Missing Memories: Couples say Hampton Roads photographer still has their wedding photos

10 On Your Side

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A group of couples who got married in Hampton Roads are still waiting to get photos from their wedding photographer, nearly a year after tying the knot. 

10 On Your Side contacted the photographer about the missing memories. He said the situation is beyond his control, but he said he has every intention of getting the couples their pictures. 

However, the brides and grooms we spoke with say at this point, they’re not sure they ever will.  

The last time Alexis Roberson went to a courthouse, she was getting her marriage license with her soon-to-be-husband.   

A year later, they’re back, but this time they’re in small claims court for a case against their wedding photographer.  

“Upset. I’m just angry and upset and sad too because I just want my pictures,” Roberson said.

The Robersons filed a lawsuit against Chris Helms, the owner of Fantastic Photography. The couple booked Helms to capture their big day in September 2018.  

“We found him on The Knot. I just liked his photos and he had a really good price range,” Roberson said. 

They received about 20 preview photos after the wedding and anxiously waited for the rest.  

“He was still saying he was moving households and it switched to he was sick, his girlfriend was sick,” Roberson said. “The contract said up to 20 weeks because of family illnesses or stuff like that.” 

The 20-week deadline came and went, so the couple decided to take legal action.  

They expected to see Helms in court for their hearing, but he didn’t show up.  

A judge ordered Helms to hand over the photos or refund the couple’s money within 10 days. 

Since they never received the pictures or the money, a default judgment was entered in favor of the Robersons. 

The Robersons are one of five couples we’ve spoken to.  

They all hired Helms to photograph their wedding, but they say he didn’t fulfill his end of the contract.  

Courtnay Sanders was the first to contact 10 On Your Side about the missing memories. The only photos she has of her November 2018 wedding were taken by guests.  

“There was times when I would call and he wouldn’t respond and then I call again and he would say ‘Oh I can’t talk and I’m like ‘OK what about my pictures?’ His response would never be about the pictures. It would be about his health,” Sanders said. 

Sanders went back online and soon realized she wasn’t alone.   

“There was another couple that posted a review recently and this individual left his email and phone number. I called him immediately,” she said.  

Of the five couples, three of them only got a small number of photos while the others didn’t get anything at all.  

10 On Your Side got ahold of Helms by phone and asked for an on-camera interview, but he wasn’t willing to meet in person.  

He claims to still have the photos, but Helms said he’s dealing with multiple health issues. He said he doesn’t qualify for health insurance, therefore causing his health to decline and leaving him unable to work.  

In a statement, Helms apologized and placed blame on the government, saying, “the event should never have been outside of my control or ability to handle, as the government had to break its own policies to cause this damage.”  

He also said, “If I don’t focus first on getting healthier, I can’t get anyone anything.”  

We asked Helms if he’s reached out to other professionals to help him in getting the couples their photos.  

In a statement, he said his health limits his ability to ask for help and he also added “it doesn’t make sense to do so.”   

Helms said the time it would take trying to find a qualified person to help him would be better spent working on the actual backlog.  

A statement regarding his health and service is now up on his website.  

With their first wedding anniversary fast approaching, some of the couples are weighing their legal options, but all of them tell 10 On Your Side they’re losing hope.  

“I’m gonna have to find a way to recreate those memories through other’s people’s eyes,” Sanders said. “It’s not even about the money at this point. I just want the pictures.” 

The couples each paid Helms between $1,000 and $1,700 for his services.  

Helms told 10 On Your Side he spent the money on medical and living expenses. 

The state attorney general’s office has a database where consumers can see whether a complaint has been filed against a business. 

To search that database, click here

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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