[Video] Judge Brown Tears Cheap Wedding Photog a New One

I have to say up front I'm a little ashamed at posting this. I don't watch American trash TV or "reality TV", in fact, I don't even have cable. My TV is reserved for my PS3, Wii, Netflix and avi files. But when I saw this video of Judge Joe Brown ripping this professional wedding photographer a new one I couldn't help but chuckle at this ridiculous exchange. I apologize ahead of time for all the stupid in this video but there is a lot to say about this one so...

via [KEHBlog]
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Seshan's picture

I was impressed.

Luke McFadden's picture

I'll raise my hand for listening to the whole thing.  (ashamed).  However, as someone who is far from professional, it is a good reminder for me to not over sell myself to "clients", but to be clear about my own limitations. 

Kenn Tam's picture

Lol.  Sorry man.  I just fixed the embed code so the video will start at 3:22.  I put you through an extra 3 minutes and 22 seconds of mind melting idiocy that you could lived without.  :P

Luke McFadden's picture


Ignacio Farías's picture

hahahahahahaha!! judge brown knows his shit

Matty's picture

The bride is an idiot. She paid $1000 for a "professional" photographer. DUH. 

Laura Eliza's picture

I have to admit, this video both makes me laugh and sobers me. I like to think I am a decent photographer who is improving *crosses fingers*, and I did shoot my first wedding last month. However, I am still shooting on a Rebel (t2i, to be exact). I do have good lenses though, that is where I have done most of my investing. Still, it makes me worry, can people really tell? =P I didn't think they could, but he sure seemed to be able to! Of course, that could have been the lens used *shudders*

Kenn Tam's picture

That's one thing that bothers me about the Judge's remarks.  Honestly a good photographer who knows their light and how to use their gear well, can totally get away with that equipment.  Joe makes it sound like, to be a professional you need to have "1 series" gear and you really don't.

But as Luke McFadden said in the comments above, it's important to not oversell yourself, especially when it comes to weddings.  Know where you stand.   be confident in your abilities but be honest to clients when it comes to your experience your limitations.

John Godwin's picture

Well, if you want to put yourself forward as a serious professional, then you need that level of equipment. That is to say a professional using professional equipment. You can be a professional using amateur equipment, but that's really like calling yourself a rally driver and burning around in a Pinto.

GT Byrd's picture

Many professionals that people look to for advice, Joe Mcnally, Scott Kelby, Trey Radcliffe, have said pro gear in the hands of amateurs becomes amateur equipment. An iPhone in the hands of a pro becomes pro equipment. the one thing I will say is there are limitations on equipment. you could shoot the same exact shot with 2 different cameras but one may handle low light better or one may present a better enlarged image.  But a pro can get pro results from almost any equipment.

David Pack's picture

I agree with this 100%. I am like Lee Morris in this in that I still use Soccer Mom Camera for my stuff. I have to put more time and thought into what I produce than if I had a 5DMKII or a 1 series.

 I also set my client up on the expectation of what I cant produce and what they will get. The Big thing here is that they let it go to a NATIONALLY BROADCAST court show, that in its self will do more damage to them than giving them some money back.

Honestly proper customer service and setting expecations with a reasionable price combined with standing behind your services to make a customer happy would have imporved this exponentaly  

Lee Morris's picture

I've been shooting weddings for the last year with a couple of D7000 soccer mom cameras :)

David Shepherd's picture

I shoot with D7000 and D90, but I rent the pro lenses when I do pro work. I wonder if the photographers posted the pictures to Facebook for marketing? Funny stuff.

Lee, I've always been taught that it's not necessarily the equipment that makes a photograph a photograph.  Yes that photographer way over sold herself on capability, but can or would a real professional photographer be able to produce deliverable quality prints with equal equipment?  I think so.  Might be a good f-stoppers "back to basics" challenge!

Chuck Navarro's picture

I use D7000's also.  Have two with a some f2.8 and f1.5 glass.  Combined with the low noise iso and high megapixel they turn out great!

