And I thought the most stressful thing was supposed to be the "marriage"...
July 19, 2006 10:16 AM   Subscribe

What do I do about our now-outrageously-priced wedding photographer, a year after the fact?

Up-front Cliff's Notes: What do I do about our now-outrageously-priced wedding photographer, a year after the fact?

My wife and I got married last November. We signed the contract for our photographer the summer before (probably July). When we signed, we knew we were getting a deal, because she was new to the business, her work was phenomenal, AND it was reasonably priced. The contract we signed included the actual photography work and an album, but that's all. I don't have a copy of the contract in front of me to verify, but I'm fairly certain it said nothing about prices for anything else.

Fast-forward to now. We're finally getting around to designing mini-albums for our parents for Christmas, and our photographer's prices have SKYROCKETED. When we signed our contract last year, we were told that parent albums were usually $150-300, so we had budgeted $250 for each album. Now, according to her new prices, an album with 40 4x6's would cost almost $600 - WAY out of our budget.

She never offered us a full-res CD for an extra price when we signed our original contract. Most wedding photographers that shoot digital now offer this, for a median of about $400 in my experience. I called our photographer to ask if she'd be willing to sell us a CD, thinking I could print the pictures myself, and my wife the scrapbook ninja could make some slick parent albums. Imagine my sarcastic delight when I found out earlier today that she has recently started offering these CDs... for $1,000. Or, if you don't like money, she also offers a $500 CD... with 30 pictures on it. Ha.

My wife was hysterical when I called her with the news about the CD today. She thinks that we won't be able to do parent albums, we won't be able to give her grandparents pictures, our friends won't be able to afford prints, etc., and I agree. If her prices a year ago were the same as they were today, we wouldn't have even given her a second look.

I was always under the impression that in a situation like this, we'd be "locked" into her 2005 prices, and her new clients would pay her higher rates, but apparently that's not how she operates. We've already paid our photographer $2500 for what amounts to a day's work and a 50-page book of pictures. Does anyone have any ideas for how we can get a few pictures to our loved ones without doubling that?
posted by cebailey to Grab Bag (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
$2500 isn't really outrageous for what you got but you should have worked out something ahead of time for future purchases. Try to negotiate the price down a little bit maybe offer to buy 2 parent albums for $800 or maybe less. Ask about the verbal quote from last fall. CD prices are generally more to make up for lost revenue of print sales when the couple prints them elsewhere.
posted by JJ86 at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2006


This may be a forgone conclusion:

Have you talked to the photographer about honoring her 2005 prices? Wedding photography is definately a referrals game - she probably won't want to garner ill will of the community at large by pulling a bait and switch.

On the flip side, there's a possibility that after starting up the business she discovered her previous price point was unreasonable. If this is the case, your CD avenue may be the best route - approach it as a cost saving measure for both of you if she's going to go out of pocket on the lower costs.
posted by Vantech at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2006


Could you high rez scan the pictures you have and make your own books?
posted by ewkpates at 10:28 AM on July 19, 2006


Buy a reasonable scanner for $150, scan all your photographs, upload them to, say, winkflash.com (very cheap but good quality) and get everything done while saving money for a nice romantic dinner on your first anniversary.
posted by rootcause at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2006


Depending on your State, some legal remedy could possibly exist - maybe an oral contrac t-, but of course, the lawyer would cost a lot.....

I have taken prints without negatives to photo shops and the shops have scanned and reprinted the prints for me, with surprisingly good results. Even blown up. Should be good enough for parents' albums. Do friends really want/need your professional wedding photographs? I would imagine most wouldn't care that much, it not being their wedding.

YMMV - I'm not sure if they would be willing to do that for you - there might be some copyright issues - but I never had any proof that the photos I wanted scanned were not some photographer's work, so it could work for you. Or maybe you could DIY somehow.
posted by Amizu at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2006


Mention that you'd really like to give her a positive review on theknot.com, but that this drastic price increase is very disturbing.
posted by deadfather at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2006


In fairness your photog spent more than a day meeting with you, preparing in advance, and post-processing, and understand, she isn't able to work full-time shooting, she has to spend time marketing etc as well to stay in business.

