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Wedding photographer fined $15K for ripping off clients

Adelaide-based wedding photographer, Donna Lorraine Felici, has been fined $15K by South Australian courts for failing to deliver packages to six couples.

How many of Felici’s clients have been feeling.

Six clients are still waiting for wedding photos, according to Adelaide Now, with some tying the knot three years ago.

Felici, who didn’t attend the court hearing, attended and captured the weddings, but simply didn’t deliver the photos.

Chloe and Jordan Cameron, who married in December 2018, were told by Felici the photos would be delivered in six weeks, but the USB is yet to arrive. This is just one of the six clients who fell victim to the photographer’s unprofessional conduct.

Other clients received a sample of ‘very average’ photos in an online gallery that were delivered with aggressive copyright warnings.

‘There are a lot of photos she chose to include that are extremely unflattering or look like they could have been taken by anybody with an iPhone,’ Chloe Cameron said to Adelaide Now. ‘It’s still painful to look at them because it reminds me how much undue stress and sadness came with the fight to get these photos. Nobody should feel anger, stress, and sadness when looking at their wedding photos.’

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Another client, Danika Dadivas, is yet to receive her final photos from her wedding in 2019. And her online gallery is low quality.

‘We were so reassured by Donna that we asked our guests not to take photos, put their phones away and to just be a part of the moment with us,’ she told Adelaide Now. ‘We relied fully on Donna to fill this gap, and capture our first moments together as a real family.

‘I have sent countless emails trying to compromise to get any form of our photos … I offered to do my own photo editing if Donna were to provide just the raw images. But that’s where we stand now – out of pocket and out of mind.’

Felici came loaded with ‘excuse after excuse’, Cameron said, and tried to manipulate her clients with ‘guilt trips’ and threatening legal action. Felici apparently accused Cameron of harassment for seeking her photos.

Consumer Affairs commissioner, Dini Soulio, said Felici ruined wedding days and ‘harmed the reputation of the industry as a whole’.

‘It’s thoroughly unacceptable behaviour and I’m pleased to see an outcome that reflects the seriousness of the offending,’ he said.

Felici labels herself a wedding, newborn and family photographer based in Virginia, South Australia. Her website and social media accounts have been taken down, although her profile on the Snappr-owned online directory and marketing platform, Photographers.com.au, remains active.

Here’s her profile, which sadly rubs salt into the wound for those ripped off clients:

‘I am so passionate about documenting life. Making art with your memories so that you can remember every little detail, so that you can leave your legacy of love behind for generations to see. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the faces of the people I love displayed around my home, where I can be reminded of those moments we shared and admire how much we have grown everyday.

I want you to know those feelings, I want you to be able to showcase your special people in your life as art for your home. I want you to know that when its time for you to go your memories are safe here for the people you love to treasure.’

Felici has registered the business name, Donna Felici Photography, since mid-2016 with another photography business active since 2011.

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It’s possible she is yet another amateur photographer who thought they could turn a hobby into a career. As these stories unfortunately go, unprofessional photographers stumbling and fumbling into the business of documenting major family events are big risks of ruining these milestones.

Felici charged between $500 to $2680 for her services, which failed to deliver basic client requests – from online galleries to edits and retouches – for between eight months to two years. Only one couple involved in the proceedings has received the USB of their finished photos.

The Adelaide Magistrates Court imposed a $15K fine for breaching consumer law.

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