Wedding Photographer Served With Restraining Order

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has obtained a restraining order against an Erie County wedding photography studio that took money from couples and repeatedly failed to deliver promised wedding albums.

State Supreme Court Justice Eugene Fahey signed the temporary restraining order prohibiting Real Images Portrait Studio and its owners, Scott and Wendy DeFries, from: spending or disposing of any money given to them by consumers; transferring or destroying any business records, including photo negatives and albums; and accepting advance payments from any additional consumers unless they post a $100,000 performance bond.

"This photography studio has turned what should have been joyous wedding memories into a nightmare of broken promises and unreturned phone calls," Spitzer said.

Since October, 2001, Spitzer’s office has received nearly 80 complaints against Real Images and its owners. From the consumers who complained alone, the photographer took in a total of nearly $71,000 and, in many instances, failed to provide any photos. In other instances, the photographers provided some portraits, but not the entire package that was paid for. Although the studio promises that entire packages will be available within eight weeks of the wedding date, Real Images has repeatedly failed to meet the deadline, leaving some customers - who paid in full - waiting months for a response.

For example, one couple - married 1 ½ years ago - paid over $1,000 up-front to Real Images and has yet to receive any part of their wedding package from the photography studio.
After intervening on behalf of Real Images’ customers, Spitzer’s office discovered photo negatives and proofs at a local developer’s shop. The developer offered to release the products to the rightful owners on the condition that they pay amounts due, requiring consumers to pay twice for their wedding photographs. Spitzer will seek restitution on their behalf.

Spitzer’s lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Erie County, alleges that Real Images persistently violated state consumer protection laws with its broken promises to customers. The lawsuit seeks restitution for the consumers injured by Real Images’ actions, including the return of any negatives or photos to the newlyweds, civil penalties for the company’s violations of law, and an order barring the company and its owners from future deceptive and illegal acts.

Individuals with complaints against Real Image Photography Studios are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office.