Wedding photographer lost images of wedding

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jeni_deidre, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. My wedding was on June 14th. My photographer passed out business cards to guests saying by July 25th the images would be ready for viewing (even though our contract said one month out of the wedding). So I waited patiently because she did an amazing job with our wedding (with her personalizism). July 25th came (two days ago) and I asked about the pictures through email and she had said we needed to talk. Gave her my number and she called...
    She politely informed me that a year's worth of work and planning is gone. She only had 100 pictures from the wedding left on her camera. She didn't back up the images and her hardrive crashed and she couldn't get them back. I lost my breath! At the moment, I tried to be very understanding and say "these things happen" but now I'm pissed.
    I don't think these things just happen when you do your job properly. The first thing she should have done was to back up the files. Our contract doesn't specifically say anything about what they would do in the event that something like that were to happen. But she offered a full refund and offered to pay for a photoshoot with her choice photographer here in Hawaii. Our wedding was a destination wedding in VA Beach because of family purposes. My husband is in the military and it would have been way to costly on our family for them to come to Hawaii.
    So.. aside from having 100 images from the tail-end of our reception (including pictures of objects, blurry images, funny faces, dancing) bigger problem is... none of my family is here. It is only my husband and I. So we will never get that day back. Everything we paid for is GONE - We will never see it again in still images. There are four pictures with my husband and I together and we can't use any of them: Blurry, funny faces, etc.
    We had a list of must haves for her to shoot and now, nothing. The only pictures I took with my mom was with the photographer because I knew I would have those images. We didn't pose for any guest cameras. The images I have from guests aren't good quality because they were having fun themselves (open bar :)! ) and I wouldn't expect any different. We paid (/still paying) A LOT of money to make this day happen and we feel like we were really let down. It wasnt just a wedding, it was a family reunion.
    Thank god I had the sense to get a videographer but I don't know what footage he got because we asked him to mainly shoot our first dance. Everything else would be a blessing and a bonus. We kicked the videographers out majority of the time to give the photographer the space to work as she wanted/ needed. The videographer was a (gem) Craigslist find that went above and beyond. The photographer that lost the images was a professional that our venue has a contract with.
    I am just so bummed as well as our families. Because my husband is in the military we rarely get to spend them with them. Some of our families we hadn't seen since we were kids. Has anyone ever heard of this happening before? What was the outcome?
     
  2. This Photographer should have protected your images as any professional would do. My back up plan is this
    1) I shoot with a camera that has two memory cards these are set up to record each image to both cards one backing up the other.
    2) At the completion of the day one card is removed from the camera and placed in a card case that remains in my car as an off site backup.
    3) As soon as I get home the other card is removed and downloaded to my external hard drive with a second backup copy saved to my internal drive.
    4) Once I have edited all the images non-destructive (this means the original images are always left as shoot) and create the clients disks of images along with a back up set of these disks that are filled away. Only then is the backup memory card that was kept in my car is reformatted and put back in my camera back memory case to be reused. The second copy of images on my internal drive are deleted about a month after the client are giving their images. The original images on the external hard drive and the edited copies are kept indefinitely.
    This workflow means that before delivery of images to my clients I have three copies - 1) External drive, 2) Internal Drive & 3) Memory card stored in my car as an off site backup. Following this procedure I hopefully totally eliminate the possibility of losing my clients images.
    I would ask your photographer has she sent her hard drive away to an image recovery service. They should be able to recover data from the crashed drive. It would also be worthwhile asking all your guests if they took any photos.
     
  3. I am very sorry that this happened to you. You are angry and you will stay angry for a long time. There will be many people here who will feed on your anger and advise you to sue her and so forth. But the cold fact of life is that you will not get the pictures no matter what you do if they are in fact gone. You might get money if she has insurance but will that really make you feel better? She was more careless and no doubt feels very bad about it. No doubt if she could go back and make that backup CD she would.
    You said something interesting though. You said she had a contract with the venue. So this was someone they made you use? Did you pay them or did you pay the photographer directly? The contract will probably specify what remedies you may have. Or you could consult a lawyer. Maybe the photographer or the venue has insurance for this sort of thing. But that just gets you money. It does not get you "even". It does not punish bad behavior. It just gets you a check and solves nothing.
    There is one thing that is puzzling though. There are data recovery services that can recover data from a "crashed" hard drive. It is expensive but it can be done. She may not know that. Ask her what she means by "crashed". There may still be hope for your images. Ask her specifically if she has sent the hard drive to a PROFESSIONAL data recovery company. One with clean rooms, real techs and so forth. You might just turn into the hero here.
     
  4. She said she sent it off to a professional company and they have zero recovery for the drive. She had been trying to recover it for weeks. That day was really important to our family for deep reasons I wont get into on an open forum. But like I said, my husband is in the service and it is very hard to sync up with our family and friends. That day was probably it for a very long time. No one has the money to follow us.
    We paid her directly. The venue had their choice people to work with and we couldn't go outside of that.
    I know it's hard for photographers who own businesses to consult on something like this but I would like to know if it has ever happened. I'm just really sad about this whole thing because it had been YEARS since we have seen our family. We can't get that day back but I would like new happy memories that is difficult to capture because of our distance.
    When I think about all that we went through to pull that day off it seriously saddens us. My husband was very involved with helping with the wedding. This guy hot glued flower petals to 2 30ft isle runners. We don't even have images of it.
     
  5. Honestly Rick, I would feel better if suing her meant I would get to make more memories with my family. Even with the new shoot she offered our day was about our families, not us. We can ALWAYS dress back up and take wedding pictures but having pictures with our families can't happen again because of costs. If her insurance exists for her negligence, why shouldn't I be rewarded?
    The amount of money we put into this wedding was over the top and we wanted it that way. We wanted to remember every detail and gave her a list of the most important shots. We have none of those.
     
  6. "If her insurance exists for her negligence, why shouldn't I be rewarded?"
    Jeni, because "she offered a full refund and offered to pay for a photoshoot with her choice photographer here in Hawaii."
    I think that's about the most you can expect to get out of this as remedy for her breach of contract, and she did offer it in good faith after coming clean to you.
     
  7. Very few hard drives are totally unrecoverable... I would demand that the hard drive be taken to a recovery place. If nothing is recovered there is no fee but what ever is recovered your are billed. She can also recover formatted images from her camera cards with stored bought software. I just don't understand how this photographer did not back up the jobs. There has got to be more to this story.
     
  8. Michael Chang, after I contacted her, she came clean. It's not just the images that is lost, it is a year of hard work and getting our families together. We don't have that again. Years from now when the details fade, that's money wasted. We paid for those details.
    Her choice photographer is her cousin. I'm not comfortable keeping it in the family.
    Michael Mowery, what she told me, I'm telling you. She told me she sent the drive off for recovery and they said it was impossible to recover. The 100 images came from the camera's memory. That's it, that's all. I will talk to her again on Monday. When she sprang this on me, I literally lost my breath. It was very hard to speak, I could only chirp and nod. She told me about the full refund and a photoshoot here with her cousin but financially for me that isn't feasible. We would have to come out of pocket for hair, makeup, tux, etc. And we won't have our families here. They were the most important part of our day.
     
