The scary new wedding photography trend: 10 tips to avoid getting burned #Advice#industry insiders#photography March 3 | Guest post by Mike Allebach (Photo by Mike Allebach) Imagine getting your wedding photos back and having them… well… suck. Blurry shots, bad lighting, cheesy poses. What happened to the gorgeous shots you saw in your photographer's portfolio? Welcome to the scary new trend in wedding photography: Fraudtography. Here's how it works: a brand-spanking-new photographer wants to shoot weddings, but it's kind of hard to book a wedding if you don't have any wedding photos in your portfolio. So they "borrow" a few fabulous images from established photographers and pass them off as their own. It's illegal, but that's the photographer's problem. Your problem is that you see a portfolio filled with dazzling images, but you actually get an inexperienced photographer who's cutting his teeth on your wedding day. Just last month, Offbeat Bride reader Marian Schembari wrote: I had been speaking with a few wedding photographers… one in particular caught my eye. He had a ton of positive reviews and great examples on his website. He was also the least expensive by a lot. This worried me since I've always been taught "if it's too good to be true, it probably is." So my friend and I asked [to see a full wedding]. The photographer got back to me right away with TONS of examples… photos significantly better than what he had on his website. But my friend and I have sensitive bullshit radars. I immediately did a reverse Google image search on the photos he had sent me. Lo and behold, they were all over other people's websites. They were taken from photographers from France and India and Miami. Some had even won awards, and he'd just stolen them. Thankfully I lucked out. That brought back bad memories for me. In 2008, a Russian photographer copied my website, added a few images from Moscow for that "personal touch," and used my logo and images to promote his company. When I contacted him, he blamed his web designer. Photographer Corey Ann, who launched the Photo Stealers website — StopStealingPhotos.com — to combat this trend, told me, "My best guess would be 5% of all photographers are using stolen images of some kind for advertisements." Yikes. That's no Minor Threat. So here are 10 ways to figure out if your photographer is the real deal, or if they're faking it: Check out the photo element data: That's Mike Allebach's photo on another photographer's website! 1. Look for consistency The best photographers have distinctive personal styles. If one wedding has a vintage wash, one has a deep matte edit, and one is clean and vibrant — and they're all equally amazing — there's a chance you may be looking at photos from three different photographers. 2. Meet the photographer in person Trust your gut when meeting with a photographer. If something seems off, it's a sign that you aren't a good match. If they don't have sample albums to show you, take that as a red flag — it could mean they don't have access to the high-res image files. Related Post Why photographers shouldn't hide their nontraditional brides Offbeat Brides love our photographers. They are the ones who capture our weddings forever. We choose them for their talent and we know they can... Read more 3. Ask for references or reviews If you don't see many reviews online, ask for references. If they have lots of raving fans, it's a good sign. 4. Check their social media If the style and the quality of the photos on their Facebook page seem much better — or much worse — than what you've seen on their website, that's a bad sign. 5. Look for the wedding party Bridal parties and guests usually make their way into at least a few photos in a photographer's portfolio. If you don't see anyone except a bride and groom, there's a chance your photographer's wedding "experience" only comes from workshops, styled shoots, and hired models — totally legit, but not the same as shooting a wedding in real-time. 6. Ask to see an entire event When you see a whole event, you'll get an idea of the type of photos you can expect on your wedding day. Online wedding portfolios are wonderful, but they're a highlight reel of every wedding the photographer ever photographed. Ask to see a few full weddings, and you'll get a better idea of their abilities. 7. Consult with a wedding planner Wedding planners have heard plenty of feedback from past clients and can recommend photographers who play nicely with others. [They can also save you money. -Eds] 8. Pay attention to geographical clues I always would cringe when The Office would show driving scenes that were obviously shot in Southern California, not Scranton, PA. Unless the photographer is a destination wedding photographer, their photos should match the local scenery. A gorgeous mountain wedding in Idaho? Yes. A gorgeous mountain wedding in Florida? Not so much. Feel free to ask the story behind photos that don't match your local area. 9. Google the photographer's name If your photographer has been caught stealing before, there's a chance that someone like Photo Stealers wrote about it. 10. Use a reverse image search tool If you're still unsure about a photographer, run a few of their photos through Google Reverse Image search or Tineye.com, and it'll list any URLs where the photo has been used. (Photographers use this, too, to catch people who have stolen our photos!) Bottom line: Trust your gut If it seems too good to be true, don't be afraid to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. Check out these other tips for choosing an amazing photographer: 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't Don't want to hate your wedding photos? Here are the 11 things you need to do NOW Have you had experience with a fraudtographer — or any other shady vendors? What tipped you off? Let us know in the comments! