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Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer
  
 
snapsy
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2017/07/31/bride-groom-slammed-dallas-wedding-photographer-online-media-must-pay-108m


Aug 01, 2017 at 04:59 AM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Thanks for the link. I always wondered how the case evolved. Wow.


Aug 01, 2017 at 05:34 AM
jmraso
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Good for the photographer !




Aug 01, 2017 at 10:28 AM
InSanE
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


They noticed I use adblocker to filter their spam so cant read the post :-)


Aug 01, 2017 at 11:15 AM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


We had a client like this a little over a year ago. I paid them off with a confidentially clause. Poured water on the fire in a heartbeat. Knew we would prevail in a legal contest but the best way to win a war is not to fight one. Our margin took a dip that month, but we got over it and changed up some things internally to avoid future misunderstandings. We also retained a second law firm to review our printed materials and took advice on how to position ourselves to stop any future disputes at the front door.

Like it or not, social media/online review sites have a scary amount of power today. In his final months, Obama signed legislation to make online review gag orders void so this problem (for vendors) will get worse before it gets better.

You can mount your high horse and say, "well this will never happen to me" but it just takes one mentally unstable client to turn things. To me, it's a bigger risk to your business than not shooting with a dual-slot camera.

Edited on Aug 01, 2017 at 05:54 PM · View previous versions



Aug 01, 2017 at 05:52 PM
MRomine
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


InSanE wrote:
They noticed I use adblocker to filter their spam so cant read the post :-)


Go here, no problems with Ad Blocker here: https://petapixel.com/2017/08/01/wedding-photographer-wins-1-08m-defamation-suit-couple/



Aug 01, 2017 at 05:53 PM
MRomine
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


LeeSimms wrote:
To me, it's a bigger risk to your business than not shooting with a dual-slot camera.


Wait, wait, wait, I'll argue that.



Aug 01, 2017 at 07:56 PM
Littleguy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


I love how the lawyer issued his own press release.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dallas-photographer-snaps-up-1-million-defamation-verdict-300496719.html

Still don't know why any photographer would charge for a basic cover to an album - yes - I read her open letter about there being different options to pick from and she couldn't decide for her clients and how she gave it to them for free at the end. Yes - from a legal point of view she was protected because it was in the fine print of the contract but this story got traction for a reason. Its an old sales tactic that maybe legal but just doesn't look right.

That's like saying a car shouldn't come with tires because the client can pick different tires for their car...these days, you stick a basic no frills cover on the album and you upsell the sh*t out of the upgraded covers to your clients.

From a legal point of view - she got lucky or unlucky (depending on how you look at it) that the woman was a professional blogger - her speech was deemed as commercial in nature and why the case wasn't dismissed under anti-SLAPP laws. If she wasn't a professional blogger and she didn't post it on her commercial site - this would have likely gone no where in terms of the libel suit.



Aug 01, 2017 at 08:01 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


That was my thought from the beginning (WTF), but it was her clearly stated policy and the couple signed off on it.

My take away was, if you have something that's odd like that, you need to have a 2nd initial page that draws out that (and other) goofy policies.



Aug 01, 2017 at 08:29 PM
glort
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer



I really find it incredible that a business could be destroyed by one couple's vindictive comments especially when they were false.

Where were all the satisfied customers defending her? How could the WOM from happy clients evaporate in the case of these false claims?
Doesn't add up to me. Something else at play here. Either this shooter had all her advertising and promo eggs in the one internet basket or something else was amiss with her marketing and reputation.

I don't see how after 13 years there were not a bunch of happy clients to defend and rebuke the false claims made. Surely even if 10 people said they were happy and got good service, the rest of the sheeple wouldn't pay attention to just one whiny bitch.

I have to question the whole basis of this.
If it were ebay, then no seller would be in business more than a month. I have been buying a heap of stuff from a company of late and their service has been excellent as their rating indicates.
It is however NOT perfect and their are tens of neg reviews. Reading some is pretty self explanatory the client is a moron and could never be satisfied.
I have to question how one couple bad mouthing this shooter supposedly dropped her bookings from 100 to 2. Don't near add up to me.

The other thing is there are reports all too often of real scammers trading for years ripping people off before they finally get brought to justice. If it took one bad report to kill this good shooters biz, how can these others that do screw people over get away with it for years and amass dozens of complaints are are still getting bookings?

I have had a number of people COME to me because someone ragged me out.
They said the person berated me so much they had to come see for themselves out of morbid Curiosity. They booked.
Done it myself a couple of times too. Went with a biz partner to see a Vendor whom spent more time berating the competition than they did promoting themselves.
Walked out the place, said to partner, " I guess we are heading west?" she said just looking up their number now to see if we can see them today." We did and went with them. Hadn't heard of them till this other guy.

