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Old 09-28-2007   #11
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Default Re: Is Joining the PPA actually worth it?

Having been taken to court over a wedding myself, I doubt the value of indemnification insurance for the average photographer. The complainant must prove deliberate negligence on the part of the photographer, something which is very difficult to do.

I have never known of any instance in which a photographer was compelled by a court to "rehost" a wedding. I've heard second- and third hand anecdotes but I've never been given any proof that this has ever occurred.

PPA does offer photographers opportunities to learn to create portraits of a specific genre. One can usually spot a PPA photographer's work easily. This style has found great acceptance among the average consumer, so it is quite profitable to master it. The formulae are easy to learn and reproduce, something one must be able to do in order to create consistent results.

It is always good to know one's competitor, and PPA gives one the opportunity to meet his competitor and to carve out a piece of the pie for himself in a friendly manner.

It never hurts to have that PPA credential and several letters after one's name, even if the average photographer/consumer/guy has no idea of what those letters mean.

Affiliation to any group has its advantages. The degree of advantage depends upon what one expects from affiliation and how one uses the professional contacts.
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Old 09-28-2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
I doubt the value of indemnification insurance for the average photographer. The complainant must prove deliberate negligence on the part of the photographer, something which is very difficult to do.
Actually, you don't have to proove negligence at all.
You can be sued over poor customer service, ie: not delivering proofs on time, not returning phone calls or a host of other reasons.

Digital is far too unforgiving, and weddings too demanding. Something is going to blow up sooner or later in this business.

I personally know two photographers who were sued over weddings, both lost in court. PPA defended both, but each was out only $200 deductible, one had to give up her negatives as part of the settlement.

As the publisher of wedding magazine, we ran a snippet that was part of a larger story a few years ago about brides suing wedding photographers. I do remember one statistic...
in aprox. 1/3 of the cases, the bride was found to be partially liable for using bad judgement when hiring the photographer...funny when you think about it.

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Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
I have never known of any instance in which a photographer was compelled by a court to "rehost" a wedding. I've heard second- and third hand anecdotes but I've never been given any proof that this has ever occurred.
Neither have I.
In the Cantrell case, the reshoot wasn't ordered by a court. It was a settlement worked out between the family and the insurer, or so I'm told.

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Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
One can usually spot a PPA photographer's work easily. This style has found great acceptance among the average consumer, so it is quite profitable to master it. The formulae are easy to learn and reproduce, something one must be able to do in order to create consistent results.
No, you can't spot a PPA member by looking at their work.
There is no PPA "style" or "formula".
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Old 09-28-2007   #13
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Default Re: Is Joining the PPA actually worth it?

Interesting, fascinating, and a little scary.
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Old 09-28-2007   #14
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Even if you win a lawsuit, you lose.
The bad publicity surrounding the case will hurt your business.
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Old 09-28-2007   #15
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Default Re: Is Joining the PPA actually worth it?

Almost makes you want to swear off doing weddings altogether .

I've done a couple of weddings and found them very rewarding, but hearing more and more stories about photographers getting sued simply because the client ended up not liking the photographs kinda scares me. Seems like every book on the "business" of photography that I read starts off with the horror stories and then continues on as if to challenge the reader to really decide whether or not they really want to be a professional photographer or not.

Having the PPA membership with the insurance certainly would bring a bit of piece of mind, but how do you continue on with your passion after being dragged though the fire in a lawsuit?
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Old 09-28-2007   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McCall View Post
Actually, you don't have to proove negligence at all.
You can be sued over poor customer service, ie: not delivering proofs on time, not returning phone calls or a host of other reasons.

Digital is far too unforgiving, and weddings too demanding. Something is going to blow up sooner or later in this business.

I personally know two photographers who were sued over weddings, both lost in court. PPA defended both, but each was out only $200 deductible, one had to give up her negatives as part of the settlement.

As the publisher of wedding magazine, we ran a snippet that was part of a larger story a few years ago about brides suing wedding photographers. I do remember one statistic...
in aprox. 1/3 of the cases, the bride was found to be partially liable for using bad judgement when hiring the photographer...funny when you think about it.


Neither have I.
In the Cantrell case, the reshoot wasn't ordered by a court. It was a settlement worked out between the family and the insurer, or so I'm told.



No, you can't spot a PPA member by looking at their work.
There is no PPA "style" or "formula".
Please have those photographers contact me. I would be very interested in learning about their cases. While one can bring a case to court, having a judge accept the case for trial is another thing entirely. If the photographers really did lose a damages case in court, it was not only over the botched photographic results but probably over something else that happened before, during, or after the wedding that caused the poor results (e.g., photographers drinking on the job, egregious negligence which resulted in physical harm to someone, etc.).

