Scammed by other photographers?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by john_taylor|24, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Hello, I will try to keep this question as short and simple as possible. As a wedding photographer, when you sub-contract out another wedding photographer to shoot a wedding for you because you were hurt, or sick, etc. - what do you do when they lie about the amount of years they have done weddings, their equipment they have and use, etc.? We subcontracted a company that has a great website, we saw 3 albums of their work, their sample online gallery and their blog. We were told by them they had been doing weddings about 5 years, and that they had prime lens, and they were all 2.8, 1.8, etc. We had a contract that stated "payment upon successful completion of this assignment" that they would receive payment in full. The assignment stated 500 raw photos from all day wedding coverage. We were horrified when we received the raw photos. They are so poorly exposed, the histogram was bunched on the left and they were literally, black. They were honestly the worst photos I have ever seen! Once we corrected them, they are barely even printable. They were shooting in a dark hotel, the formals at iso 400, F8 and 1/60th shutter speed. They shot some in auto and TV and we told them to use a prime lens wide open during the ceremony, etc. and it was at f8. The max apt. on the metadata said 6. I know I don't use those settings. We even reviewed lighting and techniques, etc. for 2 hours with them, and they seemed to know what they were doing and voiced no concerns or questions. We thought we did everything right, but what do you do when a photographer lies about their experience, equipment and knowledge and you are stuck with an unhappy client? The photographers want the rest of the payment, stating they shot the wedding, per the contract, it shouldn't matter they didn't turn out.
    I don't know what to do?
     
  2. Talk to your lawyer before you even think of paying the balance.
     
  3. What kind of demands, if any, are the clients making? To me, that would be the key factor whether I'd seek legal advice and possible take legal action. If the clients aren't making demands (like large amounts of dollar compensation), I would consider paying the balance to the contractors and making the best of the situation (lesson learned and all that).
    But that's my opinion and what I'd do. You might be different. In any case, it will be a mess so figure out whether having to deal with the mess is worth it to you. No one will win in the final analysis.
     
  4. The clients have only seen what is online for now. I am worried once they see the prints in the next few weeks, they will a lot more upset. I am sure the client will want a refund. The package they contracted came with an album (whcc) and I will have to incur costs to use a flushmount so I can have more control of the prints. It will be cheaper for me to have prints re-printed in a selfmount than to have an album reprinted. The formals are cropped in camera so tight, they won't be able to have any other shape, like an 8x10, etc. I'm sure it will get uglier with my client once they see the print quality. The metadata showed they used a Nikon D50 and D80, and we use 5D's and 50D's and L lenses, so there is a difference in quality than what our client thought they would get.
     
  5. Angel,
    This is a tough problem and I'm afraid I'm going to give you an answer you don't want.
    I do think Bob Sunley's suggestion has merit. A lawyer might help you deal with the other photographer. But you're still the one responsible for the client. Basically, it's YOUR responsibility, when you hire a subcontractor, to be sure that they know what they're doing. If it's not your responsibility, whose responsibility is it? You want to say (I think) that it's the SUBCONTRACTOR's responsibility to assure you that they qualified and, um, not to lie to you about that. That argument might work when the person doing the hiring is a normal client and not themselves an expert in photography. But those of us who are in the biz are supposed to know better than ordinary consumers. The general legal rule is that employers are responsible for the actions of their employees or agents when those actions fall within the ordinary scope of their duties.
    Now please note: I'm NOT letting the other photographer off the moral or even the legal hook. I'll accept your claim that you were lied to, that they misrepresented their abilities. I sympathize with you, I really do, and I can easily imagine myself in the same bad situation. But if the client came to YOU for services, and you passed the job to someone else, the other photographer may have to answer to you - and indeed, you might have some legal recourse against the other photographer. But I believe that YOU have to answer to the client.
    *
    THe moral of the story, I guess, is, if you hire a substitute, you really need to KNOW what they can do. I acknowledge that it's absurd to think that you're going to give someone else a written test in Advanced Wedding Photography. But that's hardly the only option, and I bet your client expects that you'll have done more than ask a substitute shooter what equipment they have. If you're a working photographer in your area with long experience yourself, I suppose you ought to know other photographers with good reputations. If you don't know the reputation of the person you're hiring, then I think you would need to do something to give yourself confidence in their true abilities, say, ask them to work with you on a gig as second shooter.
    *
    One thing I don't understand: If the pictures are as bad as all that, what does this other photographer say in his defense? I mean, how did the conversation go? You're claiming the photo is black and the other guy says it's just creatively exposed?
    Another question. It sounds as if, before you hired the other photographer, you talked with him about photography for a good while and on the basis of that conversation you felt he knew what he was doing. I'll skip the issue of the difference between knowledge and practical capability and go instead to another question: Is it possible that the person you interviewed was NOT the person who actually took the photos? In other words, the client hired you, you passed the job to another photographer who demonstrated good knowledge to you personally, and that person then passed the actual gig to a third photographer who you never talked to and who in fact had no idea what he was doing?
    I do feel your pain and I wish you the best here.
     
  6. Hard to say without seeing the images, but again, if it were me, I would own up to the client immediately, and not wait for them to see the images, hoping they won't notice. If you are sure they will want a refund, in total or even in part, I'd set up a meeting, explain the situation, and basically find out what will make them happy. I'd be prepared with several varying offers, ranging from a little to a lot. I'd consider myself fortunate if I can get away with coming out even in raw expenses, or even paying a bit, just to move on.
    In the meantime, I would express my dissatisfaction to the contractors and tell them that the balance, if any balance will be forthcoming, would be settled once the clients had seen the images and you know what their demands are.
    I would strive to settle this without lawyers first. But if things become ugly, I would call them.
     
  7. William, thank you. I agree with you, it is our responsibility. That's why I'm really upset about it. All of the work they showed us was fine and of great quality. My main question, is when I am asking what lens do you have, how long have you been doing this, do you know how to shoot in this mode or that (all in person btw) basically because for me to contract you, you would have to have this or that, etc., - and they lied. If they would have said they didn't have it, I would have simply hired somebody else. They didn't have the equipment they said they did. Anyone could rent equipment and show it to me and say it's what they use. We never contract anyone out, but I was in a situation that I had to have a replacement. We obviously would never to it again, but my worry now is if I get hurt, I would have to.
    About the conversation, here's the kicker. They were told raw files. So when they handed me the disc, they told me the bride refused to have her photo taken where their light kit was set up. That was my first red flag. Basically they told me a hand full of stories that in 5 years I have never seen or heard of. Then they said that they just didn't have the equipment for the low light - well that's not what they told me when we talked (multiple times.) Well, anyway, when I put in the disc they appeared fine (large thumbnails.) Later that night when I imported them, they all just started going black - back to default. They actually went in and corrected (tried to) each photo so they appeared exposed, etc. when you opened it up. That's what really upset me, they knew. They have not contacted me with a response since then.
     
  8. Thank you Nadine, I think that's exactly what I will do. I will post a photo up in a few hours.
     
  9. Do you have insurance?
     
  10. As far as what I would have done....called the photographer.....have him stop by my office and proceed to show him that he should really be looking at a new hobby. I then would have offered him 1/3 of the deal. If he didn't like that and thought he deserved full payment I would have kicked him out of my office with nothing.
     
  11. Yes, I have insurance. The contract they signed stated that they would get sued, not me, but then I have to prove they were negligent. Here are some key photos.
     
