Wedding photography business files for bankruptcy, leaving hundreds in distress

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A UK-based wedding photography company, South West Photo and Film, declared bankruptcy last week, leaving hundreds of couples and newlyweds out of pocket, without their images and, in some cases, without a photographer – just days before their big day is due. take place.

The company (also known as Lee Brewer Photography and Film) has shut down its website and online social media pages, removing all touchpoints after sending reluctantly worded apology emails to clients when the news broke.

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A post was shared on Facebook by Lee Brewer, the owner of South West Photo & Film, which has since been deleted. The July 28, 2022 post explains his side of the story, where he states “Due to the size of my debt and reviewing my options, I have been advised that bankruptcy is my only option.” Screenshots of his full (and very long) statement can be found in a comments section (opens in a new tab) on Facebook.

The most difficult element of this company’s downfall was not just the devastating loss of hundreds of newlyweds, but several photographers and videographers who were contracted out to South West Photo and Film. (opens in a new tab)meaning they too receive no payment for weddings they have already shot and are in the difficult position of dealing with reasonably clueless clients.

Fortunately, the wedding photography community has come out in force to help these couples by offering advice, support and discounted booking rates for their available dates to the unfortunate customers of the company that has now gone out of business. Advice on choosing a new, more reliable wedding photographer has also been provided by other local businesses, after many clients developed understandable trust issues when paying any additional deposits to photographers.

A Facebook page has been created called Moments For You (opens in a new tab) organized by a team of former South West Photo & Film (SWPF) administrative staff to assist any couples affected and ensure they still get the photographer and/or videographer they had booked for their wedding , and help the bride and groom to find alternative local photographers in the short term. The page is said to have gained over a thousand likes and following within 24 hours!

Wedding photographers are just as furious and angry at the situation as clients, with the reputation of the industry also at risk. Many photographers feel a responsibility to help and have cut prices sharply, dropping hundreds of pounds to help those who have been disappointed with South West Photo & Film.

A Devon couple ended up with just one day to find a last-minute photographer for their wedding, and others expressed shock that their wedding insurance couldn’t help them because coverage started a bit too late to receive any compensation for their payouts. SWPF.

An additional Facebook support group Let’s Find you Another Wedding Photographer / Videographer 2022 (opens in a new tab) was created by photographers as an additional resource to connect couples with photographers and videographers who may be available on their wedding date. The group currently has 1.7k members.

Hundreds of couples have posted on the group since, seeking photographers and sharing how they have been significantly affected emotionally and financially by the news, with many having prepaid for their SWPF weddings, and now needing to find funds to pay again. once for a replacement photographer.

Screenshot of an email sent by Brewer to a couple of customers (Image credit: Facebook comments section)

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By speaking with (opens in a new tab) BBC Taunton-based videographer Sam Richardson explained how overdue bills for his work outsourced by Mr Lee Brewer (owner of South West Photo & Film) had started piling up and he had struggling to get paid for their work. “Over the past six weeks, payments had slowed to a point, not just for me but for all shooters, where overdue bills were piling up in the thousands,” he explained.

After contacting Brewer several times, Richardson finally received acknowledgment that money was owed to him, but it was a bit too late as on July 27, 2022, he heard from another photographer employed by SWP&F that “everything was over” and “none of us were getting paid”.

Read more: Wedding photographers shamed by client over beautiful images?

A bulletproof customer delivery website for SWP&F (opens in a new tab) still remains active for now, with several wedding image galleries uploaded which unfortunately may expire soon, as some have pointed out that the website operates on a monthly basis from the owner, who has now gone out of business.

Another 520-member Facebook group was created, titled Lee Brewer/ South West Photo and Film Money Recovery. (opens in a new tab) offering financial help and advice to anyone who has been affected and in other words scammed by the business owner. Many say they were hounded and harassed by Brewer for full payment and encouraged to pay a “faster editing” fee after their wedding for a faster turnaround time for footage, which they did not receive.

Facebook users describing their experience with South West Photo and Film (Image credit: Facebook comments section)

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The validity or veracity of many of the statements made by members of this Facebook group is unclear, so they should be taken with a grain of salt – but a quick scroll through the comment sections revealed shocking accusations that Mr Brewer ” cache” currently. in the United States, spotted in New York and Vegas, with other claims that he has already received three outstanding CCJs (County Court Judgments) for debt against his name, dating back to 2017.

Some irate customers reported Brewer to insolvency teams, Action Fraud, Trading Standards, victim support, spoken with legal representatives, and some are considering taking the business owner to small claims court. There are, of course, two sides to every story, and while numerous publications and news outlets have reached out to Brewer for comment, all we have to go on is his original (now deleted) Facebook post where he only took it. not presented in a very apologetic way. or light of remorse.

People are sensibly very angry, hurt and of course shocked by this whole ordeal, seeking any means necessary to get their money back. As the story seems to continue to unfold, we will update this article as best we can with further updates on how those affected can get legitimate help and hopefully some justice. .

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