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  1. #1

    Default Small Claims for Bad "Professional" Wedding Photographer

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Tennessee

    We paid a local "professional" to shoot our wedding. She was a member of the state wedding professional photography assosciation, had good references, show good work to us, and was mid to mid high in price for this area

    I have filed a small claims court case due to the poor quality of both the photos and video.

    THe reasons for being devastated over her work include the following but I will spare you a long list of why.. as there things I must show proof of in court
    1) she used a 6mp camera after stating to us in in the contract meeting that " no professional shoots a wedding in less than 12mp" ( think cellphone quality photos at 6mp)
    2) I specifically told her I would not contract her for both video and photographery if that meant she would be trying to take the photographs and run a camera during the day as that greatly decreases the quality. She stated absolutely not that she would have professional people to do video and her as the photographer for photos if hired for both.
    Her on video she gave us shows her running the camera and taking photos.
    3) the photos are mostly dark, out of focus, have objects such as chairs blocking the intended subjects in portrait shots
    4) she failed to show up for our pre-wedding day meeting to discuse what we wanted and explore the venue for her to get a feel for the setting she would be working in.
    the list goes on but those are all things I have to present as proof to my case..

    The contracted stated full payment is due 14 days before the wedding which she got at 21 days before.
    My concern is that she has altered what is the standard wording in a contract for service to read...
    " I take great care in exposure, development, and delivery of my photographs and videos. However, in the event the studio fails to comply with the terms of this contract, (name of business)'s liability is limited to the refund of the deposit.

    In standard paid service contracts that should read - " is limited to the total amount paid for services"

    Because she herself has changed the words, can I only recover the deposit? or will the standard wording of a paid service contract be upheld?

    Her wording could be interrupted in that if she failed to show up at all at the wedding and do any work taking photos and video that me the consumer could only get back the deposit.

    What can expect as far as what I can actually win for the breech of contract issues etc.
    I only filed for what was paid her plus courtcost .
    Can the judge ignore her wording for the standard legal wording of a service contract?

    Thanks for any input

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Small Claims for Bad "Professional" Wedding Photographer

    Her on video she gave us shows her running the camera and taking photos.
    If she was running the video cam, how did she record a video with her in the shot?

    weren't you there? Did you see her running the video cam?

    4) she failed to show up for our pre-wedding day meeting to discuse what we wanted and explore the venue for her to get a feel for the setting she would be working in.
    and that caused a problem how? Did she not take something that you wanted?

    3) the photos are mostly dark, out of focus, have objects such as chairs blocking the intended subjects in portrait shots
    Well, that isn't good, unless you wanted pictures of the chairs.

    My concern is that she has altered what is the standard wording in a contract for service to read...
    There is standard wording in a contract? Contracts need to address specific situations so each contract should be unique, for the most part.

    " I take great care in exposure, development, and delivery of my photographs and videos. However, in the event the studio fails to comply with the terms of this contract, (name of business)'s liability is limited to the refund of the deposit.
    Is that what it said when you signed it?

    1) she used a 6mp camera after stating to us in in the contract meeting that " no professional shoots a wedding in less than 12mp" ( think cellphone quality photos at 6mp)
    was there a noticeable problem with quality due to the 6 mpxl camera?

    and there is a huge difference between a 6 mgpxl cellphone camera and a 6 mgpxl high quality camera. It is a lot more than pixal count that causes differences in quality.

    If the quality is as poor as you say, you might be able to win your case. You do realize that you are not going to get your money back AND get to keep any photos or video, right?

  3. #3

    Post Re: Small Claims for Bad "Professional" Wedding Photographer

    JK - thanks for your reply -- here is the answers to what u asked...

    ceremony was contracted for 2 cam -- she ran one and the other professional aka her boyfriend ran the other --thus taping her in the cross frame of entrance/exit and the footage was put in the DVD she gave us

    yes I was there and we all saw her doing it after we entered the ceremony but who would stop the ceremony to correct their "professional" -- I was making a point she breeched her stated services. I did tell her while we were taking bride groom photos before the wedding to move one of the cams to center aisle and she didnt do it

    and that caused a problem how? Did she not take something that you wanted?
    we have no bride/groom and groom family photos save one that is blurry despite taking 10-15 on his side -- considering what she left in the CD - the ones deleted most have been REALLY REALLY bad
    there are no wed party photos w/o kids that were well past having their photo taken.. and we told her to take them without them several times -- she finally did one each of the bridesmaids/groomsmen no kids -- not on CD
    she failed to take wed party introduction into the reception as requested.

