Five Ways to Tell if a Photographer is Legit

I saw a post last week in a Facebook photography group that really pissed me off. Apparently this woman, Ryann Garner, had been stealing people's identities and as if that's not bad enough she was also posing as a photographer and ripping people off. Her business was called Blissful Hearts Photography and according to customer accounts she would show up late for weddings and sneak off early, images weren't delivered for months and even a wallet went missing. But at least she showed up. Some fauxtographers will take your deposit and never be heard from again. So how do you know who you can trust and who's a con artist? Here are some tips!

1. License

In the state of WA you need a license in order to conduct business and pay proper sales and B&O taxes. A lot of photographers might not have this if they're not reporting their income, which is part of why some people are able to charge cut-rate prices. Running a business without a license is illegal and if your photographer doesn't have one they could be shut down at any time.

2. Insurance

Photographers need insurance in case their equipment gets damaged or stolen but liability insurance protects both the photographer and the client. Imagine you're doing an adventure session and you end up with a serious injury. Does your photographer have insurance that covers you? Or a data card gets corrupted and half your wedding photos are lost, who's going to compensate for that? Doing business with someone who doesn't have insurance is very risky! Always ask to see a copy of your photographer's insurance policy.

3. Contract

Like insurance a contract protects both the photographer and the client. A contract helps set out guidelines for what to expect on how the wedding day will go. It also guarantees that your date will be reserved for you. If you don't have a signed contract and another bride comes along willing to pay more money for your date, your photographer could refund your deposit and leave you high and dry.

4. Portfolio

Look carefully at a photographers website. Is their work consistent or do they have a lot of beautiful, epic photos in radically different styles from all different weddings? It's possible these images have been snatched from other professional photographers. If you want to double check it's very easy to do an image search on google. Simply right-click on an image you want to search and select "Search Google for Image" and you'll be able to see where on the web that image has been used. Also check out the wall of shame at http://stopstealingphotos.com/

5. Price

You've heard it a thousand times before and it couldn't be more true when it comes to wedding photography. You get what you pay for. Anyone willing to cover an eight hour wedding for less than $1,000 is not a professional and there's no telling what you're going to end up with, if they even show up at all. Your memories are too precious to be left in the hands of an amateur! If you want the peace of mind and beautiful images that come with hiring a professional please contact me to find out if your wedding date is still available.