Hiring a Professional Photographer and Avoiding Red Flags

Most of my blog posts are planned out ahead of time. But this topic is so extremely urgent, that I had to interrupt my blogging schedule to write about this instead.

There has been a large upswing recently in photographers doing shady business. They take deposits, then don't show up for the shoot. They stop answering calls and emails weeks before the wedding. They break their contract and don't provide your photos until months after they promised.

All of this sincerely breaks my heart. I am part of a community of local photographers, many of whom I would consider friends. We strive every day to bring the photography industry to a place of respect and a level of professionalism. But photographers who are screwing over their clients are giving photographers as a whole a bad name.

While I can't stop this from happening, I can give potential clients tips for choosing a professional photographer, and some red flags to watch out for so they don't fall victim to this type of situation.

How Do I Know I'm Hiring a Professional?

1. Visit their website and/or Facebook page. Read it through and look for red flags. View the photographer's portfolio and look for inconsistencies in style or quality. You want to know what to expect when you hire someone, and you want to know that your photographer is able to reproduce the level of work they display on their site.

2. Read the contract carefully. Things it should include: what happens if the photographer doesn't show up to your wedding; how long it will take to receive your images/products; the terms upon which your money is refundable; what happens if you decide to drop them and use a different photographer.

3. Ask informed questions. For a professional photographer, these are all super basic, and the answer should be an easy "yes": Do you have backup equipment with you during the wedding? Is your business licensed and insured? Can I see a full wedding that you've shot? Do you shoot in manual?

4. Do your research. Check out Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau and make sure there aren't a ton of horrible reviews about your photographer. If you do see a bad review, take it with a grain of salt, and determine if it's justified, or just an angry customer who didn't get their way.

What Red Flags Should I Look For?

1. They want to sell you un-edited photos. This probably means they don't know how to edit photos. And I guarantee you, it's not something you want to take on after you get back from your honeymoon.

2. They can't be specific about their timeline. If you ask how long it takes to receive your photos, and they give you a 2 month range, that's a problem. Most professionals have their workflow down to a science. Giving a range this large could mean they are prioritizing their editing based on which client paid more instead of a first-come, first-served basis.

3. They're late for your meetings. Also included is if they don't respond to emails or phone calls in a timely manner. In this instance, being late is more than just disrespectful... it's a huge red flag of how they could potentially act on your wedding day. You want to be confident that their head is in the game and they know where they're supposed to be and when.

4. They don't have a contract. Okay, seriously... just run.

What Else Do I Need to Know?
  • It's common for photographers to require full payment up to a month before your wedding. This is to protect themselves from being taken advantage of, so have no fear!
  • If you've followed all the steps above, you don't need a backup plan. Be confident with your decision and enjoy the rest of your planning process!
  • If you do experience a shady photographer, don't take things laying down. Take your contract (if there is one) to a lawyer to discuss your options. Often times, the threat of a lawsuit will encourage them to pony up your money.
If you've made it this far... congratulations! You now possess the knowledge to hire a professional photographer! And if you're still in need of a wedding photographer, hit up my contact page and send me a note. I'd love to meet over a beer and discuss your big day!