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SMP_Homer
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Jul 18, 2011 16:37 |  #1

I had met this young couple some time ago when they were looking for a photographer. We actually got together a few times to go over their wedding day plans, the types of shots they wanted, the 3 ceremonies that were to take place that day, etc....
At the first meeting, the groom-to-be wanted to change my terms (deposit then + remainder 14 days prior to wedding) - he asked for deposit + 1/2 on wedding day + half on delivery... so we discussed that, to check his concerns, I voiced my concerns, etc... and then I accepted his terms, but with the understanding that my delivery time of 4 weeks would be off the table (aka trying to talk him out of it) - he accepted, mostly agreeing with me that with $$ left due on this assignment, I wouldn't let it sit around....

Come wedding morning (6am no less) I arrive at the bride's location. I start setting up my cameras. And then I ask if payment was left with her - she says that her groom is handling that (as he has to this point as well)
Ceremony #1 happens (8-ish AM) and he finally shows up with a few hundred others... I know this isn't the time to approach him, so I wait for the first chance.... and then just like that, Ceremony #1 ends, and they are whisked away (this isn't according to plan we had discussed).
I had to ask someone, as this is a language I'm not familiar with (Vietnamese) and they explained they are going to the 2nd location for the 2nd ceremony, but there's well over 40 minutes to go before it's time for that! So off we go to that location... wait and wait (with hundreds of others) and then the limo finally arrives... in they go, immediately into the 2nd ceremony.....
when that's finally over, we're all sent outside for lunch... finally, my chance to talk to him! He approaches my assistant and I with a couple of beers, asks how things are going, and then I make mention that the payment as per his instructions is still outstanding. He quickly puts on an angry face, lowers his voice and says "please do not talk about business/money in front of my guests. This is very offensive and disrespectful to me. Do not worry, you will be taken care of." and he stormed off.

I turned to my assistant (who, by the way, I've already paid for the day) and start telling him that, according to my contract, we are free and clear to leave.
Up to this point, the ceremonies have been little more than 2 white guys getting trampled, pushed, and generally being interfered with by all the guests. If they weren't pushing us out of the way, they were standing in front of us to take pictures. If they weren't standing in front of us, they were stretching their arms out to get their phones/cameras in front of us to take pictures or shoot videos.
It was so consistent and frequent, I can't help but wonder if a memo was passed around to all the guests to make sure they did nothing but that!

So we're discussing staying vs leaving when out of nowhere comes the father of the groom, yelling "PHOTOMAN! PICTURE NOW!"
I don't know why that didn't seal our departure right then and there - my first thought was to laugh. The 2nd thing I did was update my Facebook status.

But we stayed.

Now back to the bride's house... she's now getting dressed in her more traditional white dress.... and then off to the church. Out of town limo and driver - he turned and proceeded down the wrong way of a 1-way street... and I didn't follow (I will not break the law for a wedding) and I get to the church long before them.... he was upset I didn't follow, as he wanted more pictures at a local park, and I messed it up!

Ceremony is just like the rest of the day - friends and relatives doing everything they can to get in our faces. One of the 2 videographers even had me take pictures of her feet and shins - bleeding toes and bruised shins from being trampled on repeatedly (yes - it was that bad)

Long ceremony - basically in 2 languages...

We eventually make it out of there.... I dunno how they manage to get us to take a group shot of everyone and STILL have guests pop up in front if us, but they did...

We finally head out and get to the park for the formals - according to the schedule, we're 5 minutes late, and we have well over an hour's time before we leave. And there are no guests - B&G, wedding party, and limo driver (somewhere along the way, A/C died in the limo) so they're not happy, and a bit warm....
As I start giving out instructions, groom has to go to bathroom... and then so all of his groomsmen... so me and the girls.... oh no, wait, the video guy just arrived, so he's now giving me instructions and trying to get me to speed things up so he can do his thing....
10 or so minutes later (and you all know how few shots you can get in 10 minutes with a video guy around) the guys are back. Set a few B&G poses, get a few shots in and then bride asks "are we done? we need to get to the videographer". My assistant and I looked at each other. He tells the couple "you do realize we set aside 45+ minutes for this shoot, and if you burn some of that time with him, we may not have time to get all the shots we talked about already" - they agreed, told us they were happy with the poses we had done to this point, and ran off with the videographer.

