A few weeks ago I returned home from shooting a wedding. It had been a particularly draining day, it was late, I was tired, and all I wanted was my bed.

Until I looked on the fridge and saw a newspaper clipping with my photo in it. A photo that I didn’t give permission to use or even release to a vendor. And suddenly my exhaustion turned to aggravation and instead of my bed, I wanted a carton of eggs and some toilet paper. #sweetrevenge

To make a long story short, a vendor from a wedding took an image off my Facebook business page. Without permission. Then submitted that image to be featured in an article by the city newspaper. And I was upset, furious, and really frustrated because I believe in sharing images with vendors. I’m happy to share images because I know that it takes a community to make a wedding happen. The food, flowers, lighting, music, etc. are a part of the day and as the one who captures the day and those details, I’m happy to share.

Sharing is caring and stealing is not cool. I took a few days to cool down from this because I didn’t want to react out of anger. I find it valuable as a business owner and as a human being to have guidelines to help me deal with conflict. These are the points that I always come down to:

  1. How would I want to be treated in this situation?
  2. Is this a valuable relationship?

Yes they did something wrong. Yes I was upset. But ultimately I want to have a good vendor relationship with this company because they produce good work and I know I will work with them at future weddings.  At the end of the day, I didn’t want to bury this company with bad reviews or demand a stack of cash. I want the wedding industry to be a good community and I think that starts with maintaining good relationships among vendors and coming from places of respect and value.

I wrote an email to the vendor in a polite (but stern) way. Within 45 minutes, I received an email from three different people in the company, including the owner. They were apologetic, got to the bottom of it, and made sure that this would not happen again…to me or any other photographers.

No matter how badly people may treat you, the way you react to situations is a reflection of your business and ultimately, you. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your business and communicate with people in the industry if there are issues. I encourage each of you to stand up for yourself and each other to make the wedding and photography industry a better place.

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Gretchen Robards

I’m a farm girl by nature and a city lover by heart and I will always say yes to a cup of coffee. I’m forever caught between the perfect donut and a killer spinach smoothie. I love singing, naps, good stories, and some day I’ll write a book. Until then, I’ll keep saving for my dream trip to Australia. I don’t promise my clients that their images will look like the ones they’ve pinned on Pinterest but I do promise that we will laugh and be awkward and take photos and make memories. If you want to win my heart you should laugh at my jokes, say that dogs are better than cats, and play some rap music and have a dance party with me. I photograph people and occasionally my dog Oakley, who actually hates having his picture taken.

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