  12. Here are some key photos.
    00U49n-159317584.jpg
     
  13. Another from Ceremony when the groom first saw the bride.
    00U49r-159317684.jpg
     
  14. And this is the first formal, corrected, WHCC called me, it's that bad.
    00U4A2-159319584.jpg
     
  15. And this is the processional, they could use flash by the way...this is the raw unedited, I just cropped the faces off the top.
     
  16. It's very difficult to see the problem when the majority of the photo is a black box. Perhaps just blackout the faces so it's easier to see the issue.
    As far as client satisfaction, I'd be offering a free portrait shoot & a number of prints for free. It certainly won't be the same as a wedding album, but it should help smooth out any problems.
    As far as the sub-contractor goes, unless you've got everything in writing, it will be very hard to follow up on legal action, not impossible, but a lot harder. If you don't do so already, I'd be making sure that a contract was signed detailing every requirement and clearly stating liability for the shoot will be their responsibility as well (i.e. you would seek reparations from them). Check with a lawyer/solicitor for wordings etc, and how best to handle your current situation.
     
  17. employers are responsible for the actions of their employees or agents when those actions fall within the ordinary scope of their duties.

    Be careful not to confuse agency issues with contract issues. No subordinate smashed their car into a guest or anything. The rest of the post, however, recognizes the contract issues. Namely that the photographer contracted by the client is liable to the client for a breach of their contract and the farm out photographer is liable to the photographer for any breach of their contract.
    Coincidentally, I raised this a the potential double trouble problem to watch out for in a farm-out related thread called 'Image Usage' which started on the 24th of this month. It didn't take long for someone to report such a problem.
    Here, the contract of the photographers will be imortant. We don't know what's in it other than " ...successful completion of this assignment" sentence. The 'successful completion' part being of interest. That aspect is of interest even without a written contract as are representations made ect.
    The contract they signed stated that they would get sued, not me, but then I have to prove they were negligent

    I don't see how a photographer having such a provision in a contract with a farm-out photographer will be binding on the original photographer's client if the client is not part of that contract. Perhaps you mean there is some sort of hold harmless or indenification clause which would be great to have if it is drafted properly so that it applies to this situation (or possibly nullified because photographer/client contract requires a specific identified shooter)
    It seems like the term negligence is being confused with failing to fufill contract terms. Negligence is a different type of legal matter where some different things need to be proved. Its easier anyway to just have to show one thing that the results weren't adaquate rather than having to prove a bunch of other stuff too.
    Well, it looks like your going to have to make good with the client but if you have a indemnification clause any deal you make with them may effect how or if the clause with the farm-outs will apply. The farm out photographer may sue at any time as it is.
    I suggest you consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction about your situation instead of using our comments for advice. This one may get hot soon. I hope it all works out well.
     
  18. "They were shooting in a dark hotel, the formals at iso 400, F8 and 1/60th shutter speed. They shot some in auto and TV and we told them to use a prime lens wide open during the ceremony, etc. and it was at f8. "

    I'm afraid that if they screwed-up as bad as they apparently did, the results would have likely been worse had they shot with wide open apertures. When you subcontract work you're letting go of control,...... way too risky for me, especially when it seems like everyone and their mom has a snappy website, cool edgy business cards and haven't shot more than a handful of weddings. Even if someone shows up with "L" glass, that doesn't mean their images are going to be better than an experienced pro using a "kit" lens.
    BTW, welcome to P-net :)
     
  19. Wow, thank you. My contract with the client states "photographer is limited by the guidelines of the ceremony official or reception site management. The client agrees to accept the technical results of their imposition on the Photographer (no flash during ceremony, church rules, restrictions, etc.) and their guests' flashes and cooperation." So if I understand your post, John, then I would be responsible therefore defaulting to my contract with my client? As far as the contract with the sub-contracted photographers, I used the one from the PPA. On line 5 and 6 it states "Contractor certifies that he or she has business liability insurance and malpractice insurance (or its equivalent) in an amount sufficient to cover any foreseeable damages related to its performance of this contract. Contractor further agrees to defend studio in any action arising out of law or equity and to fully indemnify the Studio for damages related to the Contractor's performance of this contract. Contractor acknowledges that in addition to regular damages related to a failure to perform this contract, Contractor may also be liable to Studio for consequential damages such as lost business opportunities."
    Due to my lack of legal knowledge and verbology, I was under the understanding that "successful completion" meant exposed photos of the entire wedding, covering all of the main events, that are printable. It would be one thing if I could get a decent 8x10, but even the 4x6's are really bad. I am thought the assignment part of the contract "Assignment in exchange for adequate and valuable consideration, contractor agrees to complete the following assignment..." would have covered me. Their argument is that they "did it" so it was successful and mine is I can't print them out, so it's not.
     
  20. I ran into a simular problem when I hired a second photographer for a wedding I shot earlier this year. He stated he was experienced had a nice web page and a good portfolio...
    The images he shot for me at the wedding were horindous, out of focus most of them were very dark and he had the wrong white balance set. I am just glad I had him do the guest tables and some grip and grin photos... I shot all the formals and most of the ceremony. I did lose a lot of the reception photos because he shot a great deal of them and some of the ceremony. I was able to salvage most of the pictures but it was not what he said he could do. I never paid him the balance of the agreed upon fee and never used him again. I am much more careful now. Well you live and learn...
     
  21. David, thank you but shooting wide open is an entire different opinion of mine. The photo posted is in a church, very, very dark, wide open at 2.8. Now, if I needed more than 2 people in the shot, that may be different, I change it up and down, but when it's really dark sometimes, I think anyway, you need to shoot wide open. But to each their own.
    I agree with you about sub-contracting, but what else are you to do if you are injured or ill and you have to do it? That was kind of the whole point of my thread, what do I do to keep from being scammed? When you know someone, see their work, and rule out all you can, what do you do if someone flat out lies to you about their equipment or skills? I know it happens in the construction business all of the time, but I am asking what else can I do to keep this from happening again, as I need a back up in case I am injured.
    00U4Eb-159345584.jpg
     
  22. "I agree with you about sub-contracting, but what else are you to do if you are injured or ill and you have to do it? .......... but I am asking what else can I do to keep this from happening again, as I need a back up in case I am injured."

    Easy peasy, you simply put a clause in your contract that says if you are unable to shoot for some unforeseen reason that you will give the B/G a full refund. You can also add that you'll make every effort to help them find a replacement but when they do find a replacement they need a new contract with the new provider. You can also routinely use a 2nd shooter, if worse comes to worse, they cover solo. You can also establish relationships with local pros so that you know their abilities and that you have a code between you that you help each other if the need arises.
     
  23. To prevent this from happening again, I'd begin to make contact with associates. Wedding photographers or up and coming wedding photographers with whom you can spend a bit of time with and possibly test out on a casual basis before actually needing to have them cover a serious job for you in a pinch.
    Some wedding photographers form a private 'band' of associates who refer clients back and forth and who cover for each other from time to time. Or, since you appear to belong to PPA, ask for referrals from your colleagues there.
    I doubt that one can completely and absolutely prevent such a situation from happening again, but one can take some small steps. The thing is actually being able to trust that the performance of a particular fill in photographer is as described, from personal experience or the say so of a trusted colleague.
     
  24. Weddings are such a minefield.
    There are two principles of law here: The first of course is "caveat emptor", buyer beware. The second is a very old common law principle..."buying something not fit for the purpose". Thats your out.
     
