As victims of a several thousand dollar scam last year, our heart goes out to the victims who were unfortunately scammed by some poser who wasn’t who he said he was.
As wedding photographers, our heart is even more broken when we hear stories of brides being scammed by people pretending to be “wedding photographers”. Stories of photographers who shoot and never produce images. Stories of photographers who produced something that looked nothing like their website. Stories of photographers who never even showed up!!!
It hurts these brides and it hurts the integrity of good, honest photographers everywhere!
These “photographers” will use work that is not their own to get clients that should have never been their’s.
Today we were alerted by fellow photographer (Jason Kaczorowski in Chicago) that one of our photos was being used on http://www.weddingprochicago.com/. A photographer supposedly out of Chicago.
Recognize the photo in the lower right? It was taken on our UP-Inspired Nashville shoot last year. And it was posted by this photographer illegally. So, we got looking…and found it AGAIN on another site (http://www.mgphotography.us/index.html) This one supposedly based in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
We got to checking and realized that at least FOUR other photographers had their work being used illegally on the site as well! :-O They (the other photographers) were contacted, PPA, the host of the website, and the “studio” were all contacted and our images are no longer there! WOOHOO!…Kinda
However, there is an option on these “photographer”‘s sites to book and pay online. We know that this photographer isn’t using their own images. Could they all be stolen? Are they even showing up at sessions and/or weddings they book? They aren’t going to be able to produce the work they say they are doing!
With all this in mind…
Brides, here are some tips as to how to avoid being scammed or misled by “wedding photographers”:
1. Meet with them in person (and don’t book anything until you do)!
You should do this anyway, but make sure you know who you are meeting with and who will actually be at your wedding BEFORE you book them! If they can’t meet with you for any number of reasons, but are still forcing you to book by a certain date; it might be a red flag!
2. Ask to see a full wedding
Seeing a full wedding will help you to know that this photographer isn’t just stealing photos from other sites here and there. Can he complete the job on his own? Work should be consistent in lighting and style to that in his online portfolio. It’s called integrity. What you see is what you get!
3. Look for bad grammar
This may sound weird, but if a scammer is in another country, his English might not be very good. Look for cues like “Did u took advantage of our special deal” OR “Basicly what we`ve done is turn an object that ussualy sits on the side of the dance floor” both of which were on the sites which used our images.
4. Ask about reviews
Find out if the photographer has any past clients who have left them reviews. Could you contact a previous bride and talk to them? If other brides have been burned, you will be tipped off.
It’s a dangerous and shady world we live in and (unfortunately) the wedding world with all its love and happiness is not without its serpents. Brides,be careful as you plan. There are some amazing wedding photographers and other vendors out there worthy of capturing and making your day all that you have dreamed…make sure to hire them!
And to the “photographer”s using other photographers photos…You’ve been warned!!!