ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - It was not a pretty picture for one Albuquerque couple.
Like everyone else, they wanted to remember their wedding day, but they say their wedding photographer never sent them their pictures and then pulled a vanishing act.
Matthew and Jazmine Gallegos said they had been dating since 2009 and began planning for their future.
“We had been planning our wedding since we were in high school,” Jazmine Gallegos said.
That included finding just the right photographer to capture all the emotional moments on their special day.
An online search led them to Liz Marie Hunter of Infinite Pixel Photography based in San Antonio, Texas.
Hunter shot their engagement photos and, most importantly, their wedding day on Sep. 17, 2016.
However, they said, photos of those wedding memories never came.
“Those are memories that... “ Jazmine Gallegos started to say.
“…that we can't get back,” her husband said, finishing the sentence.
Receipts show they paid Hunter about $1,500.
Then, a few months after their wedding, the Infinite Pixel Photography website that once displayed those wedding photos shut down and Hunter stopped responding, then blocked them on social media.
“Now, not having those photos, it just… it hurts my heart so much,” Jazmine Gallegos said.
She eventually remembered hearing from a Texas couple a while back.
That couple told her they also hired Hunter.
The email exchange they sent KRQE News 13 showed that Hunter canceled that other couple’s engagement shoot twice. First, she said her car broke down. The next time, she said she was in the hospital.
Records show that couple had already paid Hunter about $650.
They asked to make the final payment in person on their wedding day to guarantee Hunter would be there.
Hunter refused, saying without paying in full beforehand, the contract "is null and void" and she is "not obligated to cover" the event.
The couple said Hunter kept the $650 and didn't show up to their wedding.
A search of Infinite Pixel Photography on the Better Business Bureau's website shows another complaint against Hunter for skipping out on a wedding without warning.
Hunter said it was "due to an unforeseen circumstance" and refused a refund, saying her contract only offers credit toward future photography services with her.
Ms. ********* ****, First of all we do apologize for the miscommunication. Due to unforeseen circumstance, we were unable to photograph your wedding. We sincerely do apologize. As per the contract signed, we will gladly honor all monies paid as a credit towards services/products up to 365 days. You may use it towards prints, albums, canvas, etc. When you have a chance, please let us know how you would like to use your credit. Again, we do apologize for the unforeseen circumstance. Thank you!
KRQE News 13 reached out to Hunter through email and Facebook with no response.
When we tried her old phone number, someone else picked up. The woman said she got the phone number last year and has become familiar with Hunter after getting calls from clients trying to track down the photographer and from debt collectors.
“A lot of times it's just helpful in general for consumers to have documentation of those types of disputes,” attorney Charles Parnall said.
He handles consumer protection cases and reviewed Hunter's photography contract with KRQE News 13.
“Some of the things that stand out are that it's written in a way that the business can pretty much cancel for any reason they want and still get paid,” Parnall said.
He said, in court, the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act protects consumers against people misleading their customers.
He advised people to do their research and keep a record of all communication and transactions.
“Get copies of what you sign and read every word of it,” he said.
Matthew and Jazmine Gallegos did that and recently filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
For the first time in nearly a year, Hunter responded this month.
She claimed she had already mailed a thumb drive and prints back in January 2017 although in a Facebook message she sent the Gallegoses in February 2017, she was asking the couple for their address again and said she was still waiting on a large order of the prints.
Hunter told the Better Business Bureau she would send the photos again if she still has them.
"We just want our memories,” Matthew said.
They've had to make due with cell phone pictures.
"Yeah, we asked anybody, ‘If you took pictures at our wedding, can you please send them,’” he told News 13.
A lot of the pictures just show the backs of their heads because the guests sat behind them in church during the ceremony.
Now, Matthew and Jazmine hope their story will serve as a warning for others.
“We don't want anybody feeling the way we feel. It's... It's a horrible feeling,” Matthew said.
Hunter's social media pages are all private now, so it's hard to tell if she is still in business.
The couple says they will give Hunter a few weeks to see if she does send the pictures before considering a lawsuit.