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Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Posted by scarlett2001 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 20, 09 at 20:03

My husband is a photographer and does beautiful wedding photos. And yes, I know "all brides are beautiful" and I'm certainly not looking down on somebody who is uh... less than presentable, because I would never win any beauty contests myself.

But, here is the story: the couple are just...there's no way the photographer can make them look good. Not with stretching the photos so they seem taller and thinner or using a heavy filter. A lot of money was spent on this wedding and my husband knows he will be criticized for the resulting photos. I have seen the proofs, the couple has not yet seen the photos. I mean, even with a ton of retouching, they are to sit down and cry about. What to do, what to do? How to even say it to them? This is so terribly delicate. All I can think of is to show them maybe to the bride's mother and offer to refund the money and destroy the photos. But then they will not have any professional wedding pictures. A good photographer makes his subjects look better than they do. But this case was just hopeless.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Do they live in a world without mirrors? Do you honestly think they have no idea they are unattractive? I am sure these people know they are not Brad and Angelina. If you are worried about tears or hysterics (not sure why that would happen) then overnight the proofs to them (or the mother, whoever you agreed to give them to) and let them calm down before meeting with them. Just because they aren't beautiful doesn't mean their wedding photographs should be destroyed. Yeesh.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I cannot imagine they will cry in sadness over the pictures. Did he capture the joy and excitement they felt? Can you see love in each other's expressions? Did he get all the people, poses, and moments they wanted? Did he use the style they were expecting? Failure on any of those matters rightfully would cause distress. However, failure to eliminate his hunched back and bulbuous nose or her strawberry mark and thinning hair is unlikely to cause tears.

Your husband might do well to survey a couple hundred regular people to find out what they think a good photographer should do. I highly suspect 'make people look better than they do' will be low on the list.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Now, Sue, don't twist up what I said! I did not say their wedding photos should be destroyed because they are un-beautiful. I said they are going to be disappointed and unhappy with them. AND with the photographer. These folks paid quite a lot of money for the photography and the results are unusable. Word of mouth will be that the photos came out awful. That is bad business for my husband. That is not only a sad disappointment for the happy couple but dollars and cents to our business.

And you would be surprized at how few people see themselves as they appear to others. They think some kind of wedding magic will make them look like a princess that day. But reality is, there is only so much that can be done.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I would give the couple the photos. Not to give them will really reflect negatively on your husband. A photographer can only do so much with what he has to work with. If he did his best, photographed them in flattering light and at their best angles, then the results are out of his hands. I would make no apologies for the photos and see how the couple reacts.

I am a wedding coordinator. I had a wedding last year where the bride and groom were both quite overweight. She chose to wear a strapless gown, which was not a good choice. To me and the photographer she looked about 7 months pregnant (she was not) in the photos, but the couple loved them. They knew what they look like and they accepted it.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Excuse me, but who the heck are you to decide this couple is unattractive?

Your husband should deliver the proofs he contracted for, and print the photos the couple want. If he doesn't want to use these photos in his portfolio, that's just fine.

Do you honestly think these people don't own mirrors, and haven't looked at themselves?

Your husband should deliver and seriously, you need to butt out. It wasn't YOUR wedding.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Maybe this couple doesn't care about physical beauty.

Maybe the family would think the pictures are great, UNLESS you say something indicating that you feel otherwise. Unless the photos are blurred or something, how could you offer to refund their money without saying, in effect, that they are so ugly they wouldn't even want pictures of their own wedding?

What do you mean, "What to do, what to do? How to even say it to them?" How to say WHAT to them? That they are ugly? Why do you feel you have to say that, or make any comment on their appearance?

If I were the bride's mother, and you offered to refund the money on the pictures where obviously nothing is wrong except the looks of the couple, it would break my heart (and I would be FURIOUS at you). I know what my child looks like. I would NOT want to hear that someone thinks she is so ugly that they can't accept money for photographing her.

Your second post indicates that you are concerned about your husband's professional reputation. But surely that kind of unkindness and insult -- and no matter how gently you try to say something, that is exactly how it is going to sound to the clients -- would be much worse for your professional reputation than the family complaining about the photos. After all, if this couple is as world-class unattractive as you say, what do you think is going to go through the mind of anyone to whom they complain?

