Consumers warned against ‘predatory’ studio photographers

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • Consumer Protection sees increase in complaints against studio photographers
  • Customers report harassment and high-pressure sales tactics
  • Warning for consumers to exercise caution before engaging with these businesses

The number of consumer complaints relating to studio photography businesses has risen sharply in 2024, prompting Consumer Protection to issue a warning.

Last year, eight complaints were received, with similar numbers seen in 2022. Eight complaints have already been received this year with issues raised including potential misleading and deceptive conduct, harassment and coercion, unfair contract terms and unconscionable conduct.

“These are serious claims and Consumer Protection will not tolerate it, so predatory traders in the photography industry are on notice,” said Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake.

Consumers may come across these businesses after receiving targeted social media advertising to enter a promotion for a chance to win a photography package, they purchase a voucher at a discount from websites like Groupon or they are provided a gift voucher when contracting other goods/services (such as settlement agents).

This last practice is one the Commissioner wants businesses to stop.

“I encourage businesses to stop handing out vouchers for ‘cheap’ studio photography sessions to their clients as a thank you gift,” said Ms Blake.

“These vouchers are not gifts, they are bait.”

The discount/gift voucher appears to be for a high value, however there is normally no pricing information or terms & conditions provided prior to the photography session.

Consumers who do attend one of these studio photography sessions describe their experience as being rushed, pressured, manipulated and intimidated. Packages usually cost over $3,000 for a handful of poorly edited photos. Some people have reported being relentlessly harassed over the phone after walking away.

“It’s unfortunate for the industry that some studio photography businesses behave like predators waiting to lure customers in with fake prizes, false promotions or heavily discounted packages that end up costing thousands,” Ms Blake said.

Ms Blake warned there are plenty of red flags consumers can look out for.

“People should be suspicious of vouchers for photography sessions where you pay very little for a service that is normally expensive – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” she said.

“Always ask to view the terms and conditions before committing to booking an appointment, so that you understand what is and is not included in the price. If the business refuses, this is a red flag.

“If you’re not happy with the quality of the photos, raise your concerns with the photographer. You should never have to pay more money to correct bad work. This is a breach of Australian Consumer Law.”

/Public Release. View in full here.