It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that means your photography studio will see an increase in family portraits, snow-covered landscape photos, and holiday weddings. But don’t forget about the holiday wedding lawsuit fiasco a few years back where now infamous Todd Remis attempted to sue his photographer for leaving 15 minutes before the wedding ended. The result? Remis demanded that his photography studio, H&H Photographers, recreate the entire ceremony in hopes of capturing those missed moments. Even worse, six years had passed since the wedding, and at the time the lawsuit was filed Remis had been divorced from his wife for over a year.
Sound like something out of an Onion article? We here at the insureon blog were rubbing our eyes in disbelief, too. It’s an important lesson, though – people go to great lengths when it comes to lawsuits and what they feel are personal offenses, and regardless of merit (Todd Remis lost the lawsuit, by the way), your photography studio would be in a tough spot should you be hit with a claim this holiday season.
Recreating an Entire Wedding? Do These Things Really Happen?
Let’s be clear – the situation between Todd Remis and H&H Photography is definitely a worst-case scenario – but that doesn’t mean we can discount it completely. When it comes to holiday weddings, there’s already a lot of tension for your clients – they’re trying to work out possible locations to take photos that won’t leave their wedding party shivering in the cold, they’re working around hundreds of different holiday schedules in order to get everyone together, and they may be stressed out about their finances with a major life event pressed right up against the biggest gift-giving season of the year.
So if they take a look at the moments you captured that day and feel the work wasn’t up to snuff (even if, in your professional opinion, it was), then you could be hit with what’s known as an Errors and Omissions lawsuit.
What Is an Errors and Omissions Lawsuit, Exactly?
So glad you asked. Errors and Omissions lawsuits are those claiming your work contains mistakes, oversights, or low quality production. They’re especially tough because what you feel is good work may not be acceptable to a recently wed couple who aren’t easily satisfied. If you get caught up in a Todd Remis-type situation, the cost of defending even a frivolous lawsuit can significantly cut in to your holiday profit.
So how do you prevent E&O lawsuits from affecting your photography studio?
- First, be up front with your clients about their expectations and the reality of what you and your photographers can offer. It’s probably already part of your introductory plan, but showing off past work can provide realistic expectations of what your studio can offer.
- In addition to being honest about the services you provide, treat clients with respect. We know this one goes down in the “Duh” department, but sometimes when things hit a fever pitch, we have to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and be kind. A photographer who ruffled some feathers in the process of taking photos is more likely to have their work scrutinized after the fact.
- Document everything. Give the bride and groom a schedule of the shots you’re going to take and with whom. Laying everything out so that there are absolutely no surprises will make it more difficult for your clients to complain about the work later.
What Other Types of Lawsuits Should I Look Out For?
Good question. Another type of lawsuit you should be prepared to take on is called a General Liability lawsuit. GL lawsuits generally involve claims of bodily harm or property damage. For example, if you were to do a family portrait at a client’s home or office, leave your equipment out, and have someone trip and fall over it. Or you could scuff a table or kitchen counter trying to get a truly remarkable shot and get sued for a property damage claim.
Seems simple, right? Here are some tips on preventing these types of lawsuits from occurring…
- Be organized. While it’s tough sometimes to prevent someone from slipping and falling over your stuff, the best way to thwart it is to keep your equipment neatly tucked away in a place far from stairs or other potentially hazardous locations.
- Enforce safety. Suggest alternate shots when a client requests one that could put someone at danger for slipping on ice or otherwise injuring themselves in a chilly winter landscape
- Know your clients and their boundaries. When it comes to your potential to take on property damage lawsuits, you want to know what your clients are comfortable with. Getting up and standing on the kitchen table for an aerial shot of a child playing with a kitten might be a no-brainer for you, but a client might not be thrilled.
Further Reading: Risk Management for Photographers and Videographers
We have a ton of information regarding small business insurance for photographers and videographers. Check out the post from last summer, “Wedding Photographers Should Protect Themselves from ‘Bridezillas.’”