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Wedding Photographer Takes to Facebook to Call Client, ‘Ugliest Bride Ever’

By Hanssie on May 8th 2015

People can be frustrating. That’s life. Clients can be even more so and then add to that the stress of a wedding day and that’s where terms like “Bridezilla” come into play. As a business owner, for any type of business, you will have the inevitable client that is a P.I.T.A. That’s part and par with owning a service based business. It’s your job to deal with these people, with a smile, and with the utmost professionalism.

When dealing with difficult clients, there are numerous ways to approach a bad situation. You could stand your ground and uphold your policies, you could bend your business rules a bit and save your sanity or you could do something in between. What you should never, ever, ever do, though, is vent your frustrations publically, and especially not on the Internet. Because, what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet FOREVER. There is no delete button (just ask any celebrity that’s had a naked picture of themselves leaked online).

[REWIND: WEDDING BUSINESS WRONGFULLY ATTACKED ON PUBLIC TV?]

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One wedding photographer, Lee Maxwell Judd, found out the hard way when he, having no common sense or tact, took to Facebook on his professional business page to air his grievances about a client of his. Judd posted a picture of his client, Ashlea Howard and wrote that she was the “ugliest bride [he had] ever photographed. Whinged the whole time. Bridezilla #1,” when she complained about the delivery of the photos.  The bride, after seeing the post was reportedly mortified.

Her Complaint

The issues arose when Judd sent the USB to the wrong person. When Ashlea finally received her photos, she said that, though she was happy 90% of them, many were “overexposed, leaving the background blurry and people’s faces contorted.” Judd told her that it was his “creative style.” She also stated that he acted “like some artsy-fartsy creative, it was just a bit bizarre,” on the day of her February 21st wedding. One report cites that couple paid £800 for Judd’s services (another site reports $1500) and said, “He was definitely one of the cheaper photographers, but now I know why.” (Ahem).

Ashlea and her husband Daniel Howard/ Photo from Ashlea's Facebook

Ashlea and her husband Daniel Howard/ Photo from Ashlea’s Facebook

His Defense

Judd’s Initial Response

After a hailstorm of angry comments on Judd’s Facebook page and much negative press, Judd apparently tried to use the old, “I was hacked” defense and even went as far as a blanket apology to “all concerned.” When people continued to criticize him, Judd went on the defensive, telling people to “get back in your trailer,” calling them “boring, hopeless, haters” and then reveling in his newfound infamy. A brief look at his page showed him trying to raise social awareness with his 15 minutes of fame and talking about how he is now “infamous” on his personal page.

Lee-Maxwell-judd-2The Aftermath

The latest post on Lee Maxwell Judd Photography’s Facebook page shows what appears to be an apology from Ashlea Howard.

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Upon further investigation, a commenter posted that the apology was not directed to Judd at all, but posted from Ashlea to a photographer of a similar name, Lee Maxwell Photography, based in the UK. Lee Maxwell Judd decided to pass it off as if the apology were to him and “forgave” Ashlea.

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Lessons to Be Learned

Once you stop shaking your head (I mean, I can’t make this stuff up, people), here are a few takeaways from this situation.

1. If you have an issue with a client, keep your mouth shut. Social media is not a place to rant about the people that paid you money to provide a service. Especially NOT on your professional business page. Yes, the bride went the budget photography route (and that’s an article for another day), but as a business owner, there is a level of professionalism that clearly, Mr. Judd does not understand. If you must complain, go home, have a glass of wine and talk to your cat.

2. Bad publicity is not always good publicity. Though it can be true for the Kardashians, as a photography business, most of the time bad publicity will irreparably damage or destroy your business. These days brides do their research and guess what’s going to pop up when anyone Googles, “Lee Maxwell Judd Photography?” His “overexposed, blurry, creative” work along with a dozen or more news reports of his behavior toward a client before, during and after the wedding.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below; I’ll grab the popcorn.

[Via Jezebel]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

49 Comments

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  1. Geoffrey Ward

    An asshole is an asshole, whether he’s a photographer or a lawyer. Hubris infects the person, not the profession.

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  2. Valerie Holifield

    I’m late to the party because I stink with email but I was following this as it was unfolding a couple of weeks ago… No excuses. The photographer was completely unprofessional before the incident, during, and after. And after his initial screw up, had he just owned up and said you know, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” then it would have just blown over but he had to try and lie and glamour his way out of it. smh.