  9. Well this really stings. I question how professional she was because of the blurred images. A pro doesn't make these kinds of mistakes. NEVER. I'm not saying I've never shot a blurred image. I have and I reshot it, so real pro's don't miss. I'm being nice here, she's probably lying and she's probably photographed less than 2 weddings. I guess the new standard of professional photography is if you have a camera you are a profession. A 5 yr, old can be a pro.No books to read, no classes to take, you buy a kit camera from Costso for $300 and as soon as you walk out of Costco you are now a pro. You haven't even opened up the camera box! Well I'm repeating myself here, I think she's lying and perhaps set her camera to fire without a card being in the camera. Cameras can fire all day long without a CF or a SD card. There is a setting in cameras to prevent this careless accident.

    There is a place called drivesavers.com. It's not cheap. Charge the photographer. You can use my name and "drivesavers," will give you a 10 percent discount. They are well known for recovering lost information. A lot of government contracts. They are rated the best recovery company in the US. When you send the hard drive also ask the photographer for the CF or SD cards. Send those in as well. Drivesavers is so good that they will call you right away, within a day or 2.

    The cost will be free if they can't find the images. If they find the images it's around $2500 for the hard drive and $600 for the cards.

    I have a strong feeling that she photographed another wedding and deleted the files off of her CF or SD cards. However DEMAND that she gives you the hard drive and the cards. If she doesn't I don't know what to tell you.

    I'm begging you to do this. I did this work for 3 years and I was able to save alot of weddings for photographers on this site. If there are really images on the HD or theCF and SD cards you will get a lot of images back, even if the cards were written over from other weddings. One time I found files on a CF card that was 4 years old!

    Email me if you need more info.

    For the record I use a professional camera that writes to 2 cards. A CF card and a SD card. As soon as I get home from a wedding I can't sleep until the images are saved to 2 hard drives and to DVD's. This is just sucks.

    I'm so sorry and thank you and your husband for protecting us. I was in the Air Force and you pretty much live at poverty pay. I wasn't a private. I have a degree so I went in at a much higher rank, still suffered making the monthly payments.
     
  10. By the way report her to places like YELP and the BBB. Also tell your local newspaper and TV news what happened. We don't ever want her to photograph a wedding again. Oh, don't forget to bad mouth her on craigslist and your local Chamber. I wouldn't trust her working at Burger King. You order a burger and she leaves out the burger!
     
  11. Jeni, you might want to consult an attorney about your legal position regarding potential litigation. This is probably a small claims case, and it seems to me unlikely a judge will throw the book at her given that she offered a full refund and suggested (or offered) an alternative.
    An important consideration is, the photographer messed up her commitment. She did not mess up your wedding, so it seems to me her contractual liability will be limited to her failure to deliver her promised photography.
     
  12. Well... I am sorry to hear about the situation. And there isn't anything that anyone can say or do that will offer any sort of satisfaction. Legally, you would need to consult a lawyer to investigate those options. I don't know if that is going to be "worth more" than what the photographer is offering. The simple truth is that there isn't anything that can make up for the loss.
    I might agree that there is more to the story, but then I might also agree that it is possible that there isn't anything to recover. I think the question was whether something similar had happened to anyone here. Yes. Several years ago, in our digital infancy, we had an event taking pictures of dancers in their costumes in front of a backdrop. We had something over 1200 images and as it turned out, 866 (that number is forever etched in my mind!) were corrupt. How the images were corrupted I never solved but certainly had plenty of speculation. The images were imported (and I suspect that is where the problem occurred), looked at, and then backed up to another hard drive. In those days there wasn't any Lightroom or Aperture, we simply looked at them in Adobe Bridge. At that point I was comfortable reusing the cards (in those days 1GB were expensive!!). As it turns out, the images we saw in Bridge were simply the previews. The actual Raw file itself was corrupt. Going to the back up drive, we discovered those too were corrupt (hence my belief something in the importing of the images went wrong). I had thought I had done what I should be doing: shoot Raw, download, look at the images, back-up, and good to go. But no! I did take the drive in to be recovered, but there wasn't anything to recover, the data was there, it was just corrupted. Fortunately, this was the type of even where we could do a re-shoot. But for those involved it was quite the problem, perhaps not the end-of-the-world type of problem a wedding would be but some parents were over-the-top upset. I can say that I completely re-worked my workflow after that! And it wasn't maybe a year later that Aperture (Apple's image management program which was followed by Lightroom a few months later) finally come to the rescue of photographers everywhere! Interestingly enough, one of the things I put in my contract is that I can't guarantee anything. I will be happy to discuss the lengths I go to to ensure I capture an event, but the nature of any event is that I can't guarantee anything. If I fail to capture the event for any reason, the client gets a full refund of monies paid (ok, it's wordier than that but that's the bottom line). I personally know of several photographers and their workflows with the point being that ask 10 photographers their workflow, you will get 11 different answers. Everyone knows that hard drives fail. It's just that no one believes their hard drive will fail! And using optical media for back up isn't any sort of guarantee either.
    Which is all to say that we don't know the whole story behind why there aren't any images. But yes, unfortunate occurrences do happen. Would I ever lose images because of a single hard drive failure. No (I could lose them if multiple hard drives failed at the same time which is why I can't guarantee anything!). But the truth of it is, if there is a way that I have thought of to lose the images, then I have a plan in place for that! It's the stuff I don't know about that I can't plan for.
     
  13. Bob,
    Thank you for your kind response. She was definitely a professional, more than one wedding under her belt. This is just a freak incident that is so unfortunate. I don't want her ruined. She does great work, we just didn't get it.
    I will ask her for the hard drive. I will give anything to get those images back and as you know with my husband's military pay - that isn't much. lol I'm currently not working. It's hard to get work in Hawaii. Their unemployment is very high. I don't want to get into any bad reviews because it's all bad all around but she was not a bad person or photographer. I was a fan of her work and her professionalism at the wedding at the wedding was amazing! My family is hard to reel in and she did it! This is such a shock. If she offered to pay for the recovery, I would rather have that than any court scuffles. I can't even say what we have been through but it was a lot to make that day happen.
     
  14. "I will ask her for the hard drive."
    I doubt that will happen, Jeni. She is not under any obligation to hand over her hard drive. The best you can hope for is that she's being truthful about her attempts at recovery, or you can challenge her alleged efforts in court.
     
  15. John D.,
    Thanks for the story. The problem here is that she didn't even back the images up. I looked on her Facebook and there was another couple asking about the status of their pictures... it looks to be around the same time as mine.

    My wedding was June 14th. Our contract says one month out we would receive the pictures which is July 14th the latest. We waited patiently. She like her so much and wanted to allot her the time she needed to get the pictures back to us. She passed out cards stating July 25th to guests. July 25th came and no pictures. I emailed her at night. She sent an email back saying that she needed to speak with us about the pictures.