Treat this family exactly as you would any other. They may love their photos. But if they don't, don't defend yourself by being cruel.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Another point I neglected to make - do not blur, filter, edit, or otherwise change the photos unless asked to do so.

My wedding photographer offered to "stretch" my husband to make him appear taller. We were both offended. I'm nearly 6 feet, he's 5'8", and the photographer thought we looked "unbalanced".

Well, these are the heights we are. We do not feel unbalanced. We wanted photos of the people we are, not what the photograper felt we "should be".


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I'm just dumbfounded and sad by this thread. :(


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

"...there's no way the photographer can make them look good..."

"...even with a ton of retouching, they are to sit down and cry about..."

"...All I can think of is to show them maybe to the bride's mother and offer to refund the money and destroy the photos..."

You want to offer to destroy the photos because YOU think the couple are ugly. Not because they do. Or because they are unhappy. Or because the quality of the photos is poor. You made it pretty clear the issue with the photos, possibly necessitating destruction, is that they are not good looking. Maybe your husband should have thought of that before he took the job. Did they get ugly between the time he signed on and the day of the wedding? Did HE think he would be able to create a miracle?

The results are "unusable". Unusable for what? The purpose of wedding photos is to depict the memories of a day, not to make people look like professional models. People will see the photos of the couple and think poorly of your husband's work? Really? Do you think these photos will end up in Town & Country and people will think, "wow, that couple are ugly, I bet the photographer made them that way"? Their family and friends will see the photos and think how the photos look like the people in the photos.

You have a sensitivity chip missing. Seriously.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Just present them as you would any other wedding photos. Do not comment on how they look. Let them decide for themselves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and they may feel fine about your pictures. They certainly have looked in a mirrow often enough to not expect pictures that make them into Bride Magazine's Couple of the Year. Be positive and just go for it.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

You are not understanding at all. I am NOT judging this or any other couple we photograph. This is about a product of our business and we want to make it as satisfactory to the customer as we can, and also uphold our business reputation. Perhaps if you could see what I am talking about, you would understand. (Too bad I can't post them here but that would be completely unethical.)

Yesterday we showed the proofs to the MOB. Yes, she did cry, and not with joy. Then she got very angry. Her exact words were, "We paid so much for the dress, had a professional makeup artist and hairdresser and THIS is what you came up with!" Naturally we could NOT say anything about what we had to work with. She left our studio threatening to sue us. And if we defend ourselves, we are "clearly missing a sensitivity chip" and all the other things you all have said here. All I can think of is to give her a total refund plus proofs and still she will probably sue us.

The quality of the wedding photos is very good. The poses are imaginative, color is true, etc. etc. We did everything we were supposed to do, except work magic. I just hope she cools down and we can talk. Businesses like ours are run by reputation and now it will be ruined in this bad economy and it's not even our fault.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Too bad the MOB felt that way. It's a shame the family is unhappy.

But what about what sue36 asked?

"You made it pretty clear the issue with the photos, possibly necessitating destruction, is that they are not good looking. Maybe your husband should have thought of that before he took the job. Did they get ugly between the time he signed on and the day of the wedding? Did HE think he would be able to create a miracle?"


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

"Word of mouth will be that the photos came out awful. That is bad business for my husband. "

I thought this was telling...


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Agree with Gellchom and Sue...

did they just get uglier by the day?

I think they would have a hard time proving their case if they sued unless the photos were of poor quality. I can understand the disappointment (spent a lot of money and energy to look good) but surely they know the truth.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I can't imagine the suit would be successful. I assume your husband was professional and on site at the proscribed times, and that the photos were developed and provided to the client when promised. I assume that whatever groupings, poses and shots requested were done. You have already assured us that the quality (color, etc.) of the photos is good. Anyone comparing the actual bride and groom to the photos would consider them to be accurate. Yea, if she actually brought up a suit, it would have to be dealt with, but it wouldn't likely be sucessful.

I think that most people who provide goods and services to weddings find that people sometimes have unreasonable expectations. Ask people who own catering, alterations or DJ buisnesses for their experiences. I'm sure you will find that most customers are happy with what they do, but sometimes you get someone who just cannot be pleased. It comes with the territory.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I agree with Duckie. If they sue, the burden of proof will be on them to prove that the photos are of poor quality, not the subject matter. If the photos are professional, they will have a hard time proving the photographer was negligent.

