Wedding Photographers Supposedly Using Fine Print to Sue Clients Over Bad Reviews


In the age of the Internet, with sites like Yelp often being the first stop for anybody looking for a service (say, photography) they’ve never used before, it’s no surprise that pros are trying to keep their star ratings as high as possible.

What is surprising is the news that some photographers are keeping their reviews positive by threatening to sue anybody who writes something negative.

The allegations are laid out in an article by The Knot on Huffington Post. It seems some wedding photographers are starting to build clauses into their contract fine print that prevent clients from posting negative reviews.

In some cases, reports The Knot, clients posting negative reviews online are being threatened with defamation lawsuits to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.


Photographers have always taken advantage of (and sometimes been the victims of) word of mouth marketing. It’s why it’s so crucial that you always provide phenomenal service, because one bad review could mean a whole lot of headache. But to threaten to sue over a bad review — or in the case of one DJ, to fine clients $5,000 if they post anything less than a five-star review — seems outrageous.

As you might expect (or maybe hope), these contracts aren’t actually likely to hold up in a court of law. “Most courts want consumers to be able to freely give their opinions,” Boston attorney and Wedding-Lawyer blogger Ryan Bleek told The Knot. “Therefore, a contract that throws away that right would not be enforceable.” Plus, there are legal fees to consider.

Still, intimidation of this sort will only serve to give wedding photographers a bad name, which ultimately hurts the whole industry. For now, if you’re in the market for a wedding photographer, we suggest you read the fine print before you sign… you never know what’s in there.

(via The Huffington Post via SLR Lounge)

Image credits: Photo illustration based on Fine Print by CJ Sorg and Wedding at JW Marriott Guanacaste by JW Marriott Guanacaste. Photo by Praveen.

  • Alex Minkin

    I was gonna say, those types of clauses are almost universally unenforceable. It’ll be even worse press for a photographer or service provider that tries to use one.

  • Alex Tardif

    First time someone actually gets sued and the story makes rounds on the web, it’ll be a backlash like no other… the photog would almost certainly get more bad press then support. Bad idea.

  • James

    I feel bad for the photographers and lawyers out there that even dreamed this would be a good idea.

  • Zachary Larsen

    I don’t think I’d hire a photographer with such a clause in the contract.

  • Laura Babb

    You must know from the off that your service is pretty crappy if you have to protect yourself in this way!

  • Don Tusk

    I don’t give a flying f… about the reviews. Photographers portfolio is the most important thing ! Not some crappy reviews.

  • makayli verran

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    working parttime off of a home computer… Look At This C­a­s­h­F­i­g­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Anonymoused

    Well, your portfolio doesn’t speak for your customer service. Even if a photographer has an amazing portfolio, I wouldn’t hire them if they’re known to be difficult to work with or hard to reach, or miss deadlines.

  • RonT

    It’s only defamation if it isn’t true.

    A photographer might well want protection and the right to sue against a libellous review (one that is manifestly untrue) and we all know there are some clients wacky or entitled enough to complain publically and unreasonably.
    The reality is that libel & slander laws already exist and therefore such a clause is unnecessary.

    If the unpleasant review is true (and justified) however, there isn’t a court that would likely uphold such an action. So, again such a clause is unnecessary (or at least impractical).

    Whatever happens, justified or not, I imagine suing clients is likely to blow up in your face unless you have fairly obvious and black and white evidence of their unreasonableness,

  • DougGordon

    Anyone messing with my work gets sued, it’s that simple. Now let me copy someone’s articles to my blog, goodbye.