Another Wedding Ruined by Bad Photography

Another Wedding Ruined by Bad Photography

It's a story we photographers read about all too often. A Tulsa, Oklahoma woman has issued a warning for brides-to-be: make sure to vet your photographers before hiring.

A Facebook ad for "affordable photography" caught Natalie Barney's eye at just the right moment of her wedding's planning process. She was quoted $250 for 100 images which she accepted, booking the date.

The images on the photographer's portfolio looked impressive, but little did Barney know that she was viewing wedding images gleaned off sites like Pinterest and not the original work of the photographer.

In her statements to news media, the bride reported the first red flag which was the photographer's bizarre behavior during the ceremony. The photographer would attempt to time her shutter snaps with someone in the audience who was setting flashes off with their own camera. Was this a sign of inexperience, the result of a forgotten flash at home, or perhaps a brilliant new battery-saving technique? Was the flash-less photographer honing in her ninja-like reflexes down to the hundredth of a second?

A photo of wedding rings sitting in a box on a tree stump

Later on in the wedding, the photographer allegedly reported to the bride that she was experiencing "camera issues." Upon inspection of the low-light images taken in the latter part of the event, I've discovered the issue: the photographer having zero understanding of how shutter speed and camera focus work.

As you can imagine, the images from the event were unusable. They were underexposed, blurry, and awkwardly framed. The photographer consoled the upset bride with the promise of a free family photoshoot on a future date. When the dressed-up newlyweds arrived at the new shoot location, they were stood up by the photographer's no-show.

Headlines like these seem to pop up with regularity: "Bride Shafted by Photographer, Never Received Images." "Wedding Couple Devastated by Blurry Photographs." The reason for these incidents is obvious, that there will always be amateur photographers naive enough to jump into a paid wedding with little to no skills, and there will always be brides on a budget who fall victim to their confidence.

Having a wedding on a budget is understandable. Ripping someone off with a fake portfolio and ruining a cherished memory is not. Before judging the bride for taking the low-cost option, remember that there are plenty of talented photographers who offer budget services. In my opinion, this was unlucky for the consumer and shameful for the photographer.

You can read the entire news story on the KJRH 2 Tulsa website.

Are you tired of seeing stories like this? What do you think a fair repercussion for the photographer should be? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Author's note: The lead and body images on this article were taken by me. Follow the link above to view images from the story.

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47 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

Booked for $250 and the red flag only came during the ceremony?

<sigh>

David Pavlich's picture

I'm not sure what to expect for $250. Maybe get the bride coming up the aisle and the bride and groom leaving the church being pelted with bird seed? To expect anything more than a handful of snapshots for this fee is absurd. It's called 'research'.

Deleted Account's picture

For $250, drive to location, (wear and tear vehicle and fuel)
Initial gear purchase, camera, lenses, computer, etc.
Shoot for X hours?
Drive home.
Download, backup and edit images. 100 x
Delliver.
Admin, billing, etc.
Sales tax.

Basically, working for free anyway.

Who's the fool, the person doing the shoot or the person hiring the shooter?

David Pavlich's picture

Good point! This sounds like the photographer that my stepson had for his first wedding. It was not pretty.

Jim Bolen's picture

Both.

LA M's picture

So...you used your own images to illustrate and article about the dangers of hiring a discount photographer?

Deleted Account's picture

His portfolio is very professional.

LA M's picture

Ok..but this is an article about the bad photography of another person. It's misleading. I was actually looking at the included images and though "there is nothing wrong with those images"

Not my flavor but they are solid images that are in no way related to the article.

Deleted Account's picture

He probably doesn't have permission to use the images and people who read the article would find a link that lead to the actual photos.

Scott Mason's picture

Michael nailed it. It should be a given, but I didn't have permission to use the images from the bad photographer and doubt they would have given permission regardless. Since I (thankfully) don't take horrid wedding photos to show for example, I went with my own personal stock.

Christian Lainesse's picture

[deleted]

Rocco Zoccoli's picture

I thought the photos in the article were the bad photographs

Bill Wells's picture

A little humor. But i think he is a lot more architectural photography and less wedding photographer.

Scott Mason's picture

Bill, you're correct. No humor intended with the article photos but if the juxtaposition gave you a chuckle, I'll take it!

Thanks for reading.

Bill Wells's picture

Hi Scott, I was replying to Rocco's remarks. He said "I thought the photos in the article were the bad photographs"

Not remarks on the article directly.

Scott Mason's picture

Got it.

Daniel Medley's picture

"She was quoted $250 for 100 images which she accepted, booking the date."

I feel bad for the bride, I really do. But it's at this point that the person booking the date shares some responsibility. Surely they researched other wedding photographers during the process. If they had done so, they would have noticed that $250 simply isn't realistic.

There's a huge difference between "cheap" and "value."

Kang Lee's picture

The scary thing is some people charge over $2k and are no better than the $250 one...

Bill Wells's picture

You are correct. But that is the exception and not the rule.

Daniel Medley's picture

Perhaps, but the old adage, "you get what you pay for" is mostly true.

Christian Lainesse's picture

So, the couple didn't get married because of the photographer? I didn't read past the headline...

Daniel Medley's picture

Had you read it, you wouldn't be asking the question...

Christian Lainesse's picture

It's what I do with poorly written clickbait titles

Scott Mason's picture

You loved my article, Christian? I didn't read your comment. It's what I do with trolls.

Christian Lainesse's picture

Another Article Ruined by Bad Headline

Andrew Morse's picture

That's a hard one all around - no doubt you'd expect a bride to know better with just a bit of research, but to lose all those images and memories would be devastating.

