Web site mishap costs local photo business

Published 11:58 am Thursday, April 2, 2009

Robert Wilson’s Alabaster Photo Service has been in business for 22 years in the house across from city hall, but a recent Web mishap has cost his business dearly.

Two years ago, Wilson created AlabasterPhotos.com as a way to expand his business to customers online. But a year into the venture, Wilson, 82, decided the site was more trouble than it was worth and he decided to not renew his contract for the site.

And that’s when his trouble began.

When Wilson decided to not renew his contract, another company quickly bought the domain name and began featuring pornography on the site almost a year later with the same name of AlabasterPhotos.com.

“I didn’t know that someone could grab that site, put that stuff on there and not change the name or even who the site is registered to,” Wilson said.

After the pornography was brought to Wilson’s attention, he found out through the Apple Store on U.S. 280 that the site was registered through a company called Black Ice Inc. of New Jersey.

Wilson was even contacted by company to buy the site back at an increased rate, to which he declined.

“It’s a scam,” Wilson said.

Before the Web site mishap, Wilson said he shot anywhere from 20-100 weddings year. Since then, he said his business has virtually died.

“I haven’t done anything since,” Wilson said.

Just last week, Wilson said he lost a job shooting pictures for a church Easter program because they saw the Web site.

Wilson said he still has people come into his business on U.S. 31, but they often never come back once they leave and visit the site.

In addition to the site, Wilson said his listing in the Yellow Pages has also hurt his business because he has requested to have the Web address deleted from the listing three times, yet Yellow Pages still has not removed it.

During his career, Wilson has worked for Technicolor Corp., photographing Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and astronauts from Alan Shepard to the crew of Apollo 15.

So having something of this nature destroy his business has been extremely hard on Wilson.

“It’s killed my business. I’m a one-man show,” Wilson said. “I have a good name and they’re killing me.”

Wilson is in the process of building a new Web site, which can be found at AlabasterPhotoService.com.

For more information about Alabaster Photo Service, contact Wilson at 664-9261.