Slow delivery of proofs--- unless it results from egregious misconduct or neglect-- is hardly a case for a lawsuit in which one could collect liquidated damages. What is most likely to happen is that the complainant would file a complaint in civil court (if the contracted amount exceeds the municipality's small claims court's limits for claimed liquidated damages) which would result in a summons being delivered to the photographer's place of business. THE PHOTOGRAPHER would then be required to produce the product within a specified amount of time after having responded to the summons either in person (or in writing, depending upon local ordinances, and whether the suit was filed in small claims or civil court). If the photographer failed to produce the requested materials within the specified time, he would then be held in contempt of court, which is another problem separate from the actions which precipitated the lawsuit in the first place.

I also doubt that the court compelled the photographer to relinquish the negatives to the bride. Such a court ruling breeches the photographer's right to free speech as well as basic copyright protection. What is most likely is that the photographers relinquished the negatives in order to be free of the client (i.e., not have to provide any more product or service and in order to have no more contact with the client). That would be a smart tactic to eliminate the chance of further actionable misdeeds.

There is a misconception about lawsuits and wedding photography from which certain professional organizations are profiting at the expense of both the photographer and the bride. Many photographers believe that they may be summoned to court at the drop of a hat, and brides believe that unsatisfactory performance on the part of the photographer of ANY nature is cause for claiming damages arising from alleged psychological trauma.

Ain't so. Excluding the above-stated misconduct and negligence on the part of the photographer, the most that a photographer would be compelled to give would be a refund which would, in most cases, be a partial one (especially so if the photographer provided ANY service or product).

The talk of so-and-so having been sued over a botched wedding is always (in my experience so far) hearsay, and usually has at its core an attempt to discredit or ruin the reputation of another photographer. At best, it is an attempt by entities who collect fifty bucks as "insurance" against a lawsuit. Sure, I am certain that an insurance company gladly steps in when someone throws a hissy fit, then passes along scary-looking court documents festooned with herewiths and heretofores, etc. which cost absolutely NOTHING to pass by a clerk of court to time stamp. To the layman, it appears that something has been accomplished, when, in fact, nothing has been accomplished except that two lawyers representing their own interests pocketed a few bucks while their paralegal dropped off other petitions which are making them REAL money.

Something which the aggrieved don't consider -- as well as the competitor photographers who seem to egg brides on to take their competitor to court-- is the fact that the photographer can take the bride to court for libel if she has made untrue statements which damaged the photographer's reputation and caused him to suffer monetary losses. In my case I lost close to fifteen thousand dollars in canceled contracts. If I had not so burned out by the year's events, I'd have turned around and sued the bejabers out of the B&G as well as two photographers who supplied erroneous information about me, as well as a photo lab which supplied untrue information (a conflict of interests on their part), AND the album supplier who (like the photo lab) released untrue information regarding the purchase of a custom-made album.

I am sure that you can produce LOTS of statistics regarding brides who exercised poor judgment when selecting their photographers. The PPA guys will diss the non-PPAs and the local state PA members diss the non-members. The little guys diss the big guys, and vice versa.

I retract my statement about PPA portraits and how they all look alike. It has been years since I was a PPA member, and it has been just as long since I even looked into the window of a portrait studio. I dropped my subscription to the PPA magazine about the time that it changed its name to "Story Tellers" or some such thing. AT THAT TIME everything associated with PPA looked alike. The lighting schemes were mindlessly formulaic, and it appeared as though everyone tried to copy the next guy. Perhaps photojournalistic trends have broken the holds of tradition over studio portraiture since then.

And by the way, my court case ended with the judge's words to the aggrieved bride: "It was a wedding, not a moon landing. Case dismissed."
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Old 09-29-2007   #17
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Default Re: Is Joining the PPA actually worth it?

All this leads to why I don't ever want to do a wedding as a paid pro. If a friend wants me to be a second shooter, I'll do it. But I won't be the primary. Which is good for the rest of you wedding guys as it's one less person to compete with
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Old 09-29-2007   #18
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I also doubt that the court compelled the photographer to relinquish the negatives to the bride.
The judge in Wichita Falls, Tx. ordered release of the negatives as part of the judgement against the photographer.
The photographer was only out $200 (deductible) and her negatives.
PPA paid the balance of the claim.
The photographer is a good friend of mine, as was the one in Corpus Christi that suffered litigation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
The talk of so-and-so having been sued over a botched wedding is always (in my experience so far) hearsay, and usually has at its core an attempt to discredit or ruin the reputation of another photographer.
It can and does happen.
A few years ago, we bought several backgrounds from a studio that was closing as a result of not one, but two simultaneous litigations brought by wedding clients.
In one of the two cases, another photographer, (who happened to be my mentor) was contacted by the client to finish assembling a wedding album that the court ordered picked up by the Sheriff's Dept.
The client sued because of slow delivery, not because of poor photographic images, and won her case.

For the benefit of lurkers, do not think that you cannot be sued over a wedding.
Your taking the most important photographs of someones life. Do not underestimate the lengths a couple will go to if things go wrong.
It's just the society that we live in.

