20 Tips on How to Avoid Wedding Photography Scams - Part 2
This is the continuation of Part 1 of this guide. The guide was separated into two parts because of its length and to make it easy to read. If you have landed to this page first, you can follow the link above and read Part 1 first.
11. Valid Website Domain Name:
This is another step legitiname business owners who want to have online presence do: register a domain name for their websites and business online. Registration requires the person registering the domain to provide personal information as: legal name, address, phone number and email address.
If you cannot find the business name for the photographer you are considering online or it doesn’t have a domain name, this would be a red flag. If you find a valid registered domain name one, check the registration details at Whois sites as (www.whois.com). Hopefully the registration data matches the contact information of the photographer.
12. No Face To Face Person Meeting:
A typical wedding is 8-12 hours long and the wedding photographers are present for most of the time to document the moments. Feeling comfortable and connecting with the photographer is required for both bride and groom to feel relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. The majority of couples decide on which photographer to hire by liking not only the style and images but also when able to connect with the photographer as a person. Brides and grooms are most likely to hire someone whose personality resonates with them on a personal level with them.
Meeting the photographer in person prior to the wedding is just one of the steps I have described in my How To Prepare for Your Wedding Day guide. If you vendor refuses to meet in person and is giving you lots of excuses to do so, think twice before trusting his with documenting the best day of your life.
13. Photography Style:
Well, this is not much of a scam screening item but it gives you peace of mind that the wedding photographer you are considering has the experience and knowledge he or she claims to have. During the pre-wedding interview, as the photographer to explain his style you have a chance to determine if that matches the style you are looking for. More on the different wedding photography styles and what each one include at: Wedding Photography Styles Explained
An experienced photographer should be able to explain the style he prefers to shoot, provide an explanation on why, describe what makes him happy and excites him during each wedding. Someone with no experience might have a hard time providing an compelling explanation.
14. No Prior Weddings:
While a scammer might not admit this right away, it is never a bad idea to ask how many weddings the photographer has photographed this or last year. How long he or she has been photographing weddings would also give you an idea about the prior experience.
Many talented photographers with no prior wedding experience are forthcoming with their clients and offer lower rates so they can gain an experience and build their portfolio. This is perfectly OK. The problem is that when someone misleads their clients in order to get hired.
15. No Online Presence:
This is actually a big one and I am sure would become more and more important in the future. I am yet to see a successful and established, even an amature, photographer who is not online or cannot be found online. A quick test you can run is to type the name of the wedding photographer you are considering in Google search engine and see how many search results matching the name, do exist online. A huge red flag would be if you cannot find any search results for the business name or website your photographer has provided you with. Any established business operating legitimately for sometime, would have presence online and would have been indexed by Google already. If the business name contains multiple words, put these into quotes when searching on Google (example: “Trifon Anguelov Photography”).
Large number of search results returned generally is better than less. The more popular and longer a business has been registered for, the more references there would be online for it. Searching for the business name on Google gives you also the following:
- social media sites for this business name
- images posted by this business name
- videos posted by this business name
To take this event further, click on the “Search Tools” button on Google and limit the search results by timeline: Past 24 hours, Past week, Past month, etc. You would definitely be better to see most recent as well results from the past 3-4 years.
Another check you can do, is for the business name plus “scam” or “fraud” to check for any reports of scams or fraud online. If there are reports online, there surely would be indexed and available for you to review.
16. No Photos or Previous Work Online:
By being a photographer for many years, I can attest that almost every photographer: from amaure to professional enjoys and shares its work online. It is a way to showcase its style and vision to other professionals, get feedback and draw inspiration from other artists who have shared their work online.
