Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vendor Review: An Update on my Photo Situation

Remember about a month ago when I shared this post about how let down we were by our photographer, Robert Mullins?  VENDOR LETDOWN POST

Well, here's the update on what has transpired since then:

1)  I talked to friends and family after hearing from all you lovely ladies.  Most of my family and friends agreed with my frustrations and feelings of disappointment...remember, we did in fact get some great shots from Robert...but what was most frustrating was the total lack of shots that we had requested that he missed out on.

2)  I then wrote a lengthy e-mail to Robert basically outlining everything I wrote in my post but also thanking him and praising him for some of the things we did like. I tried to be respectful and professional but also honest about my issues.  I posted some excerpts from the e-mail at the bottom of this post.

3)  He responded - a week later after I asked him if he received the e-mail - and basically blew me off!  He simply wrote this:

I deeply regret that you seem unsatisfied with your images. I think you are concentrating on every negative aspect you can find, instead of the much more numerous positive ones. No wedding, or wedding photographer, is perfect. A wedding is the interaction of people and events, the coverage must be judged as a whole, not piece by piece.

Looking at your coverage as a whole, I believe I have provided a professional job, worthy of the fee you have paid. I was up front and above board with you from the beginning. The images you were shown are an accurate reflection of my skills, and the images you have received are consistent with that. It is not fair for you to now compare individual images from your wedding with those by other photographers, when you do not know how, and under what circumstances those images were taken—not to mention, that you do not see the whole coverage. Am I to be held to the impossible standard that every image I took at your wedding must be the best ever taken?

I do not feel a refund of any amount is fair or reasonable.

4)  I responded back again with another e-mail (more excerpts below).  The thing that was most frustrating was that he basically blew me off and did not acknowledge one single thing I brought up...not even the legitimate concerns that I had regarding photos that were in our contract and were not taken nor provided.  Nor things like the Thank and You cards being covered up when he shot those photos.  Mr Fix It and I both agreed that we would have been satisfied if he would have at least said, "You know, you're right.  I didn't get that shot or that shot didn't turn out.  But it was because time got away from us or the camera broke or whatever."  Though I felt we deserved a refund of some sort due to lack of fulfilling the terms of the contract, at the very minimum, I expected to hear an apology and explanation that he agreed with some of our complaints.  But nope, he gave us nothing. 
And he never did respond to my second follow up e-mail either.  So I basically decided that I will hit the internet world (blogs, wedding websites, vendor reviews, etc) letting everyone know about our experience so that I can possibly affect his wallet since he doesn't give a rip about my own feelings or frustrations.
5)  We will most likely not be doing a day after shoot at our venue to get all the shots and locations we missed out on.  I really truly want to do this but we just cannot afford to pay another photographer about $500 to have this done and the only way Mr Fix It would agree to it was if we could get some kind of refund to help offset the cost. 
As a follow up to this, I do have some good news that came out of this:  Our videographer brought his wife along to our wedding day...she is an amateur photographer and they asked our photographer if he would mind if she 'shadowed' him to take photos and get some experience in.  Originally, I asked my videographer if he would provide me with the photos his wife shot that day.  He responded saying that he had to provide them to our photog, Robert to give to us since technically he was the hired photographer of the day.  So I waited until we got them back from Robert. 
When I noticed there were shots I had posed for that I did not receive from Robert, I mentioned some of my frustrations to our videographer.  I was especially hoping he got footage of things that Robert missed.  My amazing videographer, Gary, decided to send me the photos that his wife took along with our raw footage.  When I asked him why he did this after he said he couldn't, he responded that he felt we had a right to the shots.
Turns out, after looking through the few hundred shots that Gary's wife took, my stupid photographer did not provide me with ANY of the shots she took!  Not one!  And she got some dang good shots, too...even better ones than Robert in some cases.  She also got the ONLY shot I have of our entire reception room set up once all the decor had been put out.  Something Robert failed to do.  I put together our wedding album (a recap will share it with you in the future) and I swear probably 25% of the over 400 photos in the album came from our videographer's wife!
I have no idea why in the hell Robert decided not to give me ANY of the photos that she took.  But it only proves to me that he had a lot of other photos that were taken that he chose not to provide us with for one reason or another.
To sum this up, technically, I could sue him.  I could take him to court and fight for 1) a refund of some sort and 2) the photos he has that I know for a fact we didn't get.  And I have a leg to stand on since there were specific shots listed in our contract that he was to provide that he did not take nor provide us.  But do I really want to go through the hassle and headache and have to relive the frustrations of what was truly one of the best days of our lives?  I think not.  I'd rather move on and just be happy with what I do have - some great photos and an even greater husband!