    These are the emails:
    Hi [photographer], Just wanted to check in with you and inquire about a timeline for our pictures? You also mentioned a thumb drive? I just realized that you probably do not have our Hawaii address which is: [omitted] Let me know if you need any other info from us.
    Thanks!
    Jeni

    Sent from my iPhone
    ----------------------

    Hey Jeni,
    Thanks for your address :)


    I do need to chat with you about your photos. Are you available today? I know the time change is 6 hours difference, so let me know what time you're available and I will give you a call. Also, please send me your phone number.


    Thank you.


    [Photographer]

    --------------------------------

    From her language I never expected that news. I was so blind sighted.
     
  16. Michael Chang,
    All I can do is ask. If its possible, I just want the pictures. Of the 100 she gave, there are just a lot of objects, duplicate poses, guest dancing, and funny faces.
    See images below of an example of what I mean by objects and dupes:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    There are about 3 more images like this. Didn't want to upload because it shows my guests faces.

    MODERATOR NOTE - Images were removed as per Photo.net terms of use. Please do not post images that were not made by yourself.
     
  17. Years ago, some friends of mine got married. Their wedding coverage was by a videographer. He gave them the tape at the end of the
    reception, and they took it home and then went out to dinner. While they were out, their house got burglarized, and, you guessed it, the
    tape was stolen. Nonetheless, they were happily married for over 20 years, until she died. I'm sure the loss of the video hurt, but they
    really did have their memories of the event, just not the images. I know this hurts terribly now, and you should, as you have been, explore
    all the possible ways of recovering the images, but if that doesn't work, you should be prepared to move on with your new life. Believe it
    or not, the details of your wedding, so crucial to you now, will become less important over time as you spend more and more time being
    actually married. I'm sure my friends would have liked to have their video, but in the end it didn't matter much.
     
  18. This really is a 'worst nightmare' situation for both photographer and client. If fact, I'm so paranoid about losing wedding and event images that I use a camera with twin memory cards of different brands (one backing up the other, and to mitigate against a bad batch from one manufacturer) and do not reformat them until the images have been uploaded to my computer and three separate external hard drives. I also number my memory cards to help keep track of what I've used when.
    Data should be recoverable from memory cards and hard drives unless the hard drive has had a total head crash. If a memory card has been reused after the event, there may be still something left, as Bob has said. I don't know US law, but certainly the data recovery option at her expense seems the best way forward.
     
  19. Simon, your workflow habits should be read by everyone doing professional work.
    Hard disc data recovery is actually very complicated business and failures can range from dislodged preamp off the actuator arm, damaged UBA blocks, to failed controller board and everything in between. Common fixes involve multi-platter discs swap, head swap, controller board swap and sophisticated external hardware and software to pull data off the platters, if recoverable, and can take days or weeks.
    I don't know what data recovery facilities are available in Hawaii, and certainly there are gradations of recovery expertise to consider as not every outfit can recover what might be recoverable. It's a crapshoot at best, and can cost a bundle in time, effort, and expense with no guarantees of recovering the photos which is only a small fraction of the drive's content.
     
  20. Thanks for the kind words Michael! 30 years in IT (10 as practitioner and 20 as university lecturer) taught me the importance of backups. Of course, what I should also do is to take one of the copies off site too (a friend's house was recently hit by lightning which knocked out the electrics (possible surge hit for devices here) and his neighbour's roof was blown off with another strike, so you never know what might happen).
     
  21. I would suggest you get the name of the company that she sent the hard drive to.
    If it's not Kroll Ontrack - then I would strongly suggest she send it to them - at her expense. They charge double what everyone else does, but there's a reason. They get the data back.
    They are the company that the CIA, FBI, NSA, BCA and other 3 letter acronym gov't agencies go to when they need computers / phones / hard drives / etc recovered.
    And no - I don't work for them or get a cut, but even as messed up as our gov't is, they do know who to go to get data recovered in criminal cases.
    I'm not going into the speculation game on what happened - if she didn't copy the cards over, if she didn't back them up, or if she simply had a bad night and realized afterwards that the photos are all similar to the ones you posted. (my initial reaction to the three that you posted was "DELETE IN CAMERA" by the way.
    I do have a slight problem with the word you used Jeni - "rewarded" - no, this isn't something you get rewarded for - it's something you get compensated for from the photographer or their insurance company if she is truly unable to produce the images.
    There are 2 types of awards from courts - Compensatory and Punitive. Compensatory is designed to compensate the harmed party for actual loss. In this case the argument could be made that you've lost not only the value of the photos, but also the family, travel costs, etc... Punitive damages are designed to punish the party doing the damage, so severely that they correct their bad behavior and don't do it again.
     
  22. Never DELETE IN CAMERA.
     
  23. I don't recall seeing whether she went back to the original cards. And where in the process she 'lost' the pictures. I typically pull pictures off the card and then back them up to a second drive immediately. I don't reformat those cards until I have a backup copy. But even if I have reformated card and even used them, typically you can get a significant number of pictures off the cards using one of the card rescue programs.
    The comment that she had lost a years worth of work tells me that she was not diligent in making backups and archive copies and hence falls short of the term 'professional'
    So unless the cards were seriously corrupted to begin with, I am really confused as to how she actually lost the pictures.
    There has been more than one occasion where the second card slot in the camera has saved me in the recent past.
    Lesson Learned: When you hire a photographer for important events, ask them about how they process the pictures to provide for the maximum likelihood they are not lost. Bad things really do happen, but the risk can be significantly reduced.
     
  24. Lindsay - whether you "delete in camera" or not - certainly the 3 images presented, in my business, would not make it the client - one way or another.
    Deleting in camera or not is a personal preference. To me - If an image looks like garbage on a 3 inch lcd - putting it on a 24 inch LED isn't going to fix it.
    Dave
     
  25. David, you misunderstood me - I was referring to the possibility of corrupting the card - the irony.
     
  26. David Haas,

    I hadn't thought about her simply not
    being happy with her work... But if she
    wasn't happy why send those 100
    pics?

    It was really hard for me to even talk
    over the phone after I heard the
    images were gone... She was very
    adamant that she had tried everything
    and sent it off to a company and the
    result was 0 recovery for the hard
    drive.

    She didn't lose a year worth of work, I
    was referring to myself. We planned A
    LOT and spend A LOT of money on
    intricate details.

    I have been married for 3 years. We
    first got married by a judge in her
    office. Only him and I no personal
    witnesses. We sat down in front of her
    as if we were signing off on a loan. The
    entire process was 5 MINUTES. No
    joke! We know what it's like to be
    married but we didn't have the
    experience of our families seeing us
    take "the big step".

    We married then so I could be with him
    without issue since he serves the
    country. We never told our families we
    had married. They knew us as
    engaged. These pictures are important
    in lots of ways because our wedding
    served as a family reunion too. It had
    been years since we had seen our
    family and friends due to isolation.

    Pictures are very important... if they
    weren't photographers wouldn't be in
    business. Details fade. Pictures help
    you recall those moments. We were
    there but we missed so much being
    hosts to our guests.
     
