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Photographer Deletes Cousin’s Wedding Photos After She Refuses To Pay For Them For Months

Wedding photographer taking a picture.
simonkr/Getty Images

Hiring family members to perform a job for you is always a risky endeavor.

Generally, most people do this in the hopes that they might get a discount.

Even so, this doesn’t mean that they should expect any special favors for family members to provide the service they do for a living, and should always treat them as they would any other business.

Redditor and professional photographer MostFitBobo was happy to serve as the photographer for their cousin’s wedding, particularly after she agreed to the price quote they offered.

However, the original poster (OP) began to regret their decision more and more with each passing day, while still awaiting payment from their cousin.

This eventually resulted in the OP making a decision as to what to do with the photographs that severely impaired their relationship with their cousin, as well as a few other family members.

Wondering if they acted rashly or unfairly, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for deleting my cousin’s wedding pictures that I wasn’t paid for?”

The OP explained why they felt they had held on to their cousin’s wedding photographs for long enough.

“My younger cousin’s wedding was last December, and she asked me to be the photographer for the wedding (I’m a semi-professional photographer).”

“She told me what types of photos she wanted, and I gave her a quote of just under 1k.”

“Wedding happens; I take the pictures, I edit them, then wait for payment which we agreed I’d get in full after the wedding before sending any pictures.”

“However, suddenly she didn’t have money and wanted to set up a payment plan to pay it off in 8 months AND still get the pictures now.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust her but once you start opening such doors you’ll find it hard to close them so I told her we could do the payment plan, but the photos will only be released when the full amount is paid (didn’t even add interest).”

“She didn’t respond.”

“February rolls in, and she asks to at least see ‘samples’ to confirm that they were worth the price.”

“I sent four pictures, and she says she’ll show them to her husband and get back to me.”

“Cue silence for a week or two until I asked for an update, and she responded saying she’s still discussing it with him.”

“I told her this was getting long and she must just start paying now, and she ignored me again.”

“So I’d saved the photos on my roommate’s flash drive temporarily while I was waiting on an actual hard drive.”

“June came around and he texted me while I was at work saying he needed to use it and took it from my room but saw that there were still files on it.”

“He couldn’t move it to his laptop because it didn’t have space (thus him needing the flash), so he was ‘asking’ if he could delete the files.”

“I said fine, and he deleted them.”

“I still had about 20 of the photos saved on my phone from when I was choosing/sending the samples, so I just explained the situation in a message to her and sent the existing photos free of charge.”

“That was last month, and I’m still getting flamed for this.”

“She’s been slandering me online, and it’s quite literally created a division between our families to the point that our mums don’t talk now.”

“I obviously feel bad but also feel like, given the circumstances, I wasn’t really in the wrong though still acknowledge that it’s obviously very sh*tty for her that I would’ve wished to avoid.”

“What do you guys think?”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community generally agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for deleting their cousin’s wedding photographs.

Almost everyone agreed that the OP had every right to delete the photographs, as their cousin was clearly trying to delay paying for the pictures for as long as possible and had no right to them until she paid the agreed upon-rate, while others felt this was a clear example on why you never do business with family members.


“Your cousin contracted you for a service, with payment agreed.”

“She failed to pay.”

“At no point were those photos ever her property, as she never completed the transaction and attempted to skirt by without ever doing so.”

“Yes there’s an added layer because she’s your cousin, but regardless of that, you made a call about your property.”

“This had gone on longer than any store would hold shoes on layaway.”

“She doesn’t get to treat you like a business vendor and then shuffle you around because you’re family after the fact.”

“I hope you learned never to do business for or with family again.”

“Most wedding photographers don’t hold on to pics if they know they’re not getting paid for longer than a few months.”

“The cousin broke the contract first, OP was not honor bound to hold onto any IP after that.”-CuriousTsukihime

“Don’t. Do. Business. With. Family.”- iploggged

“I would respond to her slamming you online by saying this is what happens when you don’t pay for services rendered and post copies of any and all texts/ contracts.”- Old_Pear_9560


“She played around too much and continued to drag out her responses.”

“No payment, no photos.”


“Family or not, she was given options.”

“She didn’t respond in a timely manner with a solution.”

“Now she gets nothing.”

“I don’t understand why people hire others for their services if they don’t even have the money.”

“Surely everybody else got paid.”

“I’m sure she was hoping as family you would just say “F” it and hand them over if she dragged long enough.”- Cricket_Worker

“They were your photos.”

“Your cousin hadn’t paid for them.”

“You simply deleted some of your photos.”

“NTA.”- mdthomas

“It is for this exact reason I refused to have my nephew and niece in my class when I taught.”

“Do NOT mix professional and family life.”

“It rarely works out well.”- Over-Marionberry-686

“Whereas I agree that you should improve your storage logistics, I think it was way obvious that your cousin wasn’t going to pay for your job.”

“Alone her attitude of ‘let me see if they’re worthy of the amount we agreed upon’ is typically A H.”

“Add up the slandering… she’s in huge A H territory.”

“Problem here is your postponing doing the backup for around six months.”

“But still, NTA.”

“She tried to get your work for free, refused to acknowledge her previous arrangement with you, and then cried when she didn’t get everything for free.”

“Can’t you send a cease and desist?”- Bell957


“You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”- Realistic_Serve_7670

There were a few, however, who felt the OP went too far by deleting the photographs and could have at least moved the pictures to another drive and withheld them until their cousin paid for them or shouldn’t have offered their services without being paid first.


“As a photographer myself (and many I know), quite literally have plans in place if we suddenly pass away, that our clients will still get their pictures.”

“A wedding is a one-time thing, if you want to shoot weddings, then first off, you need to act like a professional (family or not), and second, you need to learn how to deal with hard clients.”

“If you want to be a photographer, then you also need a contract that lays out exactly the terms of the services.”

“When payment needs to be made, and how long photos are held, editing time, etc.”

“YOU messed up first by pretending to be a wedding photographer and second for not collecting payment before the wedding.”

“You also were storing images on someone else thumb drive?”

“What about the camera card they were originally taken on?”

“A professional wedding photographer (or anyone who cares just a smidge) would be double backing up photos, regardless of the other drama that you allowed to go down because you aren’t conducting yourself in a professional manner.”

“I have had clients have unexpected financial hardship come up.”

“Instead of just saying screw it and delete their photos, no matter how hard of clients they were, I gave them time and guess what… if they never come back and pay for their photos, at least I know I’m in the right.”

“They always come back though! I also do photography that is a one-time, big life event type thing and I would absolutely never do this to a stranger, let alone a relative.”

“It wouldn’t cost you anything to back up the photos, throw them in a drawer, and wait until they can afford to pay you.”

“All drama aside, have a heart and for goodness sake, stop posing as a professional because you are far from.”- Stinkadore11

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

And since the OP’s cousin didn’t pay, then the OP was under no obligation to give her her wedding photographs.

Even if the OP could have thought a bit more carefully before deleting the pictures.

No doubt, both the OP and their cousin will likely think very carefully, or at least level their expectations, about ever hiring or working for family members ever again.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.