When we got there the guy said how did you hear about me? We looked at one another and said your competition told us you were the devil so here we are. He smiled and said " That guy sends more people my way than any advertising we do!"

I think if this story is indeed true as it stands, which I doubt, people need to worry a lot less about crap posed on the net and go with their own observations and instinct.
Really shows what a moronic society we have become. If it's on the net they believe it without question.

I feel sorry for the shooter having to put up with a bridezilla but no one would ever convince me that one bad report would kill a proper well run biz that easy.

Million bucks compo will be token too and I doubt she will ever see a cent of that. One thing to get the judgement, a whole different ball game to get the cold hard.



Aug 01, 2017 at 09:44 PM
 

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glort
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


LeeSimms wrote:
but it just takes one mentally unstable client to turn things.


I have had my fair share of those.... even more mentally unstable than me but while a huge pain in the backside and waste of time ( and sometimes money) they never had any effect on my business.
May have put off a few like miinded nutters but no negative effect.

I'm sure there are 100 people whinging about wallco every day and reports of them on TV with bleeding hearts saying how they are corporate Bullies because their Size 100 T-shirt shrank in the wash and now is only a Size 99 which doesn't fit but that don't close them down.

Pretty sure we are getting a very biased and sanitized story aimed at the select interest group story with this.

If anyone REALLY thinks it would just take 1 whining client to ruin their business, I'd suggest instead of worrying about that, you should start worrying about building your positive PR and reputation now before it happens. If all your satisfied clients can't defend you against one nutter, probably time to look at either a new strategy or profession.



Aug 01, 2017 at 09:53 PM
George Orwell
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Littleguy wrote:


From a legal point of view - she got lucky or unlucky (depending on how you look at it) that the woman was a professional blogger - her speech was deemed as commercial in nature and why the case wasn't dismissed under anti-SLAPP laws. If she wasn't a professional blogger and she didn't post it on her commercial site - this would have likely gone no where in terms of the libel suit.


If she weren't a blogger, the impact on the photographer would have minimal.




Aug 02, 2017 at 12:05 AM
George Orwell
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


glort wrote:

Million bucks compo will be token too and I doubt she will ever see a cent of that. One thing to get the judgement, a whole different ball game to get the cold hard.


Not get a cent? Assuming the verdict sustains all appeals, you are very wrong.

She may not get the full million, but you can be VERY certain that all eligible earnings from this batsh!t crazy bride are fair game, easily placed under lien and will be hauled in by any reasonably competent lawyer.

There's no way the guilty party is walking away from this not severely harmed.



Aug 02, 2017 at 12:08 AM
Mikehit
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


@Glort: I can understand your comments when it is one professional insulting another. But this was one unhappy customer making a complaint. In fact they did not just make a complaint - they used their blog go spread the message, the blog followers were likely 'liking' it on social media which gets the bad press spread around. You are not now fighting one unhappy customer but potentially hundreds of bad reports and the fact they all come from one person becomes irrelevant.
From the little background I have found, the complainant also enlisted TV netowrk(s) to spread their displeasure and in cases like this, one thing the media are not good at is giving a truly balanced view by interviewing happy customers - stories of evil sellers makes much better headlines.

So when you are searching the internet for a wedding photographer to take pictures of one of the biggest days of your life and you see a morass of web hits plus reference to a TV interview, it will put people off in droves.

I can understand scepticism that one unhappy report can so badly affect a company but underestimating the impact of social media is very risky.



Aug 02, 2017 at 08:20 AM
glort
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Hopefully the US is tougher than it is here.

I could well see them under our bleeding heart system of leftist do gooders crying hardship, just married, starting out, bills to paay, sick grandmother and applying to pay it off at $5 a week. And no, that's not an exaggeration. Father had someone defraud him on a $12K car he sold. The single mother of 5 ( to 6 different boyfriends i think) applied for a got an award to pay it off at $2 per week. Yes, $2!
She paid about the first 3 months and that was it.

You can't get what they haven't got and they are pretty thin on making them pay it off at a worthwhile amount. It's all geared to favour the crooks and scammers here. If this is held up, they will be pretty much paying this off for most of the rest of their days and should never own a house, car, boat or pretty much anything else until it is.

I Really doubt that's going to happen but I hope I am proven wrong.



Aug 02, 2017 at 10:42 AM
jecottrell
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


glort wrote:
If anyone REALLY thinks it would just take 1 whining client to ruin their business...


Apparently you didn't read the story.



Aug 02, 2017 at 12:54 PM
lindabrowne
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Have faith in your business, have great documentation...

Wishing Andrea Polito all the best. Standing up to clients who consciously lied and used her business for their own narcissistic agenda takes a lot of effort.