  27. I am still very puzzled as to whether she went back to the original cards rather than the drive. There are some pretty good card rescue programs that will find pictures even after reformatting and shooting new pictures on the card. The drive may be dead, but where are the original cards?
     
  28. It's the way of the world, today, because everyone thinks they can be a pro. I had a similar occurrence several years ago. Went to this lady to have some special shots, portraits, done with grandma and her first grandchild. She lost the images.
    What the world needs is a licensing program for photographers.
     
  29. I didn't read everything, so forgive any repeated questions, but ... was there a 2nd photographer?
    If not, I second the charge of a non-professional here. NO one goes without 1-a backup camera 2-a backup photographer and 3- backing up their images on AND off site! You ALWAYS have a 2nd photographer, just in case something happens on the way there, and in case of injury/theft/misc while you are there!
    It has to be recoverable!
     
  30. No second photographer (that was an
    extra substaintal cost) but she had 2
    cameras she was using. No assistant
    either.

    At the last minute (2 months before the
    wedding) I found a videographer on
    Craigslist to film our first dance. We
    didn't give him any guidance on
    anything else as far as filming the
    wedding. We wanted him to focus on
    the dance because we thought we
    would have the pictures from the
    photographer. Thank god he turned out
    to be a gem! He brought his assistant
    (his wife) and they were SO
    professional!! They were an hour
    earlier than the photographer. Cheaper
    too. He had a lot of go pro cameras set
    up in the reception. I have contacted
    him already to try to get still images.
    Here is his work:
    http://vimeo.com/m/68464796

    I know he got our dance in full but not
    sure about anything else.

    I don't want to out her but it is a
    professional company with liability
    insurance. The photographer was
    listed among other choice
    photographers for the all inclusive
    venue I chose.
     
  31. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Above 9 years ago, I took a one-day seminar with famed wedding photographer Monte Zucker, who unfortunately passed away a couple of years after that. During the seminar, Zucker told us a story that many years earlier, once his entire studio burned down because of some electrical problems. The fire destroyed unprinted negatives from some 21 weddings. Unfortunately, accidents such as that one happens and there is clearly no recovery.
    Not backing up hard drives is purely the photographer's negligance that should have been completely preventable. In fact, I always back up on 3, 4 drives and store them at different locations so that even thought one house catching fire cannot destroy them all. However, no amount of "what that photographer should have done" is going to help Jeni get her images back.
    Assuming what Jeni was told is the whole truth, the only hope is that the photographer can send that hard drive to the best recovery services to get some 2nd, 3rd opinions and see whether anything can be done to recover (some of) the images.
    So Jeni, not that it is going to help you much, but even the most well known wedding photographers have lost images from entire weddings. If your image cannot be recovered, hopefully you can get some images from the guests.
     
  32. I still think it is worth running card rescue software on the cards!. The disk may be dead, but unless the problem originated in the cards, you may be able to get some useful pictures off the cards. NOT what you can see, but through a card rescue software program.
     
  33. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    The problem is that it has been over a month since the wedding. I wonder whether the photographer still remembers which memory cards she used back then, but the bigger problem is that most likely most of those images have already been over-written during subsequent weddings.
    But at this point, it sure doesn't hurt to recover all of the photographer's memory cards and see what she can get back. I would imagine that there are other clients who are in the same boat.
     
  34. I can speak from experience - not with a wedding - but with some shots I did for a personal project last summer. I downloaded the card to my computer and made the backup - then imported into LightRoom. 3 weeks later I went to look for the shots to do some editing and low and behold all LR had were the small previews. Went back to the backups - same thing.
    I ended up having to run FileScavenger against all my CF cards - About 30 of them - before I found the card I'd used that day. And it had been reformatted and used 1 other time since then. I managed to get 50 out 51 images back. It took me two hours, and that was for personal work, not a paying client. Had it been for a client - I would have spend what ever it took to find the cards and the images.
    Jeni - People do strange things sometimes - I don't believe that all the images were bad, but I find it difficult to believe that a recovery company couldn't find / recover any of the files. Something just doesn't pass the sniff test on that.
    I would ask that she a) tell you the name of the company b) let you tell her where to send the drive (we've given you 2 options) and c) run File Scavenger against all of her memory cards
    Theresa - Not every photographer rolls with a 2nd shooter, assistant, gofer, etc... I shoot 15-20 weddings a year solo - As in no one else around. It means I don't take unnecessary risks - I triple check my footing, electrical outlets, generally anything that harm or injure me. I do have a cell phone with me at all times, and a ready list in my contacts should an emergency arise. My clients know this and understand.
    Even if there was a 2nd - had the photographer done as a lot of photographers do, and moved all the images to their computer for editing, chances are slim that the 2nd would have images before the bride.
    Dave
     
  35. What the world needs is a licensing program for photographers.​
    I don't know about the world, but PPA offers a road to Professional Certification. Less than 5% of all photographers are professionally certified. I know I'm not. Why? No one cares. How often do we see posts from first time wedding photographers that have been hired for an event that have absolutely no clue as to what they are getting into? And yet we even if we say "don't do it", that advice is never listened too. There is a post a few threads down where the "photographer" is using a point and shoot camera to shoot the event and wants advice.

    And, certification doesn't mean mistakes can't happen. Most of the certification process centers around photographic ability, not IT implementation. As a matter of fact, a recent issue of Professional Photographer magazine had an article explaining the value of a redundant raid. There wasn't anything wrong with the article from a factual standpoint. The issue is that a RAID is NOT a back up of any kind and therefore hardly useful for most photographers (once you have a back up why do you need a redundant RAID?).
    Licensing/Certification isn't a remedy for human error or simply an unfortunate series of events. Doctors carry malpractice insurance for a reason. Photographers (decent ones) carry insurance as well. As to what that means for the OP, I am not going to speculate.
    I am also not going to condemn a photographer without knowing the full story. Don't get me wrong, I will be the first to tell a newbie not to shoot a wedding, but without knowing the full story, I am not going to act as judge and jury. If indeed the photographer failed to make a back up and if indeed that back up would have saved-the-day, then that is a grievous oversight but one that is made by thousands of photographers (and others) every day. For all I know, the photographer did use a RAID system thinking it was a back up (a LOT of people feel this way) only to discover that when something comes along to wipe out data, it's wiped out on the RAID as well. Again, I just don't know what happened.
    And it's news to me that I must bring a 2nd shooter to the event to be considered a professional. I really wish all of my clients went with two shooter packages! But in this economy, that is simply unrealistic. Sure, I have packages that include several photographers but a lot of people still opt for a "shoot & burn" approach.
    There was a line in a movie once" "there aren't any perfect people, just perfect intentions".
     
  36. Jeni, sorry about your losses. But at this point any compensation will be of the monetary kind. If I were you I would try to get as much out of this photog as possible. She started out by offering you a full refund which was a good faith gesture.
    Unfortunately, you'll have to live with the consequences of your photog's incompetence and nothing anyone can physically do will alter that. And that's the sad truth.
    I never had a wedding, much less wedding photos but after 10 years, I'm happily married with two beautiful kids. Now I go out and shoot weddings and while sometimes I do miss my missed opportunities, I treasure the fact that I have a good marriage with or without the photos or memories.
    Wedding photos might be important but it's not the be all and end all of of marriage.
     
