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Wedding Photographer Who Stepped In Last Minute Won’t Release Photos Until Bill Paid In Full

wedding photographer
kkshepel/Getty Images

Ah, weddings.

They’re called blessed events but it seems like they’ve got more drama than a Shakespeare festival.

Even the vendors hired to make the day special can get involved in the fracas.

Cancelations, getting paid or not getting paid, problems with quality or quantity, not meeting the bride’s expectations… Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour has fewer logistical issues than the average wedding!

So unsurprisingly, when a photographer stepped up last minute as a favor for a friend, things haven’t gone smoothly when it comes to payment for services rendered. The fill-in wedding photographer turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for an objective perspective.

Redditor Belle0910 asked:

“AITA for refusing to send wedding photos until payment is made in full?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (24, female) did a last minute favour for a friend of mine for his mum’s wedding. Little bit of back story for you.”

“I love doing photography I always have and I always will. While I was out with my friends I was unexpectedly called by my brother-in-law. I don’t usually get a call from him so when I saw he was calling I answered and asked if everything was okay.”

“He had explained the situation about the previous photographer dropping out last minute at 6pm on the NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING! and asked me to help and I would be paid by a certain date.”

“I agreed and travelled 4 hours with my camera and laptop up to this wedding venue to take photos for the bride and groom.”

“Until today I found out I’m not being paid until much later in the month, if not next month. So I sat and had a thought about it and came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t send any photos.”

“I then explained this to my friend and he was unaware of a date being set for payment and only the amount. Until I’d showed him that part of the conversation we had between each other.”

“So now I’ve been called an a**hole for refusing to send any photos over until payment has been made in full by given date.”

“But everyone’s already been using my photos quite happily for profile pictures and cover photos from the few I had already sent over. Not to mention I’d already been hounded by people for said photos as they needed them asap?”

“I feel the whole situation is about to put a divide between me and my friend when I don’t want it too but am I the a-hole for refusing to send any more photos until payment has been made or am I overreacting?”

The OP added:

“I think he’s just a bit annoyed because I told him no one is getting any more photos from the wedding until payment has been made.”

“I think it took him off guard a bit as he wouldn’t usually expect that from me as I’m so laid back.”

“I am gonna be sticking to my guns, because I feel like this might make an example of it doesn’t matter who you are, payment is to be made in full on the date regardless of your relationship to me.”

The OP summed up their predicament.

“I think I’m the arse hole because I feel like I could be overreacting to such a small thing. But when an agreement is made I feel like that agreement should be stuck by.”

“I just don’t feel like I’m the a-hole when I was told a date I’d be paid only to then find out it’ll be much later than what was originally said.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors almost unanimously agreed the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) and were not very trusting.

NTA. I’m wondering it the prior photographer dropped out because the wedding didn’t meet a ‘payment in full before the event’ clause.” ~ fuzzy_mic

“Or they tried to haggle on price, or they said, oh we’ll pay you in a couple of weeks, etc…”

“These people are almost certainly going to try to stiff OP. They gave her a deposit or whatever, she gave them a few pictures, until payment is received, delivery of product does not need to be complete.”

“I saw in another reply they haven’t paid her anything. DO NOT GIVE THEM PICTURES. They’re already using your work without payment.” ~ Hemiak

“They’re going to leave you high and dry if you send those photos. You’ll never see that money. NTA.” ~ ThatsItImOverThis

“OP, once you deliver the photos, you’ll never see the money. Anyone who texts that isn’t the bride, say, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m only communicating with the bride, since she’s my client’.”

“Then, block them. Text the bride, ‘If you’re paying on X date, you’ll receive the photos on X date’.”

“And, moving forward, only show sample photos with your watermark on them.” ~ crystallz2000

“The story [about the other photographer] sounds fishy to me. I’ll bet they didn’t have the money to pay her. If it was the photographer’s fault, they should be able to get their deposit back.”

“They also should still have the money to pay the rest of the bill if they expected her to show up and that money could have been paid to you until the deposit was returned which, quite frankly, the photographer should have returned immediately.”

“They’re giving you a story and trying to pressure you to drop it.”

“Tell them they have X number of days to pay you or the photos will be erased. You don’t actually have to erase them but, it might light a fire under their asses.”

“You spent a lot of time and money on this and you deserve to be paid. Otherwise, take them to small claims court.” ~ babcock27

“NTA. Absolutely not, this is the professional approach. You sent out some freebies to show the work has been done.”

“Do not send any more until you’ve been paid. Once the clients receive the work they have not paid for, many of them tend to put paying for it on the back burner and make you chase after it.”

“Holding on to the final deliverables is a great motivator. You are not overreacting. You are dealing with people who insult you and call you names instead of keeping their end of the bargain.”

“They are bullying you into giving them what they want instead of paying you. You are definitely not overreacting.”

“It may damage your relationship with these people, but keeping polite distance from them is probably just as well.” ~ Content-Plenty-268

“NTA. He (or they?) don’t want to pay you. If you send the photos, you definitely will never be paid—and that will put a divide between you and your friend, anyway.”

“So stand firm and if they want the photos, they have to honor their word and pay you (p.s., make sure the check clears first!).”

“Since there will be a divide either way, it may as well be a paid divide!” ~ dg__875

Others pointed out this was a favor, which deserves special consideration, not late payment.

“NTA—you did this as a favour at short notice and drove 4 hours each way, the least they can do is pay up on time.”

“Stick to your guns no pictures until payment is made in full.” ~ theitguy1968

“ANYONE who is complaining is free to pay you the total amount…” ~ SheiB123

“And they need to pay for your trip too. You drove 4 hours to help. They should be bending over backward to pay you for your time.”

“You are definitely not an ah. They are for sure.”

“And if your friend is hounding you ask him to pay for it, and he can get reimbursed by his mom. When he refuses to do that you will know, because he knows his mom will not pay. NTA.” ~ Beneficial-Eye4578

“If anything, you should be paid first and quickly as a thank you for your willingness to agree with less than 24hrs notice and a four hour drive away.”

“I’d’a been sending you something as soon as you agreed. That’s how grateful I’d think most couples would be in such a situation.” ~ AgroWombat

“I used to do photography and never sent more than a watermarked low quality sample if that until I received payment in full. I wouldn’t do a large event like a wedding without a deposit either.”

“Also never do work for friends and family at a discount. It’s either free because I don’t mind and I do things my way or it’s full price. They can be the worst clients and will expect you to go above and beyond and not compensate you. NTA.” ~ Rotorua0117

However one Redditor felt the OP was the a**hole (YTA) for ever doing the favor.

“YTA because you created the situation with a high probability of trouble. Living in the land of it’s half favor and half business has more probability of not working out than it does working out.”

“I wonder why the photographer canceled at 6 PM the day before. Could it be because he was notified that he wouldn’t be getting paid as initially agreed upon?”

“Honestly, from a business standpoint, you are correct, not to release the photos. Really, that’s the only leverage you have to get paid.”

“You have a valuable skill/hobby, stop doing favors.” ~ mhall1201

While one person found fault with the OP, everyone agreed on one thing.

No money, no photos.


Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.