After reading an article about a wedding photographer who has taken over eight months to deliver photos — only doing so when a local news station got involved — I wondered how long is considered acceptable for image turnaround times.
The story I came across was that of Micah and Emily Hatchett, who allegedly paid photographer Britt Smith around $2,500 for their wedding photos. As per their contract, Smith was due to deliver edited photos on a flash drive, plus a number of extras, including a coffee table book and a large hallway print.
The problem, however, was that Smith went silent after the wedding, failing to reply at all until the couple left a negative online review of her business, Britt's Eye View Photography.
Bride Emily Hatchett said:
The point is we paid [her] in full, per [her] contract and we don't have what [she] said [she] would deliver and [she’s] not responding. We have no issues with Britt as a person or the actual pictures she takes or edits them. They're fantastic. It's her follow-through, her lack of communication. It's just not done.
The couple are not the only ones still waiting either. Megan Ryan and her husband were without their images after a six-month period. The pair had planned to use the photos for Christmas cards and marrying in the summer, never expected that their images wouldn’t make it back to them in time. Hatchett said that while they were made to wait, she didn’t have any pictures of herself with her mum from the day. And it gets worse: two of her grandparents passed away in the time since the wedding. “They didn't get to see any pictures and they weren't even able to be at the wedding,” she said.
Smith has apparently hidden behind the excuse of being a busy single mother. It was only after involvement from local news station Oklahoma's News 4 that she eventually coughed up the images, although the Hatchetts claim both the coffee table book and the large print are largely erroneous.
The case begs the question of just how long is considered an appropriate length of time to deliver pictures. Is a 6-8-month wait ever justified?
As a freelancer, there have been occasions when a day I’d originally penciled as an editing day was then taken over by a last-minute job, causing a delay in delivering images. It happens, but is there really any excuse for such a wait as the above couples had to endure? As standard, I usually tell clients that images will be delivered within two weeks of the shoot date; even then, it’s usually just a precaution, and on the basis that payment has been received, it’s often notably sooner.
On the occasion where there has been some kind of hold-up in delivering photos, I make a point of being in constant contact with my client. Communication is key, and I find that most people respond well as long as they’re kept in the loop. It’s common courtesy that if plans change, those involved are informed. To hear that some photographers simply fail to respond while holding clients’ photos hostage is disconcerting.
What is your standard turnaround? Does it vary by genre of photography? And what is the absolute maximum you believe a client should be allowed to wait?
Lead image credit: Mike from Pexels.
Inside image credit: Pixabay from Pexels.