A.G. Schneiderman Helps Newlyweds In Poughkeepsie Get Their Wedding Albums From Photographer

POUGHKEEPSIE - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with the now-defunct wedding photography business Terry Michael Photography in Tuxedo Park.  Owner Terry Michael DiPaolo, Jr. has agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty, complete pre-paid projects, mainly wedding albums, and provide them to his customers. This is one of several cases in which A.G. Schneiderman is cracking down on unscrupulous wedding photographers across the state as part of National Consumer Protection week (see below for tips for consumers who are hiring wedding photographers.)

"When the wedding day is over, it's the pictures that couples use to reminisce. This photographer left newlyweds with nothing,"  said Attorney General Schneiderman.  "As we approach what is typically the height of the wedding season, couples who are making plans should be armed with information that will help them recognize and avoid potential consumer fraud."

In the Spring of 2010, consumers, in the Hudson Valley reached out to the Attorney General's office to file complaints against Terry Michael Photography. At least 25 customers paid-in-full for wedding pictures that were taken but, albums were never composed or delivered. In one complaint, a consumer had pre-paid DiPaolo $2,000 to photograph her wedding but when she was unable to reach him before her big day she was forced to hire someone else.  As a result of the Attorney General's investigation, DiPaolo agreed to refund the customer $2,200.  In addition, under the terms of the settlement, DiPaolo has to complete other outstanding wedding albums by May 1, 2011. For some customers, they have waited for their albums for more than two years since their wedding ceremonies.

As part of National Consumer Protection, the New York State Attorney General's office has released a list of the top 10 complaints received in 2010 and tips to help consumers fight fraud.

The following are tips for consumers who are hiring wedding photographers:

  • Insist that the company identify the individual who will be photographing your wedding.  It is common for photographers to book more than one wedding on a date, and send someone else to shoot the wedding.   Make the identity of the photographer part of the contract.
  • It's important to check at least three references for weddings that took place within the past three months. Up to date references can offer critical insight on a photographer's recent job performance.
  • Do not pre-pay in full.  Hold back 25 percent of the total cost until you have the products in hand.  This will create a powerful incentive for the photographer to complete the contract.  Oftentimes, a photographer who has been paid in full will shoot the wedding and take months to deliver the products.
  • Make sure the contract contains certain due dates for each task.  For example, the pre-bridal photograph should be taken by a specified date, the proof should be ready by a specified date and the photograph should be ready within seven days after the consumer makes a selection.
  • Ask if the photographer belongs to a wedding photographer's association.  This could serve as an additional reference.

The case against Terry Michael Photography was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nick Garin, assisted by Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops and investigator Kathleen Coppersmith, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office, Vincent Bradley.

Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting the Office’s website or calling 1-800-771-7755.