How to Spot a Scam Photographer: Tips and Strategies


How to spot a scam artist photographer before booking

Choosing the right photographer for your event is a tough decision.

There are so many different types of photography and you want to make sure that you find one who will capture all the important moments. Even more importantly, there are so many scam artists out there posing as photographers just to get paid, and never truly planning to arrive at your event. This blog post will help guide you through the process of choosing and qualifying the right photographer for your next event or photoshoot!

  1. A surefire way to spot a scam artist is by checking their social media.

Watch what they post, how often, and for how long. A photographer who’s been on social media for years will have much more consistent content than one who only just created an account last week – and it’s not uncommon for these photographers to create new accounts every few months so people won’t catch onto the scam. If you see someone with a lot of recent posts in the last day or two, beware! They may be trying to trick you into thinking that they’re still active when really they’ve abandoned their page altogether.

Often times, when you’re looking for a photographer to take your event photos or shoot, you may want to check their LLC. This can be done by checking with the Secretary of State in your state if they are registered there. If they aren’t, this could mean that they’re not qualified and experienced enough for what you need.

2. When looking for a photographer, be sure to ask about their payment policies.

When looking for a photographer, be sure to ask about their payment policies. May be an image of 1 dollar bills spread out everywhere.

Many good photographers will require a deposit upfront to ensure that you’re serious about booking them, and the remainder is usually paid 30 days before the event. It’s also important to make sure that you get an invoice or contract from the photographer so that there are no misunderstandings later on.

Never pay a photographer in cash unless you have a great relationship with them and know them well. This is a red flag that they may be a scam artist. Typically vendors use Square, Stripe, PayPal, or Venmo business. But even these payment methods can be difficult when it comes to disputing them. Things like Paypal and Venmo do not let you dispute your claim if they are a fake photographer. For your protection, you want to use some kind of debit or credit card so it can easily be disputed with your bank. Using a debit or credit card through some of these platforms is ok, as long as you know you have a dispute option with your bank or credit card company.

3. Be sure to make a list of shots that you want them to take, and make sure they know exactly what you’re looking for.

If something feels off or is questionable about the photographer’s business practices, do not hire them! It may seem like more work now, but with all the stress it takes to find another one on such short notice you’ll be thankful you qualified your chosen photographer.

You can also make sure that your photographer isn’t a scam artist by reverse image searching their images.

Some scam photographers will just grab pictures off other photography pages and hope that you don’t notice, but with google images this can be easily found out.

4. Ask for recommendations from friends and family members – they’re the perfect people to know who’s good to work with and who may not be.

If your friends or family can’t come up with any photography recommendations, then try searching for reviews on social media platforms like Facebook. When looking for legitimate photographers, make sure that they have a solid online presence including a website. They should have pages on all the major social media platforms (like Facebook) and be registered on review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, Thumbtack, etc.

You should always make sure to check out their reviews on these sites before hiring them yourself.

There are so many photographers out there, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. And with the abundance of scam artists posing as experienced and qualified professionals to get paid and not show up, it’s even more important that you’re thorough when choosing someone!

5. Ask around on social media groups or Facebook pages.

Chances are if anyone has used a photographer in the past, they’ll have heard about them from these places! These types of groups can also help you find recommendations for specific shots too – like family photos or wedding portraits. The people in these groups will typically be able to give their honest opinion on what they liked best because they’ve seen other photographers’ work before.

If you are looking for a Michigan Photographer specifically, you can check out these groups: Michigan Brides to Be Group, Michigan Brides to Bride Group, Michigan Brides on a Budget Group.

If you’ve done all the above, and ruled out that they are a scam artist the next thing you want to do will be to make sure they are right for you.

Here are some good questions to consider asking a photographer when deciding if they are a good fit for you & your event:

  1. “My wedding theme and color scheme are _____, have you shot weddings similar in the past and can you show me some of the work you did there?”

By letting the photographer know the theme and color scheme of your wedding, they will be better able to get an idea of the type of shots you may want taken. This will also help them to envision the setting, and the lighting. A photographer shooting a Halloween themed wedding, is going to use a very different light & shutter settings on her camera than she would at an outdoor summer farm style wedding.

2. “How many hours are you available for on my date?”

Most photographers have packages based on hours worked that also sometimes consider their possible travel time as well. Be sure that they have at least 4 hours to commit to being present at your ceremony and any reception you have after if you are considering a wedding photographer. For any other sort of event photographer, you may want to make sure they will be there long enough to capture any major moments. For a birthday party, this might mean you want them there to capture blowing out candles and cutting the cake, but don’t need them to stay and capture all the gift’s being opened. This may help you to cut costs on their service but still allow you to make sure you can have the moment captured well.

3. “How many years have you been doing photography?”

There are many good and bad photographers on both ends of this spectrum. You may find a very good photographer that has less experience. It’s still important to ask because while some beginners may be good, there may be certain things they don’t know to expect that can only come from having experience.

For instance, how to improvise capturing great moments if the event is outdoors and yet it rains all day. Circumstances like these are knowledge that can only be gained from having done it first hand. Don’t discount their ability to adapt and learn though. Sometimes if you are needing a photographer on a tight budget, finding someone with “just enough” experience can be a great solution for everyone. Making sure someone has been doing it for at least a year is a good rule of thumb.

On the other hand- don’t let someone’s “years in practice” speak for itself. Even if your photographer has been doing it for years and year, still ask to see examples and recommendations from previous clients.

I hope these tips help you to not be scammed by your potential photographer for your event, and also helps you to get the best shots for your event. Have you heard of scam artists posing as photographers? Tell us more about your experience on our VIP Facebook group!

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