I was paid to assist a wedding (my first time) but...

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jordin_gignac, Jun 21, 2015.

  1. I used to work with this photographer at my college newspaper and after working together he wanted to help me gain some experience by
    asking me to help him shoot a wedding. The wedding was of a couple that he is close friends with. They were only able to pay us $400 of
    which he gave me $100 for helping. By the end of the wedding, he asked for my SD card so he could edit my photos. I guess I didn't fully
    understand why he hired me because this was my first paid photographer experience and I just wanted to see what shots I could get.
    When he wanted the photos I was hesitant because I know what it was like working with him in the past (I hired him and he never
    complied to the newspaper rules) but I gave him the card and asked for it back the next day because I was going to shoot a concert in the
    city and needed it (it was my only card - 16gb) he agreed to do so. When the day came around, he failed to answer my texts or calls. I
    was very upset and aggravated because it was like the newspaper all over again (my fault for thinking people change). He managed to
    text me back a day later apologizing and reassuring me he'd be able to give me my card (with the wedding photos on it) the next day. I
    really need these photos for my portfolio and he completely understood that because that's why I did the job (he knew this). He called me
    the next day and said he could stop by my house to give me my card but mentioned that I needed to sign some "things". I assumed it was
    for legal purposes, but didn't understand how legal this whole thing had to be since I was going to put up my photos on my Facebook and
    Instagram (my person social media sites, not affiliated with my photography portfolio) and he agreed to this and actually wanted me to do
    so as we had discussed prior to the shoot. But when he arrived at my house, he asked me to bring a price of paper and pen out to the
    car. I was annoyed because if he wants me to sign anything professional it should be done professionally so I argued with him about it.
    He said if I don't do it he will drive away. So I stood my ground. Mind you, prior to this, he had texted me after the wedding saying he
    needs to talk to me about how I "suck" and need to learn the dos and don'ts of photography (he hasn't gone to school for this but has
    been an assistant photographer for a well known photographer in Chicago). He was never being professional during the whole wedding
    so I didn't feel comfortable signing anything. It has now been a month since the wedding and I want to know what I should do to get my
    photos back so I can use them on my portfolio ( these are my images that were taken by me).
  2. these are my images that were taken by me​
    Might be the wrong POV. - You were hired and on the clock while you took them.
    Assume the couple changed their mind and is not comfortable with being used for some photographer's advertisement?
    I would have the photographer write down his small print, send it in advance for you to digest and meet him somewhere half way to sign and receive your card willing to obey the bounds.
    Or send him an SASE to receive your card via mail.
    If he is urged to insist on some legalese you should prepare to cope with an empty card & your $100.
  3. Buy a new SD card and try to forget this guy and
    those pictures. He probably promised way more
    tha he could or should have regarding your future
    use of his clients images.
  4. If you got the $100 chalk it up to a learning experience. If you didn't get paid, do the same thing. You won't see those pics again or your card either. If you ever hear from the guy, and I doubt you will, just hangup the phone. I have a guy locally who does the same type of crap. Some lessons you learn the hard way.

    Rick H.
  5. Yes, chuck it for experience and go on with life. The lesson could have been way more expensive. Some people are solid and some have no integrity at all. Anyway, next time get all the items listed in writing....for self protection.
  6. "Buy a new SD card"

    Dont' buy a new SD card -- buy half a dozen. Going to a wedding with one card is like going with one roll of film. Owning one card is like owning one shirt.

    What I'm trying to emphasize here is that if you want to shoot weddings -- or anything else -- professionally, you have to be properly equipped. That means having backups for everything -- two bodies, two flash, multiple lens, etc. Some of that is expensive and hard enough to come by to start with let alone backups, but cards are cheap so that's a good place to start.

    Beyond that, I agree with those that say write this off to experience. In the future, never hand over a card to anyone who don't completely trust. Always copy your card to your computer, back it up to an external drive or disc, and then -- and only then -- make a copy of the images onto a disc or thumb drive, etc., for someone else.
  7. Wow, this sounds so tacky and unprofessional. Don't sign anything and MOVE ON.
  8. Buy a new SD card and also carry a small card copying device in your kit so for future reference, you will be able to copy everything before handing the card back.
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    A day's work, an SD card is not very much that is lost for all the fantastic experience that you gained.
    I agree, buy more than one SD card.
    Also: next time get all the paperwork clear and signed BEFORE the gig.
    I would caution you about copying any images if those images are not legally your property or if dong so was not clearly defined in your contract with your employer. If any employ did to my company, then they would not be an employee ever again.
  10. "next time get all the paperwork clear and signed BEFORE the gig."​
    Excellent advice. I'm am puzzled as to why this wasn't done as you explained about your knowledge that this guy was unreliable.

    I am also puzzled as to why you thought the writing being in pen was more important a concern than participating in the process of deciding what the content of the writing was going to be. The content being the part that actually matters. The interaction might not have gone well but you didn't even give it a chance according to your story.

