Customers say Sanford wedding photographer robbed them of memories, money
Posted April 24, 2014
Sanford, N.C. — 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.