How To Photograph Real Estate and Vacation Rentals

A Dozen Women Come Forward to Say Photographer Took Money, Then Disappeared or Delivered Horrible Pictures

A woman has described herself as “heartbroken” after she was one of 12 people to appear on Fox News to out a wedding photographer they say takes money but delivers blurry photos, if she even turns up at all. They all allegedly paid thousands, but had to threaten court action before receiving any photos and found what they did recover to be woefully inadequate.

Katy Negroni hired Charlotte-based wedding photographer Eben Patten for her big day. "It was the best day of my life," she recalls. "But [afterwards] it was a nightmare."

All twelve of the women who spoke to Fox News told similar stories of how Patten, who also goes by the name Eben Adrian and trades under Eben Adrian Productions, ignored them for months on end. In most cases, it wasn’t until they threatened court action that they received the photos they’d paid for.

Even so, many of the pictures were deemed insufficient. Negroni explains that when she finally got to see the images of her wedding, many were blurry and a lot were duplicates. The set also didn’t include any family portraits. Her contract states she paid $2,000 for the images and a video, and after first waiting six months and getting a judge involved, five years have now passed and she still hasn’t received the full refund a judge ordered from Patten.

Another woman, Angel Mercado, claims she only received "raw video clips" despite paying for an edited video and after waiting four months. As for the pictures, only “a few” came out well.

A salon owner, Heather Paulavage, who used to recommend her clients to Patten, ceased doing so after hearing repeated complaints of "unfinished and unedited" work, if received at all.

A third woman says she paid $200 for photos at her baby shower, and Patten didn't even turn up.

To make matters worse, photographer Patten has previously appeared on FOX 46, where she described how she and a colleague “really don’t have a plan” and claiming: "we wing it. That's what's fun about photo shoots."

FOX 46 investigator Matt Grant made repeated attempts to contact her via various mediums of communication, receiving a response only on Instagram. It was there she referred to her work as being of "stunning image quality," before downplaying complaints against her as "untrue and slanderous." She initially agreed to an interview, before ignoring follow-up messages and ultimately blocking Grant from contacting her.

FOX 46 showed Patten’s images to their attorney Walter Bowers, who concluded that this case "certainly could be fraud," and advised victims to take Patten to civil court, where he says they could win back three times what they paid if she’s found guilty.

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42 Comments
Studio 403's picture

I thought only old white men did this sort of tactics Think she might be a old white women? There needs to me a #meto movement for old white guys like me.

Robert Nurse's picture

LOL!

Jason Frels's picture

"photographer Patten has previously appeared on FOX 46, where she described how she and a colleague “really don’t have a plan” and claiming: "we wing it. That's what's fun about photo shoots."

I guess by 'don't have a plan' she meant 'don't have a plan to learn how to use a camera'?
And 'That's what's fun about photo shoots...' 'seeing the look on the customer's face when they see the blurry over-exposed photos we took! Elegantly composed with a water bottle? for foreground interest."

It sounds like she already has a judgement against her and hasn't paid up. I don't know what is next. Criminal indictment?

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

The "next" after getting a judgment is enforcing the judgment. Once the court rules that someone owes you money, now you have to collect it. You have to find their assets, attach liens, etc.

Getting a judgment is one thing, but enforcing it is another whole matter. This is a civil matter. There is no criminal indictment coming on a civil matter. For criminal matters, you get arrested.

If those customers don't go after her assets, all they'll ever have is that judgment. Unfortunately, due to the amounts involved, it can very easily cost them more than they're owed to try to enforce those judgments.

Dee Jay's picture

"A women has described herself..."

Christopher Hill's picture

hahahahaha

dale clark's picture

One would think the "photographer" could at least shoot full auto mode jpegs and point the camera in the general direction of the subject.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Nope... This photographer uses flash in full manual to blow out everything.

Josh Spradley's picture

That's like, her style man...

"You all are like NASCAR drivers complaining about the Formula One cars - pedantic, pedestrian, and out of your element. Of course you think it's shitty photography and fraud, but the truth is the art world rewards controversy and concept. You are essentially complaining about something that you want no part of, and which cares nothing for what you think."

