Anguish over photographs

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A WHITECROSS man has spoken of his heartbreak that his grandmother who was not well enough to attend his wedding, died without ever seeing photographs of her grandson's special day.
The man, who prefers not to be named, hired Banbridge photographer Brian Byrne for photos and a video of his wedding day, and despite paying in full three and a half years ago - he has yet to receive an image.
Dozens of local couples who hired Brian Byrne, trading as Summerhill Photography and BW Byrne Photography, have been left without memories of their special day.
Mr Byrne is alleged to have taken full payments from couples before their wedding days, but for many, their albums and videos never materialised.
After the BW Byrne Photography facebook page was bombarded with complaints from angry couples, a statement was released saying Mr Byrne had been admitted to a psychiatric ward. However his facebook account has since been deleted.
The Whitecross man spoke to the Democrat about his ordeal: "We booked with him in August 2010, paying a deposit for photographs and a video. He kept phoning us back saying he'd give us a discount if we paid in full so we did - it was about 1,000.
“The wedding was in March 2011 and he was brilliant on the day, he stayed until 11pm that night and took a lot of photos but after that we heard nothing from him.
“I was ringing him constantly and he was just hanging up, then the excuses came - there was literally a different story every few months. I went to his house and left a letter telling him we were taking him to the small claims court, and he didn't reply to it or to solicitor's letters.
“The only thing we have is a few images with his watermark on them but they're low res so can't be used - we've no photos and no video.
“I can forgive a lot, if he had just contacted us and said there was a problem and would just send us the images so we at least had them, but he continued to do the same thing to other couples.
“On dates he'd double booked he hired other professional photographers to cover the weddings and they weren't paid either, this has been going on for years and they are a lot of people affected.
“We last heard from him in December when he phoned out of the blue talking about an album and then the next thing we heard is that he'd been admitted.
“I laugh about it now, it all seems like such a joke, but my two grandmothers died before they got to see any of the photographs. One wasn't fit enough to go to the wedding and she was always asking when she'd see the photos - so really it's not funny, it's no joke."
Cahal Ruddy from Rostrevor married Charlene Greer just over a fortnight ago. They paid Mr Byrne nearly 1,000 up front but received a call days before the wedding, telling them he wouldn't be doing it.
Fortunately they were able to find another photographer at short notice, but have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
Cahal explained: "We got a phone call from Brian Byrne's brother-in-law on a Tuesday night to say he wouldn't be doing the wedding, and we were getting married on the Friday."
Cahal said panic set in and the couple immediately started phoning around and making appointments with other photographers the following day - just two days from their wedding.
“Thankfully Conrad Madden Photography in Warrenpoint and Jeremy Gaad from Alpha Videos in Kilkeel stepped in with great deals for us, they really bent their backs for us and with prices. They felt so sorry for us and we honestly believe it was a blessing in disguise because so many people have got nothing back from that man.
“Yes we paid everything upfront -945 for a video and photos, we met him a week before the wedding and he promised us the world," he said.


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