Like I said before, even if you win a lawsuit, you still lose. The bad publicity will haunt you for years.

In covering aprox. 900 weddings in my career, both as an amateur and a pro, I've never been sued, but I still carry the insurance offered by PPA, because it's just smart business.
I make an attractive living doing weddings, so I continue. I take the responsibility very seriously.

Bloo Dog,
your words, lititgation proceedings against you, as well as your lax attitude toward weddings, leads me to believe that you do not take them seriously enough.
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Old 09-30-2007   #19
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Default Re: Is Joining the PPA actually worth it?

Mark,

Please send me some sort of proof of this litigation (docket number, name of county court and judge). I'd really like to learn more about them. I have never been able to find firm evidence that there has ever been a successful lawsuit lodged against a wedding photographer over any of the situations cited in your posts.

If a judge ordered the photographer to hand over the negatives, it must have been tried in criminal court-- something which would never happen in civil court or in a small claims court. If it was tried in criminal court, the issues far exceed anything cited in this forum.

If indeed, the photographer handed over the negatives in civil court or small claims court it was probably a matter of negotiation in which he was given a choice of providing prints or negatives. Ownership of negatives is protected by constitutional and copyright law. If, however, the contract was a work-for-pay arrangement in which the contract transferred all rights to the client (similar to when one works for an ad agency and produces logos and marketing materials for the agency's clients), then the client had a right to possession of the negatives. There may have been a poorly-drawn contract in the mix which could lead to such an action, but no professional wedding photographer would knowingly work under a defective contract such as that.

One of the issues which you cited sounds more like non-delivery of goods. That is not unique to the wedding photography industry. There are sloppy painters, plumbers, and retailers who are sued by in court on a regular basis. Were the photographers who were slow to produce the promised product forced to pay damages to their clients or were they ordered by the court to fulfill their contracts? Again, I have yet to find documented proof that any wedding photographer has been sued for damages in a case arising from the actual work performed at a wedding and that the photographer lost in court. Losing in court and settling out of court through court-appointed arbitration are two separate outcomes.

I'm not going to get into a p*ssing contest over this. I took a personal interest in this particular wedding photography issue after I was brought to court. I have made the same request for proof to others in other forums about lawsuits, and no one has been able to supply more than hearsay. A copy of the complaint accompanied by the actual judgment would perfect the claim that a photographer has been sued for damages over issues directly related to a wedding. Until I receive such proof, the is issue will remain in the realm of myth and urban legend.

I just wish that people would just stop perpetuating the myth that a bride can successfully sue a photographer for damages just because she wants to or because she feels traumatized by the images, or for any other reason directly connected to the events of the wedding in which the photographer acted responsibly and committed no acts which caused physical endangerment to the bride and /or her guests.

I had a client come to look at my portfolio and make nice comments about my work. Then the bride got out the check book before she signed the contract. She asked, "Are you insured in case you screw up?"

-- No, I said. But guess what? I just checked my calendar and I'm booked on your special day!

I then referred her to one of the photogs who encouraged the other bride to take me to court. Guess what? She threatened to sue him when he presented her with a portrait that she didn't like.

Actually, Mark, I took my wedding work quite seriously, and I was successful enough not to have to place much more than a one-inch advertisement in the YPs. Most of my work came from referrals. The lawsuit arose from my late arrival at the wedding. There was a death in my immediate family which occurred less than two hours before the wedding. The church's telephone was not listed in the phone book, and my contact for the wedding party did not answer her cell phone. I arrived at the wedding twenty minutes late. The lawsuit was filed almost nine months after the wedding after two local photographers (one of whom received a referral fee from me for that wedding) prompted the bride to take me to court. There were other circumstances involved-- all of which were out of my control. Things just snowballed for nine months

I haven't photographed 900 weddings. Had I not retired from weddings in '99 (after fifteen years in the business) I would not have come even close to that mark. I was very selective in my choice of jobs, and in truth, I don't expect to live much past age 70. The numbers just aren't in my favor (or many other photographers' favor for that matter) to actually photograph nine hundred weddings and to service that many clients.

I now write and teach for a living. Only a small portion of my income is derived from commercial photography. (NONE of it is derived from wedding photography). One of my writing projects centers on modern urban myths. The wedding photographer who has been successfully sued for damages is one of those myths.
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Old 09-30-2007   #20
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Bloo Dog,
what's it to you? Why do you NEED the docket number? Do you really think that Mark would make up a crap story such as this? GMAB. You want first hand knowledge?

I photographed a wedding a couple years ago and the mother of the bride threatened to sue me and turn me in to the BBB. I contacted PPA and they took care of it. I payed $200 and flew back out to the place of the wedding and rephotographed the bride & groom. Why? Because mom didn't like the photos. So, we restaged them to mom's liking. No I didn't go to court. But, it very well could've.


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