And just to sum this up...I can't complain that we don't have anything.  We do in fact have a lot of great shots and once I laid them all out in an album, I realized that it's not like I don't have anything.  It's just unfortunate that some of the shots we were most looking forward to were overlooked, not taken and not provided.  Oh well, lessons learned will be shared in future recaps - I promise!
First, I wanted to say thank you very much for providing us with over 1000 photos from the wedding on April 16th. I have to say that I definitely have a few favorites that I adore and John agreed that you got some great shots. The pics you got capturing our cake cutting fiasco and the magician were really good and I am excited to blog them. I know I put you through a lot of meetings and requests, and you were very gracious and thoughtful through the process.

That said, I have put off writing this e-mail for a long time since we received the CD's of the wedding images. After browsing through them all, sharing the proofs with some family and friends, and taking some time to digest all my thoughts and feelings, it pains me to have to write you today.

I guess I should start by saying that I feel something got lost along the way in the communication between you and I. I thought that I had made it clear that there were a lot of specific types of shots, groupings of people in the shots, and locations that we wanted to be sure to capture on our wedding day. From the very first meeting we had, I showed you my sister's wedding album and after skimming it over, you said that you could tell I understood what good photography is. So I felt like we were connecting on the styles and poses I truly anticipated and longed for.

I don't know if it was just the chaos and stress of the day, the number of family and friends that were around or what...but it didn't feel like things were going totally smooth on the day of the wedding. Now, of course, I completely understand that when you are documenting a wedding, not everything is going to look fabulous or artsy or stylish. And when working with uncontrollable variables like lighting and people (who may not be paying attention or around), it is difficult to orchestrate every pose or shot you hope for.

(I then listed many paragraphs from my blog post outlining the specific issues and shots that were missed and such)

Even though I was truly disappointed with all of these issues, I tried to shake it off and not let it get to me. I tried to focus on the fact that we did have some truly beautiful, fun and artsy shots that were pretty and useful enough for me to post or put around the house. I asked my close family and friends if I was being overly critical or if I had put too much demand on you or not communicated well what I wanted with you. The bridal party mentioned that they had some questions about what was going on during the wedding day but didn't want to question me or upset me. Many of them told me that they felt I was justified in my feelings of disappointment or feeling like we did not receive what we had hired you for after much communication and samples were provided. But still, I tried to give myself time to see if it would continue to bother me after I had some distance and perspective.

However, there is one thing that I cannot seem to let go of that truly bothers me more than anything I mentioned above. And that is regarding the issue of the family photos. As I mentioned to you in a previous e-mail, John and I realized after the wedding day that there were several photos that we did not pose for or have taken. These were photos that to me should have been a given in what a photographer would shoot at a wedding and something that I should not have had to communicate to you to request. I am totally upset that there is not one single shot of me and John with my daughter. How is it possible to not get a shot of a bride and groom with their children on their wedding day? There is only one photo I have with the three of us in it and it is the one with my sister and parents in it. I feel there should have been several with my daughter in them with John and I alone.

I know this is a very lengthy e-mail, but as I mentioned, I feel like this is not just one or two things that were missed, overlooked or not the high quality results I was expecting but a culmination of many things that have just kept me feeling truly disappointed with our photos (or lack thereof) because it is mostly the photos we do NOT have rather than the ones we do or the ones we have that have something wrong in them that I am disappointed with.

It saddens me to write you this e-mail especially because I felt we had developed such a good rapport and understanding with one another. I even defended you to some of my family and friends who questioned why I was not going with another photographer I had raved about before meeting you. I insisted that I felt you had more of the experience that I would need to be sure we captured all we wanted to from the day and to work quickly to be sure nothing was missed.

