Two Sides of the Story: Newlyweds Upset with Wedding Photographer

Over the last week, a story unfolded about a newlywed couple in Dallas upset with the services they received from their wedding photographer, Andrea Polito. A few days ago, Polito issued an open letter to share her side of the story. This story serves as a lesson and caution to all wedding photographers to consider when handling clients and business dealings.

This story and alleged wrongdoing has made its way into mainstream media and was broadcasted on NBC in Dallas. The couple claims to have paid Polito more than $6,000 for their wedding coverage. In their package, they were to receive a "40 page 8.5x12 storybook album with up to 80 images." This seems to be where the breakdown of communication started, as Polito told them they needed to order the album cover at an additional cost. The lowest cost for the album cover would be $150 which upset the couple, and they felt like they had been scammed. The couple wouldn't receive any of their full-resolution images until the album design was complete, thus they felt Polito was holding their images "hostage."

This week, Polito gave her side of the story which can be read in full on her website. Polito shares her policies and commitment to serving her clients. Her policies are like many other wedding photographers in this industry. This story and the media attention that it has drawn is an important lesson for all to learn. Polito, like so many other small businesses, has put great efforts into building a reputation and thriving company. This story has made headlines, and whether you believe she is in the right or the wrong, it should serve as a caution to all wedding photographers.

Make sure your policies are fair and in the form of a contract, and it is ideal to have a lawyer run through your contracts every couple of years. Communication always seems to be the underlying problem in these unfortunate situations, so always be transparent with your clients.

[via NBC & Andrea Polito]

Log in or register to post comments

49 Comments

Reese Avanessian's picture

Thanks for sharing, wow...just wow.

michael buehrle's picture

i would assume like the couple did that the album would come with a cover. if they wanted an upgrade then that would be extra. i gotta believe that now that this is out and in the news she is not booking many 6k weddings right now. she should just eat the cover price (we all know its only a fraction of the 150) and just finish the deal. no way this can help her business. it doesn't matter who is right or wrong, in this case she should make it go away asap.

Jason Ranalli's picture

I read the photographer's lengthy explanation on her website and while she makes clear mention of not releasing the final images until the wedding album is complete and payed for(which I agree with) she makes no mention of this cover issue nor it's involvement or placement in their contract.

I'm not a wedding photographer and while the couple went overboard I don't see the photographer posting any strong evidence that this cover situation was mentioned clearly in the contract. If it wasn't, this comes off as a really tacky pricing strategy. She would have been better off charging $7K for the entire wedding and thrown the album cover in for free because look what this ended up costing her.

For the record I'm for anyone charging as much as they can - but the customer has to walk away feeling good about it...this rings true for ANY business.

Chet Meyerson's picture

Ummm. it's PAID for, not payed.

Edited: Can I break 20 down votes on this?

Charles Diaz's picture

A comma after "Ummm" instead of a period. That way the failure of not capitalizing "It's" wouldn't be so bad. Lighten up.

On that note, and in support of grammar correction in general, the double negative in your second sentence reads wrong. More correct would be: "That way, the failure to capitalise.." (British English). All in lightness of heart. No offence given or meant.

That said, if you are going to correct someone else's grammar, best to be sure that yours doesn't need the same treatment...

Charles Diaz's picture

Lighten up.

Charles, I must apologise. Rereading my previous comment, it does come across as a bit snotty. What I was trying to do was comment on the irony of how seldom someone correcting someone else's grammar in forums like these gets their own grammar/spelling or whatever right. As in the comment you responded to. Posts like those always give me a laugh.. Anyway, like I said, no offence intended.

Charles Diaz's picture

No offence taken. :>)

John Sheehan's picture

I really want to hear what wedding photographers have to say about this. Is it common practice to charge extra for an album cover like this?

No….. My first time even hearing of this in the 28 years of being in the industry.

J.R. Clubb's picture

No way. Terrible idea as you can see.

What it simply comes down to is, is it written on the contract and her terms and agreement. There are standard covers for any type of book(s) and then there are upgrades. The photographer should have been upfront with that part of the contract or when she discussed how the album process worked in her pitch. And plus, she got paid 6k+, come on, give them their album....

She never said it was explicitly in the contract, she said it was a-la-carte. (Who makes an basic cover a-la-carte!?) She said that it's in the album order form, which leads me to believe that it's AFTER the contract, especially b/c it seems like if it were done before the wedding, then it would have been tacked on to the contract with the rest of the bundle. Who orders an album options beforehand?!

She claims she does it b/c things can change in the time between booking the wedding and ordering the album, but with that logic, you wouldn't offer an album at all, b/c the cover isn't the most expensive part.