  25. So if I understand your post, John, then I would be responsible therefore defaulting to my contract with my client?

    Ordinarily, if you fail to provide what you are supposed to in your contract with a client, you have to answer to the client. If your outsource photographer fails to provide what they are supposed to provide in your contract with the outsource photographer, the outsource photographer has to answer to you. Meanwhile you are stuck trying to make good to one while you are trying to make the other good to you.
    Contractor certifies that he or she has business liability insurance and malpractice insurance (or its equivalent)

    For future reference its good to actually see a certficate or face sheet of the the other photographer's policy. The downside is that it may be hard to find people that have such insurance. Having the clause in the contract is worth something at least. If someone makes a representation like this and its false, it can be used to attack their credibility later. If a judge has to decide who is telling the truth in a dispute about the contract, its useful to point out the dishonesty that has already been displayed. Also, for some types of legal claims called "equitable", dishonesty may cause the claim to be forfeited under the doctrice of "unclean hands". Finally it helps negate any hardship/unfairness issues they may make as they represented that they have insurance.

    Contractor further agrees to defend studio in any action arising out of law or equity and to fully indemnify the Studio for damages

    Translation: They agree to pay for or otherwise get a lawyer to defend against a lawsuit filed against you because of something they did or failed to do and to compensate you for anything you have to pay out if you lose the lawsuit. (there's some other hurdles and complications I left out but, as you can see, its risky for anyone to sign indemnification agreements).
    consequential damages such as lost business opportunities

    Consequential damages are usually disallowed absent a contract allowing them and some other particular situations. Lets use film development as an example. If you are certain to make $10,000.00 if you deliver prints to ABC corporation but the photofinisher winds up destroying the negatives, you are out the 10K and the $5.00 for the roll of film. Absent an agreement to the contrary, the photofinisher is only liable for the five bucks. If it were liable for any consequence of its failure, such as the 10k loss, it wouldn't bother being in the business because its too much risk. The rule against consequential damages (i.e. other unknown but potential consequences for breaching a contract) is based on economics. If we were liable for any consequence if we breach contracts, the entire economy will collapse. To make someone liable, they have to agree. In exchange, the other side pays them more money to make the risk more acceptable. (I make this digression so that other photographers will think twice before signing agreements where they accept responsibility for consequential damages).
    Lost business opportunities are a type of consequential damages but they are usually not allowed unless there is really really strong proof of what the amount of losses are. The fact that one might or probably lost business is not enough. Its got to be verifiable or based on clear track records.
    I was under the understanding that "successful completion" meant exposed photos of the entire wedding... ...Their argument is that they "did it" so it was successful and mine is I can't print them out, so it's not.
    You likely position is that successful completion means providing a acceptable quality photos. Their likely position is that they delivered photo's period and it doesn't matter how crappy they all may be. If a landscaper builds a retainer wall and it falls apart the next day because it was so poorly done, will they be really able to claim the wall was 'successfully completed" and they can keep all the money (especially if all the representations were that they were experts and knew what they were doing?)
    The indemnification clause may become ineffective if you make a new deal with the client as it only covers 'action arising out of law or equity" which means court activity not private. The upside is that cleint is not going after you anymore (get a release of any of their claims in writing) and there is nothing on that side to defend anyway. A smaller downside is that the outsource has a clearer and shorter path to press their claim against you. Its harder to justify witholding payment to the outsource photographer when the client walks away satisfied (legally satisfied that is as opposed to being emotionally satisfied).
    As I said and still say, this is not legal advice, the comments could be incorrect and/or incomplete and you need to get advice from a attorney licensed in your area. These are things you could ask them about though. Also, I'm not saying the other side did anything wrong. All my comments are speculative and hypothetical since I don't have any knowledge about what really happened. Others may talk about non-legal approaches and I don't dismiss those possibilities. I'm just addressing the legal issues that may come up.
     
  26. Let's focus on the technical aspects: Regardless of the speed of the lens used, the pictures should be properly exposed unless the exposure correction was dialed down or some incorrect manual settings were used. Both would result in dark thumbnails and I'm sure would go noticed during the shoot. You say that the image previews looked fine but the pics "turned dark when you imported the raw files". That surely indicates some wrong settings with the raw file converter. I can't see how the raw files could be beyond repair if the preview (probably the in-camera jpg version) is fine.
     
  27. Hi Angel, I found that connecting with a small group of other local professional solo photographers is the best way to create an emergency net. I work with 5 other photographers whose work I am very happy with. We are all there to help each other out as second shooters, emergency situations and to share event stories with. I consider them friends as well as business associates and can turn to any of them in emergency. sorry to hear of your unfortunate situation.
     
  28. Thank you to everyone for your help in this matter.
    Nadine, great advice, thank you. The sad part is they were living houses away and were neighbors, and I thought we were friends. I showed them all kinds of tips and tricks, etc. They were the first people I ever trusted as far as confidence and photography. I was wrong.
    John, can I put you in my pocket lol? You are wonderful. Thank you for helping me understand the terms. That really helps me a lot.
    Peter, to answer your question, the thumbnails were previews on windows. I have used all 5 of my computers and downloaded all profiles and used CS4, Elements and Lightroom and Noise Ninja. The histogram is showing they are completely under exposed, but not the photos they took outdoors (candid formals.) That would lead me to believe that when the disc was burned it simply generated a preview jpg. The other thing was that when we shoot a wedding, we use on average 70gb of memory, thanks to the new raws from the 5d mark ii being so large, and they handed me less than 8gb of 12 hours, 2 photographers in RAW. I asked about this and they said it was because their cameras weren't as many megapixels as mine. Well even if I used a Rebel XTI I could have more gb used (I agree, anyone can buy a 5d and L lenses, it's knowing how to use them) than 8 gb for 12 hours with 2 of us. I explained that the only time that happens is if they are so poorly underexposed, they are small in file size.
    Don't get me wrong about dark exposures, I know that as long as it is properly exposed with my meter (in camera) with the correct settings, when I brighten is up and correct it, I barely have any noise. The noise from their photos is so drastically bad because they were so underexposed. That's what I think happened. I did see a few photos they took with each other behind the b and g and in one, one of them had their flash off and on the floor as if they might have been having problems with the flash. I know they shot manual in a lot of the shots for the formals because the lighting was different and the settings stayed the same.
    Give me any camera and crappy lens, and I will get you an exposed photograph. They tried to blame it on their camera not being a 5d, low light, etc. but it comes down to not knowing what settings to use, etc. I personally only shoot in manual.
    Thank you again everyone for your advice. I really appreciate it.
     
  29. Well, here's my take. It seems there's two relationships here that you have to sort out. One, since you maintained your position as let us say the "contractor" you have the prime responsibility to the client. With this, goes, unfortunately, a reflection on your work and all that. So I think you have to come clean with your client and do what you can to make that situation as satisfactory as can be with them, even up to and including free pics or their money back. Don't disdain that thought, that may actally benefit in the long run, if you explain what happened, told them it wasn't up to your standards and don't want them to have to pay for the mistake. That's with your client.
    Your second relationship is with your sub. I think there you may have some recourse, and it may call for an attorney. They not only botched the job, but they may have affected your reputation which is more important. I don't mean to go overboard, I'm just stating the worse case.
    The client may like the photos more than you, and it could work out much better. I've noticed on these type of business ethics situations that seem to abound in the wedding photography field (as well as others) that Nadine seems to have a very level head regarding how to deal with this stuff. I think she made some good suggestions.
    Good luck. I know this really sux for you and you sound like a straight up photographer. Hope it all works out.
     