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  3. Graham Curran

    Disregarding all the other issues in this case – the bride complained about blurry backgrounds?

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I missed that part, but I can see that. Just goes to to show that clients don’t give a crap about how good your lens’ “bokeh” is. Haha.

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  4. Clark Linehan

    It was hilarious, at the point you said if you’re shaking your head… I was shaking my head.

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  5. John Sheehan

    Checked his Facebook page today, and he’s taken down all recent posts about the bride and his bragging about the incident. The most recent post on the page now is from November of 2014. Maybe he saw this article, realized he was being immature, and scrubbed the page of his childish posts. More likely the bride’s lawyer called him.

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    • Michael LaNasa

      But like many say, “the internet never forgets” — I wonder how many articles and posts about this will remain searchable.

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  6. Nashaine Johnson

    Stay professional home even if she is bridezilla. Even more so keep it off the internet.

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  7. Corey Wright

    You forgot to mention that this so-called “photographer” used countless images stolen from other pro photographers, passing the work off as his own. This guy’s only exposure to pro photography was as a set builder – he used to build sets for high end shoots, but after that work dried up figured he could used the images from the shoots and say they were his to try and start a career in photography. I actually got in touch with several photographers whose images he was using, and in turn they contacted him with threats of legal action over breach of copyright. He’s since removed the photos.
    Finally, the other photographer with the similar name is actually based in the UK, not Australia.

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    • Michael LaNasa

      Wow, if this is the case, he’s got bigger concerns than just an angry bride. Also, if you were a person blatantly passing others’ work as your own, wouldn’t fueling the fire for bad press be the last thing you would want to do?

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  8. Doug Davis

    He thought she said sorry lol But really that shouldn’t be posted, I mean other brides who have booked with you will now see how you truly see them when your in person.

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  9. Greg Townsend

    I am now more certain than ever that I will NEVER shoot weddings professionally :-)

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  10. Sean Smith

    Nope, nope, nope, I don’t get this “you get what you pay for” attitude. No photographer ever priced themselves low because they were a jerk. They are low priced because they are new, or technically inexperienced, or doing a job as an advertising/portfolio building exercise, or they just do photography part time and don’t need to charge thousands. Being low priced in no way justifies doing what this photographer did whatever his price was.

    I have a photography business on the side that I do mostly because I like it and I price myself very affordably because I can. I would never ever think about embarrassing a client online like this. Saying everyone should go with the several thousand dollar photographer is like saying everyone should buy a Mercedes Benz and that anyone who buys a Ford is getting what they paid for. It’s not reasonable for everyone and if that’s the case it in no way means that they deserve to have to work with an ignorant a-hole like this guy.

    The lesson isn’t to avoid affordable photographers, it’s to sit down and have a good interview with the photographer you choose and make sure you aren’t dealing with someone you wouldn’t otherwise invite to your wedding. The sit down is the most important thing you can do when choosing a photographer regardless of how much you can spend.

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    • Thomas Horton

      Well put. It is not a matter of finding a photographer who is good, but more a matter of finding one that is good for you.

      Sitting down and getting experience/insight with not only the potential photographer’s portfolio but also their personality is how you find a photographer that is good for you.

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  11. Thomas Horton

    To some being a professional only means getting paid
    To others being a professional means adhering to a standard of ethical conduct.

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  12. Marlon Fortune

    Being hacked can always be a possibility, however this photographer doesn’t seem genuine. A professional must show some humility.

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  13. Stephen Jennings

    He seems [email protected]^! crazy.. and his photography sucks. You get what you pay for.

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  14. robert s

    I love how clients pay so little and then have demands and high expectations. pay the $3000+ for a decent photog and then you come with demands.

    hes an idiot for the way he handled it but the couple is even worse.
    if his comments were professional and formal he could have come out on top.

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    • Hanssie

      I don’t think it’s so wrong to ask for photos (according to the reports) sent to the right person. I think it’s quite out of line for any business, be it a budget business or a high end boutique brand to take to Facebook and call someone “the ugliest bride ever.”

      I expect at least professional treatment whether I shop at Big Lots or Nordstrom. It’s a matter of customer service.

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  15. Paul Empson

    “very UN-professional thing to do” see, the web is an unforgiving place!!!

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  16. Paul Empson

    The mob rules… posting an insult to a bride & identifying her with a photo.. was never going to end well..

    It was a stupid thing to do and a very professional thing to do….