Yes, if all else fails and you already have high-quality 8x10's just scan 'em on a decent scanner - they'll be ok at 8x10 and just fine at smaller sizes, you might want to do this anyway.

And a note on quality: forget about who's in the pictures, just look at 'em objectively. Probably 80% of wedding photography is really quite ordinary, 15% is awful, and maybe 5% is 'phenomenal'. If you made the last 5%, enjoy and realize your photog is well worth it. If not, well see above remark about scanning...
posted by scheptech at 10:38 AM on July 19, 2006


there might be some copyright issues

Isn't this a work for hire? The couple would have the right to make copies in that case.
posted by oaf at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2006


Let me third the photo scanner. A good flatbed scanner with high res. these days costs less than you planned to spend on a single album. You could get good (but not phenomenal) results from scanning the prints, and printing them yourself, or having them printed, isn't too horribly expensive.

That is, of course, a violation of the photographer's copyright. You'd have to live with that, but it's your only option short of giving up or strong-arming her into a better price.
posted by teece at 10:47 AM on July 19, 2006


To everyone:

Thanks so far. I looked at some other stuff she mailed me, and I think i can get proofs (unretouched 4x6's) for $5 apiece. Worst-case scenario, I guess I could buy some of those and scan them, along with the ones in the album, on a really nice scanner. I would have had a problem with that a few months ago, but not now.

Does anyone have any experience getting someone in this situation to honor their 2005 prices, like Vantech mentioned.

Also, we've also sent her 2 referrals, but after this (and especially if she doesn't help us out) we'd be VERY hesitant to recommend her to anyone else. Is there an artful way to say this without sounding Mafia-ish and threatening?
posted by cebailey at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2006


Isn't this a work for hire? The couple would have the right to make copies in that case.

I'm not a lawyer, but as far as I know this is not the case. The photographer owns the pictures, which is why you don't just get negatives/digital copies when everything is said and done. You have to purchase pictures from the photographer, which is where they make a large portion of their money.

My wife and I actually thought about this ahead of time and since the photographer was a friend of the family, we were able to work out a contract of buying so many pictures/albums through them and were then given the negatives. Their normal practice was to hold onto the negatives for a year, after which the couple could purchase the negatives from them.

And on preview, tell the photographer you have sent business her way, but that you won't now. Also, take the time to go onto wedding forums and sites that allow comments about vendors and leave comments about your experience. Again, tell her you are going to do this. She might find it is in her best interests to just forget the extra cash she would be making from your pictures for the extra business she will get without bad reviews.
posted by chrisroberts at 10:59 AM on July 19, 2006


...and for that matter, is there a good way to passively mention that we might just scan the album? I know it's dirty, but if she's not willing to budge AT ALL, I want to make it clear that we don't plan on giving her any more money.
posted by cebailey at 11:00 AM on July 19, 2006


excuse me but...

... scanning her pictures and printing them is a clear copyright violation and she will have every right to sue your ass for the price you would have paid her.
posted by unSane at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2006


If you haven't asked her to honour her 2005 prices, do that first. Maybe she'd be happy to (especially when you point out the referrals you've sent).

If it's not specified in the contract, there's really no way to force her to offer you the 2005 prices.