  30. Angel,
    I stopped reading the thread when it came to the issue of your explanation of what insurance you had.
    Your explanation of insurance did not square with how the business of insurance works.
    You stated:
    'The contract they signed stated that they would get sued, not me, but then I have to prove they were negligent.'
    Let's analyze this statement then the usual law of how insurances works - including malpractice insurances and it may settle you down a little.
    'The contract they signed. . . . '
    (all insurance contracts are signed by 'them' but it is your signature that is important too. In fact both signatures are generally required to make an insurance contract (there are some exceptions, but that's too high level for this discussion).
    'they would get sued not me'
    With the exception of 'no fault' automobile insurance, workers' compensation (industrial accident insurance), ship libel and a few other anomalies, it is almost universal that (1) suit be instituted against the insurance company. It almost universally is filed against the defendant, whose defense is directed by the defendant's insurance company and at the expense of that company.
    This is just about universal throughout the 50 states, and there are a few exceptions, and those exceptions are not ordinarily found in the business of selling 'business liability errors and omissions' insurance which provides that your insurance company will pay for 'damages' that you incurred because of failure to deliver an acceptable product.
    A common way that such policies are written ('liability policies' and 'errors and omissions' coverages') is that the claimant merely has to 'make a claim' to you to start things rolling or just that you sense a potential claim, and in many instances in fact you may have a duty to notify the insurance company if you feel circumstances have arisen which may give rise to a claim -- and if no duty to do so, it may be a good practice anyway, as you might get some good advice from the insurance company and/or its attorneys.
    Almost every policy of liability insurance provides as a separate promise that if a claim is made against you, the insurance company will hire an attorney (of their choosing) to defend you against any claims made against you that are covered under the policy, but only when an attorney is needed. Until that point, they use 'claims adjusters'.
    But remember, we are not just talking about 'public liability insurance' but a special subset called 'errors and omissions' insurance -- though it may NOT be called exactly by that name.
    If there is a dispute about whether or not you are covered for for claims under the policy, the insurance company usually must institute a suit against you (or defend under a 'reservation of rights or both) claiming that they do not owe you a duty to defend you or pay any party you might have wronged. (In most such cases in most jurisdictions, (like California for instance) they must pay to have a SEPARATE attorney at their expense represent ONLY YOUR INTERESTS when they have such a conflict of interest. Thus you might end up with two attorneys. The attorney representing you to defend you against claims being made against you and the attorney for you (being paid for by the insurance company) to defend against the insurance company's claims it does not have to provide you a defense or pay any coverage if you are found liable. Most cases are too small to bear such expenses.
    The question is whether you actually have insurance that may provide you coverage in this instance. Do you have photographer's insurance that covers 'professional acts'? Not just loss of equipment or personal injury to others or damage to the wedding party's lawn if you rip it up driving your SUV over it (property damage), but what often is called 'errors and omissions' in carrying out your duties? (sometimes called malpractice).
    In simplest terms, what you have described above can only be described as an 'error and/or omission' in the performance of your duties as the hired photographer. Rather then tell your B&G you personally could not shoot and personally choosing someone you knew to do the shooting whose quality of work you knew well, you chose an unknown third party based on an interview - someone who 'seemed' to 'know the ropes' but whose veracity now seems well in doubt. That is your responsibility. You would have earned the profit if they had been responsible; if not, you must bear the loss, unless of course you are insured AND it is an insurable loss.
    And, from looking at the first postings above and the substitute photographer's apparent knowledge about the equipment, etc., that they showed to you in the interview, and compared with your review of the EXIF data, one of two things comes to mind as a probable explanation:
    1. They took the assignment, and for some reason did not have or could not get the equipment they spoke to you about. They may have had it, intended to rent it (but failed), had it stolen, intended to borrow it from a friend, etc., and the variations are endless. They apparently did know the equipment enough to convince you, but in the end, the EXIF data showed they did not use that equipment. If they say they did use that equipment, the EXIF data will prove them liars . . . and that will be factor if they claim payment from you on their alleged contract.
    ********
    [Personally (and not as an attorney) I would think ten times before paying the substitute one additional cent. Review what you were told what equipment they would use, look at the EXIF data and remember, judges hate liars.
    If the substitute should sue you for payment, if you can prove they did a lousy job AND are allowed to lie to a judge about the equipment they used,, just begin your demonstration to the judge of just how EXIF data works and disprove their contentions. Proving yo the judge how the captures show conclusively that they did not use the cameras and lenses they claimed, WHY that equipment was deficient, AND the photos were deficient and caused you loss.
    ********
    A very strong possibility is this:
    2. As suggested above they took the assignment, then farmed it out to someone else, for any of a variety of reasons, then when discussing it with you decided to 'stonewall it', knowing that with the quality of product they were delivering they could make a colorable claim of 'artistic' differences -- enough maybe to avoid getting smashed in the face or yelled at -- maybe bully you into paying something.
    Hospitals and doctors now are learning that instead of stonewalling their mistakes it is indeed better practice to be entirely up front about their mistakes - commiserated injured persons and their families often are impressed with total and sincere honesty - it seems to lessen the need to exact a 'pound of flesh' to 'make things right'. So, be up front with your clients -- but also talk to your insurance first, and quickly, if you have any.
    Sincere apologies go a long way if fault is absolutely clear. (Good to look at your insurance policy, also, though -- and see below.) By NO MEANS bill the client for additional money if the quality is deficient, as you are inviting a claim against you.
    (Many doctors who have committed 'professional malpractice' (errors and omissions) have been sued through their own stupidity. They committed a professional blunder that might have escaped being sued on, but the kept billing their client and eventually turned that bill over to collection and let aggressive bill collectors chase the person they committed the blunder against, and in turn the injured persons got an attorney who decided to sue the doctor -- often at great loss to the doctor.
    Best make peace and 'let sleeping dogs lie' In any case, though, know your rights about your insurance -- if it doesn't cover you this time, you need to know that, because you need good insurance for 'errors and omissions' in the wedding business.
    Not very many general practice attorneys are really very good at reading quickly insurance policies - the words in insurance policies are easily read by those who are skilled at it, and you should seek out an attorney who is skilled at just that. Have such an attorney (for a short consultation of one-half hour or so, which may indeed be gratis or of small cost) examine your policy, and to speed things up and keep costs to the lowest, be sure that the attorney does not have to ask for 'more paperwork' because then the hourly billing surely will set in, and at a high rate.
    To find such an attorney, ask a personal injury attorney 'who is the best insurance policy analyst you know?' who might be approached to examine a policy for a short consultation (and at no or low cost).
    Many long-time injury attorneys have such skills, almost all insurance defense attorneys know how to do it, and especially those who have great experience at insurance policy litigation. Make a few phone calls and listen carefully to the answers. (Beware of secretaries/assistants who try to make you an appointment with 'their boss' who 'just happens to specialize in that'.)
    Unless you have all insurance documents ever mailed to you in a file, call your insurance company and ask for a complete duplicate policy (not the agent, but the home office).
    Regrettably the vast majority of agents also are also very (how shall we say) 'not well versed' in the coverages of policies - they know how to 'sell' but seldom really know what policies cover. 'Do not trust your agent' on coverage matters is a good general rule.
    Get the ENTIRE policy which will consists of a policy booklet (or group policy certificate) and maybe pieces of paper which contain 'exclusions' and 'amendments to the policy' (some of which may be specific only to one state) (and do so quickly so you don't eat your liver).
    While you're at it, make a separate call (a second call) and ask that same insurance company (a separate clerk) for some literature about coverage for photographers as though you are going to buy coverage. Sometimes such literature contradicts the policies they are advertising . . . . and thus mislead you into buying something you did not finally purchase. That can be interesting to an attorney.
    Go see the attorney, be frank, tell that attorney the facts briefly, and hand them the insurance policy. Be brief, and be organized.
    The attorney will look at the policy 'index' then the exclusions and amendments (and maybe the literature) and tell you probably rather quickly whether you can expect coverage.
    It is not good public policy for an insurance company to require you to be sued before your insurance will cover you, and any policy that required that would probably have that provision be declared illegal and you might have a right to sue them just for that if that provision injured you. It would probably be an 'unfair practice in the business of insurance adjusting' under the laws of every state.
    You have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company, but first learn your rights.
    Does your policy say it does not cover 'errors and omissions' of any kind? That would be a good clue and a very sad one to find. Errors and omissions might be a coverage offered as a separate option. Did you buy it?
    But even if you didn't buy such an option that might not be the final word in the hands of a good insurance attorney. You would be surprised what 'magic' a good insurance attorney can perform at times.
    And do NOT trust what an insurance company adjuster tells you about 'what is covered' and 'what is not covered'.
    Sometimes those persons get named 'Lucky' for leading you to believe you have no coverage when in fact you have full coverage.
    Such adjusters often rise to become big time insurance executives. Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I practiced insurance law. By my count in those claims which came across my desk, I was able to find ANOTHER CLAIM in which an insurance company had cheated my client in one-third of the cases I saw, AND get a separate recovery for that cheating on those matters in addition to the matter which brought the client into my office.
    Find a good, skilled, insurance attorney, get that policy, and have a short session with that person, for an agreed low or no fee.
    Then you'll know your rights, and you can get on with your business.
    If you're covered, they'll assign a claims adjuster, who probably will take over adjustment of any claim made against you, and who will have a duty to take over payment to policy limits minus any deductible plus the obligation to hire and pay an attorney for you (if one is required) to defend you, and ultimately if any money is paid, the insurance must pay that money, minus any deductible or self-insured amount.
    The lesson: If you're a professional wedding shooter, besides buying 'equipment insurance' and public liability insurance (you negligently injure someone) buy professional acts 'errors and omissions' (malpractice) insurance and READ YOUR POLICY for what it covers and doesn't cover, or have someone skillful read it -- do NOT trust your agent, as agents seldom really know very much about insurance coverage at all (with some wonderful, rare exceptions).
    But do not confuse 'public liability' insurance which may pay for personal injuries to others if you tip over a ladder you're shooting from and break a guest's shoulder, with insurance coverage that will pay the client if you fail to provide the client with acceptable quality photographic product because of a problem on your part.
    The latter might be covered under a 'rider', a 'separate coverage' or a simple failure to exclude under a 'public liability' property damage. A skilled insurance attorney will generally be able to tell you -- and usually quite quickly while you sit there.
    Do NOT pay several thousand dollars for an attorney to analyze a policy - a skilled attorney can spend 15 minutes and usually know the answer just by reading the index and glancing through the policy, but that comes from years of reading insurance policies - and such knowledge is NOT common among ordinary attorneys.
    John (Crosley)
    (c) 2009, John Crosley all rights reserved
    Credentials:
    I am a law graduate, cum laude, and practiced for nearly two decades in part as an insurance expert. I have not practiced law in a very long time, but mostly my legal knowledge is current on this subject. I can hold highest level discussions with experts in the field and advise them, as I have sometimes done. Like riding a bike, the ability to read an insurance policy or litigate it, is a skill that seems to stay with one apparently forever. This is NOT legal advice but advice from a retired attorney about how to get the best from seeking advice from an insurance attorney. You cannot rely on this to know your rights -- only from consulting with an attorney who knows the facts in your case first hand. I am NOT your attorney, but hope this helps you get the best from your attorney and to understand your insurance.
    I do not now practice or will I ever practice again. I'm out of the field, permanently -- too much stress -- I'd rather take photos.
    Best wishes.
    jc
     
