Feb 23, 2023, 3:31amUpdated 1h ago
More people are turning to Team 12 Investigates after we were alerted to dozens of complaints against a Long Island wedding photographer.
Caitlin and Kyle Silverstein, of Smithtown, are among at least 60 couples who paid Charles Eames thousands of dollars for wedding videos, edited photos and custom albums that they never received.
“It’s so exhausting thinking about everything we’ve had to go through,” said Caitlin, who is expecting her first child in May.
Our initial story was shared across the country and reached a photographer in Utah. After seeing the story, photographer Daniel Pombonyo emailed Team 12 Investigates that Eames had hired him to help shoot a wedding in West Sayville in October 2021.
Pombonyo said Eames asked him for his memory card after the wedding and recalled waiting months to get it back. He asked Team 12 Investigates for help locating the bride and groom on a hunch that Eames never gave them the photos he had taken.
He was right.
“We connected because of you guys, and she was just so extremely happy. I was extremely happy to have found her,” said Pombonyo.
Pombonyo had hundreds of wedding photos that the Silversteins were missing. They could not believe they were seeing wedding photos for the first time nearly two years after tying the knot.
“We definitely did not realize the memories existed, like the one of [Kyle’s] mom getting [him] ready, pinning everything on, and [his] dad, we didn’t have those,” Caitlin said.
“Those were integral moments that my parents would look back fondly on that they would love to have a photo of,” Kyle added.
A Growing List of Complaints
Brides of Long Island founder Heather Cunningham first alerted Team 12 Investigates to the mounting complaints against Charles Eames Photography and the wedding memories Eames is allegedly holding hostage. She provided News 12 with the names of 47 brides who say they have been waiting more than a year for their wedding videos, edited photos, or albums.
“Everybody was recommending him. We had his photo booth at our own events, so I reached out to him,” Cunningham said. “He told me he had everyone’s stuff, he just had to work on it. I said, ‘I don’t care what you say, give them to me.’”
Cunningham, who has known Eames since high school, said she has been helping individual couples get what they’re owed since 2019, but complaints exploded after the pandemic. She could no longer keep up with the growing number of brides who never got what they paid for.
“It was like, ‘OK, this is becoming a major problem,’” said Cunningham. “There are girls still missing footage from 2017, ‘18, ‘19 and he doesn’t have any answers.”
More people have since come forward with complaints since our Team 12 Investigative report. At least 60 couples say they are still waiting for what was outlined in their contracts despite collectively paying Eames $180,800.
This is only a snapshot of Eames’ legacy on the Long Island wedding scene. Cunningham said she told Eames to send her all the wedding videos that he still needs to edit. Days later, a box of hard drives arrived in the mail containing hundreds of hours’ worth of video clips.
Cunningham worked with a local editor to organize the clips and found there are more than 200 weddings on the drives. She has been trying to track down as many brides as possible.
“I have a lot of brides here, but they’re all individuals to me,” Cunningham added. “Every one of them is important. Every one of them deserves the same amount of attention and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Many of the couples may not know Cunningham has their raw wedding video, and others may have already gotten their unedited clips from Eames, such as Caitlin and Kyle Silverstein.
The last time Team 12 Investigates spoke with Eames over the phone, he made excuses instead of amends. He said he was working with an editing company based out of war-torn Ukraine and never showed any proof that edits were getting done.
When asked when the work would be complete, his answers were vague.
“I would have to look for the chronological order as to when things were done, but I would say honestly, realistically, to be fully caught up, within two to three months at the maximum,” Eames said in a phone interview.
Eames said he would “completely understand” if no one believed him and took “full responsibility” for the harm he has caused. He put off our repeated requests for a follow-up interview, telling Team 12 Investigates that he was busy working two jobs and is in the process of moving.
Eames also admitted to spending the money that couples had paid him on other expenses, such as rent, refunds and overhead costs. His business Charles Eames Photography, though, no longer exists and none of the brides that contacted Team 12 Investigates said they got a refund.
“I Knew I Could Make a Difference”
The stories from brides across the island have compelled others in the industry to help. Richard Klamis, a videographer with 3 Elements Films & Photography, saw Megan Reiss’ story on News 12.
The Wantagh bride, who got married in July 2021, received hundreds of quick, unedited video clips from Eames after months of back-and-forth. Klamis offered to edit those clips for free and used his personal time to create a five-minute trailer.
“When your news article came out, we all spoke about it and we couldn’t believe that this happened,” Klamis said. “I wanted to make things right. I knew I could make a difference, and I wanted to help Megan out that way.”
Megan and her husband Andrew never thought they would be able to close this chapter. They spent months trying to get a response from Eames, who had continuously promised their wedding video was “with the editors.”
“At that point, it really wasn’t about the money,” Andrew said. “It was more or less about just getting those memories that were taken and wanting to share them with our family.”
The couple said Klamis’ edited video was one of the greatest gifts they have ever received. Now, they will be able to share those memories with their daughter. They welcomed a baby girl in December.
“That’s what I’m most excited for. When she gets older, she can see mommy and daddy’s wedding day,” Megan said. “I couldn’t believe it. After all we went through, it was a sigh of relief.”
Meanwhile, many other families are still fighting to get what they are owed from Eames. Nearly a dozen brides have told Team 12 Investigates that they filed a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
The Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that it is looking into this issue and is currently reviewing the complaints it received.
At least 10 couples have gone to court to try to get their money back from Eames. Despite a judge ruling in their favor, they have not been repaid.