I recently hired a photographer to take family pictures, and I was so excited.  This is someone that I have been acquaintances with for many years and the pictures that I had seen were really awesome!  We got it scheduled and I went crazy picking matching outfits for the kids, coordinating clothes for the parents and all of that general was on!

I should have been listening to warning bells when coordinating the date was difficult. I was emailing and texting her to schedule a date and it would take days to a week, or more, for her to respond.  I ignored it and went onward.  The date finally arrived and she was late, but that happens, and she was very nice and apologetic.

The session was fantastic, herding cats like always.  One of the kids was screaming, another not looking at the camera, she was waving jelly beans, I was sweating, but it was over quickly.  Not super quickly, but after 40 minutes or so she felt like she had a lot of good shots of the fam and we were good to go.  Seriously, the least painful of all the photo shoots we have ever done.  Usually, I both look forward to and dread the shoots because it is so crazy.

She was uncomfortable charging us, but I (having been forewarned by my lovely cousin) insisted.  She hemmed and hawed for a few minutes and decided to give us a 25% friends and family discount.  She whipped out her cell phone, I handed over my cc and it was done.  Little did I know how done.

I didn't hear from her for a week.  Not a picture, not a teaser on Facebook, nothing.  I finally sent an email that week saying that I understood she was super busy, and I was very excited to see some pictures.  Nothing.  Not a response at all.  I tried Facebook.  Hey girl, I am so excited to see something, etc.  Nothing.

Another week goes by and I get an email.  Her Mac is down and she will get something soon.  Very quickly thereafter, I get 5 images via PDF.  5 images.  The family picture was cute, the baby was ok, my sons was cute, but my oldest daughters picture was unacceptable.  She also sent some holiday card options, a baby announcement mock up, and gifted us a Facebook cover photo using those same pictures.  Beyond that, I wanted to see some proofs so that I could choose which pictures to order.  Here is where it gets cray cray and I don't understand what happened.  She said she understood and would have some more proofs to me that weekend.  Nothing.

On Monday, I turned it over to the hubs.  It had been two months since the session.  I was so upset over this issue, and not wanting to hurt my sweet cousin, that I needed to detach.  Also?  He is fantastic about dealing with people. He is so patient and kind, that people respond well to him.  Over the next couple of days she exchanged a few emails with him, said that I refused to pay her, said she was done and sending the JPEG images (of the five we had received previously).  I am cutting out a lot, but you get the idea.  I do know that he offered whatever she thought was fair in order to see and get more pictures.

I realize in the grand scheme that this is minor.  I have a wonderful, healthy family.  Every year the family pictures bring me a great amount of joy, I use them as holiday cards, and give them as gifts to family members.  This year, I can't do that and it makes me sad.  I probably will use the bit that I have, but they aren't great.  I will make do and move on but it was an important lesson. Don't do business with friends and family unless you are willing to give the money away for nothing.  It's like that old saying, a loan to family is actually a gift unless you want to lose the relationship.  Set expectations friends, and get it in writing.  Learn from my sorry mistakes.  While I can hold my head high because I know we treated her kindly and fairly, I feel cheated out of my digital memories.

Happy weekend!  Here is one of the holiday card mock ups.  Cute!