When Viral Wedding Photos Attack

If you spent even a moderate amount of time on Facebook back in late September, you likely saw a viral video and photo about a wedding photographer who captured a genuinely heartwarming moment in which a bride's biological father stopped the wedding procession to grab the step-father from his seat so they could both walk her down the aisle. While millions of collective "awws" were emitted then, fast forward six weeks and now the situation has resulted in lawsuits and death threats involving the photographer.

I captured an amazing moment in their life, and they're trying to destroy my life.

Not long after the viral photos were seen over 70 million times all around the world, the photographer Delia D. Blackburn says she was accused of making money off the photos and threatened with a lawsuit by the father of the bride. As Fox95 has reported, Blackburn says that's just not true. This situation became even more complicated as friends and family of the bride began a barrage of negative and damaging posts on social media sites. These include death threats like this:

The bride and her mother both have said they have no issue with the photographer. The mother of the bride made a Facebook post reading:

I want to apologize to the photographer who took my daughter's wedding pictures. I made a post the other day asking for advice. A lot of people were advising a lawyer or media. Someone posted threatening the photographers life I did not see that post. I never or would ever want any harm to come to her. So please accept my apology.

So where did this mess come from? The photographer had at one point mentioned on Facebook that she considered printing posters. The family, including the bride, did not support this idea.

In all of this, as a wedding photographer myself, the part that sticks out the most is that the photographer promised in her contract that photos would be delivered in two weeks. As of this publication the bride has yet to receive her photos. The photographer claims the overwhelming attention from these photos has caused the delay.

The bride said:

“We don’t want anything out of this. Hand us our pictures and we’ll go our separate ways.”

I cannot help but think that the photos being delivered far outside the scope of her contract is making this entire debacle worse. So let this be a lesson to everyone: Under-promise and over-deliver. Your contract should give you wiggle room for worst-case scenarios. If you tell a client eight weeks in the contract and you deliver in three, then you are a hero. If you tell a client two weeks and you deliver in three, your client will have already passed from "anxious" to "irritated."

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30 Comments

Brendan Baker's picture

Honestly the photographer needs to get over their 15-minutes of fame with these sub-par images and deliver the product they promised. Who cares about the media and the attention. Get it done and you won't have the bride's family threatening to sue. They have every right to do that if they haven't received their images in the promised time frame. Ugh I don't know why this bugs me so much.

Sean Molin's picture

You're right, the photos aren't technically good. I take situations like this to remind myself that the content of the photos is truly what people care about.

"...with these sub-par images and deliver the product they promised."

Well ya can say that again... I guess I just did.

Not really a threat. It is someone suggesting a threat. And they appear to be quite an interesting parent, to say the least. Its inappropriate and even silly/stupid, but that is coming from someone outside the situation.

Logan Sorenson's picture

The mother's comments ended with "...please except my apology.." =)

I bet she would, except...

dale clark's picture

I'm not a wedding photographer. I shoot architectural and luxury residential. However,I run into people who are more than willing to share their wedding photo horror stories all the time. I think much can stem from "you get what you pay for". Many seek out the cheapest photographer outfit (many who are not full time photographers) and are disappointed when things do not go as planned. Not an excuse...just my gut feeling for 80% of the issues.

I don't believe in any way that that photo going viral has held up the photos being delivered by this long. It's not like they're doing talk show sittings and globetrotting for interviews because of it.

Rob Mynard's picture

Maybe the photos going viral has held up the photos as the photographer is trying to sell them to a mag before giving them to the client...

Well that would be a terrible business practice, if not against his contract, so he'd be super wrong to do that.

I had a photo go pseudo viral last fall and it was insanely time consuming and my client was being completely ridiculous. I had released some teaser photos to the client and one fully complete high res photo to get the OK we were all on the same page about the "style". They posted the photos so their social media and as part of a press release before I was finished. Several industry magazines picked it up and wanted to feature the product, using my photos, which my photo release did not cover. I had people calling from all different timezones, a few came from Japan in the middle of the night. The client then decided he wanted them all completely retouched and delivered in 2 days as not to miss his window of opportunity. I had told him 2-3 weeks, depending on how many he wanted altered, and 2 days was completely unrealistic particularly when I was buring under phone calls, emails, and legal paperwork. It was very frustrating and he seemed to think that I was either lazy or didn't know what I was doing. Each photo took 8 hours to edit to his specifications and he wanted all 400 fully edited before he chose which ones to use. He then didn't even bother to credit me. I have since turned down working for him and instead shoot for a similar company with a reasonable owner.