  37. I'm really confused right now. If something doesn't sound right from what she has told me - what could it be? What am I missing?
    At the wedding she was shooting with two cameras, both of them were around her neck. Why not recover the images? She made a heartfelt statement about how much she enjoyed our wedding and that we were good people and she is sad this happened to us, so why hide anything?
     
  38. Wedding photos might be important but it's not the be all and end all of of marriage.​
    We know that. My husband and I are super close. What is most important is because we travel and move around a lot, we can't get those memories back with our families. If we can get some type of solution that would involve our immediate family, this could aid, not heal completely because that day is truly gone, but we can have new memories with our families. I had never left the house until 25 to leave the states for the first time for Africa to follow my love. The first year we were in Africa, my grandma had passed from dementia/ Alzheimer's (Feb) and my mom had a stroke that same year (May). We hadn't seen our families in years before the wedding. Our wedding was a family reunion as well. Before leaving, I had never cared much for family photos but they are very important to us now. That's not even explaining what my husband's family had gone through. Our marriage will endure, of course but if something were to happen to my family... it would be nice to look back on the time I was able to be with them.
     
  39. At this point I would say everyone should step back and take a breath. Jeni, I don't think you've missed anything. But raw emotion is going to amplify everything. And then we have the effect of mass hysteria fueling the fire. No one here can possibly comment on the competence of your photographer. We simply don't know the whole story. It is quite possible no one will ever know the entire circumstances surrounding the situation. Lord knows I didn't go into extensive detail when I found out I had 866 corrupt images! What would be the point?
    Obviously, the photographer feels bad. And if this weren't a professional photographer, you might have a hard time even getting your money back and I very much doubt they would offer to pay for a new photo shoot in Hawaii. Again, I might take some time away from the issue and come back to in a day or two when calmer minds prevail. As example, a professional photographer simply can't hand over a hard drive to a client. We have no idea what other confidential information may be on that drive to potentially be recovered. Heck, we don't really even know if it is a recovery issue. That could be the simplest way to sum up the issue. The only thing we know is that your photographer doesn't think they have the images at this time. Everything else is grasping at straws.
    I really do wish you the best of luck, but it really won't do you any good right now to just "stew" over the issue. Even if you decide to take legal recourse (and I am not say you should or shouldn't), you want to do so from a calm state of mind. I might daresay you want to be calm especially if you decide to take legal recourse.
    Now, that all said, there might be some value in finding a third party to mediate the situation sooner rather than later. By that I mean find someone who might now more about recovery issues related to photography and have them contact the photographer to discuss the possibility of data recovery. Doctors aren't going to discuss with patients what they did wrong, but they may cooperate with a third party that isn't out to nail them to the cross. Lets assume for the moment some sort of failing on the photographers end. Why would they want to make the situation worse for themselves by detailing their possible mistakes? Again, doctors make mistakes, but they don't detail them for patients. Now, what you are really trying to find out is if there is indeed any possible hope of recovering any images. Your photographer doesn't seem to think so (and in all likelihood is probably right; I wouldn't offer a refund and arrange for a reshoot in Hawaii without being certain). However, there is the faintest of possibilities that your photographer doesn't know everything about data recovery and perhaps a third party can discern if data recovery is still worth pursuing or even if it really is even a data recovery issue.
    And now I will bow out myself and quit fueling the fire.
     
  40. Jeni, here's a data recovery service in Honolulu that claims a recovery rate of 98%, no cost if data is not recovered, and a toll-free line to obtain a quote.
    http://www.thedatarecoverygeeks.net/hawaii/data-recovery-in-honolulu-hi/
    The actual work might be perform on the mainland but they do claim a typical 3-5 days turn-around. It might be worth looking into with your photographer unless it's cost prohibitive.
     
  41. Typically
    1. Pictures are copied from the cards to a drive of some type
    2. That drive is backed up to a second drive.
    At this point there are three copies of each picture: the card and the two different drives.

    One of the drives fail (it happens all the time).
    Questions you can ask.
    1. What happened to the backup drive pictures? Did she have a backup drive?
    2. And this is extremely important. What happened to the original pictures on the card? EVEN if the photographer
    erased the card and used it to take more pictures, there is some chance that card rescue software might find at least
    some of those pictures. You just can't put the card in a reader to see if they are there! You have to use card rescue
    software. I would ask her if she used card rescue software on the cards she used for your wedding.
     
  42. John D.,
    I'm not on fire! lol And while some responses are a little strong, I hope that isn't a reflection of how I have responded here. I have been nothing but cordial and really I do understand that she is sorry.
    I am disappointed, yes but that's why I asked if this had happened to anyone and I got more than I bargained for with possibly being able to recover my images. I doubt that she doesn't know about this. Her company does cinematography and lighting along with photography. I will definitely ask though.
    Michael Ch.,
    Thanks for that! I am doubtful that she would give me her hard drive or memory cards due to someone mentioning breach of privacy. I sent her a very heartfelt email.
    Even with her offering for me to shoot with her cousin here in Hawaii, my family isn't here and financially won't be able to be here anytime soon. If we go ahead with images of just my husband and I, other costs will arise. Hair, makeup, tux, etc. that I would have to pay for out of pocket. We don't have that money right now and won't for a long time. I am currently unemployed and struggling to find work here.
     
  43. Sorry if this has been said (I've not had a chance to read all of the replies), but the photographer may be finding that the cost of data recovery is proving higher than expected. I wonder if she is insured, since some policies may cover things like this if the loss is due to accidental damage or an unforeseen failure. If the photographer was supplied as part of a wedding package via the venue, then you might want to determine whether she is a sub-contractor, freelance, or employee of the hotel.
     
  44. I really need advice about this from a possible legal standpoint because another wedding is missing their images and it could be more. While I feel deeply sorry for her, it seems as if she hadn't been backing up her images and has been purely negligent.
    I contacted a poster on their website because the couples friend was looking for their gallery online. Meaning the photographer passed out business cards regarding the wedding date. I cross checked her website and sure enough the images weren't up. See our messages below... Their wedding was a week before mine and still she only had one back up?
    • Jeni Deidre
      Hi [omitted],
      I saw you left a message for [company], we used them as well. You might want to have your friends contact [company] because we did and found out our images are gone. Wiped out because of the hard drive. Our wedding was June 14th. We were supposed to receive the images by July 25th. We had to contact [company] on July 25th in the evening and ask.
      I truly hope this isn't the case for your friend!
      - Jeni
    • [omitted's response]
      Well, my friend's wedding was on June 8th and we were supposed to get the pictures by July 14th. The newlyweds started to contact everybody who was present at the wedding for pictures that they took to try to compile an album together, but it was the same thing -- their hard drive crashed. All they have are what everyone else has taken on their cameras or cell phones. It's a shame! I hope you were able to grab some pictures through everyone else!
     