Someone mentioned that the photographer should have known what the couple looked like before taking the job, but that may not have been possible. I have quite a few clients who live out of the area and we do the planning by phone and e-mail. I sometimes don't meet one or both of them until they arrive in town for the wedding. If they live locally, the bride or the bride and her mother may have booked vendors, so the photographer may not have seen the two of them together until the wedding day.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I agree with a lot that's been said..

I do understand that photogs can't meet every couple and as protection perhaps they should start asking for photos of the couple so they know what they have to work with?

I'd love to see the pictures to see why they are so bad.
Unattractive people usually know they are, I don't get why they'd think that one photographer out of the many that's taken their picture in their lifetime (think school photos) would/could make them look better then they really are.

Frivolous lawsuit if one comes of it. I don't think there's any way a judge wouldn't rule in the photographers favor.

Scarlett, does your hubby have a web site showing off his work? I wouldn't worry about this if people are able to see it (quality of what he does) for themselves.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Another thought - they chose the photographer; the photographer didn't choose them. Therefore, unless they can prove he misrepresented himself, they are responsible for their choices. I doubt that a lawyer would take the case if they try to sue. If they were to go to small claims court, the photographer could counter-sue for his costs. The mother is upset, but she will hopefully calm down and think through this rationally.

I wonder if perhaps the mother has always had a problem with her daughter's appearance and therefore she put money and effort into doing everything possible to make her daughter more attractive in her (the mom's) eyes. If so, the daughter is the real loser here.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Keep in mind too that this could happen no matter where they land on the beauty scale. If someone believes they should photograph a few notches higher than they do, it could happen again.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

To answer your question about why we took this job in the first place, my husband initially met and did the contract with the MOB, who is the actual client since she is paying. We met with the couple later, but this has just never happened before. We don't turn people away because they're less than perfect, we use retouching, etc. and have never had this extreme of a situation.

If anybody is sued, it should be the so-called makeup artist. She did the foundation many shades lighter than the bride's face and stopped at her jawline, so her neck and shoulders were a different color, while he face looked deathly pasty. She used very dark cranberry lipstick, which photographed almost black in artificial light and she extended the lipstick WAY over the girl's lips, which are very narrow. That gave her a clown-like effect. The worst thing was, she painted on big swooping eyebrows, going down in the middle and up at the outside of her eyes. This gave her a frowning look when she was not smiling and a mean look when she was smiling. (If you don't know what I mean, just draw a Happy Face with two eyebrows going diagonally up at the outside of the face and you will see.) What I can't believe is that nobody in her immediate family/friends stepped in and said, "Hey, this makeup is not flattering you one bit." But I guess they didn't. Oh - she also used makeup to "contour" the groom's face.

So now we have offered, in writing, to refund all money and give the MOB the proofs for free. We are eating the time, work, cost of material, etc. With our profound apologies, etc. The MOB can still sue if she wants because she has a "loss". I don't know if the bride and groom would even have to appear in court because the mother is the client. There is nothing more we can do, unless any of you have suggestions, which is why I posted here in the first place, as you are brides, not photographers, and I thought you may have constructive ideas from the client's point of view.

I know this is a very delicate subject and I apologize
to those of you who were offended. Your reactions have been useful because now I know what to expect if we go to court...gulp!


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Scarlett, your last post, had it been included in the 1st post sheds a lot of light on this.

So now we have offered, in writing, to refund all money and give the MOB the proofs for free. We are eating the time, work, cost of material, etc. With our profound apologies, etc. The MOB can still sue if she wants because she has a "loss". I don't know if the bride and groom would even have to appear in court because the mother is the client. There is nothing more we can do, unless any of you have suggestions, which is why I posted here in the first place, as you are brides, not photographers, and I thought you may have constructive ideas from the client's point of view.

Frivolous if she sues.
From what you are saying, it sounds like you can tell what the problem is, sounds like the "makeup artist" should be the one everyone looks at.

I wouldn't have offered to refund anything, doesn't sound like your fault.

The one question I do have is how good is your hubby with photoshop? Is there any way to clean it up? Change makeup shades?

Then there is possibly redoing some. While I understand it isn't the wedding day, she'd still have pictures


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

"The quality of the wedding photos is very good. The poses are imaginative, color is true, etc. etc. We did everything we were supposed to do,....."

