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How to Know if Your Wedding Photographer is Scamming You

A guide to ensure you’re able to choose a trustworthy photographer for one of the most important days of your life. Everything from what to watch out for, what you should expect from a professional, and advice if you think you’re already being scammed.

I want to start off by saying that I work in the wedding industry myself as a professional wedding and elopement photographer. I have photographed over 150 weddings all over the United States and have heard many horror stories over the years through social media and clients that have come to me in desperation for help after they found out they were scammed. My goal is to help as many couples as possible feel safe and secure when hiring their dream wedding photographer – hopefully BEFORE they book!

Scamming in the wedding photography world happens more often than you think and there are various levels of scamming that I have seen. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of the following scams:

  • Couple does not hear from their photographer after they’ve paid the retainer: A retainer fee in the wedding photography industry is fairly standard. With photography and videography, you’re compensating them to turn down other clients for your wedding date and officially blocking off the date in their calendar. This is typically non-refundable payment either as a set amount or as a percentage of the full package price. People who aren’t photographers have become aware of this and will have you pay them a retainer – then they fall off the face of the Earth so you have no way of contacting them.
  • Couple doesn’t receive their photos: I’ve heard that the photographer actually showed up to the engagement session or wedding, but then they seem to disappear. They don’t respond to communication and they don’t deliver you your photos that you paid for.
  • Photographer doesn’t show up to the wedding/can’t get a hold of the photographer before the wedding day: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen posts on social media saying, “help! My photographer bailed last minute – please comment if you’re available this Saturday!” This usually happens after you’ve paid them in full and they decide to take the money and run.
  • The photos delivered look nothing like their portfolio: It’s easier than you think to steal images from other photographers and add them to a quick website for false advertisement. So when you look at their “portfolio,” you have set expectations on posing, lighting, editing, and experience. Only to find out that the delivered photos look nothing like you expected.

Red Flags of a Wedding Photographer

The photographer wants you to pay them your package fee through Venmo, Paypal, Cash App,
or something similar.
Apps like these have minimal protection for the
consumer so if you do get scammed, it could be a battle to try and get your
money back. A legit business will use things such as QuickBooks, SquareSpace,
HoneyBook, Dubsado, and other similar CRM services to invoice you. 

They don’t have a reliable contract. For sure if you photographer
doesn’t give you a contract to sign at all, HUGE red flag. If they do give you
a contract, how extensive is it? Does it outline when you’ll receive your
photos? What happens if they get sick or can’t make it to the wedding? Do they
have a backup plan? How will your photos be protected? All of these things
should be in their contract to not only protect themselves, but to protect YOU!

They don’t offer to do a free consultation call. You should ALWAYS
either meet in person, talk on the phone, or do a zoom call with your potential
photographer. This gives you the opportunity to get to know them.

The photographer can’t give you access to at least two full and complete
wedding galleries.
It’s easy to hide behind images that aren’t yours on a
website, but can they give you access to multiple full wedding galleries? This
ensures you can review their work throughout the wedding day with different
lighting situations so you can infer what your own gallery may look like. This also helps you make sure it’s their work and that they are legit.

They don’t have any reviews. My rule of thumb is that they should have at least 10 reviews on Google and Facebook. A few reviews with photos attached would be best!

Their pricing is cheap. I’m not afraid to say it – the cheaper the photographer, the more likely they are to not be legit and reliable. It usually means they are inexperienced. Pricing varies due to experience and location. If you’d like to see my pricing as a Minnesota based photographer as a starting point, click HERE.

 

If You Know You’ve Already Been Scammed

If you think your photographer is scamming you, I would highly recommend contacting an attorney and showing them a copy of your contract (if you had one) that was between you and your photographer to discuss your options. Most attorneys will do a free consultation so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I have also heard of people filing a dispute with their credit card company to try and get their money back as well, but as stated previously – it can be difficult to do so especially if you did pay them through Venmo or something similar. However, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Final Thoughts

If you follow my advice from this blog and end up still getting scammed from your photographer – my heart truly goes out to you! If you have any questions or need recommendations to reliable vendors, feel free to reach out via my contact page on my website. Best of luck and I hope you have the wedding of your dreams stress free!

Life and Education

Life and Education

2/13/2024

Your Photographer is Scamming You!

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