  31. Angel,
    Errata,
    Due to an edting errror, I seemed to be saying in my response above that insurances generally are sued, e.g,, that they are named as defendants. In fact, generally (with the exceptions noted) they are NOT sued, or at least named as defendants.
    It is almost universal that the individuals or companies who are claimed to be at fault who are sued even though in fact the responsible insurance company(ies) 'controls the litigation' under the terms of most policies of insurance.
    sorry for the editing error.
    Again, best wishes.
    John (Crosley)
     
  32. I'm going to wade in here, despite my doubts as to the merit of doing so...
    I think you should reconsider Peter E's suggestion that the problem could be a technical one on your part. I say this for two reasons
    * First, you said that some of the shots were done on Auto - they should be close to correctly exposed.
    * Second, you say the thumbnails look ok. I have had this problem with non-nikon software converting from raw. The thumbs look great but the opened raw files look rubbish. I'd suggest looking at the files with Nikon software. You can download a 60-day free trial of CaptureNX from the nikon website.
    * Third, their 8gb for 12hrs seems perfectly reasonable, and doesn't indicate under-exposure in anyway.
    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  33. what do you do when they (1) lie about the amount of years they have done weddings, (2) their equipment they have and use, etc.?
    When you know someone, see their work, and rule out all you can, what do you do if someone flat out lies to you about their equipment or (3) skills?​
    If you can prove the 3 points above, you may be able to hold them accountable for false advertising and breach of contract. Also, if the contract says that a specific individual or firm has to do the job and it's non-subtituteable and you can prove that the assignment was done by another person or firm, then it may constitue a breach of contract. Does your contract with your client allow for substitute if you were injured and unable to perform?
    I agree with the opinion of some posters above...you are still ultimately accountable to your client for the conduct of your agents.
    You need to further consult with a lawyer specializing in contracts.
     
  34. Sorry to read your adventure there Angel.
    Just a question. Does your contract include any technical or quality terms as minimum acceptable standards (equipment or skill)? I mean something solid that you could legally base that their performance was substandard?
    Anyway, If I were you, I would call them and tell them that their delivered work was substandard at best and that their payment will be subject to the client's final acceptance of the product and the level of compromise you will have to make to keep them satisfied. Then you should let them know that if the client finds the product unacceptable or this hurts your reputation or profession in any way, that you are willing to bring things a step further pursuing legal satisfaction.
    @Mark, even if the raw files were opened with wrong settings or using a wrong setup (which I doubt since this is is a professional that must be doing it all the time), this wouldn't introduce the noise levels that appear on the sample images... To "achieve" that kind of color noise on lightly colored areas like the plants or the marble floor, even with a cheap dSLR, you have to crank the ISO up and then manually underexpose the photo by LOTS of stops. I mean seriously, they look as if they were taken with a cheapo web cam...
     
