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'Semi-professional' unpaid photographer deletes cousin's wedding pictures; AITA?

'Semi-professional' unpaid photographer deletes cousin's wedding pictures; AITA?


Asking friends and family members to be amateaur unpaid vendors at your wedding is often a recipe for a tension-filled mess...

So, when a frustrated photographer decided to vent to the moral compass of the internet otherwise known as Reddit's 'Am I the As$hole' about their cousin's wedding debt, people were ready for the family tea.

AITA (Am I the As%hole) for deleting my cousin's wedding pictures that I wasn't paid for?

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 4 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 saw 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 and 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? AITA?

Here's what the jury of internet strangers had to say about this one...

CuriousTsukihime said:

NTA - I’m really not understanding votes otherwise at this time. 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.

theoldman-1313 said:

ESH. I agree with not sending the photos until you received the money. She was obviously planning on stiffing you. However, if this is how you handle your product (borrowing a flash drive to store the only copy of someone's photos), you should give up the claim to being any sort of professional photographer.

lovely_aria_ann said:

ESH. There is no way you are 'semi-professional.' A professional has multiple backups of paid work. I used to own a studio and I had every file backed up on a hard drive AND stored in the cloud.

It is irresponsible to store them solely on a flash drive. I'm willing to bet your work probably wasn't worth the $1000 and that is why she didn't want to pay.

Owning a camera doesn't make you a professional. I don't care how nice of a camera it is. Professionalism means treating it like a business and taking responsibility for safely storing your images. She sucks for not paying you. But you suck too.

The_Coaltrain said:

You couldn't get a hard drive between Dec and Jun? Run us all through the semi-professional aspect of being a photographer again? Is this the reference you really want when trying to get future work? You suck, they suck, I feel sorry for your roommate. ESH.

mdthomas said:

They were your photos. Your cousin hadn't paid for them. You simply deleted some of your photos. NTA.

EmpressJainaSolo said:

ESH. She was trying to stiff you. She’s obviously an A. However, if you are going to take professional jobs you need to have the equipment necessary before the job, not after.

You should not have agreed to the job if you didn’t have the memory space to store the photos safely. Did you have a contract? What did it say about payment? While your cousin is wrong to have never paid you your choices sound far from professional.

gingerspice1989 said:

NTA. She didn't pay and you were generous to even send her the ones you still had on your phone. You never agreed to give your services for free.

heyitsta12 said:

ESH. Former freelance photographer here… what quality, file size, and type of photos did you take that they all fit comfortably on your buddies flash drive???

Every photo I’ve ever taken had to be put on a hard drive because the original images are huge! To me, that lets me know your photos probably were not good quality. She also obviously sucks for not wanting to pay for them.

No_Scientist7086 said:

NTA - She backed out of paying you after agreeing to. Wow. I have zero idea how anyone can blame you for this.

It looks like the opinions were fairly divided for this one, but most people agreed that the everyone involved is in the wrong.

Sources: Reddit
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