  45. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Was the other Wedding, whose images are also missing, like yours a "destination wedding" ?
    Did you both "book the photographer" through a third party?
    WW
     
  46. Jeni, attorneys will usually give you an initial consultation free of charge. I suggest compiling your story in writing, stating each event in chronological order, with supporting evidence - emails, signed contracts, phone correspondence date/time, etc., and a list of witnesses with contact info. who can corroborate your story.
    The attorney will then be able to inform you of your rights in your state.
     
  47. William,
    I'm not sure. The venue I used had us use their preferred vendors but we paid and worked with the vendors directly. I'm not sure if this was shot somewhere else. She does other venues as well.
    Thanks Michael Chang. I really thought this was a freak occurrence with just our wedding but if someone else had a wedding the week before, those images should have been backed up properly, right?
     
  48. Jeni, I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that she's liable for breach of contract of which negligence is a component. Yes, proper backup is part of an expected professional photographer's diligent workflow.
     
  49. Very few hard drives can be saved. I had a damaged portable HD. They were able to recover about 10%. If the plates are damaged it's almost always a lost cause. Plus they also said the worst thing to do is attempt to recover it yourself or keep booting it up hoping it will work. They said every time you boot it up you cause more damage. That 10% recovery was $1600.00. I declined and told them to keep it.
     
  50. I don't know what your video photographer shot but those could be easily converted into still images.
     
  51. I can see where this is going and it appears someone is going to sue. I will say nothing about whether or not you ought to do that. I am no lawyer. It is my suspicion though that when all is said and done and you get a small check of some kind. Unless you go to big kid court you will get less than $5K and you won't get the free photo shoot. Big kid court and you have some serious legal bills. Then you have to try to collect. If she doesn't have insurance.......
    What happened to you is a shame. Extending the agony with a court battle that could literally go on for years may not be worth it in either time, treasure or anxiety. I reject the notion that you would be teaching this photographer anything. She obviously has learned her lesson.
    I had the opportunity to sue someone once and my lawyer said I would recover. He advised me as a friend not to do it. I'm glad I took his advice.
    You have been married three years or more. You live in paradise. Your husband has a very good paying job with a great retirement. You have the opportunity to get a nice photo shoot in paradise. Why not make the best of it? When all is said and done, and you get a some money from small claims court, you are not going to feel better. You might feel worse. And you will have invested a whole lot of additional angst in the process. And you still won't have any wedding pictures other than the ones you can get from attendees and your videographer.
    You seem like a very nice person. You have treated this photographer with a lot of class and she has been completely forthright with you and offered what she could offer by way of apology. That is a pretty nice place to be.
     
  52. I have said this in the past and I will say it again, this is another example of why I no longer shoot weddings.
    This is a sad story indeed and I hope something good comes out of it.
    -Cheers
     
  53. I was already sad for myself and trying to power through but knowing other couples data was lost possibly even more couples makes me feel like I should do something more. Like I said, there was another bride involved and possibly more.
     
  54. Owen,
    this is another example of why I no longer shoot weddings​
    No this is not a reason not to shoot weddings. It is a reason to make sure you backup your images to another drive or at least leave the images on the original memory card and put this away for safe keeping until you have finished editing the images and delivered them to the client, I do both. Any professional photographer will go to great lengths to protect and backup their images. This photographer didn't and was unprofessional.
    It's a very sad story, and there is no way the photographer can put it right if indeed the images are gone from both the hard drive and memory cards. Paying for another photo shoot including all extra's, hair, flowers & Tux included is the very least she could offer you Jeni. I appreciate your family will not be in them and without photo shopping them into a few photos this isn't going to happen. I feel your pain and can't believe that their are people out their that shoot weddings and don't backup their images.
     
  55. If I were the photographer and lost multiple couple's photos - I'd be going night and day trying to find a recovery service that could get them back.
    While recovery does cost a lot, they are usually very good about being able to recover something off of a crashed drive.
    Here's a link that you should provide the photographer with: http://www.krollontrack.com/data-recovery/data-recovery-services/hard-drive-recovery/
    If she's already tried them - great. If not - she should be busting her butt to get there.
    Dave
     
  56. This would have been one of those situations if a few guests with DSLRs had "gotten in the way" of the pro and taken some snaps. It'd have served as a fallback!
     
  57. If you haven't done so already, do this NOW: call/email/text every single guest, tell them that your photog botched ALL your pictures, and ask them for every single image they took the whole weekend. tell them not to delete anything because you don't know what is important yet. Ask them to send you copies of every bad blurred and grainy picture (as well as any decent ones). This should have been done the moment you heard from the photog, but if not yet done you need to do it ASAP. regular folks regularly delete pictures, and waiting means more people will be like... full memory card? not anymore.
    I was already sad for myself and trying to power through but knowing other couples data was lost possibly even more couples makes me feel like I should do something more. Like I said, there was another bride involved and possibly more.​
    Ironically, that circumstance makes her story more believable. The timeframe is right. I would guess that this photographer either a) did not have any backup, or b) did not implement her regular backup routines. I would say that b) is more likely. Either, in my mind, is negligent behavior for a professional, but, especially in season, doing several weddings a week, such things sometimes get de-prioritized. Some professionals poorly design their backup plans, and since it requires more time (poorly designed - properly designed, it takes at most a few mouse clicks), and is rarely needed, it gets put on the back burner.
    I'm awfully sorry this happened to you, but I don't see any reason to hope for a resolution which gets you back your images. I doubt a HDD data recovery service is going to be able to recover much (how much depends upon a) type of HDD, b) type of failure (and physical damage), and c) amateur recovery efforts), and given the time of year, the memory cards are going to be more unrecoverable (unlike a traditional HDD, they store data on flash memory in which once the data is overwritten, for all practical purposes it is unrecoverable).
    Yes, she should have had a backup plan, yes, she should have implemented one properly. But clearly she did not, and, as much as it isn't your fault, you still have to deal. The first thing I'd do is reach out to the guests. It may very well be too late. In my mind, the photog has made things worse by not informing you of the failure the day after it happened. Time is of the essence, since 'normal people' only keep a few pictures and delete the rest. I can only hope you get lucky!
     
  58. Nish, good call! I was writing my post when you posted yours, but you are the first out of 50+ responses (that I read) to recognize that there still might be other pictures out there!
     
  59. I was already sad for myself and trying to power through but knowing other couples data was lost possibly even more couples makes me feel like I should do something more. Like I said, there was another bride involved and possibly more.​
    This is what I meant. You are not the police. You will not teach this photographer anything she has not already learned through the loss of her photos and probably her income for a couple of months and more. You are angry and you are working up your courage to try and sue her. Before you do, consult a lawyer. Take a copy of the contract with you. If you plan to sue in small claims court you might get as much as $5K in Virginia. I am certainly no lawyer but you also might have to pay to travel from Hawaii to Virginia to try. That is why you might want to talk to a lawyer.
    As a service family you might be able to speak to a JAG lawyer for free. They won't represent you but they might give you some advice.
     