By the time the videographer was putting stuff away, we were late to get to the reception - so no more shooting. I asked the groom if he had any more random stops for shooting planned, or if we were just going to the hall - to the hall we go!

As soon as we get there - Bride tells us we're not eating with the guests. Food has been ordered for us and the videographers, and we will be setup in a separate room to eat. I asked for the reasoning, as it makes no sense for us not to eat at the same time as the guests - I'm not concerned about being locked away to eat, but there's not point having us ready to shoot people with chopsticks sticking out of their mouhts. She tells me they WANT candid pictures of the guests eating and drinking. I tried to reason with her - there's no value in candid shots of people sticking food in their mouths! She won't budge... oh well...
Later in the night, she approached us, saying she was concerned about the candid shots - we're not taking enough of them. She wants more!
So I grab a chair, sit facing the women's washroom from 30 feet away, and take a picture of everyone coming out (big WOMEN WASHROOM sign above their heads) - I hope this will be candid enough for them....

10PM I'm in our "lunch room" (this is also where we kept the gear) changing batteries in a flash, and bride comes in to talk to me: "Is it ok to pay you tomorrow? My sister wasn't feeling very well, so she took our car home as we're going home by limo tonight, and the money is in the car" (aka total BS - you never saw the interior of that car for the whole day!)
So I tell her that as soon as I get home, I will send her an email with instructions/options for payment, and she promised me that she will make sure we get paid. Then she turns to the videographer and tells them the same thing. They weren't concerned by this - but I was. We talked a bit, and they were ok with this - to them this is business as usual!

Get to my truck - boxed in.... so many guests, not enough parking spaces, I'm boxed in by so many cars, I can't move.... start taking pictures of cars and plates, and head back in to make some announcements... one guy walked over and gave me his keys so I can go move his car!!!

Finally make it home... and promptly send them an email... I was really nice about it... saying that the day after the wedding is not the day for them to run around to meet their obligations, and I also like to use the day after to rest and relax, especially after 18+ hours! And then I outline their options (times/locations we could meet, online payment, etc...)

Nothing.

So I just finished the last email I will initiate for them, and sent it. 1st thing I mentionned is that, one of my concerns many months ago is that the wedding day is not the day for me to chase the payments - it's not a day for business, but a day for me to be ready for anything that comes, and document it with my camera.
That was then the last nice things I said. I turned on the nastier side...

I went to mention how disrespectful it was of him to tell me not to disrespect him in front of his guests when looking for my payment, to then have him send his new bride over to me to say he couldn't make the payment he had promised. A real man would have stood up at that moment.
Then I went on about how I accepted his payment terms, and he had failed at the first opportunity. The terms would now default back to my terms, meaning that no editing will take place until I've received the payment in full.
Once payment has been received, in full, I will initiate the editing, and delivery will be with 4 weeks - with the exception of a 3-week window in August where I will be on holidays, and will do no editing of any kind during that time.

I've also given them a 4-week deadline to get this payment in, at which time the files will be deleted, and we all move on.

Now why didn't I leave when the dad called me Photoman????


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NivoMedia
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Jul 18, 2011 16:51 |  #2

wow. i know we overuse this alot but.... bw!

good on you for handling this like a complete pro. respect from Ottawa.


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little ­ canon
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Jul 18, 2011 19:36 |  #3

Please be sure to post in a few weeks if they don't pay. I would love to hear that you deleted all their pics. So sorry that happened to you.


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suecassidy
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Jul 18, 2011 19:44 |  #4

wow. I don't know if I actually WOULD delete the pics, but I'd certainly hold them ransom and not touch a single one to edit until full payment was in my hands. that is your only hope for getting paid. once the files are deleted...you can't unring that bell. Sorry that happened to you, hopefully, you'll be able to work it out. wow.


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tfizzle
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Jul 18, 2011 19:55 |  #5

Sounds like you did everything pretty well besides not running away when he wanted to change terms at the beginning. I'd also have a hard time doing it but it shows that when people want to do that they are gonna be a hassle. Seems like people who negotiate "after payment" always disappoint. I hope things go well!




  
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legalize
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Jul 18, 2011 19:55 |  #6

Wow, hell of a story!




  
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2DP
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Jul 18, 2011 20:07 as a reply to  @ legalize's post |  #7

Bookmarked!! I want to to see this one unfold.




