Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our photographer "lost" the reception pics

This morning I had an email from our wedding photographer who we haven't heard from in over a MONTH stating that she has lost the images from our reception. Yup. That's right. They're gone. Mind you, I'm just now hearing from her and it has been 2 months since the wedding and over a month since we emailed her the first time regarding our missing photos. Yes, she sent us a gallery and then promised to send more reception pics. Then she went to Europe. Then she was visiting her boyfriend in Oregon. Now she's at Bonnaroo. And she's just now getting around to telling me that our reception photographs have been missing off of her hard drive. Granted, she did send SOME. She took about 20 pics of our wedding cake. She took pictures of the food. But there are no pictures of me + my husband enjoying ourselves with our friends.

I guess I'm just upset that she's just now getting around to telling us about it. I mean, if she had told us right off the bat that our pictures had been deleted, I would have been upset. But I feel like she's just been avoiding us, and I feel like that is unprofessional. I also feel as though we've been really polite about the entire situation and I feel taken advantage of.

Thankfully, we do have friends who carried their cameras with them throughout the wedding. But they're surely not the images I thought I was getting.

I know that the important thing is that William + I ended up married.

I would love to know what other wedding photographers have to say about the situation.


Any photogs care to weigh in?

All I can say is: Lady, that sucks. Really sucks. But I do stand firm in my belief that all you need is one really good photo.

(Image courtesy of Photo Booth Nashville, who are not affiliated with the photographer cited above, and were "awesome," according to Lauren.)


  1. This is super effin' unprofessional and you should be getting some money back. (I mean honestly, even if she was professional and upfront about an honest mistake she would owe you a partial refund; being this passive aggressive about it just seals the deal.)

    I'm so sorry, dude! This sucks.

  2. I'm not a wedding photog but it's dead simple - you paid her for full coverage of the day, no? Which she did not provide. Therefore you are due a partial refund.

    Completely incidently, some of my (mail order, small company run by posh bint) flowers turned up half-dead, am still trying to wrange a refund on that but so far all I'm getting is "Oh they were perfect when we sent them and besides you were desperate for flowers". Hmmm. I feel your pain anyway, good luck!

  3. wow, what a careless moron. i agree on the one photo BUT... you paid for ALL the photos she took and ALL of the hours she worked. if she's lost the reception photos, then she might as well not have even been there for it. i would demand at least 30% back. either that or hunt the bitch down and slit her throat; make an example of her.

  4. oh god! i didn't know that happened! not like i've been on the edge of my seat waiting for photos or anything (oh but i have).

    if it were me i would be spreading the word of her professionalism like wildfire... but i AM a bitch. to justify it i'd like to think i was looking out for future brides and their potential missing memories. and anyway, flaking out on communication becaues of europe? boyfriend? BONAROO? are you kidding me?

    p.s. maybe one photo is good enough for some people.. but you, lady, deserve a million amazing ones.

    p.p.s. the fb vid melts my heart, literally brought tears- share it!!

  5. I am so sorry. While I entirely agree with ESB that, in the long term, you only need one photo (get that one iconic picture framed in your home and you'll flip through a snapshot album to remember the day's moments) this is still horrible. But there are two issues here: one, mourning the loss of the pro photos you were anticipating and finding a way to make do with what you have/your friends have and two, getting whatever photos you can and refund from this photographer. The second issue is tricky. I wouldn't go apeshit yet, because you want to get whatever photos the photographer actually has. You need to review your contract in detail for your options. Ask for a refund. If she won't do it and you have contractual option, threaten small claims court. If you don't have a contractual option or that doesn't work, let her know you're prepared to badmouth her all over the internet if you don't get a refund. And if that doesn't work, let the badmouthing begin on every wedding review site you can think of. Actually, I'd still do that once you get any photos back, just to protect other couples getting married, but at least you can include the disclaimer that at least she refunded you.

  6. Oh hun, that's awful. As a wedding photographer, it really bums me out to hear about other photogs in the industry who are this unprofessional. Of course she should have notified you as soon as she realized the issue.

    Check your contract with her to see if there are any provisions for refunds/partial refunds in the case of dissatisfactions or her inability to provide you with images. If there's nothing in there regarding, you should ask for a refund based on the hours she worked.

    Ex: let's say you paid $3000 for 10 hours of coverage, and she only gave you images for 5 hours of the day. Ask for $1500 back. You could ask for more back as a penalty for her delayed communication, but the request for $1500 should definitely hold up in court.