    If he had to vent, online, he could have wrote an anonymous piece about how important it is for both the photographer & client to be able to get on, laugh and be relaxed in each others company for 12 hours.. how the client should view a wide range of – printed photos – from several weddings.. before choosing their photographer..

    Clients should never compare prices without comparing photos as all $1500 / £800 numbers look the same..

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  17. robert garfinkle

    again – I agree w / Mr. Harris. Perfect.

    this was a “now-typical” case of socialized (murder / suicide) character assassination – I say this, as the photographer in the midst of trashing her character, killed himself…

    to add to Rob’s comment – another thing a person can do before spouting off, ask themselves the question – “Would I say this directly to someone’s face?” If the answer is no, don’t post the comment.

    I’m going to start labeling this behavior as a “virtual drunk” – as it’s not too dissimilar from a person walking into a bar, sober, being nice to everyone, yet get them loaded, and well, you get what you get, right? The computer is their “drink” in this case – it’s so easy to just haul off and say what you want when the other person is not there… unfiltered. Being online does that… to some…

    I say this as, I’ve done it. Not proud of course. But, even here in this forum I’ve done it. Not so much cutting down others in a character assassination, but just plain-old shooting my mouth off, like I know better, have an attitude. It really shows how ridiculous I am.

    And I’ve done it on facebook – waging self-righteous rants not having any filters – thus damaging my own reputation. And doing it online is worse, as it is permanent, and the audience is so wide – it even get’s back to forums like this… case n point…

    In the case of the photographer in question, he get’s dogged twice. His business takes a hit and it attacks him personally too –

    I don’t buy the “he got hacked” story – how convenient; politicians do that sort of thing. Actually many people do these days – simply not owning up to it… the damage got worse when he played that e-Victim card…

    and so it goes…

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    • Barry Cunningham

      There are a lot of things I would say directly to a person’s face that I would never post about them online. For me, it’s simply not as much fun calling out a person’s bad behavior if they’re not in the room and you can’t watch them squirm.

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  18. Rob Harris

    Wow, just wow. If you are ticked off and have no one to talk to about it, type it out in a document like a journal. Discuss all of your frustrations just like you are going to post them online. Write several pages if need be. Then finish your beer or wine, and go to bed. The next day, review the document to make sure you didn’t miss anything and add whatever is missing. Once it is complete, delete it from your computer and your life. It is now off your chest and it is time to move on. No one else knows and you feel much better.

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    • Thomas Horton

      I have written quite a few scathing comments for forums…and then hit delete.

      It is better that way. :)

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  19. John Sheehan

    Wow. This gives all photographers a black eye. He’s all happy because he thinks the “LIKES” to his page is bringing him business, when it’s just people who want to watch the freak show and see where it goes next (sort of like the Kitchen Nightmares’ episode with Amy’s Baking Company). I’d be really surprised if he’s still around in a year or two (barring a rebranding and name change).

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    • Hanssie

      I think his ego is too big to fully realize the damage this has caused him. Oh to be so ignorant.

      As Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

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    • John Sheehan

      Yes, totally self absorbed. Today he posted an image showing how many “LIKES” he’s gotten this week, with a snarky comment “2001 likes. Thanks Ashlea”. Earlier, on May 7th, he asked on the Facebook page if people wanted to see the 900 photos from the bride’s wedding, which everyone I’ve talked to about it says is bullying (and I quite agree). He’s milking what he thinks is his claim to fame, and will probably be posting mean spirited things just to see if he can keep it rolling.

      Unfortunately, as I said before, this incident is going to hurt other photographers. When I was a working magician back in the 1990’s there would be an incident with a children’s magician (usually being arrested) in the news, whether it be local or from another part of the country, and bookings for all children’s magicians would drop. Guilt by association.

      I keep fighting the urge to write a comment, telling him what an idiot he’s being, but I don’t want to add to the fire he’s fanning. I’m hoping people will move on to the next person making a fool of themselves on social media and he’ll be forgotten.

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    • Aidan Morgan

      Yes, let’s see him pay the rent with Likes.

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  20. Richard Hammer

    The “I was hacked” excuse is hilariously over-used. Does anyone ever really believe that?

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  21. Lester Terry

    Poor professionalism at it’s finest.

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  22. Gabriel Rodriguez

    If I’m willing to pay for below market price for a service, I wouldnt expect that great of an outcome, but thats just me being realistic about things.

