Unhappily-ever-after: Bankrupt wedding photographer leaves hundreds of couples hanging
Many wonder if they’ll ever see their images…or get their money back.
A wedding is supposed to be a joyous thing. But all who have planned a wedding know the preparation and stress that often run up to the big day. So imagine what hundreds of couples were feeling when the photography company they hired abruptly declared bankruptcy—in one instance 48 hours before a ceremony.
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The company in question, South West Photo and Film (SWPF, formerly known as Lee Brewer Photography), declared bankruptcy on July 27, 2022, citing hardships brought on by the pandemic. Those who had booked with the photography service and emailed to inquire received this email in reply: “We have tried so hard the last couple of years to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial implications have proven too much for us to get over. Unfortunately, I have been left with no choice but to cease trading and declare bankruptcy as of today, July 27. An official receiver will be in touch with further information.”
SWPF has closed its website and social accounts, making it extremely confusing for couples to get in touch and understand what will happen to their photos and, in many cases, their contracts. The now-defunct business was taking bookings up until the week it filed for bankruptcy. And Newsweek reports that up to 800 couples are affected in some way.
Related: Vanessa Joy on the art of capturing someone’s big day
A community rallies
For couples awaiting their images, SWPF wrote: “…if you have had a wedding with us in the last 12 weeks and are still waiting for your photos/ video, we will be in touch over the coming weeks with the information on how you can get access to your photo and video files.”
However, it has done little to assuage the couples’ concerns. In the wake of the news, two photographers local to the region served by SWPF set up a Facebook support group to help others find replacement photographers and videographers. It’s also become a place to vent.
“Daughter getting married August 28th…four weeks time…near Bath…absolutely heartbroken. Paid £1200 for photographer and videographer. We can’t find this money again. Heartbroken for her. There is no spare money anywhere, how can this happen, how do you explain to your daughter that there will be no professional photos or video of her special day?” one poster wrote.
Vendors and fellow group members have rallied around each couple, providing recommendations and commiserating. Some photographers are offering to shoot at cost or at a discount given the situation.
We certainly hope the situation ends happily-ever-after for all the couples. And for any photographers considering a carer in weddings, it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into before you open up shop.