Every time someone asks to see her wedding album, Isis Buchanan has to explain what went wrong. Yes, a photographer was there when she and Kamal tied the knot on Nov. 3, 2007. No, they have never seen the wedding pictures. No, they don't know if they will ever see them.
The Buchanans hired Walter Griffin, a professional photographer, to capture the ceremony at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in north Minneapolis and the reception at Twin City Catering right on the river. Griffin arrived with his equipment, taking plenty of posed and candid images.
"He was very professional," Isis Buchanan recalled. "He had a suit on at the wedding."
The happy couple paid him the balance of his $1,200 fee at the end of the day. Then they waited.
At first, the couple was told about some delay at the printer. Then Griffin stopped returning their calls and e-mails.
The Buchanans, who live in Eagan, filed a small claims action in Hennepin County court, and won a default judgment on Aug. 8, 2008, of $1,461.12 when Griffin didn't show up. The couple obtained a writ of execution, essentially a court order enforcing the judgment. The sheriff found a bank account with some money in it.
The Buchanans got a check for $34. Hardly the resolution they wanted.
Though she has copies of pictures from wedding guests, Isis Buchanan said she thinks about the absence of the professional photos "constantly." A schoolteacher by trade, she scrapbooks in her free time. She has a scrapbook picked out for the wedding souvenirs.
"Now it's just all packed in the box, all the little things that you save, because there's no pictures to put it with," she said.
In the past, Griffin has worked as an artist-in-residence at schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis. I was able to reach him by phone this week. Griffin said he has been living in Denver and only within the past two weeks returned to the Twin Cities. He knew that the Buchanans had been seeking their photos for more than a year, but his health has been bad, Griffin said. He added that he had other "problems" that he would not specify.
"Yeah, I'll get the pictures to her," he said.
When Griffin will do that is still unknown. He said he believes the digital photos are on a disk in Denver, at the home of someone with whom he had been staying. He said he would contact the person and have it shipped to him.
The bride hasn't taken her scrapbook out yet. But she's encouraged. "I'm glad to hear he's alive and hopefully he will get it to us," she said.
Whistleblower will let you know whether the wedding photos finally appear.
JAMES ELI SHIFFER