5 Red Flags When Hiring a Photographer
Whether you are a business owner wanting hire a photographer for a branding session or hitting a big milestone in your life where you want to capture your magical moments in a photoshoot, partnering with a RED FLAG photographer can easily turn your happy moment into a sour experience —and it helps to know what exactly makes a photographer a red flag.
Being a photographer myself, this list has been curated so if a photographer you have in mind ticks even just one of these boxes, they’re a red fl
ag and you should immediately seek another option!
🚩#1: They try to book you without speaking to you
One of the biggest red flags to spot when hiring a photographer is there is no initial call, or call at all.
If you are looking for a high quality photographer, something that can really elevate your experience with them would be to hop on a call with them. Whether it's a phone call or video call, being able to have that 1:1 communication will allow you to understand their vibe and get to know them more. In turn, it also gives the photographer an opportunity to get to know you and create a shoot that is customized to you, your needs, and your vision.
Being on set and having your photos taken can be a very vulnerable experience, and knowing your photographer can ease the awkwardness and anxiety of it all.
And think about this: a high quality photoshoot takes a lot of planning and preparation, and to be honest, going back and forth on a long email thread isn’t going to cut it. I typically get on 2-3 calls with my clients before we even make it to shoot day.
Without a call, there is no space being held for you to be able to connect with one another, plan the shoot, squash any fears or anxiety around the shoot, and overall ensure that this will be the best experience you ever have.
🚩 #2: They don’t actually help you plan the shoot
A universal rule of thumb when you want anything to turn out high quality is you PLAN it. You don't want anything to be last minute, you want all details to be discussed.
The same applies in the photography industry—if you find a photographer that is not willing to plan out your photoshoot with you, you better run because that is a RED FLAG.
A photographer’s job is not to just show up and take photos. Like anything else, there needs to be intentional planning behind it to ensure the executions exceed your expectations. A big part of the planning process is creating a mood board that showcases the vision of your shoots.
With my business, I spend a lot of time helping my clients plan their shoots. I create idea lists for the,, create custom mood boards for hair, makeup, styling, set design, color palette, posing, and general mood, so that every detail is covered and they understand exactly what they are getting.
🚩#3: They don’t help style you
This is crucial if you are planning a creative photoshoot. The reason this is such a big red flag is because when it comes to photoshoots, especially creative shoots, it consists of outfits and elements that you aren’t wearing for everyday clothing and/or requires you to think more creatively about your outfits. Styling is such a big part of the shoot and it can make or break it so ensuring your photographer will provide some direction on this is important.
Typically, I’ll create a styling mood board for my clients or offer to provide them with a stylist that will purchase all of their outfits for them as well as help them style their outfits on set with accessories. This allows for them to not have to worry about a thing.
🚩#4: They make YOU hire the team
I’ve mentioned before that a high quality photographer isn’t just going to show up and take pictures. A strong photographer will be able to help you hire the right team, whether that’s one makeup artist or a full creative team with models, videographers, stylists, and all that jazz. If they aren't hiring everyone for you because maybe it’s not included in your package, they should at least be referring you to some vendors and letting you know who they'd recommend to book for your hair and makeup.
A great sign that you are in good hands is if the photographer has a number of vendors lined up for you or if the package includes they can book these vendors for you or atleast recommend them to you.
Sourcing amazing creatives for your shoot can be stressful and many don’t even know where to begin when starting this process and you shouldn’t have to, because that’s our job as photographers! I always book vendors for my clients because I have the experience to know which creatives will work best with my client depending on their specific needs and the vision we are going for.
So if the photographer doesn’t want to help in the process of sourcing vendors, this is a red flag.
🚩#5: They don’t pose or direct you
This red flag might be harder to spot on the frontend, but if the photographer doesn’t offer you creative direction or assist in posing you while on set, this is a big red flag—especially if you have no prior experience posing,
A good way to know if this will be an issue for you is to ask them as soon as you hop on a call with them. You can ask things like, “Do you pose me?” or “Do I already need to know how to pose before I come to the shoot?”. You can also check reviews and see what people in the past have said.
I usually let my clients know this information before they can even ask me. This is our job to pose and direct you, to make it effortless and guide you so you can have a fun and stress-free experience.
BONUS 🚩: No contract or formal documentation to sign
When working with a professional (regardless if they are a photographer or not), a contract that outlines the agreed upon services, price & scope, their policies, your rights as a client, and any other crucial information needs to be presented with both parties signatures and date on it.
If you are working with someone and they are ready to take your payment but there is no formal documentation of the services they are supposed to give to you, ask if they can provide you with a contact, otherwise discontinue any further partnership with them. Lack of documentation means there is no legal obligation to perform services for you—once payment has been received, they can ghost you or come completely unprepared for the shoot which will only waste your time and money.
Plus, if you have an issue after photos are delivered, a contact gives you rights to despite photos or have re-edits done. A contract protects both you and the photographer, and lays down much needed guidelines.
Not being able to source a high quality photographer who is both comfortable and knowledgeable in their craft, it can easily make or break your shoot. Take your time and read in between the lines when you are beginning to work with a photographer so you can be sure that you spot all of the telltale signs of a red flag photographer.