    guess you see the point on the stray objects in the photos -- nothing beats the you can kiss the bride photo of just the tops of our heads over the back of the lady in the 2nd row as she started to stand up

    There is standard wording in a contract? Contracts need to address specific situations so each contract should be unique, for the most part. I was advise by the person that helped file in legal aid that contracts case were standard in that she could not just limit the "damage" to the client as just the deposit -but contracts are for entire service fee if a breech occurs - the unique part would be for photography service that she hand wrote on about what our package included

    Is that what it said when you signed it? yes it did -- it was mixed in with the professional retains all deposit money in the even client cancels wedding - then the statement about damage and then if client changes date deposit money may or may not be applied to new wedding date at the descretion of the professional. We asked her about if she had failure to provide professional level services -- she stated she has a satisfaction policy on her website which states something different than the contract.

    was there a noticeable problem with quality due to the 6 mpxl camera? due to the limited resolution and the need to "crop out chairs etc" there isnt enough size of file/resolution to have any enlargements of any photos past 5 by 7 -- the quality difference in printed image is obvious when comparing her photo to a guest's photo of the same thing w/ higher power cameras -- dont forget she flashed out almost all ceremony photos and wed party picks -- full flash outside in direct full sunny day the result can best be described in words as overexposed



    and there is a huge difference between a 6 mgpxl cellphone camera and a 6 mgpxl high quality camera. It is a lot more than pixal count that causes differences in quality. the particular camera she used was upgraded by Nikon only 4 mons after release in 2006 due to very poor recurrent user reviews describing the same problems I have w/ my wedding photos she took with it. Nikon stopped short of saying it had a defective image sensor but is the reason for many of the problems seen in auto mode per the reviews -- and YES MY PROFESSIONAL SHOT IN AUTO mode the whole day.(aka - metadata tells that one) even a hobbyist as me would know settings to use

    Yes I agree it more than camera that makes quality -- she obviously had a really bad day!!! to say the least.. as well... to not know that there is a chair in the family shots for like 8 different groups of peeps shots need I say more about her awareness of what she is taking

    If the quality is as poor as you say, you might be able to win your case. You do realize that you are not going to get your money back AND get to keep any photos or video, right?[/QUOTE]
    I am aware of that but I filed for full refund to let the the judge decided what portion she should get to keep... I personally think Min. Wage rates for the hours she took video and photos -- oh yeah she was 38 mins late the day of the wedding to boot...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Small Claims for Bad "Professional" Wedding Photographer

    well, hopefully you had a good day other than this. You might want to check with other people that were there that might have some decent photos on their personal cameras.

    So, what it looks like it would come down to me is keep nothing and demand all the money returned. You would be seeking a rescission of the contract.

    The other option becomes a problem because of her limitation in the contract.

    I was advise by the person that helped file in legal aid that contracts case were standard in that she could not just limit the "damage" to the client as just the deposit -but contracts are for entire service fee if a breech occurs - the unique part would be for photography service that she hand wrote on about what our package included
    That simply isn't true. I can write a contract that allows a full refund or I can write a contract that allows no refund at all. There is commonality in many areas of a contract but a contract can include anything that isn't illegal. A contract doesn't have to be fair. If you do not agree with a contract, you have the right to not enter into the contract. If you do enter into a contract, it is generally seen that you accept the terms of the contract.

    So, trying to keep the pics and vids but paying less is what I would guess you are after. Have you tried to negotiate any such agreement with the photog? You might want to before going to court. If a court rules, it is what they rule. It may not be what you really want to do. If you can come to some agreement before court, you generally get more of what you want.

    I highly doubt you are going to get the judge to order her to accept min wage and you keep the product. Not only is that unreasonable, the photog has considerable expenses in the product itself they would deserve being paid for let alone the fact they have thousands of dollars of equipment they used for this.

    All you can do is present your case and let the chips fall where they do.

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