I’m sure you’ve read the horror stories. The shonky photographers who are paid in full, and never deliver photographs to their clients. The photographers that are paid and never turn up. It’s a heartbreaking prospect – especially when it comes to irreplaceable photographs like newborn and wedding photos. What are your rights? What can you do to avoid this sort of situation?
Tip 1: Always choose a well-reviewed photographer
Before choosing a photographer, always check their online reviews. Make sure that these reviews don’t look manufactured (e.g. are all the reviewers new with only one review for this photographer?). Ask around for personal recommendations from friends and family.
Tip 2: Check that they run a proper business
Choosing a cheap photographer that’s advertised on Gumtree for an important event in your life is asking for trouble. Does the photographer have a registered business on the Australian Business Register? Are they registered for GST (this is a good indicator that they run a legitimate business and not just a hobbyist)? Are they properly insured? Do they have a proper online presence (i.e. a dedicated website – not just an Instagram page)? Are they a member of a professional body such as the AIPP or the Academy of Newborn Photography for a newborn photographer?
Tip 3: Don’t pay upfront in full
Never pay your chosen photographer upfront in full before you’ve had your photo session. The majority of photographers will only require a small deposit with the rest payable after your event/session or when your images are delivered. If possible it’s a good idea to pay via credit card as some credit card providers offer some insurance if something goes wrong. Don’t make the mistake of paying your wedding photographer thousands of dollars before the big day to only have them not show up and block your calls!
Tip 4: Always have a contract
Never hire a photographer without a clearly written contract. This is important to protect both you as the client as well as the photographer from misunderstandings and disagreements in the future. The contract should specify what should happen if either party needs to cancel, and how long you should expect to wait for delivery of your images. This is also another sign of a legitimate photography business.
Tip 4: Be vigilant
A common story I hear come from clients who have paid for their images/products after their shoot, only to wait months (and sometimes even years) for delivery of these from their photographer. In the news recently was a newborn photographer from WA who had multiple complaints about her for this very issue. We are all human, and sometimes photographers need to delay delivery for health or other personal reasons, but they must always be in constant contact with you and get your images to you ASAP. Waiting more than 6 months for images is just not acceptable in my opinion – no matter what the excuse. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right (or if your photographer stops responding to you), then you need to take action quickly.
My photographer has blocked me/won’t respond to my messages/didn’t turn up to my wedding/I’ve been waiting a year for my photographs etc – what should I do?!
It’s a terrible situation to be in and I really feel for you! If this is happening to you my advice is to make all contact attempts in writing via email/text if possible. Make every effort to resolve any dispute or issue with the photographer in this way so you have evidence that you can use later if necessary. If you haven’t heard back from your photographer – or worse still if they are blocking you, and you haven’t received what you’ve paid for, your next step would be to make an official complaint with the consumer protection organisation in your area. Within Australia we have state-run Government bodies. You will need to contact your local Fair Trading (or Consumer Affairs) Department and lodge an official complaint. It’s a great idea to attach screenshots of any email threads or text messages as well as a copy of your contract to support your claim.
Links to Consumer Departments from around Australia
Missing photographs of important milestones in your life is heartbreaking. I wish you all the very best of luck and hope that this information is helpful.
Have you had a bad experience with a photographer? I’d love to hear about it.