Weddings for family members is problems

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by leandrew_coates|2, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. I am shooting a wedding for a family member. And it has been a pain in the rear end. To start they waited until a month before their wedding to call me. And once they called trying to be nice I gave them a good deal. I asked them when did they want to start taking their engagement and bridal pictures. They replied we will get back with you. Upon agree to do their wedding I got their 50% depoist in the form of a check and the rest is due two weeks before your wedding. And go and behold it bounce. It took them another week to get me the cash to cover the check. So here it is two weeks before you wedding and you have not even done your engagement picture or bridal pictures. Finally they want to shoot the engagement pictures on July 16th that was ok. So we get those out the way. At this time I made it know that your balance is due on the 16th also. They state that they will not have the funds until the 25th. I was ok with that also. I had to force her to shoot her bridal pictures on the 23rd because the wedding is on the 30th. I get all the pictures done and edited. So I call them to meet with them yeasterday to go over the pictures they want enlargered in to 16 x 20 . And she tells me that they will not have the balance until Aug. 11th. Here I am pissed off and afriad to order these enlargement because this might be another cost I may have to eat. I am not really feeling doing this wedding. Because of all the B/S I have been dealing with. How should I handle this?
     
  2. "How should I handle this?" Take away their internet so they can't search for your name and find you ranting about them......
    Seriously, not a good place to rant about customers - ANY customers.
    Anyway, my policy with family or friends (unless they're immediate family which is much different) is to give them the regular price up front. If they really want ME to photograph them and not just a good deal, they will choose me. Once I've discussed the session/wedding/whatever with them I show them the price breakdown with a friends and family discount.
    It's time to have a nice sit-down talk with them. It's alright to work with them on getting the payments made, but they need to know that you cannot continue with their order until their account is settled. Stop where you're at so you don't get yourself into too big of a hole without getting paid. It very well may end up that you never get paid. These kind of things can cause great rifts in families - try not to let it happen to you. Get a firm date on when they will have the balance paid and put it in writing. Verbal payment agreements are generally not honored .
     
  3. Good advice from John there. Family weddings can indeed be tricky.
    If I were you I would hold off on printing anything, processing anything until they have paid up. Whether that takes the next 2 weeks or the next 2 years, it doesn't matter. They need to value your time, skill and effort just as much (if not more) than they would a stranger's.
    I think it is also important that you let them know now how you feel about their treatment so far. Elaborate that it will not be good for you to shoot the wedding with all these unresolved issues still pending. get commitments in writing about whatever you will agree. It's cleaner for everyone in the long run. No point letting it get you angry and frustrated while they probably have no clue what it's doing to your psyche... it will more than likely show in the pictures you take.
     
  4. I will not work for family, and also would not work with any client who's deposit check bounced. Also, just wondering, what is the purpose of engagement photos 2 weeks before the wedding? I agree with the advice not to print anything or incur any further costs until payment is made in full.
     
  5. I don't do weddings anyway, but I have sometimes been asked by friends/relatives to make an exception. I'm with Cliff - I would NEVER be the 'official' photographer at friends or relatives weddings, although I do agree to shoot informal for them, no cash, no expectations involved.
     
  6. Did they want engagement pictures and a separate bridal portrait session? Did they want prints? I get the feeling that you will be
    waiting a long time for their money. At this point I would say that I would take the pics (since you already agreed to let them pay you
    after the wedding). But.... They don't see them at all -digital or otherwise-until you get paid. I may even say that I wouldn't even start
    editing them until the check clears. Then you are only out of the time you spent at the wedding if they don't pay.
     
  7. @ Maira yes they did want them. But I am give them anything until the balance is paid.
     
  8. I have never photographed a wedding professionally; and like Chris Letts, at family weddings I make sure that I am only a supplement to whosoever has been engaged for the job. What happens is that the professional covers the ceremonies and I photograph mainly the people present. I take no more than what I pay the lab, although usually that is my wedding present.
     
  9. - Yes - your name is now out there for them to google and find out how mad you are with them...
    If it were me - and I saw this post - I'd tell you to take a hike and forget doing my wedding - I'd find someone off of CL or Thumbtack or something.... There are enought red flags in your post to turn me off to you as a wedding photographer - Had to force them to do bridal shoot. Come on and you're PO'd? really? why? because their check bounced and they paid cash... I wish that clients where that nice to me when their checks bounce...
    If I were you - I'd treat them like any other customer - no prints or images until the balance is paid. Not knowing their specific financial situation makes it difficult for anyone to comment, but times are tough, and they are getting married. I'm sure they have a few venders with hands out right now looking for payment. If they don't see this post - I'd show up, do the wedding to the best of my ability and smile through it.
    In case of payment for prints - I'd suggest not ordering it until you have the payment (unless she wants to use it for the wedding) - then I'd order it, have it the wedding and then back in your possession until payment is received.
    Dave
     
  10. ANY time a relative has ever contacted me about wedding photography, I always politely and firmly refuse, and then give them a few numbers of shooters I know who do a good job. THE END.
     
