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3 On Your Side

Quinceanera turns out not so 'picture perfect'

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(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)

Valeria Mejia recently celebrated her 15th birthday, her quinceanera.

"I was really excited," she said. "I didn't know what to feel. I felt like it wasn't real."

In the Hispanic culture, a quinceanera is a big deal and parents usually spend a lot of time and money celebrating it.

A big part of the quinceanera is capturing it with pictures, so Valeria's mom, Dionne, says she hired a company called PhotoArtEvents.com located inside a Valley mall. It's run by Marcos Hernandez, along with his wife, Lizeth.

"I did pay her in advance $1,600 total, which included invitations, the video photography, a leather photo book -- it was the whole package," Dionne said. 

But more than four months later, Dionne says she doesn't have photos or the video of her daughter's event. All she has from that $1,600 package are invitations and one photo used for those invitations.

"I thought that I would have something to look back at and I don't have anything," Valeria said. 

All the family have are cellphone pictures that they took themselves.

Tearful, Dionne says, "I can't relive that day. I spent so much money, I put so much love into it, I just can't relive it again and if I don't have those memories to give my daughter, what good is it?"

So why won't the couple who run PhotoArtEvents.com turn over the photographs that they took? Well, it has to do with the copyright that reportedly came with the pictures.

Marcos Hernandez is demanding more money to release the copyright, which would give Dionne and her family the legal right to make copies of the photographs.

However, Dionne said she's already paid for that right and points to her contract, which she believes clearly states, "The Photographer grants the clients permission to make copies of the images.... "

"I'm not asking anything for free, I already paid for it and I expect to have what I paid for," Dionne said. 

3 On Your Side got involved and we showed up at PhotoArtEvents where we tried to speak to Hernandez. He maintains he's not giving up any photos until he gets more money.

"The copyright is for sale, separate. That's it," Hernandez said. 

But when 3 On Your Side tried to tell him his contract clearly states Dionne has permission to make copies, Hernandez shot back with this zinger: "If you want to call the police, it's fine. I'm not afraid because I'm not stealing, like I told you. I'm not stealing nothing." 

Well, Dionne, Valeria and the rest of their family see it a different way.

They say they paid $1,600 for pictures and now they're being forced to pay even more when they shouldn't have to.

"It makes me sad to see my mom like that because she had paid and she took all her time to get something for me and it just sucks and makes me really sad," says a tearful Valeria. 

Dionne says she's not sitting around and taking this, so she is suing PhotoArtEvents. We'll let you know what happens in a follow-up report.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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