5 On Your Side

Customers say Sanford wedding photographer robbed them of memories, money

Posted April 24, 2014

— After Jael Vasquez married her high school sweetheart last August, she couldn't wait to see the pictures.

She paid photographer Bonnie Maness, owner of Everglow Studio in Sanford, $2,500 to get a photo CD. While Vasquez was on her honeymoon, Maness posted four photos on her Facebook page.

“And that’s it,” Vasquez said. “Those were the only ones that we have.”

She’s among 10 customers who complained to 5 On Your Side that they paid more than $9,000 to Maness, who did the work and then vanished.

“It's sad because that's all I have…four pictures of a day that was full of highlights,” Vasquez said.

Despite sending emails, text messages and Facebook posts, Vasquez says she hasn't heard from Maness since September.

“It's absolutely frustrating,” she said.

Ciara Macanas said she paid $1,800 for her wedding photos seven months ago, and she’s still waiting.

Elysia Teguin paid a $1,500 dollar deposit and even got an email from Maness in October saying, "Your pics are almost done!"

The Howes said they paid $900 and got some photos, but Maness told them the SD card was corrupted.

There were even more customer complaints about Maness online.

5 On Your Side left repeated messages on multiple phone numbers for Maness, but she never returned the call until 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte showed up at her door. Her mother answered and had Maness call back.

Maness blamed the problems on a falling out with a former co-worker. She agreed to meet Laliberte but texted twice to reschedule. Laliberte never heard back.

Her many customers mostly want what they paid for - memories that can't be recreated. At the very least, they want their money.

"I don't think it's fair that she's getting away with it because at the end of the day I'm out my $2,500 but, most importantly, my pictures,” Vasquez said.

5 On Your Side found another former customer, Ashley Wallace, who took Maness to court. She told us when Maness and her attorney showed up in court four months after the photo shoot, Maness finally gave her the pictures.

Maness said she is no longer in the photography business.


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  • Thomas Fenske Apr 30, 2014
    user avatar

    What a mess. It is theft, pure and simple. No matter the background circumstances, the photographer should refund the money or provide the photos and if she can't do that, she should be charged with theft. If someone stole the photos from her, they should be charged with theft as well.
    To all would be wedding photographers ... that up front money isn't yours until you complete the transaction. Save it in an account and pay it to yourself along with the final payment when you deliver the goods.

  • Smilepal Apr 30, 2014

    I'm so sorry about there pictures. I wish I had paid for a professional to take my pictures. I am thankful for the friends and family that took many 35mm pics for me. Meanwhile, maybe they can bombard friends and family to gather any and every pic possible of there big day.

  • Larry Hatch Apr 28, 2014
    user avatar

    Two good rules of wedding photography: 1) use a proven pro who will carry 2-3 different cameras, giving you redundant backups on the spot (if one SD fails, you still get all the images) and 2) have a friend replicate the pro's work as last resort. Occasionally your friend may even get a lucky shot that is better than the pro.

  • sunshine1040 Apr 25, 2014

    Photographer may have robbed them of pictures but unless he drugged or beat them he did not steal their memories. Sorry customers but maybe some of your friends took picture also but even without the photos I am sure just as I can remember details of my wedding more then 35 years ago you will also. I put the money for a photographer in a special account called down payment on home. Same thing for caterer and band

  • rachel Apr 25, 2014

    CarolinaTim- I get that you say Bonnie is innocent of this mess and a "coworker, friend" took the pictures. Okay-so where is the money? As the photographer, the money goes back with an apology for the horrible theft that occurred. So far, all I am hearing is Bonnie was the robbery victim-by not returning the clients money-now she becomes a thief as well as the co worker who robbed her. Please in your defense of Bonnie, explain why the money did not go back to the clients.

  • Brebabi Apr 25, 2014

    CAROLINATIM -- If the photos were stolen.. why not just offer a refund then? This way it wouldn't look like Bonnie was taking their money and running with it.

  • jlh4jdj Apr 25, 2014

    Please stop responding to A PERSON. They are a troll with nothing better to do. This story sounds like it has some interesting legal and ethical questions to it. The sad thing is that this couple may not have pictures to show their kids or grandchildren one day. These are people that are clearly not alive but, will have much interest in these memories that were made.

  • A person Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I will, as still no one stole their memories, they just lost them. It does not have to be someone else's fault that you lose your memory, some times it just happens but no one stole those memories you lost them by yourself., There does that explain it to you on a lower level than "adult"

  • Lamborghini Mercy Apr 25, 2014

    How hard is it to have a back up usb or two of the photos and send the photos on a cd, especially if you're being payed thousands to do it?

  • JAT Apr 25, 2014

    "no one can rob you of memories" .... perhaps but there's alot that happens at your wedding that you (as the bride or groom) don't see or just don't remember due to the whirlwind that is a wedding. The owner owes the photos or a refund of the money and she owes damages for not delivering photos of a day that can't be "done over". That's why you don't pay alot upfront.