I almost wish the tool who said that on here originally wasn't banned.. lulz

dale clark's picture

Whenever I am at a wedding a couple people always ask me to use their camera to take a pic (They know I am a photographer). If the camera (generally P&S or phone) has a built in flash, I hold a piece of light tissue over the bulb and shoot in auto or P (camera is usually set up that way anyway). People are amazed how the "Professional Photographer" shoots a great pic. All I did was diffuse the direct flash light, auto, shoot the picture. Of course not professional wedding photographer quality...but much better than the examples we see in story above.

Edward Blake's picture

Hence proving that 'professional' is not a synonym for 'excellence' or 'competence'.

Although, to be fair, this is not professional conduct; however, the point stands, as there are a large number of very ordinary professionals out there.

michaeljin's picture

I feel like I'm doing something wrong in my life. I can take blurry pictures and ignore people for thousands of dollars, too. Where's my money?

nick turner's picture

I feel like there could be more to this story than being told. A quick look at her instagram page suggests she has regularly been landing clients and delivering an adequate level of competency in her work.

Edward Blake's picture

Hence suggesting there has been a change in her personal circumstances. Even if (for example) her dog had died and she became a coke addict, that would not serve as justification with regard to not fulfilling the terms of the contract.

Of course, if this becomes a criminal matter, and she's convicted, that could serve as mitigation in sentencing.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Unless she goes and beats these people she ripped off with her camera, this will never be a criminal matter. Criminal cases mean jail is a potential outcome.

If you could get locked up for ripping people off, the home improvement contracting world would be way different. Homeowners are getting ripped off by unscrupulous contractors for tens of thousands of dollars at a time, all across the country, all day, every day.

You don't get tried as a criminal case for ripping people off. Especially not for the amounts we're talking about here.

Edward Blake's picture

I'm guessing that you have never heard of fraud type offences.

Last I checked, receiving money for services, and not delivering those services, as is alleged, is potentially a criminal offence.

Edit because I'm assuming you didn't take in all of the presented information: it is further alleged that she took payment for services and provided NO services whatsoever.

Now, if it is your contention that offences below a certain dollar value are not deemed worthy of prosecution, then what you describe is a defect with rule of law in the US. And honestly, I suspect you're not the right person to make such declarations; rather, being more appropriately sourced from the academic and professional literature.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Your assumption is wrong. I did watch the entire video, as well as read the article in its entirety.

I'm speaking as someone (a U.S. citizen) who has been to court in the U.S. at various times as both a plaintiff and as a defendant. Anyone who runs a business long enough will be in court, on one side or the other. At least that's how it is in the U.S.

If you're not familiar with the U.S. justice system, which I gather from your use of European spelling (offence vs offense), then you're really not qualified to evaluate my qualifications to opine on this topic.

I don't know how this kind of thing is handled outside the U.S., but she is not going to jail or even going to be criminally charged in the U.S. for this. This is a small claims court matter and that's as far as it will go. Unfortunately, you can defraud people for a lot more money than this (in the U.S...I don't know about around the world) and still not get criminally charged.

Criminal offense = arrest warrant. The police in the U.S. do not go around arresting people for failing to perform on contracts. Do you realize how routine this kind of failure to perform is just within the wedding photography industry alone? When have you ever heard of a photographer facing criminal charges?

I'd be happy for you to prove me wrong and show evidence of people facing criminal charges over failing to perform on contracts.

Edward Blake's picture

Oh, well, you've "been to court", you must be a subject matter expert.

Who needs a 5 year degree? amirite.

Cringe worthy

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

I guess real world experience isn't relevant in your world? So those of us without photography degrees can't possibly be SMEs on photography?

Law degree or not, someone who has actually been a party to court proceedings has more knowledge of how the justice system actually works than someone who has no such experience.

Regarding the statute you cited, if you're so good at research, perhaps pull up something relevant and show when someone has gone to jail for failing to perform on a $5K or less contract.

My point was and remains that this will never become a criminal matter. You don't have to like the fact that that's true. And you don't have to be big enough to admit that you were wrong. Doesn't change the fact that there is no circumstance where this will rise to a criminal matter as you suggested it could.

Edward Blake's picture

I've done law at university, how about you?

And to answer your question, no, I don't think that your "court appearances" make you a subject matter expert.

I have made the point twice about "rule of law", and twice you have completely ignored it. The fact that you don't have the faintest clue what I'm talking about speaks for itself.

Go and troll someone else.

