Have you seen any of those horrifying viral stories about events being ruined because of the wrong people they hired? Photographers are meant to create lasting memories, which is why you should only hire the best. However, as we are all aware, there are thousands of unique, creative, and talented photographers out there.
To ensure you choose the right photographer, we’ve compiled a list of the red flags to be aware of when hiring a photographer to save you money and unwanted experiences.
Red Flag 1: Poor communication
Poor communication is one of the most important things you should watch out for when working with any wedding vendor, especially your wedding photographer. If a photographer has poor communication before the event, there’s a good chance they’ll have even worse communication afterward.
Miscommunication can result in misunderstandings and disappointment, which can ruin your wedding day memories. If you find yourself having to beg a photographer for attention or even a response, this may be a red flag that you should look elsewhere. A professional photographer values their clients and their time, and should always communicate clearly and promptly. If they are not doing so, it may be a sign that they are not the right fit for you.
Red Flag 2: Refuses to share work portfolio
Wedding photographers can be very busy, but they shouldn’t be so busy that they can’t send you a sample album with examples of their full-day work. Your hard-earned money will be going toward this wedding photographer. The least you could ask for is some samples of their prior work to demonstrate their abilities, experience, editing style, prompting techniques, etc.
In the worst-case scenarios, we’ve heard of outright thieves who stole content from the websites of other photographers and passed it off as their own to clients. The body of work was so outstanding that in some cases, couples would make reservations without having met, and before they knew it, they had paid for someone else’s creation. Many wedding photographers now only display their work on their websites and social media platforms. However, if a wedding photographer refuses to show you their portfolio. That might be a red flag to watch out for.
Red Flag 3: Amateur style
Unfortunately, some photographers label themselves as experts when they are nothing more than amateurs. Viewing a photographer’s portfolio and paying attention to how they shoot are two excellent ways to determine their level of expertise. See if the images have unusual shadows. This indicates that the professional does not know the proper use of flash. Inexperienced photographers often struggle with using flash, resulting in strange shadows in their pictures.
Check the backgrounds of their pictures to see if there are any disturbing elements. It will indicate that the photographer is not detail-oriented and is unable to deliver high-quality photographs. Be wary if their editing style is inconsistent. Every photographer has their own editing style, but if there is an odd combination of dark/moody + light/airy + orange tones/gray greens + super vibrant, pump the breaks. This shows that they are unsure of themselves, and you will have no idea how your images will be edited.
Red Flag 4: Absence of genuine reviews
People believe in experiences. If the professional you want to hire has no reviews or only a few suspicious-looking reviews, you should be concerned. Reviews are important because they provide social proof and help establish trust. It is advisable to look for professionals with a significant number of positive reviews from verified sources.
Similar to any other industry, there are times when a wedding photographer might receive one or two unfavorable reviews. Despite one or two negative experiences, their overall client experience is outstanding. A red flag is a large number of negative reviews that support a negative client experience. Reviews are there to help businesses grow and improve, but if this business is consistently receiving negative feedback, it might be a good idea to listen to what the people have to say.
A well-experienced wedding photographer will have reviews and testimonials on their website and on Google. These reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the photographer’s professionalism, creativity, and ability to capture the perfect moments on your special day. It is important to take the time to read through them and consider them when making your decision.
Red Flag 5: Misleading contract or no contract at all
A contract protects not only the business owner, but also you, the couple/client. It establishes the expectations for the services that will be provided, the timeline, the format, the method of delivery, what is included in terms of final products, and some legal issues pertaining to your images. The information in their contract should correspond to the conversation you have with your prospective wedding photographer. If you notice that things aren’t adding up or that you’ve been misled by what they’re telling you versus what’s in their contract, it’s time to look elsewhere.
If you come across a wedding photographer who either A.) does not have a wedding contract or B.) has a misleading contract, this could be a major warning sign to watch out for.
Red Flag 5: Refuses to meet in person
We have heard of instances where people were in a desperate situation and chose to hire someone despite the person’s refusal to schedule a meeting with them. This is a risky move as it can lead to potential scams or fraudulent activities. It is always advisable to be cautious and conduct thorough research before hiring someone, especially if they are reluctant to meet in person.
FaceTime and Skype are always good options if your photographer has a busy travel schedule, but if someone refuses to meet, or doesn’t have time to FaceTime, Skype, or even talk on the phone, they may simply be too busy for you, this is a red flag.
To summarize, does this mean that if any of the above events occur, a wedding photographer is a scammer or a bad person? Not at all. Just because one of the red flags listed above occurs or exists does not guarantee that you will be dissatisfied with your experience or final album. As with many other professions, one bad experience can bring us all down, so the purpose of this article is not to condemn anyone or to scare you into hiring one professional over another.
The intention of this article is to assist couples in choosing a wedding photographer so they can decide what is best for them and their big day. At the end of the day, when investing in something like wedding photography, always make sure to do your research.