  60. OK, I am chiming back in but this is just a little off topic. This thread produced another thread in the Digital Darkroom forum with at least part of the discussion being that hard drive failure can be avoided simply by using a mirror RAID of some sort. Now, lets for a moment say that the photographer in this case bought into that line of thinking: "I need to protect my images, so by using a mirror RAID, I do that". Only that isn't what a mirror RAID does. Oops. A mirror RAID protects you from ONE thing and ONE thing only: a single (depending on the RAID implementation) hard drive failing. That's it. Nothing else. It is NOT any type of back up by any means. But is often sold and touted as one. If the data on drive one is in any way corrupted, deleted, moved off of, has a directory issue or any other host of issues... it will be the same on the 2nd drive. Period. The 2nd drive is an exact copy (deleted, corrupted. whatever) of the 1st drive. I am not saying that is what happened here. I am just maintaining we don't know exactly what happened.
     
  61. This is what I meant. You are not the police. You will not teach this photographer anything she has not already learned through the loss of her photos and probably her income for a couple of months and more. You are angry and you are working up your courage to try and sue her.​
    You have me misunderstood there. My fault. I should have clarified. I meant something more as in write a review or whatever else is possible. Not just legal. I'm not trying to work up my courage to sue. I need to know my options with that for sure BUT I am willing to talk with her first. I sent her a very heartfelt email but I haven't got a response yet.
    However, I am trying to decide for potential clients if I should warn them? This is a bad situation for everyone involved. This has been so horrible that I really feel sick for her and myself.
     
  62. Reviews are the bread and butter of the on-line photographer. If you get a bad review, it sticks with you for a long, long time. In this case (from what we have been told) you are justified in writing the facts in a review of the photographer. Not that you need our permission to do that.
    The problem with reviews or anything that you write on-line, is that if you decide to sue (small claims or otherwise), it becomes evidence which is admissible in court, either for or against you and the photographer.
    So, if you write a review that says she's unprofessional because she lost all of your images, unresponsive, etc... be prepared for that to be brought up in a court, should you go that direction.
    My advice for the review: Stick to the facts. Write it offline. Walk away from it for a day or two, then open it up again and re-edit it. If you feel she did a good job at some parts of the day - mention that. Let people know that her failing was in post-production. As long as you're telling the truth you have nothing to fear.
    Dave
     
  63. Thanks, David H.! I'm still trying to figure things out.
    I talked to the other couple today and they said they had asked her for the hard drive. She said she didn't have it anymore. I think she just left it with the company that said the drive had 0% recovery... So we can't get those back.
    As far as the memory cards, she ran a program that enabled her to get the images she gave us back.
    The other couple had got images from the second shooter (her husband) but none from her - the second shooter was at no additional costs.
    Also, she had admitted to them that aside from both of us missing our images there is another couple. 3 weddings in total gone.
    I asked her about insurance and she said she had none but on a review site it said she did have liability insurance. Could that only include equipment? She opened her business in 2007. Would she not have better coverage? Her reply was that she didn't have insurance and I would have to deal with her directly. Is that true?
     
  64. First off, I'm very sorry. I completely understand about the family photos & how hard that would be to not have. I really hope your videographer is able to help you out with some of this!
    Although the other couple told you they already asked for the hard drive, I would still ask her about it. She won't be able to give it to you. However, I would ask her what company she used. She may have just said she didn't have it because she panicked & didn't know how to refuse that other couple the hard drive.
    If she does have the memory cards & hard drive, I'd ask her to send them to one of the places others on this forum have suggested - the ones that the FBI, etc use. Even if it costs her $5k for all that, it is going to be much cheaper than to have anyone sue her. I'd even tell her that! Also, if she "ran a program" on her memory cards, she's not trying hard enough. She needs to send those out to a truly professional (yes expensive) service & that's all on her to pay. Maybe she did spend a lot already, but she may have just picked one... they are not all the same.

    Since she doesn't have insurance, than suing her will likely not get you very far. Insurance is there for when unfortunate things happen, so you're covered. Without insurance she likely has no money. Even if you did sue her & you won a lot of money, she likely wouldn't be able to pay it. Especially if either of the other 2 brides sue her.
    I would also contact the venue & tell them what happened. You said they have a contract with her so I'd want to warn them. I wouldn't say anything to the venue if it was just some photographer you found on your own, however since they're recommending her I'd let them know.
    Did you sign a contract with the photographer? You said you paid her, but do you have a contract? Or do you have a contract regarding photography with the venue?
    Again, I'm sorry you have to deal with this.
     
  65. Could that only include equipment?​
    Yes, it depends upon the policy she purchased. Most smaller photogs are primarily concerned with a loss of equipment, not 'other' things, so when on a shoestring budget...
    ... Would she not have better coverage? Her reply was that she didn't have insurance and I would have to deal with her directly. Is that true?​
    One would hope she'd have better coverage, but I doubt that a policy would cover her negligence regardless, though it depends on the policy. In essence though, yes, dealing with her directly is your only practical avenue, unless you are ready to file. If you think you are ready to file, you need to be reading through every single line of your contract prior to doing so.
     
  66. Could that only include equipment? She opened her business in 2007. Would she not have better coverage? Her reply was that she didn't have insurance and I would have to deal with her directly. Is that true?​
    For what it's worth, most everyone in the world is underinsured in some way. If the photographer was a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America), then the photographer has some errors & omissions coverage (PPA indemnification trust) that the photographer may not even be aware of.

    As to whether you have to deal directly with her, I guess it's either with her or your attorney. I will say that the minute attorneys are involved that that is all you will be dealing with, no more dealing with the photographer directly as the attorney won't allow it.
     
  67. No insurance .... no backups ... this is symptomatic of cheaper semi-casual wedding photographers. I'm not sure how much choice you had Jeni, but I wonder if you hired this person mostly on price. Unfortunately a low budget will usually mean that compromises are made somewhere, and many cheap photographers can't afford (or don't care about) proper insurance or investing in backup systems. In fact it's a stipulation of one of the bodies I belong to, the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography) that we are vetted and audited, and we must submit our insurance certification. So at this stage I am going to ask you if you yourself are insured? Some of the more thorough wedding insurance policies may cover losses such as this.
     
  68. This just doesn't make sense to me, there are even shareware programs that can scan a memory card and find images taken two or three weddings back, why isn't someone checking these cards?
    I have a strange suspicion that this photog wasn't that experienced and the photos are so badly under/over exposed and out of focus she is covering her tracks by saying her hard drive crashed! The fact that the videographer was hired from craigslist tells me a lot. Just curious what you paid for the photographer because something just isn't ringing true to me here.
     
