Local photography company Glasser Images became a snapshot of scandal after closing suddenly on Oct. 7, 2021.
Company founder Jack Glasser informed clients through a brief email on Oct. 7 that the company was unable to endure “the past and ongoing effects from the pandemic,” which “forced this decision to happen extremely rapidly and immediately.”
Glasser founded the company in 2005 and has grown to service North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado. This company primarily worked with over a hundred subcontractors who took photos or videos for weddings and special events.
Clients of Glasser Images were left scrambling with no refunds in sight. This applied to customers who have booked just days before closing and those who have had their weddings already but have not received their photos.
“We cannot guarantee that anyone will receive a refund or receive all of their photos or videos,” the North Dakota Attorney General’s office said in a written comment.
Subcontractors were granted permission to release photos to clients if they still had access to them in a virtual press conference held on Oct. 13.
“I want to get paid for the work I have done, but my main priority is making sure that the couple I got to work with get their wedding videos and photos,” said Ryan Kost, who subcontracted for Glasser Images for three years and has lost over $8,500 in unpaid work.
Glasser Images has announced that they will be working with an Atlanta-based company, Shoot Proof, to release images to clients over the next year, although there is a possibility the images will not be edited.
The company is currently facing eight active lawsuits and an investigation through the AG’s office. The AG’s office has received over 500 complaints from clients or subcontractors since its closing.
The AG’s office has issued subpoenas for Glasser and the company’s documents. Moreover, South Central District Judge David Reich approved AG’s request for websites and emails to be preserved on Oct. 27; however, the judge vacated the order the same day because of the pending hearing held Nov. 10, according to court records.
There is a possibility the state will choose to sue Glasser Images, which would most likely result in Glasser having to pay up the money they owed to clients.
Glasser claimed in his farewell email to clients that the pandemic sunk his business, yet the company received two loans totaling $500,000 through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a COVID relief effort meant to keep workers employed.
Subcontractors have been vocal about the business management practices that foreshadowed its closing long before the pandemic struck.
“I am amazed they made it this far. It certainly didn’t come as a shock,” subcontractor Andrew Klein said. “For customers, it absolutely did come out of nowhere, but as an insider, I saw this coming.”
A majority of subcontractors experienced delayed payments, which were exacerbated by COVID.
“When the pandemic was at its peak, Glasser was not paying subcontractors on time. We have a 30-day window to get paid and it was taking months longer to finally get paid in full,” Kost said. “It was an issue then, but going into 2021, they implemented a lot of changes to get subcontractors paid on time. I was paid on time twice before not being paid for four months.”
Subcontractors claim the closing of Glasser Images was coming long before the pandemic, although it may have been accelerated by it.
Klein and another photographer of the company were in Bismarck, North Dakota to shoot a wedding when they stopped for a sandwich that was a complimentary travel cost by the company. The company credit card declined on their order.
“We couldn’t afford a sandwich. At that moment, I realized it wasn’t just some logistical things or that Jack just hasn’t filled out some paperwork yet, their card was declining and the bills weren’t getting paid,” Klein said.
This instance is not the only red flag this company has from the past year. Glasser Images has been steadily scaling back productions by liquidating a majority of videographers and reducing commercial work.
What may have started as a one-man-business turned into something unmanageable, Klein said. According to Klein, the company expanded to other states, but internal management did not grow accordingly.
Other small, local businesses have been offering discounted prices and editing options for Glasser clients. The Facebook group HoldGlasserAccountable, which was created as a gateway for clients to connect with local businesses, quickly gained over 2,000 members in the week after the company sunk.
While some solutions are being made for clients and subcontractors, the AG’s office anticipates the cases against Glasser Images will be active for several months.