Then you owe her nothing. Zero. They looked like what they looked like. I see no fault of yours anywhere.

Given the conversation you described, I would threaten to sue her if she resorts to slander. And if you're worried about the pictures impacting your reputation, I wouldn't let anyone see them...as in nobody. No proofs. No nothing. Destroy them. Take whatever action you would take if your equipment failed and you had no pictures. Refund their money and be done with them. Anything else you do will only enlarge the issue. You can't please them. Please protect yourselves.

I've been a photographer for forty years. Wedding professional for more than a few back in the seventies. Stuff happens. If you did your job competently, that's all you've got. If they don't want them, they don't get them. A simple refund is all that's left. There is no other remedy. Do that and move on.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

How did you guys make out with this?

Was it resolved?


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

MOB is taking us to small claims court, no court date yet.
Oh - and the happy couple already split up.

We are now asking a lawyer to word a kind of escape clause into our contract so we don't have this problem again. Something to the effect that we are not responsible for results of photographic images caused by the make up artist. He will word it all out legally.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

What a disaster. I hope it turns out ok for you.

On a side note, do you think that once they saw the pictures they realized how ugly they are and called it off because of that?

(*tongue-in-cheek*)


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Assuming your description is accurate, I would love to see this claim.

Anybody can sue anybody for anything. You're dealing with flakes. You've offered a refund and other consideration in writing. They haven't been damaged by any act or omission of yours. They've got nothing. Don't give an inch.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Be sure to take the photos with you to court. Once the judge sees them and fully understands the "conflict" he/she will surely side with you.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Crikey! Now the other post makes more sense.

If the husband looks 'normal' then that would exonerate the images, right?

Unfortunately by offering an apology in writing and the refund, any legal arguments may be moot, although if the marriage is already over (wow, although if I'd been smart in my first marriage, I would have made my exit - well before, but certainly not long after) there may be an exit clause there.

I agree you need a legal disclaimer but it shouldn't be restricted to makeup, I don't know if there's a standard one out there, but it ought to be something along the lines of "circumstances beyond the photographer's control" - ie, venue, head of the bride (I'm not buying into the debate but some people really don't like what they see when they see themselves, and that's their problem, not yours) dress, etc.

If the bride's the only odd-looking one (I would also ask that the MOB state EXACTLY what her issue with it is) then, like I say, bring a digital file or large print to court and point out the differences. Avoid direct criticism of the make-up artist, it makes you SOUND like you're shifting the blame, even if you are, you have to do it subtly ;)

What I would have done under the circumstances was firstly discuss the difference retouching would make (and I'm sure there's not much that can't be photoshopped, I'm a rank amateur and I can do a lot) also, I would have offered to do a retake of the formal pictures. Not that uncommon, and you could have diplomatically suggested a 'different makeup style' - read "different makeup artist"

The other angle would be to ask for/subpoena other photos that may have been taken at the wedding by guests- if the photos look the same (ok you are expected to do the better work, being the pros) then you can prove it's not JUST you.

I would also attempt to get some legal proof the couple are not together any more - that has to (as your lawyer) lessen the impact of any damages.

It could be that the MOB just wants her money back because her punk kid split with that ne'er-do-well.

I know you think you were doing the right thing at the beginning offering the refund and the written apology but unfortunately you have to be careful in business with such things, you have probably admitted liability unless you were careful in your wording, and even in deed, you were suggesting you agreed the 'photos' were substandard (in their minds anyway) by the offer.

Lastly, and I'm not really having a shot, BUT - and this is from one pro to another - I am assuming husband showed up at mob's house first, to take candids/getting ready photos there? Did he not notice the makeup looked wrong? Back in MY day (I sound old, lol) it was all film so we had to use our eye, or a pan glass to see how it would look on film, but you guys shot digital I assume, so you should have been able to look at the images and see there was a problem. Again, not being facetious but I assume he used professional, diffused flash, not direct flash?

I suppose that a counter-suit against the make-up artist could be a possibility, but it would probably result in ill-will and maybe lost business (as you all depend on each other for spinoff business)

Maybe also in the future, showing bride or whoever a quick thumbnail, even just on the camera screen, at one point during the wedding would be a bit of a safety cover -"and mrs x, did the photographer show you a sample of the images captured on the day?"