I think the underlying issue here is there's a perception that wedding photographers fleece couples into paying outrageous amounts of money, tempting some to explore low-cost options which they perceive as fair. I think this is because people only see the photographer for a few hours through the day and attribute the entire cost to a one-day salary with no consideration for overhead/equipment/repair, offsite planning hours, offsite processing hours, delivery etc. I can understand why people would question what they perceive to be a $2000/day salary, but it really does come down to a lack of understanding for the costs of operating a business.

Robert Nurse's picture

"The photographer would attempt to time her shutter snaps with someone in the audience who was setting flashes off with their own camera."

I had to stop here and collect myself from hysterical laughter! Years ago, I witnessed something like this. A friend was getting married and she hired a "wedding photographer" with an awesome Canon 1DX. Me not being a wedding photographer, I offered to be a second shooter along with another buddy of mine. Most of the wedding guy's photos were frustratingly unusable with the second shooters' photos making the cut.

"What do you think a fair repercussion for the photographer should be?"

Well, there's no crime in pretending to be a wedding photographer when you're not. But, for using images that are not yours in your portfolio should get those image owners some financial recourse.

Scott Mason's picture

"Well, there's no crime in pretending to be a wedding photographer when you're not."
Maybe not explicitly, but fraud is illegal. I'd say this is borderline fraud but on a low level.

Thanks for commenting.

Mike Dixon's picture

"Well, there's no crime in pretending to be a wedding photographer when you're not." - It is when the images in your portfolio aren't yours, it's called fraud.

Rayann Elzein's picture

You get what you pay for. Nothing else to add on this subject.

Andrew Eaton's picture

Im always shocked how low some peoples standards are for photography, I have seen friends who have been tag on Facebook in wedding photos that have been sooo sh*t... and everyone in the comments have been saying how amazing they are...

Deleted Account's picture

For $250 you get the 100 pictures that you deserve.
Nothing to add.

Luke Adams's picture

Having a hard time feeling sympathy over this one. Perhaps the bride really did have that low of budget and that's truly all she could afford. In my experience though, it was just as likely the bride going bargain shopping the same she does for everything else, and feeling elated that she's sticking it to all the greedy, high-priced photographers out there with her amazing deal!

I often have prospective clients who make a point of letting me know they have found someone else to do their photos - and only for $500! Yeah, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Rule in life and photography: You almost always get what you pay for.

Sometimes I wonder what I should do to help educate clients on the costs of shooting a wedding - not only the 40 hours of time it will ultimately take, but also the overhead needed to run a business, update equipment, etc. I feel kind of unprofessional detailing all this on my website (like I'm trying too hard to justify my expense), but it certainly would be better if the general public had a little better knowledge on the process as well.

Scott Mason's picture

It's unfortunate that our clients rarely if ever see how much work we put into our jobs. All you can do is show what BTS you can. Some get it, others don't.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Thanks for not using unsplash

Paul Scharff's picture

This is a rerun of a comment from a few months ago so skip it if you remember it.

When I did weddings long ago before moving to other photography disciplines, a friend apologetically told me she would not be hiring me for her wedding because her brother had just bought a new Nikon at B&H and had offered to shoot it for her, and she was on a budget.

I made $1,200 doing my best to fix his disastrous photos in post.

Scott Mason's picture

Now that's a big editing job!

And a lesson learned to both of them.

Ryan Burleson's picture

$250 for an actor with a camera seems like a good deal to impress the guests, no real photographer would do that I guess?

Cathy F's picture

Hmm, $250 for 100 images and a photo booth and the bride says she's been planning this since she was a little girl? You get what you pay for. She showed up and was there for a couple of hours. Do your homework people! If the price sounds too good to be true, then it is.

Timothy Gasper's picture

With the advent of digital photography I have seen way too many people all of a sudden believing that they are now good enough to make money and/or a business out of it. Reminds me of when I was working for an elite photo studio in the Plaza are in Kansas City back in the 70's. One of their photographers was shooting a wedding in Mission Hills Kansas (VERY well-to-do area). He was working with a Mamiya C330 Pro S and Kodak HVS film. When the film was developed...not one shot came out. It was like the cap was left on the lens. No one could figure out what happened. The studio had to recall all of the principles and redo the whole thing. It cost them thousands as many were from out of town, reserving the church, etc. Needless to say that guy wasn't there for the reshoot. I don't do weddings anymore but would be happy to take their photos for free...if they would like. My practice was to take a wedding and give them the negs or memory card after I backed them up for my use. I didn't want to deal with it afterwords. And I really didn't need the money. How many stories like this are there?

Scott Mason's picture

"How many stories like this are there?" Far too many. I see several go viral via the news media a year, and I'm sure that's just the surface.

Crazy to think about how much higher the stakes were in the film era. The digital explosion has definitely given people a confidence boost. Some deserve that confidence, others are not ready.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Yes sir...I agree. After that major mishap in Kansas City I was always nervous about how or if my photos would turn out. They were just fine. I have learned to have greater faith in my equipment and my ability.

Scott Mason's picture

Don't expose the film to light, load, expose and develop it properly and always take the lens cap off. I'm sure there are many other variables but it's not rocket science!

Timothy Gasper's picture

Lol. Yeah I know. That happened back in the 70's. I don't know how long that had been there but he was gone the next time I came in. I've been doing this since the 1960's. It's just that that major cufuffle stayed with for a while.

Kenneth Sørensen's picture

Has anyone visited the photographers website? It's... ehm.. interesting.
As she has apparently closed down her business now, it probably won't be long before the website is gone.
https://www.queenbeestillwater.com/index

dred lew's picture

I mean... wow!

Kemal Onur Ozman's picture

story that we are hearing every year! What really people waiting for 250 dolars!