The photographer usually holds the copyright in the photos, unless your contract says something different. She could sue you for making your own copies.
posted by winston at 11:09 AM on July 19, 2006


I wouldn't mention to her that you might just scan the album if the photos technically belong to her, as chrisroberts elaborated.
I'd just send her an honest e-mail along the lines of, "Your price increase is way out of our budget. I really enjoyed the photos you produced and would like to recommend you to my friends, however I'm hesitant to do this because of this pricing conflict. Let's resolve this so that we are both happy." If that doesn't start thing heading in the direction of resolution, send her another email telling her how you won't recommend her to others and will not be using her services again.
I think she's in the right with her price increases, however, so I wouldn't attempt any type of legal proddings.
posted by Meagan at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2006


There are alternatives for wedding photographers. Ours charged a hefty flat fee, and in that fee was included a couple of albums, all the photos she took, all the negatives, etc. etc. We paid for her services - she gave us everything we paid for - everyone was happy, no one was gouged. The "I'll give you sort of a low price and then gouge the hell out of you afterwards" model of doing business should be heavily disfavored. Do not do business with such a photographer - there are better alternatives.

Your only leverage is bad publicity and a lawsuit (if she did state at the original deal that her prices would be $X, they should be $X). Her leverage is physical control of the photos. Negotiate from there.
posted by jellicle at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2006


This is yet another reason why I avoid shooting weddings!!!

Your photographer should provide you with the services and items specified in your contract at the prices of the time of contract. HOWEVER, if you've waited to order albums or anything else, you do run the risk that the photographers prices may rise. A responsible photographer would have notified you of impending price changes and given you an opportunity to act more quickly and purchase at the lower fees.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2006


Also, regarding the idea of scanning the prints and making your own - this is theft, and you may run up big legal fees (larger than the cost of just doing the right thing and purchasing the photos) defending yourself in court.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


As others have said the photographer holds the copyright unless otherwise stipulated. I do some photography work and make it a point of assigning copyright to the person who pays me, with an clause that asks for credit in any publication.
Now, if all else fails I'd just scan the photos and have them printed, but don't talk about it to the photographer, casually or not.
As for not sounding like the mafia, just keep it terse and to the point, something like, "I was of the understanding that the prices would be the same as you originally quoted, as the prices have increased substantially without our agreement I feel this is a breech of trust. I can not, and will not recommend you to friends and family because of this. I found your work to be excellent, but your business practice to be dubious, this is an impression I intend to share with others. Thank you for your time. Good day"
posted by edgeways at 11:34 AM on July 19, 2006


Also, regarding the idea of scanning the prints and making your own - this is theft

nitpick: It's copyright infringement, not theft.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:34 AM on July 19, 2006


I don't think I've seen anyone else here, yet, say "go reread your contract".

Does the contract say that the prices you're quoted for the wedding hold for all work related to that wedding?

Does it say that work ordered later is subject to change in price?

Or doesn't it say at all?

I'm a photographer, though not a pro at the moment, and even I would say "go buy a scanner".

@blaney: could we please be a bit more careful in throwing around the term "theft"? Better legal minds than mine concur that violation of intellectual property laws, by and large, does *not* actually constitute "theft".

Presumably you *are* a pro, and it's in your best interest for people to conflate those terms in their minds, but I think it's a bit intellectually dishonest to encourage it.
posted by baylink at 11:35 AM on July 19, 2006


oaf writes "Isn't this a work for hire? The couple would have the right to make copies in that case."

Third that unless the photographer was forced into a contract written by Ken Lay they own the copyright on the images.

jellicle writes "The 'I'll give you sort of a low price and then gouge the hell out of you afterwards' model of doing business should be heavily disfavored. Do not do business with such a photographer - there are better alternatives."

Though the fixed price, end involvement scheme is fine the classical alternative1 of charging for the prints isn't gouging (at least at the price point described). Keep in mind to prepare the parents albums the photographer has to: Meet with you to discuss options and which photos; have the prints made (check out the cost of even an 8X10 at someplace as crappy as Wal-Mart); order and possibly assemble the albums; deliver them to you or arrange for pick up. And besides the actual transaction she needs to: store the images for at least 10 years, keep the lights, phone and heat on; cover the capital costs of her equipment.

