Camera crooks must fall

P

hotography has become a job opportunity in Malawi.

Despite more people getting into the industry, there dishonesty, negligence, crookedness, and little focus on developing and maintaining positive customer relations.

This is evident through loss of footage, late delivery and no delivery at all after getting full payment.

Last year, my wife and I engaged a Blantyre-based  photography company to capture the moments during our wedding.

Like most multimedia companies in Malawi, the company demanded an upfront payment of the K250 000 fee.

The contract required the company to deliver the photos within two weels after  September 14 2019, but my wife and I are still waiting  for the photos.

The story of photographers and videographers getting full payment and failing to deliver is not new.

“We were supposed to have pictures and videos. We chased until it became harassment, begging and pleading. Then, when we finally got something, it was an unedited video,” writes one complainant on Facebook.

Perhaps that was the past and things have changed and we just happened to be the unlucky ones. 

Earlier this month, I shared my frustrations  on social media and it was interesting to notice the number of people who shared their unpleasant experiences dealing with photographers and videographers.

A former schoolmate shared with me that the same company failed to deliver after being paid K500 000.

How many people are going through this heartbreak that we do not know about?

As if ripping people off is not enough, some have even gone a step further into sexual harassment.

“My friend took pictures with this other photographer and the cameraman said they would be ready after two days. My friend had already paid for them and was waiting. Weeks passed. When my friend asked why it was taking too long, the photographer said he was working on other important pictures, would only help my friend if she was willing to do a free photoshoot in a wet T-shirt. She said no to that and never got her pictures.”

The number of people being ripped off by photographers and videographers keep increasing. They are messing up memories that their clients pay to immortalise in pictures.

This shows that we have a problem. But what should we do?

There are many things that can be done to reduce the number of these cases.

First, I propose a naming and shaming movement of all photographers and videographers who have and continue to rip people off.

This will likely save people in 2020 from the frustration and the theft.

I am aware that naming and shaming might not help in recovering your photos and videos.

It might also not help you get your money back, but it will prevent people from mistakenly hiring photographers and videographers with questionable reputations.

Secondly, I propose that clients start to file lawsuits against crooked photographers and videographers.

You might not get your pictures or videos back, forfeiting your prized memories in the process, but at least you should be able to get your money back.

Thirdly, I propose that photographers and videographers should have to be under some form of regulatory body where aggrieved parties can file complaints and seek redress. There is need for some sort of licensing because not everyone with a digital camera in hand is a photographer. Some are crooks hiding behind the lenses.

Surely, decent photographers and videographers need to maintain their licence and the right to practise their trade.

Crooked photographers and videographers should not be issued licenses to operate in the first place.

This dishonesty needs to stop once and for all.

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