I am respectfully asking that you consider all I have shared with you and determine whether or not you feel that we are owed any type of compensation for the disappointment we have felt regarding all of these issues surrounding our photos.  Again, I truly wish you the best and I hope that you honestly consider what I have voiced here and provide me with your thoughts on whether or not I have cause to be upset and disappointed.
It does not seem like you fully read the entire e-mail and my most upsetting disappointment with the photos. I am not completely unsatisfied with the images. As I mentioned, there are in fact a lot of great shots. I do not feel like you misrepresented yourself or were not upfront with me about anything. Nor did I compare your work to another photographer's work in any way at all.

I also am not saying that every single photo has to be the best ever taken. But you did not address the very obvious concerns I raised about the images you did take. I understand that the photos are based on the interaction of people and events, however, when you have things like a coffee cup sitting in the middle of the cake table or a soda cup sitting on the escort card table in which no person would be affecting the shot, it makes no sense that a professional photographer would not remove these items before taking the photo. Or when you have a person running through the back of the only shot you took of my bouquet or don't notice that two signs we are holding up are covering one another, well, that is completely unacceptable.

 I have to say that I am greatly disappointed. As I mentioned, I praised your work and did in fact say there are some great shots and that I recognized the problems that can arise preventing a photographer from being able to handle everything. The fact that you say that I am only focusing on every negative aspect just shows that you are not being reasonable or receptive to my frustrations since I did in fact thank you and mention the things we loved.

If you feel that I have absolutely no reason to be disappointed about ANY of the issues I brought up, then I guess the only thing I can say is that I wish you well and I will be sure to share my frustrations in reviews on my blogs and other wedding web sites like theknot.com, projectwedding.com, and other sites where vendors are reviewed. I do not feel it is fair to simply discount every single item I brought up when there were just too many overall.


PartyPlannerGal said...

I'm glad that you were able to recapture some of the shots you contracted for from your videographer's wife. I agree that hitting the blogs and review boards will hurt him the most. I have yet to do that for the store that screwed me over with my dress, but it still hurts too much and I'm trying to move on. Good for you for realizing that filing a lawsuit will just prolong the pain.

ArmyBratBride said...

I am so sorry to hear that your photographer was such a disappointment to you :(

Did you give him a chance to resolve your concerns before you shared them with the world wide web on your blog? I'm wondering if he read your original blog post before you contacted him with your concerns and figured there was no reason to try and accommodate you at that point since you already called him a "disappointment."

Em said...

I think your correspondence with your photographer was very mature and professional. You laid out your frustrations in great detail and he clearly was unreceptive. You did the right thing and even though you're not really getting anything back, at least he knows your feelings. Hopefully he takes this constructive criticism and makes sure it never happens to another bride. I'm sorry you didn't receive a better outcome, but hopefully you can cherish those photos he DID capture beautifully (and you and I both know there are an abundance of them).

Alicia said...

I can't even imagine how frustrated you feel. I got all upset over something as small as invites, I can't IMAGINE how freaking *MAD* I'd be if I felt like my photographs weren't up to par.


Once again, I am so incredibly sorry that you are dealing with this.

Chocolate Lover said...

I agree with PartyPlanner Gal. I think you voiced your concerns respectfully and fairly and its unfortunate that you did not get the same in return. I'm glad you got some good shots from your videographer though! Thats super lucky that she was there!

SG to SP said...

Pardon my language but your photographer sounds like a dick. I'm sure he's dealt with some bridezillas in the past that are just impossible to please but you do not sound like one of those. You had very valid concerns and disappointments and for him to not apologize or even acknowledge them is ridiculous.

I've mentioned that there were several family shots that we failed to get and even though I'm disappointed I do realize that with the craziness of the day some things will get missed however it sounds like he didn't do a very good job on the a lot of the photos that he did take and for what I suspect you paid him that's not okay.

I'm sorry you had to deal with this but I agree that sueing him is probably not the best idea, you would probably spend more to sue him than you would ultimately get back.

BigAppleNosh said...

Ugh, so annoying - I think you handled the correspondence very professionally, and I'm glad you were at least able to get some good shots from your videographer's wife.

Runrgurl10 said...

How frustrating for him not to even acknowledge his mistakes!! Our photographer forgot to do the groom with his groomsmen shot! We got me with the bridesmaids, our whole BP but totally spaced on the groom/groomsmen...And TBH, she didn't really apologize like I thought she should have, so maybe it's an artistic/professional thing where apologies are just not given? IDK but it sucks, I'm sorry!

