Commissioner's Blog: Complaints about studio photographers on the rise

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Behind the spotlight of gorgeous glamour shots, tender newborn photos and loving family portraits can be a dark reality. Unfortunately, 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.

Last year, Consumer Protection received eight complaints about studio photography businesses. With this number of complaints already received this year, the trend is concerning and a warning is needed to highlight the potential red flags.


The issues raised include 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 industry are on notice.


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

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. Customers have no idea if the voucher will cover the cost of the session or any prints. A business should always be upfront about costs.


The photographers engage in high pressure sales tactics after the session, with packages being offered on a ‘take it now or never’ basis. They’ll often claim the photos will be deleted immediately after as they ‘don’t have the storage space’ or they’ll impose a fee if the consumer wishes to review the photos and decide on a package at a later date. 


Consumers have described their experience of being rushed, pressured, manipulated and intimidated. Where consumers explain they are not in a financial position to purchase the expensive photography packages, they are often offered credit or direct debit arrangements. These 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.


Then there’s the quality issues. When concerns are raised about the photos not being of a professional standard, they are requested to make additional payments to correct editing mistakes and flaws.

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. 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 find yourself in a situation where you feel you are being pressured into spending more money than you wanted to on photos, slow down and question any claims that impose time limits on decision making. Walk away from the situation if necessary.


If you’re not happy with the quality of the photos as they have obvious flaws caused by bad editing or poor photography skills, raise your concerns with the photographer. A good photographer will work with you to ensure you’re happy with the final prints. You should never have to pay more money to correct bad work. This is a breach of Australian Consumer Law.


We encourage businesses to stop handing out vouchers for “cheap” studio photography sessions to their clients as a thank you gift. These vouchers are not gifts, they are bait.


If you feel you have experienced issues with a photography session or wish to make an enquiry, call 1300 30 40 54, email or visit



Consumer Protection
Media release
23 May 2024

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