Over two years ago I did a portrait of a young girl. After developing the negs and making a proof sheet I left a message followed by another call. At that time the number had been disconnected. I was never paid. The entire cost was to be about $40.00 and to be paid at pickup. My outlay was one roll of 120 and one proof sheet. I had no model release and no reason to keep the negs for personal use. A few months ago the negs were shredded when I cleaned out some of my files. Today the mother called me and wanted the photo. They were in the middle of moving when I shot the portrait and forgot about it. She was a bit upset but understanding about the situation.
How long should we keep negs, proofs, photos Etc. for customers? Does the situation mater (unpaid portrait VS. paid wedding lets say)? What do you do.