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    • Hanssie

      Unfortunately, brides don’t see it until AFTER it’s too late and things go awry. You get what you pay for, is certainly true in most cases.

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    • Steve VanSickle

      I’m only just starting with second shooting/wedding photography, but I’ve picked up on lots of random conversations of brides-to-be, and there are a LOT of them that really think the wedding photography business is overpriced. They don’t see LMJ as below market, they think he’s reasonable. I even talked with an engaged friend who didn’t know I’m getting into wedding photography and she’d griped “Man, what a racket. All you have to do is find out what it *should* cost, and quadruple it.”

      In the interest of maintaining that friendship, I didn’t correct her, but that taught me that it’s going to be important to either a) pick my clients carefully, and/or b) find a graceful way of educating them on how much time/money goes into shooting a wedding, without sounding pedantic, condescending, etc.

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    • Gabriel Rodriguez

      Very true Steve. I heard the same ranting once from my sister in law. She too thought that wedding photogs were super expensive. Thats when I had to remind her about “value”…do you think your wedding moment is worth that much??? She had to pause for a moment and then really think about it…

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I always found it odd that a bride won’t blink at paying thousands for a dress, for food, for a venue, and then complain that photography is too expensive.

      In a few years memories will fade. Nobody will remember what the dress looked like, or what the venue looked like, or what the food tasted like. Until you brea out the photos. The photos are the only thing that will bring back vivid memories of the event and if you pay a good photographer what they’re they’ll probably make the day look even better than it really was.

      That’s the discussion I lead in with before even bringing up “post-processing, creativity, and experience” costs because brides can relate with fading of memories while the concept of image editing, timing, and composition are foreign to them. So you lead in with what they understand and then they’ll listen to the stuff they don’t care or even know about (post-processing and such).

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      You can post a million great things on facebook and they will go mostly unnoticed, but you post ONE bad thing and it will blow up all over the place and screw you up big time.

      Facebook is a disaster waiting to happen. I guarantee that the bride was tipped off by some other wedding photographer as to what was posted to help the character assassination of this guy. I mean he was totally out of line posting that, but facebook is full of sharks that see something like that as an opportunity to shut down one more photographer thereby “leveling the playing field”.

      I shut down my account years ago because I would see this jealousy and arrogance raising it’s head and I wanted no part of it. Facebook isn’t a necessary tool to do business, it’s more self-aggrandizing than self-promotion and the potential for a disaster such as this even if you make a comment that is misconstrued is too great.

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    • Hanssie

      Dennis,

      I don’t know if you could “guarantee” that she was tipped off by another photographer looking to shut down another business.

      He posted her image on his professional business page. It likely showed up in her feed as she probably liked his business page when she hired him. If my photo was posted as I was scrolling through my FB, I would otice immediately.

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    • John Sheehan

      I have to agree with Hanssie. I don’t think this was character assassination from the bride as much as character suicide on the part of the photographer.

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  23. Kim Farrelly

    Just like any job, some days are better then others. Sometimes nothing goes well & photography is no different. Being professional can be hard at times but that is a parallel scale, the harder it gets the more professional you have to be, no question about it.
    Learning to say no is part of that too as is working to [over]deliver for your clients expectations. Perhaps that comes with experience though.

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  24. Justin Haugen

    That client and that photographer deserve each other. Sucks it had to involve an innocent photographer.

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    • Hanssie

      Well, I don’t know if I agree that the client deserved to be called ugly and a bridezilla. As a professional, there should be no reason to call out your clients like that, even if you go with a budget photographer.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Oh I’m in full agreement the photographer is out of line. I just meant to say it’s probably a “get what you pay for” situation.

      I would never ever shame someone who treated poorly me or anyone working for me. I think the stars sadly aligned to put this client in the hands of this this photographer.

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    • Michael LaNasa

      I have dealt with my fair share of challenging brides (and mothers of the bride) and while that may have been the case here, the photographer’s absolute unprofessional behavior is a complete embarrassment to the community. If that’s his view and approach of how to do business, it’s a bigger issue than a one-time Facebook comment. I don’t care how difficult someone is as a client — their behavior, their budget… nothing warrants that kind of approach or reaction. Period.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Michael you have me confused with someone who is disagreeing with you. I don’t condone this photographer’s behaviour in the least bit, BUT I acknowledge that these things will happen and it’s what separates the idiots from the consummate professionals.

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