Wedding photography disaster- protect yourself

6 10 2009

This story about a wedding photographer in England who was sued for providing “shoddy” photography holds a few lessons, for both photographers and brides to be. For brides, do your homework and get a decent, and professional photographer. These photos, and the video as well, make me wonder if the couple looked at any examples of the photographer’s work before they hired him. Was this just a bad day? I can’t imagine.

For photographers, the lesson is that an important element of your contract is a determination of what happens if something goes wrong.  Disasters happen. Car accidents and family emergencies happen. Even good equipment, on rare occasion, fails. My contract, regardless of the client, has a limitation of liability that says if something does go wrong, my liability is only the amount paid to me. I guarantee my work, but I am not willing to foot the bill for a second wedding if someone doesn’t like my style. To have such a guarantee would force me to raise my prices significantly.

This is important, not because I expect my client to be unhappy- on the contrary, I have very happy clients. But photography is subjective. For example, the judge in the above article found that the photography was bad based in part on the fact that some heads were cut off, and some horizons were crooked. Some photos were out of focus. From a stylistic perspective, you might have award-winning images with heads cut off, crooked horizons and soft focus.

This brings up another point. I don’t know whether the photographer in the above case gave all his images to the bride, or only a selection, but as a rule, I ALWAYS provided only an edited selection. I learned the hard way to never provide my entire take to someone who is not a photography professional. Doing so is an invitation to be judged by your outtakes, which by definition, stink.

You could certainly take my worst outtakes from any event I have photographed, haul me before a judge, and get a judgment that I am a bad photographer. But that will never happen, because my job is not to make every frame I shoot perfect. My job is to to provide a selection of wonderful, unique images. That is what the client wants, and that is what the client gets.

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3 responses

5 07 2011
prprstaff

we had a different type of disaster. wed in nov 2009, still no album. he won’t return calls or emails. we’ve resorted to blogging about our adventure at http://peteredelphotographyreview.wordpress.com/.

5 07 2011
Alicia Wagner Calzada

Sorry to hear that this happened to you. Have you called the better business bureau or investigated your options for small claims court?

5 07 2011
prprstaff

yes on the first one. mulling over the second. would really love to resolve it w/o court

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