So it would be very suspicious if a wedding photographer who claims to have prior experience doesn’t have any of its work online. The usual places where many photographers share their work are: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, 500px, Zenfolio, Smugmug, Wix, personal websites. Anything online would be better than no online presence and no previous work posted online. You can also get an idea for the earliest and the latest dates of the shared work. If the earliest is two weeks ago and the photographer claims to have 4 years of experience, you will be right to ask the question what happened between 4 years ago and the two weeks his work was last shared. The same is the earliest date was 10 years ago but nothing most recent than that. Was he not shooting and sharing for the last 10 years.
17. No Online Reviews:
Wedding photography is a service business. Brides and Grooms rave online when they are thrilled or disappointed by their wedding pictures. We live in a time when has never been easier to post a wedding image, brag, rave or cry over it when things didn’t go as planned. If you cannot find any online reviews for the wedding photographer you are considering but only testimonials on his website, this would be a red flag.
Well, many fake wedding photographers actually write fake testimonials and post them on their website to lure clients. If they are going through the trouble to buy stock wedding images, setup a website and online presence, how hard would be for them to write fake testimonials and publish them on their website?
At least by finding online reviews on reputable sites as Yelp, Epinions, The Knot, Wedding Wire , etc which require reviewer registration and can detect fraudulent reviews to different extent, you will have more confidence than from reading testimonials on wedding photographer's website without no way to validate the authenticity. Additional sites to check for reviews are: Yellow Pages, Google+, Facebook.
Can the photographer provide you with references by other wedding photographers or past clients he has been working with? If a photographer has been around he most likely met and collaborated with other photographers in the area. He also most likely still have the contact information of his clients and can provide you with their phone numbers.
Each wedding photographer also meets and collaborates with makeup and hair stylist, florists, videographers, DJs and wedding planners on most of the weddings he or she photographed in the past. Not naming some of these vendors who you can call and cross-check their experience with the photographer, could be a reason to be concerned.
19. Requesting 100% Payment Upfront:
Most wedding photographers require retainer for their services the amount of which varies but in general it is 50% of the service fee. The retainer is due at signing the wedding photography contract by both sides, with the remainder due before or on the wedding day. It’s very rare for a vendor to request 100% of the service fee upfront and not a common practice. If you vendor do require 100% payment upfront, make sure you have a valid signed contract to protect your investment later.
20. Featured Past Weddings:
Most reputable and well established photographers blog about their client’s weddings and feature images along with client names, wedding location and other vendors. it is a way to showcase and promote their work as well to provide the bride and groom with an online collection of their best wedding moments. Lastly it is a good business practice to credit the other vendors who also contributed their services and energy of making the wedding a success.
If you find a featured section on the wedding photographer’s site, check if it the blog article is well written and has the clients names, location and time details? Can you cross-check the listed vendors and get references for the wedding photographers? Sure, if they were at this wedding they can give you some sincere feedback.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. Thank you for your time!
As with everything in our lives, the list above is just a best effort to describe some of red flags to watch out for before considering hiring a wedding photographer. I realized that you, as a prospective bride or groom, might be reading this to educate yourself on how not to fall prey to fraud photographers or become a victim of a wedding scam. But so the “rogue” wedding photographers would be reading this as well on how to refine their scams. It’s a constant battle to educate potential brides and their families and provide them with useful tips to stay a step ahead of the scammers destroying the reputation of hard working, established and talented wedding photography community.
The listed tips are not 100% guarantee to prevent a scam neither they are 100% true all the time. The intent of the article was to bring awareness and list some of the red flag anyone who is looking to hire a wedding or event photographer should look for, cross check and consider before hiring a photographer. I am planning to update and add to this article new information or crowdsourced feedback.
If you find this article useful and would like to share it with your friends or relatives, use the social media buttons below. The more people are aware of this information, the lower the success rate of scammers would be and more weddings would have a happy endings as they are suppose to. If you have any comments or would like to add to the tips list, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will consider adding it.
- Wedding Photography Styles Explained
- Featured Weddings by Trifon Anguelov
- Wedding Photography FAQs and Tips
- About Trifon Anguelov Photography
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