Probably your photographer found that those albums she quoted you for $250 were costing $400 to produce and naturally she would rather turn business away rather than subsidize it. Hence the massive increase.

[1] Many photographers are now getting out of the hassle of providing prints. Especially those shooting digital find that they have a lot less stress (and make more money per time unit) by just handing over a CD/DVD with the images. See Photo.net's wedding forum to see the other side.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 AM on July 19, 2006


scanning her pictures and printing them is a clear copyright violation and she will have every right to sue your ass for the price you would have paid her

She'd have to be a Grade-A dingbat to file suit for ~$600 in damages.

And she'd have to find out first, which isn't very likely unless she's spending all of her time stalking cebailey to the point of bugging his home and his parents' home and having people follow him around as he shops, or unless she happens to be on metafilter.

It's not the most honest thing in the world to do, but I would not realistically worry about getting sued if you scan and print to get photos for your parents.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 AM on July 19, 2006


Cost of prints is not that big of a deal. Hell the place I get my stuff done professionally 8x10s cost $2.00, that's flush mount album prints, and they arrive the next day... so figure that out... a 50 page album = $100 in material.
yes there is meeting costs, overhead cost etc... but seriously I think the issue here is more about a breech of trust rather than current prices
posted by edgeways at 12:00 PM on July 19, 2006


excuse me but...

... scanning her pictures and printing them is a clear copyright violation and she will have every right to sue your ass for the price you would have paid her.


And some random photographer with a lot more to do with their time is going to find out about this.. how? Any court that'd entertain a case where someone has duplicated their own personal photos for personal use is a banana court.

IANAL, but I third/fourth (whatever we're up to now) the scan and print route. They're your photographs of your day and you paid a fair sum to have them shot. That photographers keep up this silly masquerade with wedding photography is a crock (though you really shouldn't have signed such a contract in the first place, of course).

If she were charging even a slightly higher than reasonable fee to have this done, then ethically paying her would probably still be an option, but since she's trying to shaft you, shaft her.
posted by wackybrit at 12:02 PM on July 19, 2006


I'm gonna stick with "theft". The average person has no understanding of intellectual property or copyright issues, nor do they care. Copying this photographers work would be to deny her income which she is due - seems like theft to me. I don't think we need to beat the idea of what to call it to death - as long as we all agree that scanning the photos is wrong.

-Baylink- yes, I earn my living with my cameras. I'm a pro. I (and my lawyers) defend my work aggessively, too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:19 PM on July 19, 2006


as long as we all agree that scanning the photos is wrong

Wrong like downloading a song from an mp3 newsgroup is wrong, or wrong like borrowing a cd to copy is wrong. Wrong in the basic so-what-who-cares sense that lots of things like this are wrong, and in which the downloader or copier is essentially immune from any consequences.

I (and my lawyers) defend my work aggessively, too.

Are you seriously claiming that you'd press suit for $600 in damages if a client made some copies of prints to give to their parents? I can't imagine that many people would want to deal with a photographer, or someone in any line of work, that was actually that litigious. Better to just have nothing to do with them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2006


I've had magnificent success with better business bureau complaints. She may not be listed/registered with the BBB, and she may not care, but it's definitely worth a shot. You would file your complaint, list the facts, then request something like $xx for xx family albums - something specific that you want from her.

Of course, I second the suggestions to re-read the contract, and tell her your intention to give her bad press if she doesn't make a reasonable exception to her current prices in your case. Alternatively, I stand by the scanning idea because in my personal moral justification world she was screwing you by jacking the prices up so high and not honoring her prior oral representation, so you or allowed to violate her copyright and thereby deny her undue profits.
posted by Amizu at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2006


as long as we all agree that scanning the photos is wrong.

We don't. In fact, I think it's perfectly fine.

To answer the question:


Have you negotiated with her at all? Or did you just listen to the price and say you'll get back to her?
As I see it, you have two options:
1) re-read your contract and hope that it doesn't have a "Prices subject to change" clause in it.