    Again, this really sucks, and I'm sorry this happened to you. But like you said, you ended up married, and that's excellent!

  7. REFUND. Our bouquets and man florals (can't spell that word) did not show up in time for the ceremony and I had to call that effing florist several times before the wedding to ask about them and I am def more pissed that she wouldn't just admit they would not be there in time, but let us call over and over, leaving messages with various people. And then she avoided my calls and emails for a month or so. Finally a refund but not after some serious ridiculouness and excuses on her part. You bet a wrote some negative reviews.

  8. How heartbreaking! Especially as a blogger exposed to fabulous eye candy through out the wedding planning process!

    I agree with other readers GET A REFUND.

    I also agree (n spirit) with A Los Angeles Love. Try to provide useful information about how this is handled so that other couples might make an informed decision. (clearly you're starting here.)

    However, I would also make sure that anything you write cannot be taken as libel against the photog.

    I have been pretty vocal about my own ruined pictures that were a result of a bad decision on my part. But I never name the photog because she is not normally a wedding photog (I told you it was a bad decision on my part.)

    There must be a legitimate and professional way to warn other couples about this. Weddings are not the time to mess around. I cannot for the life of me understand why she did not back up the images to another drive/Drobo/or cloud computing service. But that is neither here nor there.

    Yes, warn other couples, but don't get yourself into trouble as a blogger.

    My heart goes out to you!

  9. Jesus, I'm so sorry that this happened to you guys. What a huge pile of shit. I just told Nye and his jaw literally dropped.

    If we ever did this to someone we would tell them as soon as we knew (however terrifying the prospect might be) and we would offer them a full refund, no matter how many photos we *had* provided. We would also offer them a free wedding album, anything to make up for it even a little bit. But, I must add, we have NEVER done this to someone and pleasegodjesus I hope we never will, it's my worst nightmare as a photographer.


    I agree with A LA Love that you might want to stay nice and save the big guns until you've made sure that you have copies of all of the photos that she *does* have, but after that you do everything you can to make sure that you get at least a partial refund. Emily;s method of calculating the very least you are owed makes a lot of sense. Once you've got a refund I think you have every right to let as many people online and in real life know the sort of job she did. Although personally I would try and do this as honestly as possible, telling the good as well as the bad. That way you come across as even more reasonable and fair.

    Nye's suggestion was "Sue her. She should have insurance and if she doesn't she should be working professionally anyway."

    Alternatively, I like Celia's second suggestion.

  10. Oh geez. I'm so sorry. That sucks, no question. I don't really have anything new to add advice-wise, so I'll just ditto P.

  11. She should be offering you a full refund. If you order dinner at restaurant, and your chicken is not cooked. Would they give your dinner 1/2 off, cause you could only eat the potatoes and veg? No, they give you a new dinner, AND comp your dinner! Why? Because their reputation costs more than a free meal. Having someone spread around town that you offer a crap product is worse that eating the cost of your mistake. Working in the photography industry, if I ever lost any of the images from a client job, there is no way I would get paid in full, there is no way I would get paid at all. She needs to suck it up, and take responsibility for her mistakes. Offer an honest apology, do everything she can, and give back every cent she was paid. She doesn't deserve a penny of that money.

  12. full refund.

    a reception makes up, what? like 4 hours out of a 6 hour day, right?

    full effing refund.

  13. @hindsight- isn't libel usually false stuff?

  14. Wowowow. I have nothing to add except that when we were booking our photographer they explained how they dealt with photos (much the same as what peonies and polaroids described), and the thoroughness kind of cracked us up, but it wasn't something we'd ever considered might actually happen. I'm so sorry.

  15. Naurnie, I'm so so sorry. You don't mention the details of how exactly the photos were lost. If they were accidentally deleted from a hard drive or a memory card, there is a possibility a professional retrieval service could get them back. I don't want to get your hopes up because it's never a guarantee, and different circumstances could make it harder (a memory card that's been erased and then had photos taken on top of the swipe, for instance, is more difficult than just a plain delete). However, given the whole momentous-life-event thing, it seems worth a shot to ask her to try one. Here's the top Google result for query "hard drive recovery services":

    I think you should also be completely upfront that you prefer honest, open communication to evasiveness, even if the news is bad news. It should be possible to get that message across diplomatically. And I agree that you should save the escalation to more aggressive tactics until after you have from her all the photos you know you can get.