James Robinson's picture

the D7000 is not a soccer mom camera by any means. It performs at levels that rival cameras up to a D3. There are people that swear by full-frame cameras, and they are better, but for the features that it gives you right now, like its effective ISO range, video, etc. there's no better camera for the price or even for double the price I'd say

Brandy Fortune's picture

Loads of pro's use a d7k as a backup, a $1,200 camera is not a soccer mom camera, IMHO. I have a canon 5D and a Nikon D7k and they both work wonderfully. If you watch the full video they say that he doesn't show the photos in the church which I think are the ones that turned out insane crappy, I think they showed the other ones for entertainment value. You get what you pay for and some people can't afford 3k weddings and we should not call them stupid because they can not. A lot of pro's started out charging 1k when they first started and given their experience that what they were worth. These two ladies made a mistake and suffered for it and thats the best lessons of all!

Rogelio Hernandez's picture

Not everyone has the money to buy a D3, even less when you are starting. Everyone started somewhere, some were lucky enough to get a daddy, or angel investor to buy the entire studio for them. I know a prominent photographer in Austin who had it all in a silver tray, but she is really good too.
I know another guy in Dallas who started by studying photography on Lynda.com and a D40 with a kit lens.
It is all about how much interest you put in your business and tools. If you really care for your business then you care for your clients, and if you do, then you will make the most out of your Rebel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Rebel if used properly. Just remember to reinvest in your business and get a good lens as soon as you can, you can get some primes if you don't have the money for a good Zoom.

And honestly, if you are charging above 1000 dollars for event, then I am sorry but you should know perfectly well what is your lens speed, and also you should have taken the time to scout the venue.

Shannon Wimberly's picture

yeah... that can be scary. You do have to know how to use light, and the better the cameras ability to shoot in low light and having fast lenses will help when you walk into a church with "bad lighting"..... it helps to have a million dollar litigation insurance policy which is very reasonably priced too...... I do think the photographer in this video is very arrogant, I would have tried to appease the unhappy client before being dragged into court for all the world to see...... or just simply give them their money back... 

Laura Eliza's picture

That is how I always looked at things, that if you know your light and know your gear and know how to use it properly, that counts more than anything. But, that being said, I don't use my kit lens ;) I love my low fstop lenses.

Anyway, more on point, I guess the video just made me pause and consider how shooting with that camera can be perceived by someone.  I usually don't think about it, I just go and do my job. I never saw any problems with my Rebel until he seemed to judge her business on it. Though, can't really blame him. Nice "photoshop", and well, if I were shooting that many weddings, I would be a proud owner of my coveted 7D.

Shannon Wimberly's picture

I looked at your site, and your wedding pics are very very nice actually....you have done an amazing job with the t2i..... If you did upgrade to a 5D, I can only imagine what that would do for your work, a stellar leap no doubt..... i'm impressed.....

Laura Eliza's picture

Oh wow, thank you!

A. David Verde's picture

JJB - "what happened to your 1 series." Pretend Photog - "evidently we didn't have it." (wal-mart doesn't carry that model lady, that's why you didn't have it.)

JJB - "what F stop did you use here?" Pretend Photog - " we used I tripod." (I've never heard of that aperture setting.)

JJB - "thats soft focus." Pretend Photog - "We did that to the pictures." (I feel like they haven't visited youarenotaphotographer.com)

JJB - " Its like walking into the chapel with a iPhone and talking about your going to be a profesional and take pictures on that."  (NICE!!!!!!!!! Oh wait.................................................Judge Joe Brown hasn't visited fstoppers.com has he. iPhone + Lee Morris = Pro photog? Its possible. :-D )

Tom Coles's picture

Half way  through the video it was VERY clear the judge had already made up his mind.    The 'judge' was badgering the photographer not allowing her to defend herself. 

The irony is him chastising the photographer for not being a professional and here he is acting like a school yard bully .....Disgusting!!!!

