A wedding photographer is refusing to give the couple their photos. Photo / 123RF
What was meant to be the best day of their lives has been permanently tarnished for Queensland newlyweds Natasha and Ryan, who may never see the only photos taken on their wedding day.
They paid Flawless Photography, operated by Rikky-Leigh Johnson, $500 to capture special moments for three hours of their big day on August 13, but three months on they still have nothing to show for it.
The pair became locked in an ugly feud with Ms. Johnson in the weeks that followed their wedding, during which they said their previously close relationship with her “completely changed.”
“It was like she didn’t care anymore,” Natasha, who only wished to share her first name, told news.com.au.
Natasha and Ryan wanted guests to experience their ceremony fully so asked that phones not be used – a request they now wished they could go back on.
“We asked the celebrant to tell everyone to turn off their phones,” Ryan said.
“But now we don’t even have backup photos from the guests,” Natasha added.
“She’s upset me to a point where I don’t even like talking about my wedding anymore.”
Natasha and Ms. Johnson in the lead-up to the wedding struck up what the bride thought was a close friendship.
Ms. Johnson agreed to MC the couple’s reception as a favor to them and also did a morning shoot of the bride getting ready for free.
Since the relationship soured, however, Ms Johnson demanded she be paid $500 for the work she originally agreed to do “as a friend”.
Red flags initially slowly appeared as the wedding drew closer, when the couple claimed Ms. Johnson didn’t show up to meetings arranged to discuss the style of photos she would be taking.
They eventually had a 30-minute phone call a few days before the wedding, during which Ms. Johnson assured Natasha that she would have no trouble capturing photos in her preferred style.
When the day arrived, however, the couple grew concerned.
“She was a bit all over the place, she didn’t allocate her time correctly,” Natasha said.
The couple says Ms. Johnson didn’t start taking photos of the couple until there were only 20 minutes left of the three hours they hired her for.
Afterwards, she sent the couple a few “rough” photos and pledged she would have the rest ready to hand over in the coming eight to 10 weeks.
It wasn’t long before Ms Johnson told the couple she might take 12 weeks and later extended again to 13, which surpassed on November 14.
When the long wait passed and still the couple had nothing, they pressed her to find out why – a move that seemed to enrage Ms. Johnson beyond what they could have ever expected.
“It was excuse after excuse, then she turned nasty and said she gave me a really low rate and I shouldn’t be so bossy and rude asking for my photos all the time,” Natasha said.
After posting an unflattering review of the business to a local Facebook page, the couple began receiving messages from Ms. Johnson.
“Well thank you for posting everything else publicly…. Shows what kind of people you are!!!! Expect some people to turn up to your house and return the favor!!!” a message sent by Ms Johnson’s phone, shared with news.com.au, read.
Facebook messages sent to Natasha had a similar theme.
“This is on you guys because you publicly posted … they were in your name,” one read.
“Oh and don’t forget the other photos and videos I took for you as well.
“So if you want your photos and all this over remove all posts. The more Ryan posts the more this delays.”
Ms. Johnson was further upset when asked by Natasha to stop contacting her unless she was to hand over the wedding photos.
“F*** YOU BOTH!!!!” part of another foul message read.
“You’re not getting anything from me. All my other beautiful clients will receive their images but you no f***ing way.”
While the couple had since received multiple kind offers from the community to recreate the experience and take fresh photos, they said it wouldn’t be the same given the family had flown in from England for the day.
“Even if we paid to do a fake wedding shoot, it’s not going to be the same, I’m not going to look the same, and parents are not going to fly back over for a fake photo shoot,” Natasha said.
“I trusted her and let her be part of my day, and trusted her to take the most important photos, and she’s basically taken our money, which we work very hard for.
“She’s made me think of our wedding with a dark cloud over it. When I think of our wedding, the first thing I think of is Rikky-Leigh.”
When called by news.com.au, Ms Johnson’s partner answered the phone but quickly hung up.
She refused multiple requests for comment across email, Facebook, phone and Instagram.
A Queensland Police Services spokesperson told news.com.au it was investigating.
“Police have received a complaint relating to allegations referenced, investigations are ongoing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further,” they said.