That's what opportunity cost is. When you commit to one client you are automatically unable to service other ones. There was an initial client, and even if other (more interesting) people were wanting your attention, they need to get in line. I just see good customer service and completing jobs before taking on more than you can chew not as an optional thing but part of doing business.

That was the only client I was working with at the time. No others, so this was a single person creating the problem for himself. The client released photos without my permission. In all fairness, he didn't expect the immediate attention and has assumed the press would be sending their own photographers. He then wanted me to go outside of the original agreement on delivery time frame but wanted all 400 photos from the shoot before choosing the ones he wanted to use for press (which was also not part of the original agreement). They were not a simple retouch, this was an auto shoot where they were heavily altered not just for style but removing entire pieces of a vehicle and creating composites. All the while I'm trying to comb through the legal paperwork for the publications, which was also not part of our agreement, so that they could make their print deadlines. This wasn't a matter of having other priorities, being too busy, it was completely unrealistic. An entire team of experienced retouchers could not have delivered the photos he wanted in the time frame he wanted. I delivered 20 in 2 days which was more than enough for what he needed. He has since apologized and asked me to shoot for him again.

Some people need to calm the fuck down, and step away from the internet.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Who posts their client's photos on SM before even delivering them? Dumb and unprofessional.

Sean Molin's picture

Virtually every wedding photographer I know posts sneak peeks on social media shortly after the wedding and before delivery.

Pretty sure they have the bride and grooms vet those sneak peek.

Sean Molin's picture

Virtually every single client I have specifically tells me they are looking forward to seeing the sneak peaks on Facebook, and we make sure to be friends so I can tag them.

I guess it all comes down to expectations. If a client told me they wanted to see all the images privately first, I would oblige. I make it pretty clear they'll get tagged on Facebook and see the pic. To be clear, I also only ever share 1-3 images from any given set on social media. In 7 years I have had zero issues or complaints.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Well, if they're not running them past the clients first, they're inviting exactly this kind of headache.

What cave have you been living in? Everyone knows by now that anyone with a camera that clicks a picture, owns that picture for life and can do anything they want with it. To H*** with contracts that are only out to weasel away a photographer's rights.

Only common courtesy, charitable acts, and/or a lot of money "Trumps" photographer rights.

/s

The photographer has all rights to the photos. The photographer doesn't have the right to violate the contract. She needs to deliver the shots. It's just that simple.

Jacques Cornell's picture

[Pokes head out of cave. Looks around.]
Yikes!
[Goes back into darkroom.]

John Skinner's picture

I've not seen too many contracts in which a bride has 'exclusive' rights to images. In fact, most all contracts for weddings state the shooter can use these as 'their images' and use them to foster clients and further their business.

It's just in this case -- the moment was extraordinary and she posted it. The world will do -- what the world will do now-a-days. The bride however ! Well, she's been watching too much reality TV and sees this as a spot of

' why didn't I become famous too? '.. Sour grapes from a wannabe Kardashian sister.

If I ever took a death threat over a wedding debacle like this, they'd be fishing for those files on a server in Cambodia. I'd trashed them all and took the hit.

Sean Molin's picture

From the information I have gathered, while the family (including the bride) were not keen on the commercializations, the father was the one who made it a big deal. The only qualm the bride has at this point is not having her photos delivered.

Frankly, these photos aren't high enough quality to translated well to a poster anyway.

all this for those amateur looking pictures ??

michael buehrle's picture

20 calls a day from around the world ? really ?

Joe Schmitt's picture

From 2 weeks to 7 weeks...I wonder if the photographer's attorney told her to hold back on releasing those photos. Even with this "frenzy", I can't see why there would be an additional 5-week delay. What...she can't stop reading social media comments for a day to get the work done? Also wondering if the client pressed the photographer on the delay and when they didn't get the photos, the social media onslaught was launched. Wedding couples get pissy when their photos are delayed. As it was said...under-promise and over-deliver.

Kyle Medina's picture

This comment sections is appalling. You all need to look in the mirror. Just remember all the big time pros that you'll are trying to be. Are not trolling comment sections putting down somebody else's work. Which is irrelevant to the article.

Can I get an English translation of this?

I think she's trying to say that "the photos are "point'n'click" kijiji quality photos and the photographer is a flake for not delivering and that the fame of the photos has nothing to do with any delays in processing the photos". I mean come on, given the quality of the photos, you could probably just process one and sync to all the rest in lightroom, but she likely uses Picassa or something.. what a lame-o