Imagine that your wedding day is a week away. You are kinda nervous about last minute details for your wedding day, and then you tried to call your wedding photographer to ask his/her opinion about the matter, but when you call, it said " The number you're calling is incorrect." You tried again, but same answer. You tried to email, Facebook message, direct message on Instagram, but no answer. What to do?
Recently, I've seen more and more couple got ghosted by their wedding photographer days before their wedding day. They paid in full, and a few days before the wedding, they weren't able to contact their wedding photographer. It's scary.
So, here are some tips to know that your photographer is not scam:
Check Out Their About Us Page!
If the your wedding photographer candidate is real, most of the time they want you to know what do they look like. So, when you go to their website, check out their About Us page. Do they show a personal photograph of themselves? Do they tell you who they are?
Once we got an inquiry, we usually try to arrange a phone meeting with my prospective client. And if they seemed interested, we would also try to arrange a face-to-face meeting to sign the contract. If they live out of state, I would try to FaceTime/Zoom them. Try to at least chat with your wedding photographer candidate on the phone so you can hear their voice.
Not only that, but in the middle of wedding planning process, we usually invite our couple that live locally to enjoy a a dinner together at our house. I can assure you that a scammer would not want you to come over to his/her house.
Do they sound excited?
We, at Glorious Moments Photography, are genuinely super excited for your upcoming wedding. And we can't hide that! You can tell how excited we are by the way we type our emails, the voice in our phone chat, and the language we use through out the platforms. I, personally, would use a lot of "YAY! WOOHOO!". So, if your wedding photographer candidate did not sound excited about your wedding, you need to be a little concern.
Sign an Agreement/Contract
and READ IT. Legit photographers usually would ask you to sign a contract because they want to protect both of you and their business. Agreement/contract is a big thing, because that is something legal that's binding you with the other party. If something happened, that agreement/contract is your weapon to attack the matters.
Read the Reviews
Thank God for technology! These days, it's so easy to find online reviews. There's Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google, and even Yelp would help us with this. If you see a lot of negative reviews like "they're scam!", definitely don't hire them.
Maybe after reading all this, you're thinking: I am busy and I don't have time to chat on the phone or meet my wedding photographer candidate in person, and I don't care if they're excited or care about my wedding. And I don't care if they have a contract because I know them personally. OR, maybe everything seemed legit, but you just have a feeling if you can trust them or not. At the end of the day, wedding photographer is a big investment and you want to make sure that you trusted them this big responsibility. At least ask them this at least through emails:
Is your business registered? I understand that some people that started as a hobbyist would not register their business right away, but it's safe to say that someone that does this full-time and professionally would want to make this legit by registering their businesses. Registering their business will protect them and it only cost them $50/year.
Do you have an EIN? EIN is a tax identification number. If they pay tax for their business, it's a big clue that they're legit.
Do you have an insurance? Most reputable venues would ask for a liability insurance from the photographer. And most photographers have expensive equipment they wanna protect. Having an insurance for the company is one of the other sign that they're legit and they take their business seriously.
Can I see a full gallery from a wedding? We understand that website are meant to show the best images that we produce as wedding photographers. But, how do we know if the photos on the website is taken by them or stolen from other websites? If your wedding photographer candidate can provide you with a link to a full gallery from a wedding or two, they're probably legit. That way, you can see how your wedding photographer candidate handle low light situation, too!
If you've done your research, do all these things, and you still got scammed, I am so sorry. It's not right and it sucks. But, don't let this scammers take away the joy and excitement from you! You're getting married to the love of your life! Reach out on social media and tell them that you're in need of a photographer for your wedding. There's kind people, too out there! They will be able to help you out. Or even better, reach out to me! I might be able to connect you with the right people that won't scam you!