Looking for advise please. I got married...

Asked by Sandra on 02-07-2023 13:03:14
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Gauteng

Looking for advise please. I got married last year and my wedding photographer has ghosted me. It’s been almost 8 months now and I still haven’t received my wedding photos. Any advise on how I can sort this out?

Their contract stated 8 to 10 weeks turn around time. I’ve tried contacting the photographer numerous of times regarding our photos and it’s been one excuse after another until eventually they stopped taking our calls and replying to us. 

I've got a contract that I've signed and paid the photographer in full before the wedding. After 7 months I told them that we are bitterly disappointed and this has become unacceptable. I got no reply. Since then I've messaged them twice a week following up on our photos. My husband finally got a message saying if we don't stop asking for the photos then they're going to lay a criminal charge against us for badgering. I don't understand this as we paid for photos and never received them. Plus it's currently 6 months past the date we were supposed to receive them. They in turn said it's industry standard to wait 6 months (even though it's now currently 8 months) and the contact stated 8 to 10 weeks.

Photographer is married to a lawyer and is using that for protection and a scare tactic - as if we were do to anything the spouse (lawyer) would get involved.  

Further information relating to Question:

Photographer is using severe anxiety and depression as an excuse which they never disclosed to us. On our wedding day the photographer pulled me aside to say they tried to commit suicide and their hands shake now due to nerve damage. This once again wasn’t disclosed beforehand and was the worst possible timing to tell me during our wedding reception. We paid for the photographer and assistant photographer in the package and there wasn’t an assistant photographer on the day. We found out on the day that the assistant photographer was called in to work (their real job) and no replacement was arranged.

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 02-07-2023 18:01:47

Hi there and thank you for your question,

I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.

Please keep in mind that our discussions is for general information purposes only. Our engagement on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

O my gosh, I am really sorry and shocked to hear that.  Can you share a copy of the contract with me?  Maybe you can email it to me to look at?  ***BLOCKED-EMAIL-ADDRESS***

Message from the client

Thank you so much for your reply.
I can’t see your email address as it says ***BLOCKED-EMAIL-ADDRESS***
Not sure why it’s blocked your email address.
Is there another way you could share your details with me?

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 09:22:53

Hi again,

Can you read the email if I type it like this - PatrickLegalQuestions<at>outlook.com

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 09:31:10

While I wait for a copy of your contract, I wanted to comment on one or two things.

In relation to the missing assistant photographer, you would definitely have a claim against the photographer for a partial refund of your money, because you can't be charged for an assistant photographer if there was no assistant photographer at your wedding taking pictures. So this is definitely a conversation that you are able to have.

In relation to my wedding, our photographer said 10 - 14 weeks for the photos, but it ended up taking over 9 months to get them back. Most of my friends experienced something similar, and that's with a photographer who isn't severely anxious and depressed! 

I think that the reality of the situation is that you have a service provider who has already partially performed (i.e. taken the pictures) and the event has happened already, and unless you find a way to deal with this photographer to get the results that you want, you run the risk of never receiving the pictures. This is just the sad reality.

If you were happy NOT to have a fight with the photographer about getting money back or getting a discount because of the delay in her providing the finished product, would you be willing to simply receive the raw photographs from her un-edited and then get another photographer to assist you with editing the images?

If your photographer is delaying editing the photos because of her own issues, then maybe this would be an easy out for her. i.e. hand over the images to you, un-edited, and then you both move on with your lives?!

If you are open to that suggestion (which is what I could actually counsel you to do if I was your lawyer) then why don't you or your husband jointly approach her husband and try negotiate that?

But I am still waiting on your contract to look at the terms.

Message from the client

Thank you so much I can read the email address now.
Will send it through so if you could please just reply to my email then I know you got it.

We actually have asked her several times for the unedited photos as we’re willing to edit them ourselves.
But she’s avoided that proposal.
My husband messaged her several times saying that he would drive through to her (when don’t know where she stays though), take his hard drive with, and she can just dump all the photos on his hard drive and we’ll be done with this. We don’t even care about getting a refund for not editing them at this stage and told her this.
But like I previously said, she just ignores us.

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 11:11:16

Have you tried raising this with the husband - the lawyer - and tried discussing it with him at all? 

You could raise a breach of contract with the lawyer and explain that his wife has breached her contract because she has not provided the photos to you within the agreed upon timeframe, or within the alleged industry norm.

You could also say that you've obtained some legal advice and you know that you are entitled to apply to a court for an order of specific performance, which is a court order in terms whereof the court orders her to comply with her contract, and deliver the photographs.  Essentially, you would say to a court that she is breaching the contract and you want the court to force her to stick to the contract. 

Then say to the husband that you just do not understand what the issue is, and that you are just trying to get the photographs from his wife, and that you are happy to walk away from any editing work or refund. 

If none of this works, I think that you should be hiring a private lawyer to assist you in sending a formal letter of demand, and possibly start legal proceedings.

Message from the client

We don’t his number but we have found him on LinkedIn.
Would we be allowed to contact him via that platform?
Worse case scenario would you be allowed to be our lawyer if we need to go the legal route?

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 12:21:36

If he is a lawyer, then surely he works for a law firm, and has a website with a contact number. Maybe you can search for him on the LPC website to get his contact details. https://www.lpc.org.za

Would we be allowed to contact him via that platform? -> Yes, of course you can. There is no reason that you can't. 

Worse case scenario would you be allowed to be our lawyer if we need to go the legal route? -> We can't unfortunately represent you directly via this platform. You'll need to hire a private lawyer to represent you. Depending on where you live, etc, you can find one here: https://www.southafricanlawyer.co.za/law-firms/search/province/

Message from the client

I’ll definitely do a search for him.
We can the company he works for but it’s not a law firm.

Did you maybe receive my email with the contact then?

Oh man that’s sad news that we can’t use you.

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 12:41:53

I've looked through the agreement. There doesn't appear to be anything that you can use to your benefit, besides the argument that she must uphold her side of the agreement and deliver.

It is bizarre that she won't just DropBox / WeTransfer the unedited pictures to you.

Perhaps, say to her that you are happy to accept, in full and final settlement of the contract, that she sends you the images and that you won't have any further claim against her moving forwards. 

Otherwise, lawyer up!

Message from the client

Thank you so much for being so great and for all the advice and guidance. We truly appreciate it!!!

Message from the client

Could I ask one last question?
On the LPC website it says that he’s not practicing. Does that mean he can’t do anything that a lawyer generally could? Or is not practicing irrelevant?

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 03-07-2023 14:40:35

It means that he was previously admitted as a lawyer, but now he is no longer practicing as a lawyer. So he can still commission stuff, and give legal advice - like commercial advice, etc.. But he can't represent anyone in court. 

Answer Accepted

This answer was accepted on 03-07-2023 16:42:29

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