Edmonton photographer facing lawsuit delivers overdue wedding photos

A pair of married couples have filed civil claims against an Edmonton photographer after he charged thousands of dollars to photograph their weddings, but failed to deliver the complete sets of pictures for more than a year. The couples say they paid thousands of dollars in advance to hire Leroy Schulz as a wedding photographer. Schulz sent select preview pictures shortly after the big day, but withheld the full online gallery of photographs and ignored follow up messages, according to the statements of claim. At the time of the weddings, both sets of newlyweds lived abroad but had their ceremonies close to family and friends in Alberta.Colleen Lenahan and husband Alexander Stark, as well as Kim Nicholas and husband Simon Rose have both filed separate civil suits against Schulz in provincial court. A third couple, Chelsey Campbell and Karl Sharpe, said they had not received the full gallery of photos from their 2017 wedding, but decided against legal action.When CBC News reached out to Schulz for comment he said he was "catching up on belated work." Lenahan and Stark will celebrate their third wedding anniversary next month. Nicholas and Rose married 20 months ago. "The clients will receive everything that they are due shortly," Schulz wrote in an email on Wednesday. By Sunday, all three couples received a full gallery with hundreds of images from Schulz. "It's only when things look like they might negatively affect him that he's suddenly developed an interest in delivering the photos," Nicholas said. "From the information we have, it's hard not to read this as he does not care about the trust that we placed in him and the job that we hired him to do." Schulz declined interview requests from CBC News and has not responded to follow up questions by email. A timeless piece of memorabilia held hostageNicholas, a professor in Sweden, met her future husband Rose while he was completing his post-doctoral work there in 2010. The couple returned to Edmonton, close to Rose's family, for their wedding at the Muttart Conservatory in May 2018. They hired Schulz to capture the preparation, ceremony and reception for $3,750.In an email, he touted his list of former clients from the Art Gallery of Alberta to news media. The couple was impressed with Schulz's professionalism on the day of the wedding. Three days later, he sent them a slideshow of preview pictures. The couple says Schulz promised to deliver a full gallery of photos, where they could choose the pictures to include in a 10-spread album and upgrade to high-resolution. But then he went silent. > It's only when things look like they might negatively affect him that he's suddenly developed an interest in delivering the photos \- Kim NicholasThe couple says emails, messages, and phone calls went unanswered.Then Nicholas had a cancer scare last March that redoubled her efforts to get the wedding photos. She made a list of priorities and the photos were at the top.  Nicholas sent Schulz an email with the subject line,"I may have cancer and I want our wedding photos ASAP please." She didn't ask for an explanation. She gave him a week to respond with a new delivery date, or else the couple would pursue legal action. No response. The couple hired a lawyer to a draft a letter to Schulz threatening to sue unless he fulfilled the contract. Again, no response. So last week, in the midst of a holiday trip to Edmonton, the couple filed a civil claim against Schulz in provincial court. At the courthouse, they discovered they weren't alone: records showed another couple filed a similar claim against Schulz last February.Not the only onesColleen Lenahan and Alexander Stark hired Schulz for their February 2017 wedding in Canmore.They paid $4,750 for the platinum photo package, including $1,000 print credit and extensive picture retouching. The contract was signed months in advance. By April, Schulz had delivered the pre-wedding photos, and a few dozen high-resolution pictures from the full gallery. In an email, he said he hoped to finish the full gallery in the following week or two.As the months went by, Lenahan says she oscillated between frustration and sadness."It certainly has jaded me," she said. Meanwhile, Schulz was active on social media and in the community. He photographed live events, was contracted by local magazines and delivered talks on his work.The Art Gallery of Alberta's head of communications told CBC News the gallery did not have issues with Schulz, a frequent contract photographer. "He's been excellent. That's why they continued to use him," said head of communications Melanie Houley. A third coupleIn late 2018, Lenahan posted on Schulz's Facebook wall, asking him to deliver the overdue wedding photos. The post was quickly deleted, but not before Chelsey Campbell took notice. She had also been waiting months for a full set of wedding and engagement photos. "It was just nice to find somebody to talk to about this because it's quite an exceptional experience to be ghosted by your wedding photographer," Campbell said in an interview. Campbell and her husband Karl Sharpe hired Schulz to photograph their wedding in August 2017. Sharpe and Schulz were part of the same social circle in Edmonton.Campbell says more than two years after the wedding, and despite multiple attempts to get the pictures promised in the contract — including having a mutual friend intervene — they remained without the full wedding gallery and their engagement photos. The wedding was one of the last times Campbell was able to dance with her friends and family. She says major reconstructive surgery in May 2018 limited her mobility. "He has stolen the narrative of our wedding day and made it about himself. I think it was selfish and hurtful, but at the end of the day I just want my images and to wash my hands of it," she said. Campbell says she kept messaging with Lenahan, as they considered their next steps. Lenahan and her husband Stark decided to file a civil claim against Schulz in February before their two-year deadline passed. Schulz was served with the claim, but never responded, court documents show. The couple was issued a default judgment in April. They can now seek $5,101 in damages through the Court of Queen's Bench, but must serve Schulz again for the suit to proceed.Nicholas and Rose, the other couple who filed a civil claim earlier this month, say they will wait to speak with Schulz before they decide how to move forward. "Our number one priority is to do what we can to help everyone who is missing their photos get them back," she wrote in an email. Campbell received her photos on Sunday evening, just hours before publication."We are completely in shock and so thrilled," she wrote in an email.Do you have a tip? Reach out in confidence to jordan.omstead@cbc.ca

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