There are too many discrepancies between the blog post, email she sent to the "journalist" and what the couple reported. No matter how many times hear this story presented, and read the blog post, I can't help but feel like the photographer is getting what she deserves.

Anonymous's picture

So she tried to make another nickle, and it's going to cost her dearly. Album cover is extra? Oh, you want a steering wheel with your car? Very bad form. For her to quibble with her client over $150, particularly for such an understandable misunderstanding is ridiculous, and certainly not good business.

Percy Ortiz's picture

what? cars do not come with steering wheels? :O

Edgar Maivel's picture

In my view It's very poor business decision...unless it's publicity stunt well a risky one...

Don't see how this is a publicity stunt... no one will ever want to hire Ms. Polito after this fiasco. She sounds like an awful business-person.

Chris Adval's picture

As I said on another site, and tweeted to her buddy defending her... he should already have had an option that was already included into the $6k costs, like 3-5 "standard" album covers, if they want to upgrade to much higher end you simply add the cost... People will assume all books comes with a book cover, even if she said on her contract an album cover is an additional cost, she should have the option of no cost album covers... It's that simple. I do have a lot less experience than she does in wedding photography, but if I would to hire a wedding photographer I'd expect my album to come with a cover, even pre-determined selection of material in case we decide not to go all super fancy high end and get a $1000 add-on for the cover.

J. Malonson's picture

I hate everything about this story.

I hate the way the local news is so outraged (holding their precious memories hostage....) and in such a rush to educate the public to the "danger" with a completely one sided "investigative" report. The local news TV station's blind forwarding of a disgruntled client's agenda both on air (and then the viral online component) was and is hugely irresponsible. They basically ruined the reputation and perhaps the business of a 10 year pro over a $150 add on charge. The comments on the nbcdfw.com website under the video...the hate...amazing. Staggering, really.

The TV station has allowed the photogs side of the story, a side I am inclined to believe. (the damage is already done...and this is more of a written rehash of the original story with no viral video....and a statement from Polito's attorney)

http://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/Photographer-Who-Charged-Extra-for-...

I suggest if you're a wedding photographer, look over your contract. Be specific about exactly what and exactly when you deliver. Put in a section concerning how disputes are handled and settled. Be beyond specific about what is and what is not acceptable behavior. Bashing on Social media? no. A "one star" review on an industry wide site? no. The local news? hell no. If there's a problem, you deal with me, and I'll go out of my way to fix it. If you're not satisfied and it's less than 1000 dollars, small claims court. If they balk, they walk. A client should not get to destroy your business (a business that carries YOUR NAME, can you imagine?) by boo hooing as loud as possible in the middle of the street over a hundred and fifty dollar charge that I'm confident was explained to them beforehand.

If I didn't have those behavioral safeguards in place, and I found myself in her position, I'd get the best lawyer I could afford and sue the snot out of those clients.

Percy Ortiz's picture

Well that escalated quickly… and over $150 dollars? I seriously doubt not a single bride has ever complained or questioned having to pay extra for an album cover, but lets assume this is the first time out of her 600 past clients. That is less than 0.25% of your clients and those $150 dollars are peanuts compared not only to the amount charged for this particular wedding but also to all the potential revenue lost because of the bad publicity generated by this story.
To me the real lesson here is not only to be clear and transparent when it comes to dealing with your clients specially when it comes to money and extra charges but also to know and learn to recognise when it is time to cut your loses and move on.
It's the principle i hear you say, well the principle is not going to put food on your table or a roof over your head. Yes i know money is not everything and money doesn't buy you happiness but it does certainly calm the nerves ;)

John Maciel's picture

While I feel for Andrea, and hope she's not being beaten up by this too badly.. it's an important lesson... the $150 (retail) price is a small amount to pay to keep out of the press in a bad way.. You are in the field of customer service... They payed $6k, and you're arguing about $150.. that's just a really stupid PR failure.. eat it and talk about it to your photo friends later, now look at the poopstorm swirling around her...

Poopstorm indeed...

Roland Baker's picture

If this goes to court the photographer will loose. The contract will the the legally binding document that the judge will base the decision on. Along with any court fees and additional damages a judge decides to allow, this will be the most expensive $150 the photographer has ever earned. Reputation damage is unmeasurable. Lesson - put it in your contract, otherwise it does not exist.

Howard Moore's picture

I am new, as a professional photographer. I am a retired Business Manager in a completely different business (28 years). I worked for a major national manufacture helping our customers, small business owners.

