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Wedding photography horror stories


Wedding photography nightmares can be costly both in terms of your bottom line and your reputation.

Soon after tying the knot, the memories of cake, decorations, and flowers begin to dwindle. Arguably, the photographs are the most important bit for newlyweds – a permanent reminder of their beautiful day.

So, no pressure for the humble wedding photographer whose unenviable job it is to capture the magic while leaving out the bits no one needs to see again. With so much going on, it’s not too surprising if it doesn’t always go to plan.

With that in mind, here are five pretty memorable wedding photography nightmares to have made headlines around the world.

Wedding photography nightmares: the stuff that dreams aren't made of

The album from hell

When Thomas and Anneka Geary commissioned wedding photographers Ian McCloskey and Nikki Carter for a bargain £750, they were already a happy couple. But their happiness evaporated when the photos of their special day arrived. They got a batch of out of focus shots, images of the back of guests' heads, and one memorable shot featuring a spooky floating hand where a child had been badly edited out. The couple demanded a full refund but got less than half their money back after the photographers went bust.

The over-edit

Ohio-based bride-to-be Katie Liepold turned to Facebook in search of a wedding photographer to capture her wedding day. Responding to the enquiry, Tower Photography offered two hours of photography at the reception, in addition to an engagement shoot with her husband-to-be, for $600 (about £435). However, when the blushing bride reviewed the shots from her engagement shoot, she was upset to see that she and her partner had been visibly photoshopped to make the couple look much slimmer.

Hurt by the ordeal, Katie complained to the photographer. She was offered a cancellation on the rest of the contract, including the wedding day, but was told her $150 (£108) deposit wouldn't be refunded. To make matters worse, Katie later discovered an offensive post about her and her fiancé on a local Facebook group.

The lab report of feedback

Most photographers will probably have experienced tedious demands and bizarre requests from their clients at one point or another. But one photographer was left particularly bewildered after receiving a ‘lab-report’ of feedback from a couple who had a lot to say about their wedding photo album. The couple had apparently gone into painstaking detail, printing off every photograph, and annotating each one with their constructive criticism for everything and anything from the framing of the subjects to exposure of the backdrop.

The story quickly became a topic of debate amongst social media users. Many stated that the photos didn’t meet the standards expected when exchanging money for the job, while others defended the images by saying they had not yet been retouched by the photographer.

The two-year delay

Kavita Gadhok and her husband Luis paid $6,000 (about £4.5k) for photographer Chris Walters to document their four-day long conventional wedding ceremony. They were left distraught, however, when he apparently went missing after the occasion and didn’t deliver the promised photographs and video footage. The couple claim to have spent two and a half years pleading for their precious memories only for every message sent to be completely ignored by Walters.

The inappropriate album

Steph and Paul Unwin were so disappointed with their wedding album that they ended up suing their photographer, David Kilcourse, at a small claims court. The couple claimed that one in three photos of the happiest day of their lives was blurry, 96 images were inappropriate shots of the bridesmaids, only 11 featured the groom, and none featured the groom’s parents.

The Unwins won their case against Kilcourse after he failed to file a defence. His photography business folded soon after, with him claiming he got ‘too much hassle out of doing weddings as it’s really a matter of opinion whether or not the agreed package is fulfilled’.

The solution

Of course, these are all extreme cases. The professionalism of some, if not all, of these photographers could be called into question. That said, it does highlight an important point that, as in any creative industry, the results are, to some extent, subjective.

Perhaps there’s no excuse for missing the groom’s parents out of the photographs altogether. But with reportage, photojournalist and artistic photography currently in favour over more traditional styles, there is definitely more scope for the final results to be out of kilter with the couple’s expectations.

Photographers need to take a stance and protect themselves as the potential threat presented by budding bride-and-groomzillas is a very real one. Your own personal wedding photography nightmares could leave not only a dent in your bottom line but a dent in your reputation too. And that could affect future bookings.

Happily, photographers’ professional indemnity insurance covers the legal costs of defending yourself against unhappy customers.

This applies not only if something genuinely does go wrong and you make a mistake, but also if your client just believes something’s gone wrong. If you wind up in a dispute with them, your insurance policy pays to defend allegations against you, and covers damages or compensation if you’re liable.

To avoid becoming the next tabloid horror story, every photographer should have insurance as an essential part of their kit. For a quick quote click here, or ring the team on 0345 222 5391.

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