"Andrea is a true pro, amazing and fun to work with, creative, and makes the whole experience enjoyable. Her work speaks for itself and I more than highly recommend her for any photography needs. ”

-Joe Polish

Founder of the Genius Network &
The iLoveMarketing Podcast

"I have had the fortune of working with amazing photographers because of my background in media, and Andrea is hands down the best. She doesn't miss a detail, and her work is exceptional."

-Michelle Gielan

New York Times Bestselling Author of Broadcasting Happiness & Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research

“Andrea has a disarming demeanor about her that makes you
...Show more



Aug 02, 2017 at 03:23 PM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Very interesting case. I am not trying to take sides as I believe this whole thing blew way out of proportions (all that due to a $150 album cover). Somewhere down the line both parties must have regretted doing certain things and now they all suffer irreparable consequences.

We can't avoid bad clients. Learning how to manage them is key. Some will say "raise your prices and you get to work with better clients", well in this case we are talking about a reputable photographer charging $6000 for her services, not cheap even by Texas' standards. People can turn nasty in a fraction of a second.

Many lessons to be learned here:

1) Pricing structure too complex

A local studio in my area has over 10+ packages to choose from. Basically all possible combinations of having a photographer (possible 2nd shooter), video, hours and album sizes. It gives me a headache just by looking at it and let's not even dive into a la carte items. Too many options and too complicated, especially for someone who is shopping around with 5 other photographers in mind, in addition to having no experience in this industry. Wedding photography isn't what normal folks purchase on a daily basis.

The a la carte items are priced excessively high to "punish" bad behaviour and drive our clients towards package pricing, I get that. Generosity promotes trust and stinginess does the opposite. If you are offering an album then please include a standard quality cover no questions asked. If you must offer customization and upgrades, keep it simple.

Instead of offering:
- paper cover (comes standard);
- plastic cover, $50;
- leather cover, $150;
- some alien material from Mars, $250;

Just say that your album comes with a standard, high quality cover but should you wish to upgrade, a flat rate of $250 will be added and you get to choose any material or color that we offer. If your client picks a lower cost option, then you get to pocket the extra margin while hiding your stinginess. It's like going to a high end steak house and being charged $1 for ketchup, it cheapens the whole experience.


2) Withholding digital files before album

This is something that I never understood. The standard practice is to charge the full amount before the wedding and I know many of us here do this, correct? If you are being paid 100% in advance, why do you feel the need to withhold delivery of anything?

Brides nowadays expect everything now and fast. You have to be crazy to make them wait for months before getting their digital files. You can say "I market to brides who wouldn't mind waiting" but unfortunately that market is shrinking everyday. Nothing prevents the photographer in delivering the files now while waiting for the client to decide on the album cover and layout, whether they need 3 months or 9 months. Who cares? You are already paid in full, let them figure out the album when ready.

But... but... the magic of seeing your images first time in a physical print!

Not too long ago we had a thread about same day slideshows during reception? Ain't that magical too? It appears to me that only photographers are so obsessed with their own pictures, every pixel needs to be photoshopped flawlessly. Outsource your editing, improve your workflow, stop using Lightroom or drink more Red Bull, do something about it.


3) What's legal vs what's right for your business

Sometimes our clients make unreasonable demands after the fact: additional coverage during reception, free upgrades, asking for RAW files and the list goes on.

Even if your client is in the wrong 100% and you have a bulletproof contract to back it up, pick your battles very, very carefully. I would say 99.9% of the time it ain't worth the fight.

I know hindsight is always 20/20 but wouldn't you agree that the following sounds much better:

"My apologies in the miscommunication regarding the pricing of the album cover. As a token of my appreciation and for your trust in having me as your photographer, I will include the leather cover upgrade for your album, absolutely free of charge. Will you be available next Friday to pick it up along with your digital files on USB key?"

Then move on to the next client.

Eating the extra $150 upgrade sucks, but we all know the true cost is nowhere near $150 anyway. It sure beats no longer having a business and no clients to move onto.

Edited on Aug 02, 2017 at 04:09 PM · View previous versions



Aug 02, 2017 at 03:49 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


As crazy as that her you-gotta-pay-for-the-cover policy sounds in 2017, I'm sure in the past more than one A-list seminar at a major photography convention recommended this very thing. All the cool kids in the room probably agreed.

All businesses are in the midst of a consumer-centric disruption. Take a bite of the sandwich. It's as if customers are collectively saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."



Aug 02, 2017 at 04:03 PM
lindabrowne
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Couple must pay $1M for defaming their wedding photographer


Once upon a time I apologized in order to smooth things over. F that.

There was nothing "wrong" with Andrea Polito's business policies. There are many ways to do business and an ebb and flow to both front of house and behind the scenes work.

I currently prefer to charge someone for upgrades. I used to keep things more streamlined. Neither method is wrong.




Aug 02, 2017 at 04:15 PM
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