  35. Angel,
    I am sorry for your trouble. Seems more and more that there are people who falsely represent their work/abilities and so forth.
    Having read some but not all of the responses above, I have to say there may be something to the idea that your RAW converter is doing something strange. However, I have never heard of a camera in Auto modes, selecting settings like f8;1/60th;iso400. My cameras (Nikon) will always push the SS to about 1/125th if it can (just tried it) it seems. Anyhow, if they are printable for your client, then you can deliver a product. That will help more than anything else at this point IMO.
    As for paying the contracted photo studio, that would be based on whether or not they fulfilled their contract reasonably. Most courts would favor their case versus yours I fear (opinion). That is my little experience and I have never had to deal with this exactly. I never contract other photogs to completely cover for me, I would send the client to them and pay any difference in the dollars if need be. That way the client may choose whom they have and it is totally seperate from my contract. In fact I have it in my contract that I will help find them another photog., which means I will recommend them to several who I know personally, and who's work I already know to suit the client based on style. So going forward, know who you can safely recommend.
    Again, I am sorry it did not work out for you.
     
  36. Well, I definitely think you have to take responsibility in regards to the client. As noted that ultimately is your responsibility, though in the process of taking responsibility you can explain the efforts you made to avoid what happened (in my mind you do not seem at all remiss - but even so, the "buck stops" at you). In that respect you'll have to make good in whatever way is required.
    On the other side, I'm afraid I also agree with others - see a lawyer. I know that could compound your expenses, particularly if it's fruitless, but it strikes me as the logical direction even if just to feel out if you have a leg to stand on.
    I do not agree with others that you should "make good" with the subcontractor without at least the check of the lawyer (usually pro-bono over the phone they'll say if they think it's worth pursuing). If nothing else you should try to see if you can split the costs of the "failure" with the subcontractor since in terms of exposure you did at least have a verbal contract.
     
  37. When hiring ANY subcontractor, demand to see their portfolio, also ask for references,and CHECK their references. Have them show you the equiptment they will be using(and double chech that their portfolio was shot with that gear)so you can determine that they are proficient with that gear. Have a contract that specifies their responsibilities to you AND the client. After all this, keep one thing in mind, ULTIMATLY its your responsibility to the client, and YOUR reputation on the line, and the buck stops with you.
     
  38. Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA
    "Or, since you appear to belong to PPA, ask for referrals from your colleagues there."
    Rick Allen , Jul 29, 2009; 01:17 p.m.
    When hiring ANY subcontractor, demand to see their portfolio, also ask for references,and CHECK their references.
    REFERENCES is a magic word in this case...
    Angel Taylor , Jul 28, 2009; 11:06 p.m.
    "The sad part is they were living houses away and were neighbors, and I thought we were friends."
    I do feel sorry for you and I think it's the last thing you want to hear, but that "I thought we were friends" tells me a lot. I hope (I'm SURE) it will tell you the same thing... NEXT time!
    My advice? Pay the price and move on. Good luck!
     
  39. There is some very good legal advice in previous posts here - so I will not attempt to wade into areas that I have some - but limited field-wise - experience in.
    It would seem that the critical relationship in moving forward here is the one you have with your client. It may be worth a financial sacrifice on your behalf in order to maintain goodwill and a reputation - and I would agree with other advice here in 'coming clean' with them.
    Nothing spreads as quickly as a bad reputation - dissatisfied clients (in any field) are always the noisiest. I think an open approach with them is the best - with one caveat.
    Some clients are want to exploit situations like this, in your dealings to date, you may have been able to ascertain whether they fall into this category - it may have an impact in your dealings with them. Regardless, as others have suggested - honesty is the best policy, and recording (in form of notes and letters) your correspondence and conversations with them, particularly any agreements reached in form of refunds etc.
    Good luck
    Martin
     
  40. To be quite honest with you, My wife and I would be very very upset with YOU! We did our research and found YOU AND HIRED YOU. If you subcontracted out to another photographer then I would be furious to see someone other then YOU show up at MY wedding! You should have told them you couldnt do the shoot and refunded any downpayments or deposits and just had them find another photographer. BAD business move on your part bud! sorry to say that but I've been shooting for many many years and sub contracting would have never crossed my mind
     
  41. Javier Herrera, I hope you are never injured and forced to hire one. Trust me, the outcome is not good. For the record, I originally hired these people to photograph a wedding I did NOT have a contract for, from a bride who really could care less. I was injured while shooting a prior wedding and had a hand injury involving bones in my wrist area and hand - I got knocked down, cold, from a big drunk guy. Not pretty. I was forced only a few days prior to the wedding to let them shoot the wedding they did, that I had a client contract with, thinking that they would do a better job, since I was injured!! My mistake!! I thought I was doing my clients right by not trying to work with a bad injury and not being able to hand hold a camera. I would argue that a bride would not want you to call her days before her wedding and say, well, I'm hurt, but here's your money back!! Then what?!? Just assume they can find someone at the last minute? I would think that would hurt your reputation even more leaving them high and dry. Everyone that is decent is probably booked.
    This was my original question: As a wedding photographer, when you sub-contract out another wedding photographer to shoot a wedding for you because you were hurt, or sick, etc. - what do you do when they lie about the amount of years they have done weddings, their equipment they have and use, etc.?
    The bottom line is, I know what I have to do to make my client happy. The question and point of this thread was, what do you do when other photographers lie to you about their equipment and experience and do you have to pay them for a stack of files that are more than poor quality. As far as referrals, they are members of certain groups, and they all seem to be a in a click of some sort, covering for each other. So let's say I have 10 friends, and we all vouch for each other, and most have a great reputation, what would you believe? Let's say most of their clients were just their friends and family, do you think they wouldn't say, "Oh they are wonderful! I was very happy!" Of course they would, they probably did it for free and they are family. I have seen this first hand in my town.
    Without a doubt I will have to find someone to be a back up in case I get injured, again.
     
  42. I am not a professional photographer by any means, however, I do work in as a freelancer in the entertainment industry. If you employ someone as a subcontractor - and I am presuming here that you are still taking a cut of the money otherwise it wouldn't be worthwhile staying involved - then they are you. They are your representitive and your reputation.
    If I cannot do a job for whatever reason, I will either send someone I know very well, or completly seperate myself from the job. There is nothing worse in the freelance world than being half involved. Neither you nor the client know where you stand, legally or morally.
    I have seen more than one person loose a client over an inexperienced sub contrator. If I were in your position I would do whatever I reasonably can to extract myself from this with as little damage to my reputation as possible.
    Good luck,
    Marc
     
  43. bms

    bms

    My condolences..... the EXIF data on the guy in the military uniform says D50, ISO 800 at f/11 and 1/40 at 145mm, MANUAL exposure, the other one D80, ISO 1000, f7.1 and 1/60 at 28mm with Flash, exposure program not defined (I am guessing "P" or Auto)... both at 0 EV compensation. I am not a pro photographer but this sounds like if the other person truly showed you his portfolio, this job got farmed out to a person with two consumer cameras and kit lenses (maybe a 18-70 and a 18-200?). They clearly screwed you. I wish you can make this work somehow.....
     
