Visalia Wedding Photographer Investigation

February 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman hired to take thousands of dollars worth of wedding pictures for several Visalia couples is now the focus of an exclusive Action News investigation.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you are a victim please click here to contact us. Send message to "Consumer Watch".
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The couples claim Tamara Orton, took their pictures, then took their money.

Orton was the owner of "Inner Spirit Photography," which was once an in-demand studio. Now, clients are demanding their memories.

These few images are all Landon and Natalie Mapes have to remember their 2005 wedding. Despite the 4,500 dollars they paid to Visalia photographer Tamara Orton of Inner Spirit Photography.

"It's been really frustrating, my wife's been pretty upset. Your wedding day's supposed to be one of the most special days that you have, and you'd like to have some photos to remember it by," said Landon Mapes of Visalia.

Countless e-mails show the couple's repeated yet unsuccessful attempts to try to get the prints and albums they paid for. One of the last e-mails they received from Orton in February 2007 reads: "First let me say I am very sorry. My life took a huge nose dive last year and everything got out of control."

Orton promises to deliver, but instead, disappeared. "She moved to a new office on Main Street, went there multiple times, was run off by her secretary or assistant couple times. Never saw her, never made contact," said Mapes.

Last year, the Mapes filed this small claims case against Orton. The Mapes said she showed up in court and admitted there were other couples she owed pictures to including both of Rhonda Montgomery's daughters.

The Montgomery family paid Orton $10,000 dollars for two weddings in 2005.

"Kinda heartbreaking for the girls," said Rhonda Montgomery.

"And for you?"

"And for me, sure, because you try to do everything perfect for the wedding."

The Montgomery's hired Visalia detective Rocky Pipkin to help. Pipkin, in turn contacted Action News.

"You're at the mercy of these folks. The wedding's over, the pictures have been taken, and so you want to believe what they're telling you and you want to believe they're going to produce these in a couple weeks, a couple months," said Rocky Pipkin.

By now, Orton's business numbers were disconnected, her website shut down. A dead end.

But Pipkin tracked down Orton-who's been living in Iowa. Wednesday, she was back in Visalia, at the Tulare County Courthouse for a child custody hearing.

Action News questioned Orton.

"Where are your clients pictures?"

"I have my life to deal with and I don't have time to deal with you right now," said Photographer Tamara Orton.

"Do you have anything to say to your clients? A lot of people are very angry."

"I'm just sorry, that's all.

"You're sorry? Do you plan to deliver at any point?"

"Sorry, that's all I have to say."

Other than the apology, Orton's victims still said they're still left with nothing.

After the confrontation Tamara Orton promised to turn over her clients' high resolution files from their weddings.

Action News spoke with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office, and the Consumer Fraud Unit is aware of the complaints against Orton and is considering its own investigation.

If you are a victim please click here to contact us. Send message to "Consumer Watch".



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