2) Negotiate. Call up and say "Look, your prices have gone up drastically since we hired you. If these prices continue, we will order no pictures from you, and you'll have not made a dime.
However, I'm willing to offer you $X for a guaranteed order of 3 albums and 10 prints. Further, I'll offer $X for a CD of full-res images."

In order for that to work though, you need to be very firm about it and make her believe you really aren't going to order a damn thing unless the prices change.
Be willing to move a little, both on price and number of albums/shots as this is basically your mistake that you are trying to fix.
posted by madajb at 12:50 PM on July 19, 2006


I fail to see the relevance of your value judgement against those who care to protect their diligently created intellectual property, ROU_Xenophobe. It's a crime to infringe upon someone's IP rights; you've already acknowledged that. Whether a photographer and his/her attorneys would pursue the matter is neither here nor there.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:53 PM on July 19, 2006


Well, everyone else is jumping on "should it really be illegal", so I'll go back to:

> I don't think we need to beat the idea of what to call it to death - as long as we all agree that scanning the photos is wrong.

I'm not really trying to "beat the idea to death"... but theft is actually depriving someone of a physical object that is their property.

The crime (to whatever degree people agree it is one) which we are discussing is much less clear cut than that: depriving someone of the right to exploit creative work commercially -- for prices which may or may not be reasonable, on terms (raising the prices after the fact) which may or may not be reasonable.

It is precisely *because* "everyone knows what theft is" that I don't feel it's proper to use the term for copyright infringment, particularly the type which would have been termed "civil infringment" before Hollywood's wholly owned subsidiary the US Congress broadened the terms of criminal infringment, IMO, unconscionably.
posted by baylink at 1:02 PM on July 19, 2006


The average person has no understanding of intellectual property or copyright issues, nor do they care.

Carefull with your broad generalizations there. I am an average person and I have understanding and care about the differences between copyright infringement and theft.
posted by chrisroberts at 1:05 PM on July 19, 2006


I am in the middle of production of some wedding albums for a wedding I shot for a friend, and so I have a price list in front of me for a popular album company. The median price for an (empty) leather album is $100. Each album page is $7 (a $5 center core and two $1 cut mats, one for each side).

So your 20-page (two 4x6 photos per side) leather album will cost the photographer $250... and that doesn't even count making the prints, or laying out the design. A basic layout that only takes into account horizontal and verticle same-sized images would take at least 2 hours for 40 images. Image retouching could be about 5 minutes per shot, or another 2 hours of work.

So, while I don't think the unannounced price increase is right, it probably is necessary in order for the photographer to not LOSE money on your order. I believe she should apologize and do the albums at-cost for you in order to keep your good reference, and you should suggest this.

If she won't, I think it sounds appropriate for you to order the retouched prints through her, and then build them into albums yourselves. The insanity of the wedding business is such that you'd probably get better albums this way -- the average wedding album isn't even comprised of acid-free paper or guaranteed in craftsmanship beyond 6 months.

It seems like bad karma if you were to understand that you appreciated her work so much that you wanted to share it with your family and friends... and undercut her ability to continue doing this as a business by scanning your own copies of negatives she still owns.
posted by xo at 1:07 PM on July 19, 2006


Two comments:

There is a good likelihood that proofs you purchase from her will be defaced in a way as to make them unsuitable for scanning - she's aware that people have scanners out there.

No one else mentioned this - so I have to ask. have you thought about a smaller album for the parents ? 40 prints seems like a lot. I'm betting a 20 4x6 album will cost 60-70% of what the 40 print album costs. Another thought - you could consider buying just the 4x6 prints from her and then your lovely scrapbooking bride could go to town. Both of these ideas avoid a fight or unpleasant conversation, as well as copyright infringement and get you a high-quality album for less than the current quote.
posted by AuntLisa at 1:11 PM on July 19, 2006


their jacking up of the price with no notice and going against quoted prices = you scanning and printing relatively cheaply for your own use.