  44. Nadine,
    I'm not a pro, too, as others writing to help you. In the same mood of the guys here, i have a question: are you sure the best thing to do is discussing here? Making sure you don't want to hide anything to your clients, in this way they can have any detail of the whole mess.
    good luck,
    Fabio
     
  45. Angel,
    Your recent post about your injury tells a lot. Your injury and inability to handhold a camera probably excused you from performing your part of the contract, as it was an unforeseen circumstance. However, it was not unforeseeable. Such things happen from time to time.
    Instead of trying to find a backup photographer and 'assuming' anyone of skill would already be booked, and offering the B&G back their money while helping them locate a substitute (had you already spent part of their money?), you opted to sub out the work to a neighbor based on a portfolio and keep the profit.
    The recent post about the EXIF info gleaned from posted photos shows what I suspected -- that probably the neighbor knew his photography competently enough, but he either did not use the equipment he proposed, or more likely he subbed out the assignment to someone else - almost certainly a rank amateur using amateur/kit equipment and not well.
    You are focusing too much on how much a liar your neighbor is in your posts - and not enough on how much you are at fault for letting this circumstance build to the point where some failure could occur so easily. You lost control. Your failure was through your own negligence, perhaps your wish to keep all or part of the retainer and also based on an untested assumption about the availability of a competent replacement photographer if you did refund the deposit.
    That smacks of bad business practice . . . in the circumstance -- but does not reflect at all on you as a person (except you are focusing too much on how your neighbor photographer may have scammed you and not enough on how you got yourself into this mess.)
    Forget the neighbor -- I personally would pay him nothing, and if he asks for money, I would not communicate with him, except maybe to sit down for a 'low cost consultation' with an attorney and pay the attorney a very small fee to write him a 'heart attack' letter which essentially will accuse him of fraud (saying he would shoot the wedding himself with pro equipment then providing photos that show amateur 'kit-type' lenses with notably poor exposures.
    The attorney may wish also to put a threat of litigation on the letter.
    Such letters generally come cheap, and generally the recipient does have a 'heart attack' (colloquially) and rushes to his attorney who asks him 'is it true?' The honest answer will be 'yes'.
    Then the other guy's attorney will ask for a large amount of money to sue you to pursue you in court for remaining fees which will drive the guy away or just tell the guy he's going to lose in a court contest. He'll have to pay the attorney just to read the letter. With rare circumstances as an exception, you do not have to pay his attorney fees if he should win, so do not fear that, but he also does not have to pay your attorney fees either if you win, unless you had an agreement about that in writing.
    His only hope is small claims court, and you have a very decent chance there if you are forthright and clear in explaining things and demonstrate to the judge that you have been lied to and suffered monetary and business losses because of those lies. Be prepared to demonstrate clearly the abiliity to 'see' EXIF information graphically in court (if it gets to that) and what it reveals absolutely about equipment used and exposures chosen, then compare it to what a 'pro' would have done and used under the circumstances and what he promised you he would use for equipment.
    Focus please on how to prevent this from happening again, examine your insuraace (as I posted above, in case your clients turn nasty), be prepared to be forthright with your clients, and document now (while it's fresh in your mind) what you were told by your neighbor, and what the true facts were. You might procure from the B&G a guest photo of the photographer 'at work' - and see if it's your neighbor - that might be very revealing if it turns out to be someone no one recognizes.
    Then forget about him.
    If he sues you for his 'fee' - defend yourself. It's unlikely he can afford an attorney to represent him based on one day's work and its alleged value given the product he produced, so I wouldn't pay him or speak to him or even respond to his correspondence or phone calls.
    In life such things happen.
    Learn your lessons and move on.
    Learn to lessen your damages --- smooth things out with your clients (there have been excellent suggestions here, worthy of being published), and get on with life.
    Then don't eat your liver over this -- don't obsess over your neighbor as the person to blame -- such people abound, and as a businessman it's your duty to screen such people out or take the consequences.
    From time to time in any business, incompetent and/or dishonest people will sneak aboard before you can push them overboard -- it's just part of life - though it can be largely avoided as you've been advised well above.
    Make sure it is a learning experience and learn.
    We all make mistakes.
    Only foolish people repeat them; it's part of the growing experience. Just don't obsess -- it's unhealthy - such things happen to even the best businesses from time to time despite the most careful screening.
    And next time, I am certain you will make different decisions.
    I am sure right now you are seeking a competent backup photographer -- right?
    Best wishes.
    John (Crosley)
    [My advice is NOT legal advice. I am not your attorney.]
     
  46. Thank you John. As for profit, there is none. I put back the monies for the cost of the album, which will be more now, and the rest would go to them. I was paid $1645. $1200 was to go to them (I would have been better off paying a bunch of photographers that were learning - 12 of them $100 each and would have got SOMETHING from it - just venting.) So the rest was for a flushmount 40 side album. I paid the $600 to them, and I still have the other half in my account which I am sure I will need to make my client happy. So, no profit.
    I do get discouraged about other photographers. I had been searching for a very long time for a competent backup photographer in my area, and have only ran into people, after digging deep, that they just didn't know what they were doing. I would ask about spot metering, camera settings, etc. and they just didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I was told by one (who booked 45 weddings last year) that he puts it in auto, looks at the settings, then plugs them in using manual. I have never heard of that - why bother shooting manual that way, that is not smart. So I will continue, and I will try to weed out people that aren't honest about their skills and equipment.
    Thank you everyone.
     
  47. I am very sorry about your situation Angel, my first instinct was protect your name at all costs, give the clients all of their money back and apologize sincerely, but after a moment to ponder it, if you did that, even if many pics were workable by a talented photoshopper telling the client that they are rubbish only serves to diminish their happiness, as wrong as it may sound at first, I think you actually owe it to the clients to try the utmost to see if they think that their package is satisfactory, because once you tell them otherwise, no effort on your part will make those photos look good as the seed will have been planted in their minds already.
     
  48. John--I believe Angel said she had seen some images that showed the photographers working in the backgrounds, so I don't think the photographers used a clueless substitute.
    Fabio--Perhaps you have me confused with Angel, who originated this thread? In any case, I was the one who suggested to Angel that she talk to her clients openly about the problem--sooner than later--to determine what it would take to make the clients happy. Then she would know just how much she would be 'out' re money. So...not sure what you are saying.
    Angel--My sympathies re your injury. I was recently injured, although it didn't prevent me from fulfilling my wedding contracts. However, during the week after, I had to cancel or postpone smaller shoots because the injury was to my knee and I couldn't bend over or flex the knee at all. And it slowed me down on the next two weekends of shooting. I also have been pushed off a ladder by a drunken guest. Happily, I was not injured then, although my camera gear was.
    You could have possibly shadowed the photographers that day, not shooting but directing. This would have let your hand rest but still allowed some of your style to be part of the images--which is the reason, I assume, your clients hired you. You would have seen right away that the photographers didn't know what they were doing. That might have tempted you to grab their cameras and start shooting though, and that wouldn't be good for you! :^)
    I doubt that you will find a lot of extremely competent wedding photographer just waiting for chances to sub for you. These kind of people are out there getting their own contracts. I don't know what kind of town you live in (or urban area) but you might try to find out if there are groups of associate photographers sharing referrals and covering for each other when necessary. Then perhaps join the group, or become friendly with some local PPA members, whose judgement you can trust completely.
    Or, identify up and coming and beginning photographers whom you might have shadowed on that day, although these people will not last long. Up and coming photographers finally arrive and are no longer up and coming. Beginners move on--nowadays--very quickly.
    I have no idea how badly your hand was injured, but knowing me, I'd have wrapped it up but tight and shot the wedding. Or entertained the idea of bringing someone along with me just to hold the camera between shots or shoot in the less intensive times while you covered the important ones. Just thinking out loud...
     
