Clayton newlyweds deal with wedding photographer nightmare

When you hire a professional photographer to capture your special day, you expect them to provide you with a lifetime of memories.

A Clayton couple has been waiting for over 9 months for the memories they made at their wedding.

Malcolm and LaTonya Pratt got married on Nov. 29, 2014, but they still don't have the photos captured on their special day.

"Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and not to be able to see your images or have them to share with family or friends or to have them for yourself is really disheartening and disappointing," LaTonya said.

The Pratt's hired James Ward Fotography, LLC to take photos of their wedding.

"He gained our trust," Malcolm Pratt said. "We met with him and he seemed very available leading up to the wedding."

The Pratts said they paid Ward $2,958 before the wedding and the remaining 20 percent of the contracted price was due once they received their prints and album.

They thought everything was fine until the day before the wedding.

"He was also supposed to photograph our rehearsal dinner and he didn't show up and did not call to let us know he would not make it," LaTonya said.

However, Ward showed up for the wedding and snapped lots of pictures. But 9 months later, the couple is still waiting for their wedding album.

"I was really getting frustrated," LaTonya said. "I'm like, okay, do we have pictures? Are there pictures? I even texted him and said 'just be honest with us and tell us the status of it,' and still nothing."

The Pratts contacted ABC 11 and we got in touch with James Ward via email.

Ward first told us he was well within normal time limits and would reach out to the Pratts. Ward eventually emailed the Pratts their enlargement photos and said they were ready for pick-up.

But what about their albums from the wedding? In June, Ward blamed the hold up on ending a relationship with an album designer.

Two months later, the Pratts still have nothing.

"I kind of feel like when you place your trust in a photographer you're kind of at their mercy," Malcolm said.

The Pratts took Ward to court, and won a judgement. While Ward does have the enlargements done, the Pratts did not want to pick them up until he completed the albums. Ward has not given a timetable as to when he will have the albums done.

A quick check on the Better Business Bureau and we did find other complaints on James Ward Fotography, LLC.

Read the BBB details here.

Don't let it happen to you: 5 tips on how to avoid a wedding photographer nightmare:

1. Do your homework: It sounds simple, but many people hire photographers without reviewing their work or even inquiring about their history with other customers. Always request a referral-someone who can tell you what it was like working with a specific photographer.

2. Set up an interview: Even if a photographer has good reviews and an A+ record, what works for others may not always work for you. Set up a time to meet with your potential photographer to make sure you both have the same vision for your wedding. Remember, personalities are important-if you don't get along with your photographer, no matter how great their work is, it might be smart to find someone else to play such a huge role on your big day.

3. See the entire package: Make sure you request complete albums. Looking at the featured photos on a photographer's website will not give you enough insight to make a hiring decision.

4. Know what you're getting: Make sure you are 100 percent sure of what package you are paying for; discuss it thoroughly with your photographer and sign a contract agreeing to what was discussed. Be clear about what you want and what the photographer is willing and able to give. Always ask questions concerning your contract and your rights as a buyer. Note that some contracts grant rights of your photos to the photographer, even if the photos are of you and your wedding party. If this is something you disagree with, negotiate with your photographer, or find another one.

5. Create a timeline: Make sure you understand your photographer's calendar. Ask your photographer how long it will take for the proofs to come back and the final photos once you have picked what you want. It is important to discuss a timeline prior to the wedding so that everyone's expectations are aligned.

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