Seems perfectly fine to me.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2006


AuntLisa, I missed your comment; do you mean something like watermarking?
posted by exlotuseater at 1:20 PM on July 19, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe:

I'd go after $600 bucks in a heartbeat if I was able to prove that prints were made without my written consent. Often in cases with a smallish amount like that all it takes is a letter from the lawyer threatening action to make people pay up. But ultimately, the simplest solution is to just pay the photographer in the first place. As far as karma goes, it would probably be in the photographers best interest to accomodate the couple, but she's certainly not obligated to.

I avoid this all together by not offering prints at all. My fees are somewhat higher upfront, but all clients get a cd/dvd of photos and permission to print for personal use. Saves me from headaches like this issue.
posted by blaneyphoto at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2006


Kudos@blaney: it's long been traditional to avoid immediate sticker shock by hiding much of the cost of wedding photography in the prints, and, as this thread clearly demonstrates, most people who realize it's purposeful hate it with a passion.

It's always good to hear from shooters who don't.
posted by baylink at 1:48 PM on July 19, 2006


Ask her to make you an offer.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 1:48 PM on July 19, 2006


If I were you I would pay the money for the CD of high-res versions provided that also bought the copyright itself as part of the price. Then go and make your own albums or whatever you want. The overall price will be higher, but I think it's worth it.

The real problem here isn't the specific need you have for these photos now, it's their long-term availability and who controls the photos and what is done with them. In theory, right now she can sell them to anyone or use them for anything she chooses. I wouldn't want to be the case for my wedding photos, even if the likelihood were low that she'd do anything with them.
posted by mikel at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2006


When we hired our photographer, she specified to us at the time that her prices were going to change at x so whatever a time, and that her prices at the time we signed would apply. I don't know that it was in our contract, but I remember that that is what she told us.

Do you have a price list (whether it's in the actual contract or not) from when you contracted with her? Becuase if you do, that might work in your favor. (You are coming back to her a little late, but unless her costs have gone up, she can't really justify the change in price. Sure as hell not for the CDs.) I'm with everyone else, see if she will honor the prices she quoted to you, and if she doesn't want to, let her know that 1) referrals will dry up post haste; and 2) negative reviews of her policies and practices will be forthcoming. Not as a threat, but just as a statement of fact. It has got to be easier for her to help you out (at this point I'd just want the CDs) than it will be for her to deal with you.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:14 PM on July 19, 2006


[a few comments removed take all copyright/theft discussions that are not on topic to METATALK, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:15 PM on July 19, 2006


Done, jessamyn.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2006


Also, we've also sent her 2 referrals, but after this (and especially if she doesn't help us out) we'd be VERY hesitant to recommend her to anyone else. Is there an artful way to say this without sounding Mafia-ish and threatening?

By saying "Listen, you were our choice based on the prices you quoted at the time and if we pay the prices you're asking now we're blowing our planned budget. We're very happy with the quality of the work and based on that referred you to X and Y* but I can't in good conscience continue to recommend you if we can't find an accommodation."


(* Making sure you clearly identify these two people who got her name from you and therefor gave her money)

It would be mafia-like if you were threatening to do her or her business harm if she didn't do something for you. That's not even remotely the case here - you HAVE done business with her, you HAVE provided her with compensation for work. You're now a customer on the border of not being satisfied.

Put another way, if this were a problem with a car dealership where you'd purchased and been happy but they then were reticent to honor warranty issues, would you feel bad for discouraging friends from doing business with them? I would hope not. Don't feel bad about doing the same here.

That said, as a former salesperson I suggest you go into this situation with a few things in mind to improve your ability to get what you want.

#1 and most important: Know your drop dead amount and what you're willing to live with. Are you willing to walk away with nothing? Are you willing to pay the $1,000 for the CDs so you can be done with it?

