Long Island brides say wedding photographer swindled them out of thousands of dollars

More than a year after Stephanie Pembroke’s wedding, the Port Jefferson bride hardly had anything to show for her special day. She is still waiting to receive her wedding videos, edited photos and three leather photo albums with a combined 200 images.

She paid photographer Charles Eames $4,200.

In Babylon, new mom Lilly Ackermann should have received a photo album, a video trailer, a long feature-length wedding video and edited photos on a USB. She had hoped to one day share her wedding video with her son, but she was only given a link to download pictures. She got married 17 months ago.

Ackermann paid photographer Charles Eames $5,000.

“These videos are just so priceless that we’ll do anything at this point to get them back,” Ackermann said. “With every day that passes by, I just have this sinking feeling that we might not ever see it.”

Wantagh bride Megan Reiss is considered lucky. She has a raw video of her July 2021 wedding, but hundreds of quick, unedited clips are not what she paid for. She should have received an edited wedding video, 50 personalized thank you cards, two photo albums and a USB drive with her edited photos.

“I feel disgusted. I feel hurt,” said Reiss. “Most importantly, I feel hurt because he was so supportive. He was getting me through the stress of postponing our wedding four times, so he was there for us and just like that, he wasn’t.”

Brides of Long Island founder Heather Cunningham reached out to Team 12 Investigates about mounting complaints against Charles Eames Photography and the wedding memories Eames is allegedly holding hostage. Brides showed News 12 their contract with Eames that promised custom albums, edited photos and cinematic videos within 90 days of their weddings.

Cunningham provided News 12 with the names of 47 brides who said they had been waiting more than a year for their wedding videos, edited photos, or albums—despite collectively paying Eames at least $132,150 in cash.


Loose photos of Lilly Ackermann’s June 2021 wedding were supposed to be made into a custom 10×10 leather album.

HOW DID IT GET THIS FAR?

Eames simply had the charm. He won brides over with his big personality and made them feel like he was a close friend. In the end, they felt swindled.

“You feel like you knew him,” said Pembroke. “I feel like I was scammed, like I was part of this giant scam. I couldn’t believe that I went through this.”

He also had great testimonials online. Brides would write glowing reviews the day after their weddings, never expecting that Eames wouldn’t deliver their edited wedding video, photos or albums.

Rachel Lauth, of East Meadow, was one of the first brides who used Eames and his startup business. She said she came recommended by a friend and her portfolio of work was impressive.

“I feel terrible. I was one of the people who raved about him because it was way back in the beginning when he was first getting all of these recommendations.” said Lauth.

Lauth is coming up on her third wedding anniversary and is still waiting for a USB with high resolution photos, a custom album and an edited wedding video. She paid him $4,000.

“BROKEN PROMISES AND BROKEN CONTRACTS”

Once the 90 days were up, the brides would call, email and text Eames daily asking for their products. He always appeared to have excuses and usually blamed the delays on a contracted editing company based out of state.

Brides questioned whether that company even existed.

According to text messages reviewed by Team 12 Investigates, Eames never indicated that the projects wouldn’t get done. Instead, he told the brides that the edits were in progress and that they would have their videos “soon.” The back-and-forth continued for months.

“The charisma that he had, to then just fall off the face of the Earth,” said Ackermann. “The promises failed, ‘You’ll have it next week, you’ll have it next month.’ I know there’s more to the story that we’re not seeing.”

Eames eventually stopped responding altogether and seems vanished.

The website for Charles Eames Photography no longer exists, and his store front in Massapequa is shuttered. All that’s left inside is a fold-up chair and a desk, with some items scattered throughout.

“He basically took our money and ran without fulfilling his end of the contract,” said Lauren Keuhn, of Jericho, who got married in April 2021 and is still waiting for her wedding video. “It’s just an ongoing hamster wheel of broken promises and broken contracts.”

After several phone calls, dozens of text messages and a trip to Eames’ home, Team 12 Investigates tracked him down to get answers for the dozens of brides who reached out to News 12. He refused to talk on camera but agreed to do an interview over the phone. He said he got too big too fast as a new business owner and could not keep up with all the weddings he was hired to work on.

“When you have business knocking at the door, you don’t want to turn it down obviously, and it was a bad decision on my part to continue to keep bookings and bookings and bookings and promising and promising and promising,” Eames said.

Eames also admits that he is not proficient at editing videos. He said he struggled financially due to the pandemic and could not afford to replace the staff that he originally hired to edit the wedding videos. Team 12 Investigates asked him what happened to the tens of thousands of dollars that these brides had already paid him.

“Well, it went to pay rent. It went to, at the time, trying to pay staff to catch up,” said Eames. “It went to refunds for other things that, you know, when COVID hit, it wasn’t just that we lost work and that was the end of it. It was, we lost work, and we had to refund certain couples.”

Eames would not say how he plans to reimburse couples for using their money on other business expenses, only telling News 12 that he urges any bride or groom to reach out via email. None of the brides that contacted Team 12 Investigates said they got a refund. Many are still trying to get a response from Eames.

“WE WANT WHAT WE PAID FOR”

Eames gave News 12 the same treatment that he gave the brides. During every phone call, he said he was almost done editing wedding videos. However, he could not say how much he was working on or how much he had finished.

Eames also said he is now working with a new editing company based out of war-torn Ukraine, which has endured months of explosions due to the ongoing war with Russia. He never showed proof that any edits were getting done, and he never followed up like he said he would.

Meanwhile, some of the brides are taking legal action against Eames. Several couples have sued him in small court claims and won. However, they are still struggling to collect what they are owed from Eames—even with a court judgment.

“The Long Island brides, we want what we paid for. It’s a huge day. Everyone knows a Long Island wedding is a real big thing. We want to just move on, but in order to move on, we need all of our stuff,” said Keuhn.

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