The Blog I never wanted to write...
Client 3 months Post-wedding
So how did we get here?
Ok lets rewind.
When I entered the wedding industry back in 2015, I was fortunate to meet so many fantastic suppliers that I believed everyone was awesome, helpful and above all - trustworthy.
Having attended masterclasses by the brilliant Jonny Draper & Brett Florens, alongside the photography inspiration they had given me, I had learned to deliver the best customer service I could, whilst also striving to be the most professional supplier I could be in the business.
To them I say
Sadly, I have now found that there are still people out there who rather than doing the right thing by their client and being honest, try to maintain a front and pretend the bad parts of business aren't happening to them.
Whilst reading blogs similar to this one featured on Reddit and other such sites with horror stories of wedding clients & suppliers I never expected to find myself being someone who wrote one.
However, I am professionally responsible enough to do my utmost to ensure this doesn't happen again to any of my fellow suppliers or this photographers future clients.
If this post saves one bride & groom from being disappointed next year then I am happy that I've done the right thing
This post is going to be long, but will be unbiased and factual with evidence
It makes me uncomfortable to post
But I don't want other clients experiencing the same end result
So what happened?
On the morning of the 8th September 2017, I was contacted through facebook by Jessica Elisze Sansom, who had fallen ill that morning and was awaiting an ambulance to convey her to hospital.
She was also due to capture the wedding of Annie & Calum.
So she reached out to find cover and thankfully only living 10 miles down the road from the venue and being available all day we agreed a fee and I arrived with Annie and her family at midday.
Wedding Day Photography - Saved!
The day was beautiful even if the rain was torrential! Everyone enjoyed the day and the photos I was able to capture were stunning. The rain held off long enough for us to break out some smoke bombs and do the group shots outside which is always the ideal.
Annie & Calum, thank you for trusting that I would deliver your images even though you had never met me, we'd never spoken before the day and were ultimately complete strangers! Your day was incredible, beautifully planned & the other suppliers were fantastic
I dropped Jessica a message to let her know how the day was going and share some of the snaps from the back of the camera... I heard nothing back.
I carried on into the evening staying until the sun had gone down when I was able to capture my final image of the day.
When I returned home I did as agreed, uploaded the RAW files to Dropbox and sent them over to Jessica for her to begin editing.
My clients ALWAYS get a sneak peek within 48 hours so I wanted Annie & Calum to be able to get the same from Jessica.
2 days later I contacted Jessica to find out if she'd got the images and heard that she was feeling even worse after capturing another wedding booking on the 9th.
I then travelled up north for a few days and was away from my desk.
Jessica sent a sneak peek to me and the client on the 11th and the client was over the moon with them. This is the last I heard from Jessica.
I returned on the 13th and instigated another conversation with Jessica to establish a timeline of when payment would be forthcoming - and heard nothing back.
At this point, I reached out to my other supplier friends and asked if they had ever experienced anything similar and best advice for me - I named no names and was simply seeking advice, as I had never experienced anyone in the wedding industry who had firstly stopped replying to messages, and who had also failed to pay an invoice.
In the interest of transparency - this is the post, unedited in its raw format.
I spark up another conversation and get a response - apparently running out of luck Jessica was involved in a major car crash on the way back from another wedding!
I then receive another message from Jessica
What I understood from this:
I was unlikely to see my fee anytime soon which as any professional will tell you is a hit to the bank when we're all trying our best to succeed. Note the dates in particular.
Wedding date 8th September
5 day invoice terms due on the 13th.
Message advising of new car purchase - 18th September.
Secondly - there was no request for no sharing and as the photographer I retain the copyright.
What frustrated me the most, was in all likelihood Jessica contracted my services in full knowledge that she could not cover my fee and was just trying to protect her reputation.
The image to the right shows a facebook post advertising this car for sale due to a cam belt failure - information on the internet shows that ownership last changed in the May 2017 - therefore highly likely to be the car involved in the 'major car accident' some weeks earlier.
So I replied
To this - I received no reply (a theme has now somewhat developed).
But Martin - you're doing what you said you wouldn't do!
Yes, within that message I said "I wouldn't lower myself to publicly degrading a brand" however should've added "without good reason" Obviously this post is public but in my opinion being posted for the right reason.
I accept that I might do some damage to myself by posting it, but I think it's the right thing to do.
Preventing any further clients or professionals being left in this situation.
In good faith I amended the terms and
e-mailed Jessica to explain the extension to the 30th September for payment to be made and explaining my next steps should it remain unpaid.
I received no reply.
I sent another message 1 week later to which I also received no reply.
You will no doubt know by now that this also received no reply.
At this point I told Annie & Calum what had been going on, in my opinion a dispute between two suppliers isn't something that one should burden the client with unless as an absolute last resort. It had reached that stage and I for one wanted to put them squarely in the picture. Thankfully, although understandably concerned they were fantastic and really understanding to the position I was in.
I learned on the 4th October that on that evening Jessica sent through the edited digital images to the client. They loved the images but they were missing some of the family which I know I had captured. I supplied my edits which they were equally as happy with.
I instigated civil proceedings on the 30th through the small claims court and a county court judgement was issued against Jessica.
I then escalated this to the high court and was issued a Writ of control which I passed to DCBL Ltd. to execute.
They attended and provided me with a detailed report - long and short was that this remains outstanding as there was nothing to recover the debt against. I am not going to post the report as there are some personal details in there which are not for a public forum.
Annie & Calum are still without a wedding album 3 months down the line. I am working with them to rectify it, but this was part of the original contract with Jessica - how many others are without albums?
To any other suppliers who provide emergency cover (which I will continue to do and had done previously with no issues) - get paid before you supply the images!
To any other clients who have booked Jessica? If you continue to entrust your biggest lifetime event to her then you cannot say you have not been warned.
My advice would be to find another photographer. I would not recommend instigating civil proceedings as you will get no further than I have and just be putting money into dead money.
Thank you for reading this far, hopefully you'll understand my concern at posting this on the internet as I do understand the implications, but I feel that any future clients considering using her should be fully informed before they sign any contract or part with any cash.
To that end - please share this post far and wide so that clients & suppliers alike can see just what can happen if you're not careful, the extents of the legal system and realising when to just accept you're not going to see your money again.