LauraLou said...

That's so frustrating!! You were totally reasonable and mature in your email, and he quite obviously was offended and didn't even consider most of what you said. Those things are totally unacceptable. I'm glad you're sharing your experience with him so other brides don't have to go through the same thing!

Bicoastal Bride said...

I feel you handled things professionally and made your case well. For him to respond in the way he did and to not acknowledge your concerns is definitely bad business.

I gave our photographer a very extensive three-page shot list, and though we missed a few minor shots due to time constraints, none of them were the really important shots I wanted, and I was truly impressed at the lengths Alex and his team went to in going above and beyond what we expected, including bringing creative props and not only honoring my requests, but enhancing them in ways I never imagined.

I feel this is the service everyone deserves, and that every vendor should strive to provide. A vendor’s goal should be to exceed the couple’s expectations, not to simply do the bare minimum or at worst not even meet that. I’m so glad you were able to get some shots from the photographer’s wife to supplement Robert’s. Thank goodness she was there!

Salt said...

I was wondering what was going to come of all this and I cannot believe that he was so unresponsive to you after you voiced your concerns at him. Un. Believable. I hope that other brides will hear about this before they decide to book him. I can't believe he doesn't feel that any refund is reasonable.

BUT that's wonderful that the videographer's wife got so many great shots! You should post some here!

Ants Gems said...

Have you thought about having the video guy's wife do a make up session with you and Mr. Fix It? If she shot your wedding for free she is probably looking for more experience. If you love her pictures more than your professional photographer this might be a great opportunity and a win-win for both of you.

Laura Lewis said...

Keep your eye out on the WB classifieds! That's what I did for our day after shoot and we got it for free... you know I know your frustrations but I think you are making the best decision, it's just so frustrating! I felt the same way... after making my album with the main shots I liked it didn't seem all that bad and my MIL also made a good point... those shots might upset me know but it will be the few favorites that will be lasting memories around the home years and years down the road... not all of the detail shots, etc.

Morgan said...

Ugh, this is so frustrating! After reading all of this, I really agree with your comment in your follow up email that he didn't read your whole first email. I fully support your decision to roast him in your vendor reviews on the various websites, but am so glad that at least you got the additional photos that you are happy with for your album!

Sarah said...

Have you given this serious prayer? Do you think "roasting" your photographer is really the best course of action or is there a better, higher route you could take.

Just a thought...I'm not sure if your photographer is a Christian or not. I've made a point of seeking out Christian vendors for my wedding so that the experience less like a business dealing.

I will be praying for you.

kjpugs said...

Ugh... the only thing I can think is, if they were photos from your contact, and not taken, could you legally sue for part $$ back?

THANK GOODNESS for the videographer!!!!

Miss C said...

He certainly made a big mistake there!

I'm so glad you got your videogrpaher's wife's photographs :)

redwhitebride said...

sorry you had a negative experience with the photos. i am still waiting for ours... so a little anxious! i read you review on project wedding. i think it's very helpful that you do that to inform other brides about the vendor. glad that you got other pics from your videog's wife.

Katie said...

Thank goodness for your videographer's wife! That is so disappointing that your photog was so unresponsive...totally unprofessional.

Kristal said...

Wow this dude sounds like a total jerk! I'm so sorry that he wasn't more understanding. :(

But I'm so glad you got some wonderful shots from your videographers wife!!!

Mo said...

I'm so sorry that your photographer responded in the way that he did, because at the very least, he should have agreed to retake that photo for your Thank You card and apologize for not taking photos of your venue before your guests got there!
So glad that the videographer's wife came through with more images and that you've managed to come away from this awful experience in a positive way.

Mrs T said...

Reading this post felt like you had stepped into our wedding photo drama. I wrote our photographer a very similar email and then he took 8 weeks to reply - and basically replied the same as your photographer did.

It hurts to read this - because I can TOTALLY feel your pain. And nearly seven months later - it still stings a bit to think about our wedding photos. Or look at other people's lovely photos. I think it's the main reason I have hardly blogged about our wedding - the photos still make me a bit angry/ disappointed.

I am so sorry you have had to go through this. It is completely unfair and I am TOTALLY team Stacey on this issue.

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