  16. FULL REFUND. Get that locked down, get all your pictures and then TELL FUCKING EVERYONE. TELL THEM BY THE INTERWEBS. Fuck this, "I don't wanna be a bitch" shit. Be a bitch. Don't let other people walk into this without knowing. Because there are countless other weddings on the line.

    And frankly, I'm with Nye. If she doesn't give you a full refund asap, and by asap I mean by Monday evening, I'd be sending letters threatening legal action, aka, suing her ass into the ground. I would have been much nicer if she'd fessed up right away, been horribly sorry, offered a full refund and pictures of your kids for free forever, because then, yeah shit happens. But now? Uh-uh.

    And, um, in closing, I'm SO SORRY. Hopefully your guests took pictures. Because yes, you only need one iconic photo, but I like flipping through things (namely our Polaroids) to remember.

  17. Omg! That is so horrible. I am soooo sorry! I hope you get your money back and I hope that woman never does another wedding again. Ugh how unprofessional!

  18. lost the pictures? and she's been avoiding you!

    full effing refund. ef that noize.

    so sorry to hear the pictures got lost, but ESB is right- one good photo. at least you had a banging time.

  19. I am so fucking sorry.

    So so so sorry.

  20. Ditto! Full refund! Wait until you get your money back then blast the bitch. Unfuckingprofessional. Unacceptable. While you are waiting patiently she's on vacation with her effing boyfriend?! Probably spending YOUR MONEY!!! Makes me sick. So so so sorry!

  21. Oh geez. As a wedding photographer, that is the absolute worst nightmare possible. Honestly a refund still isnt going to make the pictures come back. If it makes you feel better fine, but the real issue is WHAT HAPPENED to the pictures??? And is there any possible way of retreiving the images from the harddrive?? I would want to have a clear answer of what exactly happened...was there a fire? did she lose the cards? exactly HOW did this happen?
    And how did she deal with it? Did she call you? Was this an email? Yes of course you have the memories in your heart and your head, and hopefully with loads of other friends that took pictures, and yes, accidents happen, but this is what you're paying for...a professional to take every step possible to take amazing images of your day and not to lose them. And if she does lose them, to deal with the mishap in the most sincere way possible, and to be completely honest with you...the last thing you should have to associate with your wedding is any negative energy...its all about the love!

  22. So sorry to hear about this situation...Just a few things to add...that is extremely unprofessional for the photographer to loose photographs, and then to make matters worse not be in contact with you for such a long time. There is software around that can help you retrieve files that have been deleted from a hard drive. She should know this and she should have already made every effort to retrieve the files....also there are disc recovery companies (which are expensive but would be worth the money instead of ruining your reputation) so I would bring up these options to the photographer and if she doesn't know how to run the operations she should hire someone who can. Unless she physically lost the drive it is possible to recover deleted files, so I would find out what really happened to the files to see if there is some way to get them back.

  23. Ok I just saw that I wrote to same thing as KT...sorry for the repeat! But I also want to add... full refund without a doubt.

  24. @elizabeth you're right! I think I meant slander. Thanks for helping me clarify.

  25. fuck it! with a photo like that (above) who needs any others??

  26. thanks, esb, for posting + thanks everyone for your solid advice. i'm about to draft her an email requesting a phone call (which I feel should've happened long ago. i failed to mention in the above email that she never returns phone calls). anyway, i plan to find out exactly what happened to the photos. and i am planning to ask for a refund, for SURE. i'll keep everyone posted as to what happens.

    seriously, guys. thanks. you know how to make a bitch feel bettah.


    FULL FUCKING REFUND. God, I hate people. Sorry. Hugs. Seriously, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror if you need to, but do not be afraid to stand up for yourself here.

  28. You need a full refund. And threaten some legal action.

    @hindsight bride & @Elizabeth unless thing are very different in the US, libel is written, slander is spoken. defamation is what you should be concerned about and the defence to defamation is that what you say is the truth.

    So, leave bad reviews and splash it all over the internets just make sure it is the truth and not exaggerated or misleading. Which I am sure you wouldn't.

  29. Definately getting a full refund is what you should expect. I hate confronting people but she did a terrible thing not contacting you and I could never imagine that if I ever did anything like that I would feel anything but absolutly terrible and give a full refund immediately plus a heart-felt written apology- anything I could do I would do.