  69. Just to chime in on the insurance issue:
    1) Yes, she could have equipment only insurance
    or
    2) She could have liability insurance - which covers her in instances where someone gets physically hurt as a result of her actions or equipment (ie Someone trips over one of her light stands) and not have errors and omissions insurance - which covers her in case she takes all images out of focus or loses all the images.
    It's not uncommon for agents to neglect to mention the E/O part when talking with pros, since that is far more likely to spawn claims than the base liability.
    Now to the next topic - the hard drive. Yes, when the company said it was unrecoverable, she probably did tell them to keep it - which unfortunately means it has already been recycled. Highly doubtful that they would keep it around, unless they turned it over to their development team to let them try to improve their techniques / software. I would ask her for the company name, address, phone, her order #, etc... and deal with the company. Contact them to find out if they still have it and if they will release it to you.
    Memory cards: The base / free programs go after only the most recent images on the cards. There are other options from 3rd party vendors - such as File Scavenger that go after any and all files on the card. If the file is there it will find it. If she hasn't done that she needs to ASAP.
    The lesson learned here for photographers is backup your files ASAP. If you don't have a dual drive backup - get a 2nd drive NOW. (and a RAID isn't a backup - sorry marketing folks) Hard Drives are under $150.00 for 3 TB. That's less than a couple of meals out with the family or 1 triple latte a day for 30 days. Much cheaper than getting yourself into the situation that the photographer in this story is in.
    Finally - I'd suggest contacting the other two couples and getting a lawyer together. Then go after the photographer for all she's got. Chances are she's set up as a sole proprietorship, which means that you can go after her personal property and damages / losses aren't limited to business assets.
    Dave
     
  70. David Haas said:
    "The lesson learned here for photographers is backup your files ASAP.
    Finally - I'd suggest contacting the other two couples and getting a lawyer together. Then go after the photographer for all she's got. Chances are she's set up as a sole proprietorship, which means that you can go after her personal property and damages / losses aren't limited to business assets."
    Perhaps a better lesson is to avoid cost-cutting when choosing your photographer, since generally you will get what you pay for. Somewhere along the way the client needs to take some responsibility for situations like this. Still, why worry about that when you can simply sue them for everything they're worth if it all goes pear shaped ...... and I will say that this advice is shaky at best. There is already a paper trail where the photographer has willingly offered compensation in the form of a full refund and an additional photo shoot and generally speaking that would be the limit of liability in a situation like this. So I think pursuing court action might not be the cleverest move.
     
  71. Legal action against the photographer is not going to get your pictures back and the little bit of money you might make will go to legal fees. Plus there is the heartburn and bad karma.
    Personally, I would chalk this one up to a lesson learned: You get what you pay for. I would use her refunded money to create a special project.
    Special Project: I suspect that there are lots of pictures of your family that each of you have and some may go back a long way. I would have each of your family members either send you those pictures (or a hi res scan of them), scan them and then create a book/album that consists of the very best of those pictures plus a few 'retakes' of you and your husband. Such an album would be a priceless heirloom for the whole family, as you are scattered around the world.
     
  72. Perhaps a better lesson is to avoid cost-cutting when choosing your photographer, since generally you will get what you pay for. Somewhere along the way the client needs to take some responsibility for situations like this.​
    This photographer is professional. I'm not interested in outing them for slander or anything so I will not disclose her name. She is professional though. I found the videographer on Craigslist because I didn't want to pay a lot just to have our first dance filmed. I ended up getting a lot more than I bargained for with him. Thank god. However, I have been taking a few days to figure out what I am going to do. Lawyers are the hungry sort and I really feel bad for her.
     
  73. Jeni, have you ever taken somebody to Court before? I have, and I can tell you that it is one of the most exhausting and stressful processes you will ever go through, irrespective of the outcome. There is a naive notion here that suing somebody is quick and easy and painless, and you get a lovely windfall at the end of it. That is absolute nonesense. Nor is there any guarantee that you will see any of the money which may (or may not) be awarded to you, nor can you count on your chances of being able to recoup your legal fees from the other side. As I have said, this photographer has offered a full refund and an additional photo shoot, in Court that will stand in her favour and in any case it is likely to be the limit of liability to you anyway. So it makes little sense to spend a small fortune only to hear a Judge say that.
    Second, even if the Judge were to award damages/compensation you have the next hurdle of finding a way to collect it - people are rarely in the habit of willingly paying up - more realistically the photographer may have very few assets (photographers earn very little on average) and you could end up spending another fortune on collection fees, again with no hope of recouping the money you're spending. And for what? For a sum amounting to a few hundred dollars? If you are prepared to expend thousands of dollars paying lawyers in your attempt to gain some kind of restitution then I think you are very unwise to even contemplate it.
    This entire conversation is going in circles now and I'm quite sure that the most painless solution for you is to accept her offer and get on with your life. We hear endless stories on this forum from disgruntled brides complaining about poor or lost wedding photos which are supposedly highly important to them, yet those same brides have usually allocated an unrealistically low budget to their wedding photography - yet they expect all of the trappings and security of a much more expensive service. That is not a criticism, weddings are expensive and not everybody can afford a well established photographer, it is just that the low end of the market (if that is where your photographer lies, as I suspect) is usually low end for a reason - the photographer will be cutting a lot of corners and will often take a very casual approach to security and insurance. "Professional" simply means that they earn the bulk of their income from photography, it is not a badge of competence.
     
  74. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Irrespective of how much you paid for this Photographer’s services and irrespective if this Photographer is telling you pork-pies about what actually did happen, I concur with the advice given above:
    This entire conversation is going in circles now and I'm quite sure that the most painless solution for you is to accept her offer [of a full refund and an additional photo shoot] and get on with your life.

    WW
     
  75. Not sure if anyone still wants to discuss this but I have had multiple hard drives fail over the years. I don't usually back things up. I am not a professional. My experience though is unless it is an external drive that you drop I have never had a drive suddenly fail on me. Usually there are some warning signs. That's when I move everything critical off the drive. One drive I did a low level format on in preparation to send it back to the manufacturer. It was clicking and had trouble reading. After the wipe it worked perfectly. Needless to say though no critical datawas stored on that drive going forward. Anyway once a drive starts to act funny. I move everything off ASAP. Once a drive starts going downhill I've found you only have a limited number of times you can access it before it comes to a screeching halt.
    The story of the lady attempting to fix it herself is not good. I would get it to a true expert ASAP. Just makig a flaky drive grind away for weeks is insane. Honestly though I can't understand not doing a simple on site back up. Particularly for current projects. If she started in 2007 she could have gotten terabytes of HD space for less than $100 preflood prices.
    That is not a criticism, weddings are expensive and not everybody can afford a well established photographer, it is just that the low end of the market (if that is where your photographer lies, as I suspect) is usually low end for a reason - the photographer will be cutting a lot of corners and will often take a very casual approach to security and insurance.​
    Pretty much. People charging $2K for a wedding have a reputation to protect. They aren't going to let little technical glitches ruin 3+ weddings.
    Also if someone is running such a rinky dink operation what is the point of suing them? All a civil court will do if you win is say you are right. It is up to you to collect any moneys you are awarded. You can't get blood from a stone. If the person has no money or assets? Suing someone takes time and money and is unpredictable. I would say the net present value of that business venture is close to zero or may in fact be negative after you total up all your legal fees.
     
  76. Well, I was skeptical the other couples even existed until you wrote that you'd met them. Wouldn't have surprised me if she'd shot without a memory card all that time! So the only reason she had images left was that she hadn't got round to shooting over all her memory cards yet...
     

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