  49. I really can't tell with the photos mostly blacked out - but the parts that were NOT blacked out didn't look as tragically bad as you made them sound. Obviously they're not up to your standards, perhaps nowhere near your standards. But your initial description of them made them sound like they were totally unusable - as if there really weren't any images there at all. From the little bit that you displayed - and which you said hadn't been edited - that doesn't seem to me to be the case. They may look noisy to you, especially compared to your 5D pictures, but you can do something about that, and noise is less apparent in prints than on screen at 100%.
    If I were you, I think at this point the very next thing I'd do is (a) work on a few of the photos a bit to up the exposure and if necessary reduce the noise and then (b) show 'em to somebody else who's not emotionally bound up in the situation and get their opinion. I would show the photos to my wife who is pretty objective. She never compliments me just because she knows I need a compliment. :)
    Anyway I agree that you have another dilemma: how to deal with the client. ON the one hand, there is a lot to the idea that it's best to get the bad news out sooner rather than later. On the other hand, I think Wally Archibald has a really valid point: if (as I suspect) the photos are NOT a total disaster, then it's probably not a good idea to tell the client how horrible they are before the client has a chance to decide for herself. Maybe you know your client really well and can predict accurately what she'll say, but my clients surprise me all the time - liking photos that I hate, and vice versa.
     
  50. I almost said what you said, William, re not pointing to the 'disaster' before the client has had a chance to decide for themselves. However, it seems Angel is pretty clear about knowing they will not be happy. I can pretty much predict how my clients will react. I just dealt with a bad moire issue in a small job I did. I felt pretty bad about the situation, but knew my clients well enough that I predicted they would notice but not be so concerned save for a few images that they might want enlarged, and I offered to work on those images for them--I just couldn't work on all of the images. So I was pre-emptive--explained, without hysteria or emotion or over dramatizing--the situation and I was dead on re their reaction.
    To me this is better than pretending everything is just fine when it isn't. I think it is worse when the client finds out you didn't say anything even though you knew something was wrong. In my career as a business person, I find honesty and common sense two things to live by.
    However, it can't hurt, Angel, to work on a few key images, print them, and show how they might appear in the client's album. This could go a long way toward making the clients feel more comfortable. In my situation above, I had prints with me. Nothing like seeing the image and holding it in one's hand.
     
  51. Nadine, the idea of not giving the client a chance to like the photos if they want to was Wally A's not mine, although I still think it's a good one. However, we're kind of talking in an info vacuum here, I think.
    First, I'm still not sure just how bad the photos really are. So first thing I think Angel needs to do is get somebody objective to critique the photos for him or with him - not necessarily another photographer (although Angel, if you want to send me two or three representative shots back channel I'll be happy to give you my private opinion by phone or whatever), but perhaps better somebody with a non-photographer's perspective. And show them AFTER doing a bit to rescue 'em.
    What I do know or what seems clear is that (a) Angel has not subcontracted before and (b) he know the photos he was given are not as good as the photos he would have taken himself and (c) he's pretty emotionally involved with the issue of how he's going to approach the client. This all speaks well of Angel. But I know that I've panicked more than once about something that turned out to be less panic-worthy than I thought.
    And then, second, I don't know how well Angel knows what the client will say. Nadine says she usually knows. I usually have an idea, I mean, I usually know when I did a good job and when I didn't. But it's useful to remember that wedding photos aren't just about the technical matters. A mediocre photo of the bride on the happiest day of her life may be a treasure in her eyes.
    Yes, this is a true dilemma, because Angel owes the client two duties that may be irreconcilable. He owes them the truth, of course. If the subcontractor's storage cards had all been lost, then an immediate call to the client would be in order, with the unvarnished truth and a full refund. But I think we also owe it to our clients to permit them to be as happy as they can be with the product we deliver.
    If the photos are truly horrible - if Angel gets a second opinion and the second opinion agrees with his own - then he talks to the client and offers a refund - and then fights things out with the subcontractor. But even in this case, I wouldn't run the photos down any more than necessary. I think I would say simply that I was sorry my illness made it impossible for me to shoot the wedding myself, that I'd tried to find a competent substitute, and then I'd say simply that the photos weren't up to my own standards and that I was offering a full refund (or whatever I felt was appropriate). And I would leave it at that. In other words, I'd kind of figure out what I planned to do before I met with the client. And I'd say no more than "they're not up to my standards". That leaves the client the option of believing that your standards must be really high because the photos you're showing them are pretty good and gosh, you're giving them to them for free. The client may be unhappy. Of course they will be unhappy, because they hired Angel on the basis of Angel's no doubt impressive portfolio, and instead they got something less impressive. But it's probably the best route out of the situation for Angel.
     
  52. But I think we also owe it to our clients to permit them to be as happy as they can be with the product we deliver.

    Well said, and I agree. I also suggested that Angel have a series of offers in mind (early on), ranging from a little to a lot, depending upon how the client meeting went, and what the client ends up wanting as compensation, if anything. I think your ideas are good ones, William, but comes a point where Angel will have to use her judgement and her personal knowledge of her clients to find her way through.
     
  53. "This was my original question: As a wedding photographer, when you sub-contract out another wedding photographer to shoot a wedding for you because you were hurt, or sick, etc."

    Simple, do not subcontract. If it's a last minute injury or accident there's nothing you can do. If you've got a few days after an accident/injury before the wedding, you can make some calls and give it your best shot to help them find someone else. If the clients are concerned about the risks, they'd be better off contracting with a large studio with a large stable of shooters for backup.
     
  54. i have a d70 i bought when they first came out years ago, i shot a wedding indoors, ran the iso up thinking that would compensate the light etc. pics looked great in the screen and the histogram looked good. when i loaded my pics...they were grainy. confused, i ask my photography professor, he told me that the d70 does not shoot well in high iso. maybe that is true on the whatever the other photog was using. anyway...i do not use that camera body anymore for that very reason. i had to run the pics thru a noise program yada yada. i could print them on small prints but nothing large. a terrible lesson on my part. luckily that wedding i had used two camera bodies and my other camera worked great. sorry to hear about your problem. just thought you might like to know...
     
  55. Angel -
    I'm going to jump into the pool here and ask -
    How do you know they lied about their experience? Because you got photos in raw that were underexposed? Whoa Nelly...
    I've seen expert photographers forget to check settings, under / over expose etc... Just because the images were under exposed does mean they lied to you about their experience.
    The other thing that I would question from your posts is the equipment used... Did you ask them in advance what body they would be using? Did you offer (since you were on the sidelines) to allow them to use your equipment? D50 and D80 are hardly pro quality build camera's but both can produce excellent images when used properly. The other comment that I would question is that they shot on Tv mode. Tv is a Canon term NOT a Nikon or industry term that I'm aware of.
    As for the bride refusing to have her photo taken in a particular location - it does happen on occasion. Good photographers will work to convince her to do some there anyway, but if she doesn't want to - the wedding is not a good place to make a scene.
    Also - windows doesn't do anything special to the files when they are written to the CD / DVD. If you are able to see the preview file in Windows - Then the photos are Jpeg - since windows doesn't know NEF. or you're using Picasa to view the previews... Picasa does do raw previews and it also manipulates / enhances the preview.
    Not that any of this helps with your current situation - but...
    I'd recommend paying them - since they delivered. Refund the client the money - (so yes it'll cost you) but you'll hopefully learn from this and keep a client.
    Dave
     
  56. A question from an outsider ( self-employed ); would anyone in Angel's situation ( wrist injury too close to event scout more than he did ) have considered attending the wedding as non-shooter, stay in the background, but keep an eye on how things were going? Easy with hindsight to suggest, I know.
     
  57. "A question from an outsider ( self-employed ); would anyone in Angel's situation ( wrist injury too close to event scout more than he did ) have considered attending the wedding as non-shooter, stay in the background, but keep an eye on how things were going" -Kim

    Excellent idea and makes very good business sense.
     

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