By your logic, someone who has undergone brain surgery is qualified to act as a brain surgeon.

https://tenor.com/view/uhh-okthen-nvm-gif-7234486

Edit: People just like you are why there are a slew of articles about "I didn't have a contract". You are not an expert, please, don't pretend you are.

Edit 2: I didn't say "would", I said "could" - but as a lawyer, you obviously aware that the nuances of language matter.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Many law school graduates spend their career practicing law without ever spending a day in court. I guess that's how someone can think a small claims level civil matter "could" become a criminal matter. There's no scenario where that's possible, other than an extreme theoretical. Law school is not the real world.

"People like you..." You don't know me. And it's really unfortunate that an alleged law school graduate can't argue a point without getting offended and emotional. I've never been to law school, but I can't imagine that they teach that anyone offering an alternative opinion is a troll.

Leave whatever angry, emotional reply you choose. I'm done with this.

Edward Blake's picture

Well, I chose to be charitable and call you a troll instead of calling you 'obtuse' or a 'moron'.

I mean seriously, what sort of idiot thinks that appearing in court makes them an expert. And in your case, you're not even aware of basic principles that are taught in any first year syllabus.

Edward Blake's picture

And let's just ignore also that this is state law, administered by the state level executioners, in NC.

One assumes that you are also claiming your "court appearances" make you an expert in NC law.

hey, I know, next you can tell Alex Cook how you are an expert in mathematics because you've used a spreadsheet.

Edward Blake's picture

FYI, this is covered under NC state law as follows:

§ 14-100. Obtaining property by false pretenses.

(a) If any person shall knowingly and designedly by means of any kind of false pretense whatsoever, whether the false pretense is of a past or subsisting fact or of a future fulfillment or event, obtain or attempt to obtain from any person within this State any money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value with intent to cheat or defraud any person of such money, goods, property, services, chose in action or other thing of value, such person shall be guilty of a felony: Provided, that if, on the trial of anyone indicted for such crime, it shall be proved that he obtained the property in such manner as to amount to larceny or embezzlement, the jury shall have submitted to them such other felony proved; and no person tried for such felony shall be liable to be afterwards prosecuted for larceny or embezzlement upon the same facts: Provided, further, that it shall be sufficient in any indictment for obtaining or attempting to obtain any such money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value by false pretenses to allege that the party accused did the act with intent to defraud, without alleging an intent to defraud any particular person, and without alleging any ownership of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action or other thing of value; and upon the trial of any such indictment, it shall not be necessary to prove either an intent to defraud any particular person or that the person to whom the false pretense was made was the person defrauded, but it shall be sufficient to allege and prove that the party accused made the false pretense charged with an intent to defraud. If the value of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value is one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more, a violation of this section is a Class C felony. If the value of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value is less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), a violation of this section is a Class H felony.

(b) Evidence of nonfulfillment of a contract obligation standing alone shall not establish the essential element of intent to defraud.

(c) For purposes of this section, "person" means person, association, consortium, corporation, body politic, partnership, or other group, entity, or organization. (33 Hen. VIII, c. 1, ss. 1, 2; 30 Geo. II, c. 24, s. 1; 1811, c. 814, s. 2, P.R.; R.C., c. 34, s. 67; Code, s. 1025; Rev., s. 3432; C.S., s. 4277; 1975, c. 783; 1979, c. 760, s. 5; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1316, s. 47; 1981, c. 63, s. 1; c. 179, s. 14; 1997-443, s. 19.25(l).)

Edward Blake's picture

*slow clap*

I literally showed you the relevant statute, and you continue to dig in.

To repeat: what you describe is a failure of rule of law.

Goddamned mental giants

Robert Nurse's picture

But, I think the point is that statutes and enforcement are two different animals.

Edward Blake's picture

Yes, and there's a range of factors police and prosecutors will take into account when deciding whether to proceed.

Ryan Davis's picture

Proving 'knowingly and designedly" rather than just being incompetent/unfortunate is next to impossible. Unless she is a he, lives in Bangladesh, and doesn't even possess a camera, there's no way to get past reasonable doubt that she doesn't just suck at being a photographer.

So while you are technically correct, practically this doesn't have a snowballs chance of ending up in criminal court.

Edward Blake's picture

That's correct.