To me, this issue is irrelevant to photography and/or wedding albums. As the article concludes "Make sure your policies are fair and in the form of a contract, and it is ideal to have a lawyer run through your contracts every couple of years." That's the LEGAL side. I'm not an attorney. However, I'm confident Polito doesn't have a leg to stand on. In addition, as a business person, she is making a HUGE mistake. This is elementary level business. How much money, time, effort do we all put into marketing our business. This album cover is 2-1/2% of the overall cost. I can only imagine how much $ she will loose over this.

Vladimir Ladev's picture

Well it's the photographer's fault in this one, and now she has a 150$ anti-marketing spot on the news, rather than letting go and updating her contract.

Some things you guys should probably know...

There are people close to Andrea that have had her photograph their weddings that have said that the contract clearly states that the cover will cost additional money. I believe this has something to having to order a custom cover for the album so far out and not knowing whether or not the cover they want will be in stock. I don't claim to know much about contracts or the photography business in general, so I won't focus on that part that much...

However,

Once the photographer, Andrea, realized the couple was upset about the $150.00 cover issue, she emailed them letting them know that she had no problem waving the fee, and apologized for the confusion. A few days later, the couple STILL took this story to the press, stating that they hadn't heard from her. Lie 1.

The couple claims to have never received their photos, however, the bride currently has images on her blog from their wedding ceremony with Andrea Polito's logo on the front of them. This is even after her attempts to run her business into the ground. Lie 2.

The woman who stirred up all this trouble is a "social media expert. She owns a social media consulting firm. Once the story broke, she proceeded to gloat about this on her Twitter and Facebook accounts, posting, things such as "Justice has been served" and "Her business has been ruined now". She had no problem with the thought of Andrea's being cyber-bullied or threatened. The couple even "liked" some of the comments on Facebook and Yelp in which someone made references to physically harming Andrea. They then tried to claim that someone had made fake accounts in their names. However, the accounts had been active for 5+ years with numerous reviews. Lie 3.

The self-proclaimed social media expert plagiarized the majority of her marketing website. And she probably would have gotten away with it. However, because she stirred up so much trouble, the blogging community put two and two together and realized she had blatantly stole entire pages of content from another marketing website. When caught, she tried to remove the content. The problem is, the internet never forgets. Lie 4.

If I had to choose a side to believe, I'm more inclined to believe that Andrea was, in fact ,the victim here. Which is really crazy because I used to be a fan of A Complete Waste of Makeup and had at one point purchased ad space from her.

The sad part is the bride went to the press attempting to gain her 15 seconds of fame and drive more traffic to her blog, however, she only succeeded in destroying not only an extremely talented and kind woman's reputation, but her own in under 10 minutes.

What she did was pretty deplorable, but I do feel sorry for her. She's literally gone into hiding and potentially now has two lawsuits pending against her. That is a terrible way to start off a marriage. But I feel absolutely terrible for Andrea, to have worked so hard for 10 years, and have her reputation and business destroyed overnight, even after she went above and beyond to try to rectify the situation is pretty terrible.

This just goes to show you that what's done in the dark, will eventually come into the light.

But that's just my two cents ;)

Henry Louey's picture

"There are people close to Andrea that have had her photograph their weddings that have said that the contract clearly states that the cover will cost additional money. "

I've followed pretty much every news item on this story and this is my issue. If what you say is true (and as claimed by Polito) how is it the only documentation/contract makes no mentions of these extra charges?

Also the Donnie Brown saying "if he knew it was Polito he wouldn't have done the story piece"

Again this just doesn't sound right. If Brown did know Polito as well as he claims he would be intimate with her pricing structure. I would have expected he would have said something like

"Oh you must be talking about Amy Polito! I knows it's her since I I have such a close relationship with her. And the cover charge (pub intended) is definitely listed as a separate item"

To say he didn't know it was her. Sorry but how can you know someone closely (in a business sense) and not know about her charging practices. Wouldn't a wedding planner make it his/her business to know what is charged for every line item?

There is fault on both sides here but on the balance, Polito should have waived the charge when 1st raised and saw it as a (cheap) lesson to have everything in writing.

No winners here. On either side

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

my biggest issue with this is Andrea refusing to talk to the reporter. They reached out to her & she didn't want to meet with them. I get it if she doesn't want to filmed or on air because she's "private", but you she could still have met with them (asked to not be filmed), explained EVERYTHING and demonstrated to them why the bride was wrong. Had she had done that and in addition showed them the email where she said she would waive the cover fee for her the story may have not even aired. BUT she refused to meet with them and instead just sent them a pretty generic email. The TV news station tried to reach out to her & get her side of the story but the Andrea declined. Not sure why... I can only sit here and speculate. I don't understand why anyone would pass up the opportunity to give your point of view.

I think its just a bad practice to sell a cover separately. Maybe a cover upgrade, but either way I think in the future she should make them initial that part if its in the contract.

More comments