Rogelio Hernandez's picture

This is junk TV and he is doing what he is paid to do, create drama ala Jerry Springler (or whatever the name is).

But I once had to deal with a judge in Dallas county just like him, and loud like him. I was reset to retry and I simply did not show up, I knew the guy had already made up his mind.

John Godwin's picture

Yeah, that's why he's called a "judge".

Infinity Photo's picture

We charge so lowwwwwwwwwww If she charging 1300$ for a kitcamera & lens, then the pros should charge what?
Did she even knows what an f-stop is?

Nick Stokes's picture

This is just another example of "You get what you pay for."  The photos suck because the photographer is not a professional (OBVIOUSLY).  Did the bride really think that she was going to get wedding magazine quality images and prints for that price?  Laughable!

They were clearly not professional photographers also she contradicted herself by saying early they did not know they could not use flash in the church and towards the end she says that today most churches do not allow flash usage.

Kenn Tam - IF you want good results with a slow lens in a low light area using a tripod would be helpful which they did not use. A professional wedding photographer is not going to use a canon kit lens in a dark church even a semi pro would know that and if you are on a budget buy a nifty fifty which can be had for $100 and would have gotten superior results over the kit lens. Thanks for posting this.

Tom Coles - it was very clear very early into this case that the photographer was full of shit, why waste time with someone who is misrepresenting herself as a professional when she obviously isn't.

Having pro equipment does not make you a pro however having the right tools to do the job will get you better results.

The judge did the right thing. Hopefully this will help educate the consumer about why you should properly research who you are doing business with before hand and why hiring someone that knows what they are doing is worth the added cost. Also I hope that this will scare off the fly by night Craigs List shooters  who are hurting the industry.

Michael Turcotte's picture

Everybody is missing the point. 

Did the pictures delivered match the samples shown? If yes, the bride is being a (insert favorite derogatory term here) and should pay the photographer for wasting her time. If they didn't, the photographer refunds the money and the bride give the images back.Anything else is bullying and noise.

Tom Coles's picture

Well said!   

Anonymous's picture

Really have to agree here--as easy as it is to get into the argument whether the photographer marketed herself as a professional and why or why not the technical details of the gear mattered, what it comes down to is what was promised for the negotiated pricing.

As Michael said, if the advertised samples matched the quality of the results, the photographer clearly has a leg up. None of this was discussed (at least from the in-point set on the embedded video.)

Greg Brave's picture

Well, not exactly I think. If the pictures didn't match the samples shown, what about compensation for the lost moments that photographer should've captured? And how can you sum it in money?

Rogelio Hernandez's picture

"We have taken hundreds of weddings" Really? And you still use a kit lens and a Rebel? Nothing wrong with the Rebel if used properly, but you would think she would have invested in something more versatile if she has done "hundreds" of weddings. I mean, even keep the body but get a faster lens.

"You don't know that until you get there" Has she ever heard of something called scouting?

I used to represent corporations in small claims courts to get judgments against non paying costumers. One thing I learned form the very first trial... You do not speak unless spoken to, you do not answer unless asked something, and you certainly never ever piss of the judge.

I could not see all of the pictures, and the quality of the video is not enough to notice the sharpness or lack of it, but the pose seemed nice enough to me.

But yes, this does not sound like a professional photographer to me at all.

Anonymous's picture

Obviously they were not "professional" - saying they wouldn't know about whether or not they could use flash until they got there is rubbish as you should *always* at the very least try and check these things out beforehand. In fact, you should visit the venue(s) beforehand (again, where possible, obviously) to speak to the people there to find out what is and what not allowed, as well as to find the best places to take photos from, see what light is available and to plan what lens/settings/whatever to use where.

But as has been mentioned, I think JB had already made his mind up and wasn't even letting the photographer defend themselves. Saying that though, I think if they tried they probably would have dug themselves a deeper hole.

And that old saying comes to mind - "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". The B&G must take some responsibility here - they must have seen the quality of previous work, and if you go for the "cheap" option, there usually is a reason why it's cheap.

