“You want to look for signs that they can actually afford to deliver what you are being promised,” says Damien. “If this is not apparent, don't hire them.”
Here, Damien shares a few potential "red flags," plus the best ways to avoid falling into a trap. Happy hunting!
Red Flag: The photographer wants to meet up at a coffee house or restaurant.
It may be the “in” thing to go to Starbucks or Coffee Bean to meet folks, but really, is that the proper venue for signing a contract worth several thousand dollars? Do you really want to write out a large check, or dish out a large sum of cash, at a coffee house? Also, how will the vendor give you a copy of your signed contract – by asking the coffee house if he can use their copier? It's simply a bad idea.
Instead, meet at the vendor’s place of business. For a photographer, this may be an office studio, or a home office studio. The most important thing is to know the physical location of the business. If a vendor doesn’t want you to know where she’s located, it's a really bad sign.
While you’re there, check to see if the meeting area is neat and clean. If you use the restroom, note whether it's clean. If all is well kept, this is a good sign. It means the vendor is likely always expecting to have clients at her place of business, and therefore must keep these areas looking nice.
If the meeting area is not well kept, she probably doesn’t do a lot of business, and this can translate into her not having the necessary funds to deliver your portraits and albums. You may think, “She’ll have the money I paid her!” But if she’s are not doing enough business, that money may go straight toward paying her bills, and not toward delivering your pictures.
Red Flag: The vendor’s business card or website looks like something your five-year-old nephew threw together.
A photographer who doesn't have professional-looking business cards is not someone you want to hire. If he can’t afford professional business cards and a professional website, he probably can't afford to deliver your pictures. Please note that not having a website at all is not necessarily a problem. Lots of good businesses do not have websites. However, having a poor excuse for a website is a big problem.
Red Flag: The photographer’s office is bare of any photo-related items.
When you visit a photographer’s office, make sure you see wall portraits and wedding albums in plain sight. If he can't show you actual samples of what he says you'll get, how do you know you'll actually get it?
Plus, don't be afraid to ask about his camera equipment. Take a look at it. Make sure it's professional-quality gear, and ask whether he has backup equipment. You don't want to be surprised by him showing up at your wedding with a compact digital camera he picked up at Wal-Mart for $279. You know, the kind you might keep in your purse when hanging out with friends.
Red Flag: The photographer is dressed like she’s headed to the beach, rather than to a business meeting.
Pay attention to how a vendor is groomed and dressed during your meeting. If she appears not to care how she looks, that's a problem. Of course, she doesn’t have to be wearing a full business suit, but she should look like she cares about her appearance.
Pressed pants and a nice shirt, for example, are appropriate. Jeans, a tee and slippers are not. It’s true that most photographers like to dress comfortably, because they have to do a lot of running around and standing while shooting. However, photographers can be comfortable and neatly dressed at the same time.
Have you ever encountered a vendor who tried to scam or take advantage of you? What are some “red flags” that might make you think twice about hiring someone, and what do you think about those listed here?
(Photo & Graphic Credits: Google Images)