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Yo Scarlett2001....has there been an outcome?


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

We go to small claims on May 19th. I will let you know.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Good luck.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

For my daughters wedding, we have been told to use "Flashback" make-up. Has anyone ever heard of this? Supposedly, MAC sells it, and will apply it free of charge with a $50 make-up purchase. The make-up will assure that the bride's face is not too white - from the flash - that photographers have on their cameras. However, I could have sworn that our photographer said they don't use flash.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

In my opinion, a photographer doing something like a wedding without flash is an amateur at best.

Having said that, if they use other forms of lighting such as halogen-type lighting for video, say, I guess that works but is not ideal in all situations.

I personally didn't use flash if I was doing photographs in the church during the ceremony, unless the bride/groom/celebrant had okayed it and made provision for it. I tried to be unobtrusive in that case.

Makeup is definitely an art, and makeup for film or photography even more so. A top fashion photography makeup artist can easily charge more than a thousand dollars a day. You do get what you pay for.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

On tenterhooks.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Well, I'm not exactly on tenterhooks, but I am curious and have been following this thread with interest.

Please let us know how things went today.
(I can't help picturing Judge Karen saying "God don't like ugly..."


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

We went to court yesterday and the judge found in our favor.
However, I personally feel bad that we had to do what we had to do, which was show poster-sized photos of this poor couple. It must have been humiliating because the judge kind of made a face and asked the MOB to state what her problem with the photography was and she had nothing to say except that her daughter and ex son-in-law looked awful. We also had other photos without the bride and groom and they were fine. MOB could find no fault with them.

Since we had refunded her money, the judge stated that we had done all possible and had no further liability. He suggested re-posing for some shots (I was SO hoping that would not happen!) but then it came out that they are already getting an anullment. So that was the final straw with the judge.

I'm just sorry this whole thing had to happen. The MOB is angry and frustrated, the bride and groom are separated and humiliated, we are out of some money. Nobody really won anything here.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

"I personally feel bad...."

Anybody would feel bad the whole thing happened the way it did. But you didn't do anything to cause it.

"...we had to do what we had to do..."

Yes you did. They brought it on themselves.

"Nobody really won anything here."

True, except at least these vindictive, unreasonable, gold-diggers got slapped. My only disappointment in learning of the outcome is they didn't get nailed for costs, aggravation. and inconvenience. Their stupid attitude and actions cost everyone.

I feel badly for all your trouble, but you didn't earn any of it. It was forced upon you by a completely unreasonable/irrational adversary. People like that need to be opposed. I think you voluntarily did everything any caring, reasonable person could do even though none of the dissatisfaction was caused by any act or failure to act on your part. These people are skunks. Good to have them smitten and gone.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

I'm so glad you won the lawsuit --
but still find it hard to believe they even filed one!
What kind of damages was she trying to claim?
And simply seeing that everyone else looked fine should have been enough to show even the dimmest bulb where the problem was.


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Congratulations, if that's the word. Unfortunate you had refunded the money but that's a tough one in the circumstances.

I am very glad the judge saw how things were - considering the annulment, what was mob hoping to gain? What's the point of wedding pictures?

I do think you need to exercise caution in similar situations so you are not admitting liability which could have nailed you in different circumstances. Not that I wouldn't be sympathetic and wanting to make right something that hadn't turned out right, but you want that to be on your terms if you choose to do so. You do need a contract but along the lines of how I suggested earlier, imho.

I think offering a retake of the formal pictures with a diplomatic explanation of what you thought the cause was (makeup) rather than saying makeup artist was incompetent, say the makeup doesn't appear to have reacted well to flash photography etc.

That retake would be at your expense, getting parties together, travel etc at their expense. Ultimately your disclaimer should be like the Kodak one, all care no responsibility, liability limited to equivalent amount of unexposed film.

That is your bottom line, you can always offer a more generous alternative if you choose (if problem was on your end say, of course you'd want to do what you could) and of course make sure any written offers (with the aforementioned caveats) include "without prejudice" provided that term is legal where you are.

Here is a link that might be useful: Without Prejudice


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RE: Bride and groom are...well...very unattractive

Thanks, Asolo and PJB999.


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