Anonymous's picture

If you have skill then you don't need to visit the venue before. I guess you should go back to your kit lens.

Anonymous's picture

Wow. I could take that as a personal insult, but I don't want to get into a bitch fight right now so will give you the benefit of the doubt when you say "you" you mean "in general" and not just me...

But personally, no matter how good I (or anyone for that matter) may or may not be, I would rather be prepared than to be surprised at the last minute. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, and all that.

Tyler Pollard's picture

Luckily I am fortunate enough to travel for many weddings I shoot and I am not paid to go to venues multiple times before hand. How would you propose handling that situation? I feel that your comment "always" refers to at least %80 of the time a photographer should be location scouting. Almost "always" my weddings are either a plan ride away or a few hour drive. I feel a "good" photographer not even a great photographer should be able to be thrown into just about any circumstance and come out with amazing results. 

Anonymous's picture

Please re-read my original comment and you'll see that I said "(again, where possible, obviously)". I know it's not always possible to visit venues/locations beforehand. I know I could perhaps have worded it better, but I'm not that ignorant.

muellerworks's picture

@ajmills, I think you worded it perfectly and I completely agree with you. Putting zero planning into photographing an event "because you have skill" as suggested by another poster doesn't make one a professional, it makes one pompous. If I were hiring a photographer, I'd bet on the one who plans rather than the one "who is thrown into just about any circumstance" every time. Certainly there are times where any type of light planning or scouting is not possible, but that's hardly something to brag about.

Anonymous's picture

I wish everyone asked why my lens is not fast enough. 

Juan Carlos Hernandez's picture

For the given amount paid for that wedding... You spend as much as you need to on rental equipment. And I believe the "photographers" friend, assistant or something confesses to them only having shot 1 wedding in the past. Another point for the lack of professionalism, there wasn't a contract presented. Also, the T2i has a good enough sensor for large prints, I wouldn't be surprised if the images were saved in a bad resolution and sent to print, given the ridiculousness of it all as it is. I particularly enjoyed the photoshopped image of the couple inside of a wreath.
Thanks for posting that, fairly entertaining.

1. Did the customer get what she paid for?

2. Where her expectations for paid services realistic?

3. Did the photographer deliver what she was contracted to

4. Did  the photographer
misrepresent or mislead the customer?

The answer to the first 3 question would mostly be subjective.
The answer to question number 4 is more easily answered and relies more on
facts then on opinion.

A. You cannot run a successful wedding photography business
if you are charging between $1000.00 - $1300. 00

B. Kit lens?

C. f-stop?

D. Flash or no flash in a church?

E. Low light environment, slow lens, no tripod?

She (the photographer) demonstrated that she is either not a
professional or is a very incompetent professional photographer and it is for
this reason that she lost the case.

The judge ruled correctly even if you don't care for his
rough around the edge style.

Anonymous's picture

Save Joe Brown, they are all idiots.  When will people learn that no pro would devalue them self and do a whole wedding for $1,300.  You get what you pay for, people should pay attention when they are hiring someone.  Just the same, those ladies calling themselves "pros" is a farce and gross misrepresentation - which also needs to stop.

James Darden's picture

Is this still going around? I think this is over a year old. I wonder how their business is going now?

Wayne Leone's picture

The equipment thing is not important here. You can use whatever gear you want, the high end stuff just makes it easier to produce high quality. You can deliver good quality with lower end but you face restrictions. High end doesn't make you a professional. Low end doesn't make you an amateur.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks and was when she was asked what speed her lens was and she didn't know. I got the impression she didn;t even know what that meant. That there is a amateur, and a poor one at that.

All that being said, being an amateur doesn't make them guilty. Setting and expectation with the client and then not delivering on it - that makes you guilty.

Benjamim Daniel's picture

Well, a bad photographer that gives the product to the client in time... or a great photographer that takes 3 years to  to give the photos to the client.. you can choose :)

Brandy Fortune's picture

good one.

jorge pastrana's picture


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