I had a photographer for my daughters wedding. She was originally order to come for 4 hours which was included in the price. I asked her to come for 1 hour earlier and stay for 1 hour later. She charged me $300.00 for 1 hour and $350.00 for the other hour. In the middle of the wedding there was some kind of brawl with the other mechetunim and the photographer said she doesn’t want to stay the extra hour only if I give her another $200.00. Which I gave her because I didn’t want to have a fight. In the end when she had to give me the pictures she said she lost the pictures for that extra hour. What is the halacha? What may I ask back from her and what is she obligated to do or give me. Please give me an answer quickly.
The question is quite delicate. How should be define a photographer — as a po’el (who works by the hour) or as a kablan (who is paid for a finished product)? If the photographer is a kablan, then he is not entitled for payment unless he produces the finished goods. If, however, he is a po’el, then his payment if for the labor he performs, and not for the goods he produces.
It would seem that a photographer is both a po’el and a kablan: he works by the hour, but he is also obligated to provide the photographs.
Presumably, the claim here is that the work as a po’el was not done properly. Something went wrong in real time, resulting in the employer not receiving the benefit of the labor. Under such circumstances, the Ramo (CM 335:2), as explained by Sema (9) and Nesivos (3) states that the employer is exempt from payment: because he did not receive any benefit from the labor, he is not obligated to pay for it.
It is possible, however, that if something went wrong at the time of development (unlikely, because if so, why should there be a difference between the photos from this hour and the rest of the photos), the halachah would change.
My advice (this cannot be a full psak, because there are two parties involved) is not to pay the money for the extra hour — neither the original sum, nor the extra $200 (which is an ‘added price’ for the labor of the extra hour). You can say that this is what you have been advised to do, and that you are prepared to go to a Din Torah for adjudication.
If all the money has been paid, you have the right to claim your money back for the extra hour, on account of your not have received any benefit from the work done — however, she will have the right to demand that you go to beis din (or to a borer) for adjudication, which I would recommend you do.