The sub-category here is what do you want? You've talked about the albums themselves, you've mentioned the CD. What's going to make you happy here? If she says "okay, I'll honor the prices we discussed back in the day" is that going to make you happy at this point or are you now soured on the deal? You need to know this BEFORE you walk in the door.

#2 is you need to remember that her goal here is to get money. She wants X amount but if the choice is X-Y she'd rather have that than 0, so if you are willing to walk away with nothing then you need her to believe that.

Complicating matters is that she wants to get more money from other people in the future. In your favor there is the referral and bad press issue. Against you is that she doesn't want to become the person who never gets asking price.

Were I in your shoes I would have a fallback position of just buying the CD for $1,000. From your description of your wife's reaction I don't think walking away from the pictures is a reasonable option. I would go into the meeting with her with my checkbook in my pocket and make my case and my proposal, whether that be buying the albums at the old price or making a counter-offer for the CD.

If she balks at your suggestion that she honor her old prices I'd immediately produce my checkbook and say you're going to buy the CD and that's going to be the end of your business relationship with her. I think that'll get the point across that she's choosing the right-now money from you over the future value of your positive word and maybe it'll make her knuckle.

Or maybe not. She might feel like she doesn't need you. She also might think you're already never going to be pleased or a good reference, so why cut you any slack? It's a tough line to walk and unfortunately you need not just to be a good negotiator yourself but pay heed to how good her skills and sense of larger self-interest are.

Good luck, and please let us know how it turns out.
posted by phearlez at 3:24 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


When did the photog know you would be purchasing the albums? Sounds like she made an offer to sell you the albums at the 2005 prices. Did you ever say "Yes, we'll take two to give as gifts in xmas 2006?" If so, you might have a leg to stand on. You can contract for something without actually writing it down (check for weasle clauses at the end of the written contract and try to remember if the verbal agreement came before or after you signed it. It might make a difference). If you called her out of the blue this summer to order the albums never having accepted her 2005 offer, she's got every right to change her prices. Get your contract and spend 10 minutes with a lawyer friend.

All that said you can almost certainly work things out. She doesn't want you to be pissed off.
posted by jaysus chris at 5:12 PM on July 19, 2006


I'm so glad now that I had a friend of the family shoot our wedding. He's not a pro, but his pictures were great. I just couldn't get my head around paying someone thousands of dollars for pictures that won't even belong to you at the end. Our friend took hundreds of shots all night long, shot video of the whole ceremony (~30 minutes) and sent us a CD with ALL of the pictures. All we had to do was flatter him a little and invite him. I realize everyone has to pay the bills, and I believe the $250 for making an album, but $1000 for a CD?

gimme a break...

Another thing we did was give disposable cameras to our guests in their welcome baskets. They took a bunch of pictures, most of which were crap, but I know they'll be the ones that we look over and laugh about years from now, not the posed official pictures.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:19 PM on July 19, 2006


Another thing we did was give disposable cameras to our guests in their welcome baskets. They took a bunch of pictures, most of which were crap, but I know they'll be the ones that we look over and laugh about years from now, not the posed official pictures.
posted by Mr. Gunn


You mean like every wedding I've ever been to?

A good photographer does more than take posed photos. The best are certainly worth the price for a day that is suppose to be once in a lifetime.

I've seen the photos you get from disposable cameras. If you'll look over those instead of the 'official' ones years from now, that says a lot about your friends skill level.

On topic, I'd do everything I could to keep everything on the up and up. But if after talking with her, and calmly laying out the whole situation, she refuses to budge, and you simply can't pay the fee, I'd make the books myself.
posted by justgary at 8:45 PM on July 19, 2006


$1000 for a CD? gimme a break...

You *do* understand that as soon as the photographer gives you the original images, the photographer is assuming that you intend to never pay them another dime, right? That's why the CD costs $1000. That $1k is basically an expected value calculation being done by the photographer.

