Anyone can call themselves a photographer, but how can you tell if they’re a legit business?
Here are a few things to look out for to see if the photographer you want to hire for your wedding is legit, or if they are a scam.
Most wedding photographers start out as a hobbyist — but once they turn pro, they should have a business licence. Having a business license means that they’re registered with their state and/or locality and pay taxes.
An easy way to check if your photographer is licenced is to look up your state’s tax office online (usually called a Department of Licensing or Department of Revenue) and look up your photographer’s business name. If they’re not registered, I’d consider that a red flag.
Make sure your photographer has a contract. Not only does this lay out all the terms of working with them, but it also protects you and is a legal document. Should anything happen — you get COVID, you have to reschedule your wedding, etc — this is all covered in the contract.
A contract is NON-NEGOTIABLE. If your photographer doesn’t have one, don’t walk — RUN.
A legit photographer will have General Liability Insurance (usually in the amount of $1-3M). A lot of wedding venues require photographers to have insurance — this is really important. Having liability insurance means that if something happens during a wedding (i.e. if a light stand hits a guest), the photographer’s insurance will pay for it. Any legit business will have insurance, as it’s only about $5-600 per year.
Check the photographer’s reviews! A legit photographer will have testimonials where their former clients will describe what it’s like to work with them. These can be on Google, Yelp, etc — or they can even be on a photographer’s website.
Lastly, be sure to ask your photographer to send you a link to a full-gallery. A lot of photographers have only done styled shoots, or essentially, staged weddings with models. This is a great way for us photographers to try out new gear, test ideas in a controlled way. But, if they cannot produce a full-gallery for you, I would be very wary of booking with them.