  30. Wow. Just... wow. I'm a photographer, and I just cannot imagine what she was thinking. The first thing she should have done was BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS... hello. Stuff happens, hard drives crash... which is why a true professional will have back ups of everything. Multiple back ups even. I am horrified. FULL refund.

  31. Yeah, lost photos aren't acceptable. As a wedding photographer and working photojournalist I can't afford to lose images.

    I shoot on cameras that record raw files to two cards at the same time. None of the cards get erased until the images are safely backed up.

    I live by the 3-2-1 rule.

    Images don't really exist, and aren't safe until you have Three (3) copies, on Two (2) different types of media and at least One (1) is off-site.

    I'd expect a full refund. It's a pretty small world out there, and reputations are the name of the game.


  32. My photographer only took one roll. I was so upset. She was a friend of ours, and she did it for my sister years ago and they were great. But I guess she got caught up in the whole affair, and I only have one roll from the whole evening, and only one with my hubby and me, so I feel your pain. I should have just kept shelling out the money for the professional who did our ceremony and excursion pics, but oh well, that is life. At least we have the memories, right?

  33. good luck, naurnie. that sucks, and i'm so sorry it happened. make sure you have a long talk with her and express to her how shitty it made you feel that you hired her for a job she didn't deliver on. also, tell her you've consulted a bunch of other photogs - which you kind of have, thanks to esb - and that this is some serious unprofessional bullshit.

  34. it has been said every way imaginable in the comments already but again, really sorry to hear! we had a similar situation happen to our wedding reception photos and we are still bummed about it 4 years later. hate to bring it here but this is one of the reasons photographers (and lots of other professional artists) demand seemingly unreasonable fees for their work. you can always find someone to do it cheaply, or have a friend handle it (not to say that was the case here, but that was the case with us) and in some cases that works better than anything else. but more often than not it does not. i hope you get a refund (FULL REFUND)

  35. um, one more thing... if your photographer bucks at the notion of a full refund you should point them to this post and tell them you are going to release their company name. that would certainly straighten me up in a hurry!

  36. Full refund!!
    So sorry that happened to you.

  37. I think I need a follow up.. What happened?!

  38. I'm so, so sorry about this, and I hope you uncover fantastic images from friends and get a full refund.

    I don't mean to make light of your loss, but I want to share a story that may help drive home that you don't even need ONE good photo; One day I was talking with my 87-year-old Grammy about her wedding. After she shared a few really charming stories, I asked my grandmother if she had any photos. After thinking about it for a second, she answered, "No. My mother was the only person invited who owned a camera, and she didn't come to the wedding because she disagreed with my choice of husband." But Grammy still remembered it, 65 years later.

  39. @hitchdied sometimes I think the memories would be a lot stronger if we didn't have the photos.

  40. That's a shocker.
    We haven't had any lost files as yet and we do quadruple back ups just in case.
    Cards can corrupt which would be a nightmare, but that's why i reckon pro wedding photographers should use more small cards rather than a couple of big ones.
    Either way, they should have told you asap and I know we would given a full refund and or arranged some sort of reshoot.

  41. I have to say that as a wedding photographer "professional" for the last 11 years.. this is tragic. And I hope she acted like it was tragic too. Here is what I would do had it been me....I would offer to take you and your hubby ANYWHERE in your wedding attire and create a fun shoot with really creative fun photos...or drive your around to important peoples homes ( like your most important friends that the missing photos were of) and take a photo of you with them on their porch or something.

    Very sorry.

  42. As a wedding photographer who once lost 30 images from a brides day, I can say your photographer hasn't dealt with it at ALL well, BUT she's probably been to hell and back. My insurance company told me NOT To tell the couple what had happened till we did a disc retrieval (which cost $2500) and NOT to tell them i was insured, It was a nightmare, I literally lost the plot! I was devastated and DID have to palm the bride off for a few weeks till I got (most) of the files back, then I told her what had happened and why I hadn't been in touch, Initially she went berserk but I have to say we are still frineds now and she was eventually happy I did all I could, thankfully we got back all the formals etc and it was a few couple shots and some reception shots that were irretrievable.

    Sorry this happened to you!

  43. As soon as I am done with a wedding I IMMEDIATELY copy the photos to my laptop as well as my hard drive. Any professional photographer should know to be 100% sure to have back-up copies of all the photos.