  11. I would say that I would take the pics (since you already agreed to let them pay you after the wedding). But.... They don't see them at all -digital or otherwise-until you get paid. I may even say that I wouldn't even start editing them until the check clears. Then you are only out of the time you spent at the wedding if they don't pay.​
    Normally, if consistent with the contract, this can be effective but LeAndrew should not and probably will not be surprised to have the negative effects of family pressure visited upon him as a result. The narrative from them to others will not be the unfair expectations of him but how greedy and ruthless he is about money or other indignities.
    Seriously, not a good place to rant about customers - ANY customers.
    Yes - your name is now out there for them to google and find out how mad you are with them... If it were me - and I saw this post - I'd tell you to take a hike and forget doing my wedding - I'd find someone off of CL or Thumbtack or something.... There are enought red flags in your post to turn me off to you as a wedding photographer - Had to force them to do bridal shoot. Come on and you're PO'd? really? why? because their check bounced​
    I agree, of course, that it is unwise for business in general to get in to these things so openly. There's always hope for that a teeny tiny possibility, if they read the posting, that they would see themselves in a more objective light than otherwise provided to themselves and try to make amends. After all, a bounced check isn't something that makes people feel very good. I sense that LeAndrew might feel some relief if he were relieved of these duties even in this way. But then then there are the other customers that have search engines too.
     
  12. I am shooting a wedding for a family member.​
    Doctors don't operate on family members, and cops don't arrest their kins. Neither does one prosecute a family member. So how is it that wedding photographers repeatedly make this mistake?
    Only Bond, James Bond, is allowed to mix business with pleasure.
     
  13. I don't usually shoot relatives weddings, mainly because I'd rather be a guest and hire someone to take care of their wedding. The last thing I want is to work at a family wedding. This pretty much takes care of assorted issues such as money, relatives saying they didn't like photo number 201, so the word comes out that you aren't a very good photographer, even though the other 1000 images were just fine.
     
  14. Words of wisdom for future photographers "asked" to shoot family events.. Unfortunately, LeAndrew is already stuck in the vortex. It may be prudent to take the hit on this one and treat it as a lesson learned. He might even knock off the reaming due as a wedding gift.although that could lead to future requests which would have to be turned down.
     
  15. I "don't shoot weddings", but once or twice a year I end up doing one for a family friend. For starters, I always make sure that unless I owe them big time, the discounted rate I give them is still higher than what what Jane Camera would quote them. This way if they're looking for cut-rate service or someone they can push around, they will look elsewhere.
    I also make sure I tell them exactly what I can (or can't) do for them, and what the normal price is. As others have suggested, I don't tell them the discount until the end of the conversation. I also don't offer engagement shots or other addons like wedding albums. I mention that we could do them, and that I could prepare a 'print and stuff' album for them, which they sometimes ask for.
    But my experience tells me that if they wanted extra (read: more expensive) services, then they're not asking a family member or good friend to do the job in the first place. Obviously if you're a great wedding photographer, you might be an exception.
    Another thing I like to mention early on in the conversation is something like, "I'll give you excellent professional shots of the service, but an hour or two into the reception I may have had a few drinks, so we should make sure we do all the formal photos early on. After all, my buddy is getting married!" I don't ever have more than a couple drinks when I need to be professional (or drive home!), but that line acts as a yellow flag. It basically says, "If you're not expecting to deal with a professional, then I'm not going to be one." It's a really good way to turn off people that are interested in professional service at an amateur price.
    But if you ARE a professional wedding shooter, you might not want to use that line too much ;)
     
  16. It's a tough position, LeAndrew, because no one wants to have to take a hard line with family (or, frankly, with any client). But once a client demonstrates a propensity not to pay (e.g., a bouncing check), the appropriate response is to insist on full payment in advance of any further activity, so long as it is consistent with your contract (which it should be).
    I wouldn't take a single additional step with them that they haven't already paid for, assuming the contract allows that. After payment is made and has cleared, I'd cheerfully deliver additional services.
     
  17. Obviously you should not ask money to shoot a family member's wedding. Give the pictures as your gift.
     
  18. Forget getting written contracts. You can get all the signed contracts you want and still lose in your family's court of opinion. I agree with the poster who said to take this as a lesson learned. If I were in your shoes I would shoot the wedding, do the best job you can, edit the images and then let the couple see them. Up through this point your only investment is your time (and I do not mean to undervalue it). I would try to extricate yourself from any further business dealings with this couple as they are not to be trusted financially.
    There are a number of options here. If (as I hope) you value your family's court of opinion then you can give them a disk with the edited images and a list of where they could go to get prints or albums made. I would also give them back their deposit and call it a wedding present. This way they can't complain that they paid you for something you didn't deliver. You also gave them your labor for free but gave them nothing that cost you hard dollars.
    I agree with the poster that recommended not doing business with family and recommending other photographers to them (if you have any to recommend). You will be related to your family for the rest of your life and their value as customers is, in the long run, limited. There is a well known relevant phrase that applies here "Win, win or no deal". No deal or a donation of your services are probably the only safe routes here with no deal probably being the best. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
     
  19. I am not a professional photographer but have been married twice so know something about families. So just to provide another angle on the situation, here's another view.
    Most of the responders so far have approached your situation on the basis of maintaining peace within the family. Sometimes this is a good idea. And sometimes it isn't. Depends on the family. If you bend over backwards for these two, it may end there, no problem, or it may encourage even worse behaviour from them in the future or from other relatives. Only you can judge the likelihood of that.
    Burning bridges with people who give you aggravation is not necessarily a bad thing. It might be a good way to rid yourself of a time-wasting pain who might rob you of many hours in the future. There's often little point in being nice to people who aren't.
     

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