Fresher speaks out against couple who ruined her photography business
Chloe Johnston was sued for more than £600 but strongly denies the claims against her
A fresher dubbed “the photographer from hell” by a couple who claimed she wrecked their wedding day with “rubbish”pictures and an unprofessional manner is speaking out to show the “real” story.
Chloe Johnston, a student photographer, has seen the collapse of her business and suffered online abuse over the past three days after the story was picked up by a number of tabloid newspapers.
The Leeds Beckett first year, studying Events Management, is now fighting back against accusations that she arrived 45 minutes late, forced the bride to traipse through mud for photos that neglected the groom and spent more time in a photo-booth than taking pictures.
Speaking to The Tab, Chloe said: “This is the type of story people see, take 10 minutes to have their opinion and then they move on with their lives. But this is now my life.
“I’ve seen such rude comments made about myself that believe that the articles are true and haven’t understood that there are three sides to every story – your side, their side and the truth. All I wanted to do was showcase evidence and then the general public can make up their own mind.
“The couple knew they were booking a student photographer before they even initially met with me. I have photographed other couples in the past in which I always went through the same procedure. This was myself thoroughly exposing that I’m a student, I’ve never claimed to be the best or an expert in what I do I’m just learning something new and wish to help couples who don’t have the funds to spend thousands on their wedding photographer.”
Paul and Chareen Wheatley, the newlywed couple who sued their wedding photographer, successfully won their appeal for a refund in December at Leeds County Court, but enlisted the help of bailiffs to reclaim £605 two weeks ago. Chloe claims this was “won through default” as “the County Court didn’t receive [her] mediation papers”, after they were unfortunately lost in the post.
The first year undergraduate, who believes she has evidence to refute the allegations against her, said: “I would like to know what evidence Mr Wheatley has to prove that I was 45 minutes late. They asked me to arrive at 1:30pm, with their ceremony starting at 2pm. If I was, like they said, 45 minutes late I wouldn’t have captured the bride getting ready or the beginning of the ceremony.
“Also, on the day of the wedding Mr Wheatley told me he was in pain so with this in mind I stopped photographing the group shots with his wishes due to the pain he was suffering. However, Mrs Wheatley seemed interested to still get some shots in the woodland area. So with her husband’s consent Mrs Wheatley, myself and her maid of honour went towards the area.
“Personally, I inspected the area before hand and I did inform the bride that it is slightly muddy and may get her shoes mucky; the mud wasn’t severe. To which she replied ‘Ahh, it’s only a bit of mud, it’ll wash’. My future aspirations are to get married one day like a lot of people, why would I, with that aspiration, not care about a bride dress getting muddy?
“The couple encouraged myself to go into the photo booth and I was in there just over a minute. The photographs of myself were added to their guestbook with their approval in which I wrote a comment congratulating the couple and wishing them a happy beautiful life together. I would never have gone in without their permission.”
The amateur photographer has received messages of support from happy customers who are keen to defend her professionalism and photo quality.
Sam Casey, who used Chloe for her wedding last September, said: “Chloe kept in contact throughout the months leading up to the wedding and turned up on time on the day. She was considerate and friendly throughout and for a student still learning her trade I was pleasantly surpassed by how much of a professional she was.
“My husband and I cannot recommend her highly enough and were incredibly happy with the quality of her work.”
Chloe claims that Paul Wheatley failed to attend a court hearing where he was accused of fraud against her, and has “lied” to the press about what happened.
She said: “I took Mr Wheatley to Leeds County Court last week (Wednesday 6th April) and won against him as he was trying to commit fraud. I’m awaiting the papers which I’m happy to make public once I have them, which concludes that the couple owes me court fees of £155.”
In a text sent to Chareen Wheatley, with more than a dozen photos which we can’t show you, she tells Chloe: “Wow there amazing hun thankyou so much xx.”
“The stories in the national papers came about when, upon request, Chloe gave evidence to support her own claims to journalist Josh Saunders, who she believes selectively chose specific statements to manipulate her actual words and presented her in a derogatory manner, therefore commiting “an untruthful attack” upon her character and civil rights.
Chloe is now looking to move on with her life, but will not be doing any further photography work in the future.
She said: “I no longer have a business as far as I’m concerned. I’ve lost business from this and I have no confidence whatsoever now. I’m a very firm believer of ‘everything happens for a reason’, and for whatever reason this happened to me.
“In life you need to trial lots of avenues to find the shoe that fits and I guess for myself this avenue wasn’t my right fit. I may be leaving this avenue, but I will have a new dream. And I will go and grab it.
“If you’re being harassed, bullied or slandered go and find the help you need. Be that from the police, legal advice or to get your side of the story across on Facebook like I’ve done. This isn’t just happening to you, you’re certainly not alone. And I’m happy to help anyone the best I can.”