Wedding are a big mess of contracts and hiring vendors and working out details and it's easy to feel like things are slipping through the cracks. Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly what you should be expecting from vendors who are professionals because here's the real honest truth: it's pretty easy to be a photographer. Seriously. Anybody who picks up a camera, IS a photographer. And there's a lot of people who disagree with that, but by definition, it's true.
However, that doesn't make them a professional photographer. And it doesn't make them a legal, functional business owner either.
Because of Instagram and the lower barrier to entry on the photography industry, photographers are popping up left, right, and sideways. These photographers are people who can take a pretty photograph, but don't necessarily have the skills or mindset to truly take care of the couples that hire them, or have a sense of what it takes to run a legal business that protects their clients.
So how do you tell the difference?
There are three KEY things that every photographer you hire MUST have (weddings or non). These items help protect you, your investment, and in some ways your safety.
Three things every photographer you hire MUST have:
Business insurance doesn't just cover the business owner - it helps cover you too. Their insurance can cover accidents that they caused, or even possibly your guests cause (like knocking over a photographer's lightstand). It also helps in scenarios where your images may be compromised (like a faulty memory card). The scenarios are endless where your photographer having business insurance would benefit you - so this is an absolute MUST when hiring them. Business insurance also isn't rare - it's basically business ownership 101, so if the photographer you're considering for hire doesn't carry it, run the other direction.
Contracts aren't just there to protect photographers and their business - they're there to protect you as a client. Contracts often include provisions about what happens in case of emergency, what money is paid back to you in the event of equipment malfunction, etc. But it's not just worst-case scenarios - they also outline what to expect for image delivery times, Contracts protect all parties involved, and if your photographer doesn't have one they require you to sign, it's a good signal you're not working with a professional.
Did it take the photographer 5 days to respond to your inquiry, and another 5 days to respond to the next email? Did they fail to outline the steps to hiring them, but also neglect answering your questions? Did they fail to follow up with you at all? It's a good sign they have too much on their plate, and won't be able to be the resource you need them to be during the planning of your event. If a photographer has poor communication before the event is even booked, there's a good chance they'll have worse communication after it's completed - and you should never fear that you won't be able to reach them or worse, not be able to get your images from them. Having consistent, clear communication is a priority in hiring a professional, so if theirs is lacking move onto your next option.
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