In this case a pattern of behaviour and unillingness to return funds are relevant factors.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Regularly landing clients means she's an excellent marketer, which is the opposite of most photographers.

Instagram is just highlights. Everyone is living a perfect life on Instagram. You can be truly incompetent with a camera and just fire off a thousand frames per session and still end up with something decent to post on Instagram.

As bad as the photographer may be, any camera within the last few years will produce an in-focus, properly exposed frame more often than not. Of course, there's way more to photography than that. My point is today's cameras just aren't going to let you produce endless bad frames, unless you're deliberately trying to do so.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

This is a lesson on how business knowledge (particularly marketing) is more important than photography skills when it comes to making money.

A level 2 photographer with level 7 or higher business skills will make tons of money.

A level 10 photographer with level 3 or lower business skills (probably 999 out of 1000 photographers trying to make money) will make no money, including all the paid jobs they get where they're actually losing money and don't realize it because they don't know how to calculate costs of doing business (CODB).

This lady clearly knows how to market herself. She can't operate a camera worth a damn. Seriously, I don't know how it's possible to create some of the images they showed. You can just go full auto and the camera will do better than that on it's own. But this lady clearly knows how to market herself. If she took a basic online photography course and learned how to operate a camera, she could make a fortune with her marketing skills.

If I lived wherever this occurred, I would go to each and every one of those people who got ripped off and offer them a courtesy photo session. Especially the hair salon owner. As angry as these people are right now, they would make just as much noise about this new photographer that contacted them and delivered great work.

That's how you do "free" work and get paid. Those people who got ripped off are all paying customers and the kind of people they'd be showing your work to will also be paying customers. That photographer might even find themselves on a news segment since the station has egg on their face for promoting such a terrible photographer. A photographer with business skills would definitely see the opportunity there and capitalize on it.

David Pavlich's picture

Lesson learned: If you don't know the photographer's work, check their web page for a portfolio, references, and trade associations like The Knot. The only mention of a referral was a salon owner.

The photographer in this story looks like a fraud, but shame on the victims for not doing their homework.

michael buehrle's picture

that's just her "style". she should charge extra for that. maybe she is really a "natural light photographer"?

Ben Perrin's picture

This is why you should always do an engagement shoot with the photographer who will shoot your wedding. You learn a lot that way and the stakes are a lot lower.

Charles Burgess's picture

The engagement shoot should be the real test - much the same as a casting call followed by a test shoot with models, so that the personality and actual performance can be evaluated without the high stakes.

John Ohle's picture

I am based in Europe and here the couples generally meet the photographer before booking and see a few full wedding sample albums. So if either party is not comfortable with the other, they have an opportunity to walk away. Also seeing the quality of work from a full album gives a good insight into the quality of work they should expect.

It’s not always a good idea to judge the quality of somebody's work just by Instagram or their website.

Tony Northrup's picture

Oh, Fox News is now exposing liars and frauds? I'm going to suggest someone to investigate next...

Bert McLendon's picture

Hahaha!

Juan carlos Chu Zhang's picture

wow, thats so artsy lissa hall vibes.. normies nowadays have no taste

amanda daniels's picture

These types of things always break my heart for people but I have to wonder if they checked her portfolio? Her IG looks great, then why did she deliver such garbage? Unless her IG images aren't hers? It's alot harder to fake a website portfolio than an IG account. But I agree with someone who stated it, this is exactly another reason engagement sessions are so important. You learn the photographer and they learn you as a couple. They would have known her work and her then. Just a shame, But in her interview her stating "we just wing it" should have been a sign, lol

Michael Kormos's picture

In Switzerland, a photographer needs to be issued a permit to be allowed to charge money for their services. I believe this permit is only issued after X number of years spent working alongside an established photographer, and meeting a variety of other criteria. In the US, the craft (or hobby, for many) is left unregulated. I'm normally against regulation of this sort, but a wedding day is a very special time in one's life. If the sole person hired to document it botches the job, or worse yet, takes the money and doesn't show, the impact can have lifelong repercussions. In recent years we've seen too many stories of sleazy tactics used in the wedding photography industry. I honestly wouldn't mind if this field in particular had some sort of oversight. Of course, it'll never happen. This is one area where the bride truly has to do her due diligence and vet the hell out of whomever she hires.

Indy Thomas's picture

Maybe this is all performance art?