  
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tim
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Jul 18, 2011 20:12 |  #8

Interesting story. IMHO you've overreacted regarding payment, you'll get paid eventually, either voluntarily or through the court system. I think you demanding it in any way is unnecessary and rude, and threatening to delete the photos is offensive. Sure they should've paid you, but now they're late you can use the late payment clause of your contract.

Some Asian weddings are busy with very rude people. Sometimes it's not considered rude in their culture. Suck it up, you're a professional. Be assertive, stand in front of whoever you need to, or ask them to move. Take lots of photos of the mobs of cameras, so if customers complain about the lack of photos you can show why. Keep a written record of how times went on the day, compared with the plan.

It sounds to me like you shouldn't take on any more big Asian weddings.


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SMP_Homer
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Jul 18, 2011 20:16 |  #9

suecassidy wrote in post #12781793 (external link)
wow. I don't know if I actually WOULD delete the pics, but I'd certainly hold them ransom and not touch a single one to edit until full payment was in my hands. that is your only hope for getting paid. once the files are deleted...you can't unring that bell. Sorry that happened to you, hopefully, you'll be able to work it out. wow.

I absolutely do! A cool down period is on order I think - as of right now, I want to delete every last one of them (well, keep the bunch from the interference runners and portfolio for future B&Gs to see why I would suggest a huge limitation on cameras at their weddings)

I'd do it right now if I could - I don't see a happy ending either way with this....
I suspect they'll complain and ask to stick to their terms - or they'll go by my terms, and then find reasons to complain down the road... I don't see them sticking their tails between their legs and going along against their wishes...

once you can't see eye to eye with a client, it's time to move on - and those pics are holding me hostage to them as much as they're holding them hostage to me. I'm not going to charge them extra or anything like that - I'll honor my deal with them, if they're willing to deal with my terms


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SMP_Homer
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Jul 18, 2011 20:23 |  #10

tim wrote in post #12782007 (external link)
IMHO you've overreacted regarding payment

Do you mean I shouldn't worry that they're now 48 hours (and counting ) late and no effort has been made on their behalf to contact me

or

that I shouldn't cancel their terms, force my terms back in, before I do any of the edits?

or both?


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Jul 18, 2011 20:31 |  #11

Do nothing and wait. They may get in touch when the return from wherever they are.

Or they may not.

What you encountered with the groom is just a standard bully. That is cross-cultural.

What you encountered with the bride is a zilla. Also cross-cultural.

The only thing I think you did wrong was complain about where you were to eat, and shooting bathroom candids.


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tim
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Jul 18, 2011 21:10 |  #12

SMP_Homer wrote in post #12782078 (external link)
Do you mean I shouldn't worry that they're now 48 hours (and counting ) late and no effort has been made on their behalf to contact me

or

that I shouldn't cancel their terms, force my terms back in, before I do any of the edits?

or both?

Both. The bathroom candid thing was quite spiteful too. Though they may not have been perfect customers, or even polite, sometimes you have to put yourself in someone elses shoes and do what you would expect, not what your first instinct says to do (though I know your first instinct was to leave).


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SMP_Homer
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Jul 18, 2011 21:14 |  #13

tim wrote in post #12782007 (external link)
It sounds to me like you shouldn't take on any more big Asian weddings.

I've done several weddings where 1/2 of the couple was Asian (mostly the bride) and I can easily say that I've never experienced anything even 1/2 as close to what I went through this weekend...


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SMP_Homer
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Jul 18, 2011 21:19 |  #14

S.Horton wrote in post #12782132 (external link)
Do nothing and wait. They may get in touch when the return from wherever they are.

Or they may not.

What you encountered with the groom is just a standard bully. That is cross-cultural.

What you encountered with the bride is a zilla. Also cross-cultural.

The only thing I think you did wrong was complain about where you were to eat, and shooting bathroom candids.


I did no complain about where to eat - my complaint was more why not eat at the same time as everyone else, as I'm not planning on shooting people eating. I could care less about where I'm eating, and it was a lot quieter and nicer to be separated from everyone for those 15 minutes...


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Tyler's ­ Mom
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Jul 18, 2011 21:21 |  #15

I'm by now means skilled in this aspect however coming from a former bride standpoint. I'd be quite upset if someone took pictures of people coming out of a restroom. Now for the payment I'd give it the time you said and then move on I'd transfer all photo's un-edited to JPEG place on a SD card in their file for proof of if they contact you later on down the road you can still make a arragment. Then take it as a learning experience.


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