What Do You Do When It Goes Wrong?

Inspired by a UK Telegraph article “Are these the worst wedding pictures ever?”

You may have seen a variety of terrible wedding photographs, courtesy of Tumblr, Failblog, and the like – the bride tossing her bouquet and falling out of the bodice of her gown is a typical example. These photos are in a different class altogether. Rather than being one lucky [or unlucky, depending on your viewpoint] shot, the photographer in this example simply took a series of terrible pictures. The technique, not the subject, was the problem.

I mean, what would you expect if I described a  candid photo of the couple chatting after the ceremony?

I know I’m not a fan of having ‘Uncle Joe’ as your photographer, but even the most well-meaning amateur could probably pull together a few decent shots. And have the brains to delete the out-takes.
In fact, when I first saw these photos, I thought perhaps the photographer had somehow accidentally [or for a joke] given the couple the out-takes, and had another disc full of great photos to follow them up with.

Apparently not. The entire wedding album consists of poorly posed shots, [such as or this example: the happy couple and their family…]

or, poor technique, as seen here.

I’m no photographer, but even if this shot was in focus, is there really no better line of sight? Those fire extinguishers feature in quite a few of the photos.

Allt his is without raising the issure that the photographer refused to work with a flash, citing epilepsy as their excuse.

I’m sorry, what?

If you can’t work with flashing lights, then maybe you shouldn’t be charging people for wedding photography? Or you should at least be using a decent tripod, and specialised low light gear?

Meh. More pics in the gallery here.

Here’s an interesting thing, though. While I have not seen anything approaching this level of incompetence [thank goodness!] I do get to hear feedback from couples who’ve experienced less than stellar service from their service providers.

After sympathising with their disappointment, my first question is always ‘Have you told [the vendor] how you’re feeling?’ and so often, the answer is not only that the couple haven’t said anything, but also, that they don’t intend to.

Which is just crazy.

For starters, the wedding professionals I work with value negative feedback. Why? Because it helps them to do their job better next time. Their default assumption is that they’ve done a good job, so while hearing about it from you is a pleasant confirmation, and a nice esteem boost, what they also want to hear about is the times when they’ve missed the mark. How will they know that the cake was dry, or their advertising implies something they don’t intend, or that they have terrible BO, if no-one ever actually says anything?

I’ve heard all sorts of reasoning, from “It’s a bit  awkward” through to “It’s too late to do anything about it now, anyway”. And most of it is true. You can’t get back the honeymoon spent in the bathroom because the caterer’s food wasn’t properly chilled. You can’t retake the photo of your Dad’s tears as he gave you away. You can’t negate that the sound system failed and no-ne heard your vows… there are a million things that can be repaired, but not completely replaced. So why bother saying anything?

A couple of reasons. The first is that  if you don’t believe you received the full value of what you paid for, you’re entitled to complain, and to ask for reparations or a refund. There are plenty of laws and precedents to back that up. Money doesn’t solve many problems, but I don’t believe you should have to pay for your problems, either.

Secondly, even if you can’t take back what happened to you, perhaps you can prevent it happening to someone else. In particular, if the problem is greater than simply ‘it was less awesome than we’d expected’, if there is real technical failure, or incompetence, or outright shady behaviour.

If you suspect that you’ve been scammed, or that there is more than human error involved, or if you’ve complained to the company or individual and gotten anything less than an apology and a sincere attempt to resolve the issue, you should consider taking the matter further. ‘Trial by media’ is never going to be my favourite option – by taking their story to the newspapers, the couple in the original article have pretty much guaranteed that these photographers will not work in the industry again, but that’s a pretty drastic step, and I hope not the first, or even the top five possible solutions.

Many of the larger scale wedding vendors will have the backing of a national body, with a formal complaints procedure etc. But, some of the smaller specialist businesses may not have the budget or the formal qualifications required. However, there’s always a way – for example, just this week  a  local photographer asked if I’d be willing to be a mediator if the situation ever arose. It’s this kind of proactive, customer focus that marks Boutique Photography out as truly professional:

Quote\\If, for any reason, you’re unhappy with what you’ve received, please tell me, and give me the chance to put it right.
If it makes you feel better, think of it as helping me grow my craft!
I encourage you to discuss things with me first, however if you feel uncomfortable talking to me, or feel something’s unresolved, Ang Pearson, The Wedding Whisperer, has offered to act as a go-between.
Please feel free to contact her to discuss any issues you may have with my work.  //Quote

How’s that for integrity?!

Long story short: Do your homework before hand. Shop around for a bargain, but be aware that the best deal isn’t always the one with the cheapest price tag! Get to know the people you’re hiring, so that you can have total confidence in them on the day. If, after al that,  things go wrong, make sure you talk to the people involved first. If you don’t get a satisfactory solution, ask someone else to step in.

All the best for your plans!

 

 

 

 

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