Your Stories Investigation: A Dozen Couples Still Waiting For Wedding Photos
Updated: Saturday, July 13 2013, 12:34 PM EDT
Rochester, N.Y.— About a year ago, 13WHAM News told you about a local Rochester-area wedding photographer named Jennifer MacPherson.
At the time, MacPherson lived in Holley and two newlywed couples who were married in the Rochester area were desperately trying to get a hold of her because she wouldn’t return calls or e-mails. The couples had been waiting months for their wedding photos.
After our story aired last year, about a dozen other couples reached out to 13WHAM saying they, too, were waiting for their wedding pictures. Some had been waiting for almost three years.
Among those couples were William and Christine Rothrock of Fairport. They got married in July 2011 at the Robach Center at Charlotte Beach.
In hindsight, they are grateful they gave each of their guests disposal cameras to take candid shots of their wedding day. That’s because almost two years later—they have yet to receive their professional wedding pictures from MacPherson. They paid her $1,146.
The Rothrocks explained that when they were planning their wedding around January 2011, they found MacPherson on Craigslist. They did an interview with her and were thoroughly impressed with her work.
When they did an online search for her name, there were only rave reviews so they went ahead and hired her. The wedding day went off without a hitch.
“She was there the whole day,” Christine Rothrock explained. “She took pictures. She was blending in. She was showing us the prints as she was going along. It wasn’t like we were thinking that there was anything was wrong.”
At the end of the night, MacPherson told the couple that they could expect their raw and edited photos in about 12 weeks. Then 16 weeks went by and they still hadn’t heard from MacPherson. E-mails and phone calls weren’t returned.
That’s when Christine searched MacPherson’s name online, she saw that she there were several other couples who also could not get a hold of her and were still waiting for their wedding pictures.
“I was like, ‘How could someone do this?’” William Rothrock asked angrily. “It’s the one day that you can’t recreate. You can’t do it again. I kind of feel we would have been better off if she didn’t show up that day. I would have known that we wouldn’t have gotten these pictures.”
Over the past three years, MacPherson has taken wedding photos for at least a dozen couples between New York state and Michigan. Some of the couples just received their raw photos. Others have received nothing at all. In total, the couples paid MacPherson nearly $15,000.
13WHAM attempted to find MacPherson several times at her last known address in Brockport. Messages to four different e-mail addresses and six different phone numbers MacPherson had given her clients all went unreturned. Some of the numbers have been disconnected.
A year ago when 13WHAM News found MacPherson at her Holley home, she explained that she was going through personal issues and said she would get the photos to her clients soon. One of the couples featured in 13WHAM’s story got their photos two days after our story ran. The rest of the couples are still left waiting.
Kevin and Corey Tremaine of Elmira may be the last couple MacPherson took wedding photos of. They got married in July 2012.
Corey explained that she also found MacPherson on Craigslist and she felt very comfortable with her.
Like the Rothrocks, the Tremaines say the actual wedding day went smoothly. They were even lucky enough to get a five edited photos as a “sneak peek” because they wanted to use their professional wedding pictures on their thank you cards.
As time passed with no contact from MacPherson, the Tremaines became concerned and like the couples before them, they soon found out that MacPherson had a history of disappearing.
“It’s heartbreaking because none of the guests took pictures at our wedding,” Corey said. “She made the trip and worked all day. [I thought] she was good! Hopefully, we are the last. Hopefully she isn’t doing this to anyone else.”
However, 13WHAM News has learned that Jennifer MacPherson may still be taking pictures, this time under a different name.
On the wedding site ThePros.com, a photographer with the name “Jennifer J.” is listed as one of the wedding photographers who are available on future dates to take pictures in the Rochester area.
Jennifer MacPherson’s former employer, who also runs a wedding photography business, confirmed that the pictures listed on this site under “Jennifer J.” are photos Jennifer MacPherson took while she was employed with her in Michigan two years ago. MacPherson’s maiden name is Jaworskyj.
Mark Monaghan, the Economic Crime Bureau Chief for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, explained that people or businesses often change their names after their online reputation is tainted.
There are several scathing reviews of MacPherson on wedding sites like TheKnot.com and WeddingWire.com and the Better Business Bureau has given her an “F” rating.
“[They change names] because it would obviously make it difficult to track down whether you are dealing with the same person who’ve you looked up under a different name,” Monaghan explained.
He also said that cases like MacPherson’s can be difficult to prosecute because the burden weighs heavily on the prosecution.
They must prove, that from the very beginning, MacPherson never intended to fulfill her promise, but since she actually makes the trip to the wedding and takes pictures, this is hard to prove.
“The threshold in the state of New York is considerable to prosecute someone by larceny by false promise,” he explained. “It's elevated to standards that are beyond, beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Monaghan explained that this is to make sure that people aren't resorting to the criminal justice system to resolve things that are civil in nature and may have been a result of bad business practices.
Monaghan adds that legally, “bad business person” is not a crime.
Some of the couples have sued MacPherson in small claims court but she never showed up on her court dates. There are judgments against her, but she has no property or bank accounts the judgments can be attached to.
“There is no way of really going after someone like this,” William Rothrock lamented. “There is no way to stop her. There is just no way to stop her from doing this to other people. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Also, judgments would only help the couples who wanted to just get their money back. Many of the couples don’t want their money—they just want their pictures.
The Rothrocks have had a baby girl since their wedding and the Tremaines are expecting a child in a few months.
“We’re not asking for any money to be returned,” said Kevin Tremaine. “We are just asking for our pictures. We have a daughter on the way and we don’t have anything to show her.”
Their wedding photos are priceless memories both couples want to pass on to their daughters.
Some couples said that in instances where they were able to get in contact with MacPherson, she has pointed out that in the contract, there was no due date and this is true. Two different versions of MacPherson’s contracts show that there is no definite due date. She uses words like “approximately” when talking about how many weeks it would take to for the couples to get their photos.
Monaghan said that if you’re signing a contract for service, make sure there is a definite and clear due date. If there isn’t one, ask for one.
“There should be clear terms all around,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Tremaines, the Rothrocks and the several other couples who were victimized by MacPherson are hopeful that she will have a change of heart and decide to eventually send them their photos.
“Please send them,” Corey Tremaine pled. “I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to be angry. Just please from the bottom of my heart-- I just want my pictures. That’s all we want.”
As of April 2013, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the allegations against MacPherson.