Incidentally, she's not just charging you for 40 4x6's and an album. She's charging you for her time to dig out the pictures that you want (assuming you are telling her exactly what ones you want) or decide which ones are appropriate to put into a parent album, send them to the printer, pick them up from the printer, pick up the album itself, sort the photos, and put them into the album. Let's say that all told, it takes her 4 hours of work. Let's ignore the materials cost, since that is fixed, and pretend like she's solely charging you for labour. Last year, when she was a fresh and new wedding photographer, her time was worth $62.50 an hour (note, this is a dramatically reduced rate from what you got on your wedding day). Now, as a much more experienced photographer with a better portfolio, her time is worth $150/hour. This is time that she could have spent meeting with/working for new customers that are willing to pay her new rate. If you wanted the albums at the $62.50/hour rate, you should have bought them then, or negotiated it into the original contract. You said that you budgeted to buy these things at the time, what happened to that money? Why didn't you buy them at the time?

Having said that, I'd just have a conversation with her about it. See if you can come to an agreement. Since you never made any contractual obligations (I assume) about what the cost would be to buy the "digital negatives" from her, she does have the right to charge any price she wants. If you don't plan on doing any further business with her, and you want to have the option of making more albums down the road, I would suggest just shelling out the thousand smackers and owning the images yourself. That way you never have to worry about her "gouging" you in the future. It's only going to become an issue again the next time you want an album printed for somebody, so you might be better off cutting your losses.
posted by antifuse at 4:01 AM on July 20, 2006


She may have have been a n00b and not realized her costs would be high enough that her prices would end up costing her money. Having said that, she should honor it, and the only thing worth anything is her reputation.

Try to do the right thing. Try to talk reasonably to her about what you were expecting and what she can do about it.

If she's a total prick, if it were my wedding I have to admit I'd get a little vengeful. Make a list of the wedding guides and resources in your area, you put a letter together in an emotional tone describing your anguish, you fax it to her and let her know you're sending this to x, x, x, x, x, tomorrow, because you're really hurt by what she's done to you. No response? .. screw it, send the letter, scan the proofs, it'll still be good enough.

Thinks about medium negatives downstairs in the basement fridge, and the extra day of photog interviews till I found one that sold me the rights
posted by cavalier at 4:08 AM on July 20, 2006


My tiny font tag! Nooo! Ignore my awful expositional last paragraph.
posted by cavalier at 4:10 AM on July 20, 2006


mikel writes "In theory, right now she can sell them to anyone or use them for anything she chooses. I wouldn't want to be the case for my wedding photos, even if the likelihood were low that she'd do anything with them."

Unless the OP and all the other people featured in the photos signed a model release the photographer can't do jack with the pictures besides sell them to the people in the pictures. Unless they become newsworthy in someway which seems unlikely.
posted by Mitheral at 6:47 AM on July 20, 2006


Two comments:

There is a good likelihood that proofs you purchase from her will be defaced in a way as to make them unsuitable for scanning - she's aware that people have scanners out there.

No one else mentioned this - so I have to ask. Have you thought about a smaller album for the parents ? 40 prints seems like a lot. I'm betting a 20 4x6 album will cost 60-70% of what the 40 print album costs. Another thought - you could consider buying just the 4x6 prints from her and then your lovely scrapbooking bride could go to town. Both of these ideas avoid a fight or unpleasant conversation, as well as copyright infringement and get you a high-quality album for less than the current quote.
posted by AuntLisa at 10:40 AM on July 20, 2006


Regardless of any legal or moral issues, you might want to consider the fact that prints are actually not very high resolution, typically 250dpi. That makes a 6x4 only 1.5MPix and an 8x10 about 5MPix. Scanning 8x10s will give you OK quality but scanning 6x4s is kind of silly unless you know you intend to print no larger than 6x4 ever.

Scanning at 8x10 and printing at 6x4 will be fine though.
posted by polyglot at 10:33 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


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