    As for what to do now there are two main choices about the shoot discussed. You can reach out and probably have to grovel with the guy hoping he will give you the images to use and no one will complain or you can seek extremely cumbersome and questionable legal remedies over a verbal agreement that will be hard to prove. Its a not a career wrecking situation so, I agree with the others. Use this as valuable experience to inspire you to be more organized in the future.
  11. Thanks for the advice! I'm new to the whole photography world and didn't expect a friend to bring up signing papers. But I
    shouldn't have given him a second chance. After he brought up signing papers I was almost baffled because I thought if
    there were any papers to sign that it would've been done before the shoot but I've learned my lesson to do it myself next
    time so I still have rights to my images even if it's under his photography business name.
  12. First off the guy can't just keep your card. Lets not down play this and say chalk it up to experience. Go over there and beat it out of him. LOL Your obviously not from NY.
    Anyways I am sorry to hear all of this. Rule number one never hand over your cards to anyone, hired by a studio or not. You tell them you will send them a USB drive. Some photographers get funny over another photographer keeping images shot on there job. Thats cool, they have every right to do what they want. When its your job you can do what ever you want. This part I say lesson learned.
  13. Before you go too much further, Jordin... review the concept of "work-for-hire". It is an important distinction that you need to understand.
  14. I get the impression he intentionally misled you. I could be wrong of course, but given your description of his (both prior to, and since) behavior, it seems a reasonable conclusion.
    As others have stated, your assertion that the pictures are 'yours' is not typical for the role you played. In this industry, the default is usually that the pictures belong to the individual hiring you as an 'assistant' or '2nd' - ie. your are 'working for hire'. However, that is usually specifically stated prior to hiring. And, technically speaking, barring an agreement to the contrary (be it a signed contract, or a specific verbal agreement) such as is 'typically' the norm, the pictures DO belong to you.
    If you want to work as a 2nd in the future, do NOT expect any given primary to hire you if you are going to insist on keeping the ownership (and related 'rights') of the imagery. -- ESPECIALLY if your intended use is as you've described. Personally, I would NEVER hire a 2nd who insisted upon this. It is the PRIMARY'S good name whom you will besmirch by posting poor (or even good) images all over FB. It is his/her professionalism that gets rubbed in the dirt if the client objects to your posting of those images. It is her/his business that will suffer if the client objects vociferously and posts a cruddy review on a big site.
    While I do allow my 2nd's to use their own imagery in perpetuity, I do so only under specific constraints (such as in their portfolio - only, and after a specified amount of time, and with the client's specific approval), the images are OWNED by me, and the privileges I grant the 2nd for use are exactly that. Of course the contract for hire details ALL of this - and we go over it - prior to signing (and certainly prior to the day of) - so it's not like I'm pulling a fast one to get cheap labor.
    I too would advocate using this as a learning experience. In practical terms, you have very little recourse, aside from actually suing him, which, given his behavior so far, is simply likely to result in a 'I lost the card' response - in which case, at best, he'd owe you the $50 (at most) for a new 16GB card. Obviously Michael's response is a bit tongue in cheek, but frankly, escalating the situation could easily result in very very bad things for you - both professionally (who wants to work with or hire a thug?) and personally (jail time, and a felony conviction). However, he is absolutely right about handing over your cards (your personal property), instead, in an equivalent professional interaction, the Primary should give you cards to use, and take those back at the end of the day. Returning copies of the imagery to you can easily be done online, or physically w/ a USB stick or equivalent.
    Sorry you got burned, but I think that it was primarily due to your own naivete.
  15. Sounds like the guy who borrowed a body from me ("need a backup") and never returned it. Some people are self-centered jerks and will ruin your life if you let them take advantage of you. Dump him, and don't answer his calls. He will thrive on your attempts to straighten out the situation.
  16. I only use cameras that hold and write to 2 cards. A CF card and an SD card. Maybe get one of those cameras?
    This will surely solve your problem and it also is a major safety factor if a card dies on you.

    If the photographer that hired you was worried about you using the images to promote yourself he should have
    given you one of HIS cards to use in your camera.

    The whole situation kind of sucks, because we don't know what his contract says about using the images of the
    bride and groom for advertising. So if the bride and groom see their pictures on your site somewhere it could
    get a bit messy, however nothing usually ever happens. People really don't care unless they are famous or if
    there are kids in the photos. Parents can get a bit freaked out sometimes.

    Buy a pro camera that holds 2 cards. Every pro shooting weddings should have at least 1 camera like this in
    their bag. Cards WILL go bad. Even new ones. I've had 2 go bad.

    Ask him to see the contract between the couple and him before you sign anything, then maybe he will give you
    your card. You can always call and ask the couple if it's OK to use a few of the wedding shots. Then you don't
    have to sign anything. There's really nothing else you can do. Just think ahead and think like a pro with 30 years
    of experience.

Share This Page