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Mike Allebach Mike Allebach (aka The Tattooed Bride Photographer) is a wedding photographer who also writes tips for tattooed brides, and has an unhealthy addiction to Taco Tuesday. http://allebachphotography.com PREVIOUS A zoo wedding with handmade international details NEXT Hilary & Isaac's serendipitous bookstore elopement Toggle comments [ 64 ] Beyond meeting the photographer – see if you can get in an engagement shoot. Many photographers offer them as a part of their package. Gives you a chance to get comfortable with the photographer and check out their style. 18 agree Reply SO very related: Why you should absolutely do engagement photos if they're included in your wedding package 7 agree Reply My best friend's hubby is a photographer on the side,. (Some of his prints have won awards. And the honeymoon pictures of Yosemite– As soon as they got back, he edited their honeymoon pictures and did a slideshow for immediate family and close friends. You could SEE and distinguish a tiny speck on the mountain as a mountain climber! The mountain in question takes 2 or 3 days to climb. It is incredible!) As an incentive, if he's hired to photograph your wedding, the engagement photos are free! His pictures are so excellent, I wish he would photograph my wedding, but I want him IN the pictures, too. Rock and a hard place, my friend. xp Reply Yes to most of this. However, I would *not* consider the lack of a sample album at a meeting with the photographer a red flag. 26 agree Reply Sadly, one shooter in my area had managed to steal an entire (low-res) wedding from someone's site in Georgia (I think). So even having an entire wedding that can be shown on an iPad isn't foolproof. MULTIPLE entire weddings would be the thing to look for if there are no sample albums. 4 agree Reply Well, this is bad news. To those photos just starting out and thinking of doing this until they get a portfolio, consider doing some charity work first, that's a good way to build a portfolio without making enemies. My first year out, I realized I needed a portfolio, so I took out ads in online classifieds offering to do weddings at cost (that is, gas, and materials consumed for album, etc. Came out to about 200 bucks). When I met with potential clients I was completely honest with them about my experience and goals. There are some people with tight budgets that can really benefit from this, and the fact is if you wow them, they will be more than happy to write testimonials, plus you get a portfolio that really showcases what you can do. 32 agree Reply We took a "risk" and hired an old high school friend that did photography mostly for fun but wanted to expand her business. She had lots of second shooter experience, but hadn't been much of a primary. It was WAY cheaper than any other option and turned out better than I could have hoped. Point is, it's not always a big risk to hire a less-experienced photographer. You help them get more experience and, in turn, you get a darn good deal on photography. 15 agree Reply Key element is that they are honest about the experience level. We had pretty new photographers and we knew that out the gate, but they also didn't lie about anything (experience, their work, etc) 12 agree Reply I don't think it is bad to hire less experienced photographers IF they are honest about their level of experience. When I shot my first wedding I went to the couple that sought me out and said "Hey, I have never done this, I NEED you to know what you're getting here, please understand this." And they both understood and still went with me because they couldn't afford someone with more experience. The point here is that people just have to understand what they are getting. If you're a beginner and you're stealing photos from a photog that has been in the business for 30 years to market yourself… not okay. Not okay for the photog youre stealing from, not okay for your potential clients. Just be okay with being honest and you'll find a way to get your foot in the door. 7 agree Reply EXACTLY. We had no problems with the fact that photographers just starting out need experience. We had been led to believe at least one, if not both, of our photographers had more experience than they did. Problem is, we had hired who we thought were more-experienced people because we knew we were going to be working with both a time crunch due to an afternoon wedding and a disabled bride who required things to move swiftly in order to preserve my limited energy (and let's be honest: patience too). We connected with these photographers really well, and I think we would have hired them anyway. But I'm not sure either one of them was as experienced as we'd have liked, and that caused a lot of missed opportunities for both speed & creativity. We could have re-arranged things & done more personal research with enough notice that it was required. Reply Thank you! The very first thought I had was, 'but how do good ones do it?' Of course, it's been a very hot, dopey day where I am and what you wrote makes perfect sense. Reply That's the problem with any job – everyone wants experience before they will give you a job but you can't get experience till someone gives you a job! So it's not a dopey question! I did a promotion; my first year going it alone and I offered all my services for free, portraits, weddings (budget packages though) etc. I built up a fair portfolio. This article makes my blood run cold slightly! It's fraudulent and the photographers concerned (the fraudsters) could actually be sued by the photographers that actually own the pictures!! Do they not realise that?! One photographer gets a whiff that you are using their pictures, BAM you are out of business and nobody will ever trust you again and they will probably sue you to the point where you have to close whatever fledgling business you have! Don't do it!! Reply Unfortunately this is also a trend among Florists and Cake people. Theft of other photos uploaded onto a site etc. It's illegal Intellectual Property theft to the original sources, and seriously dishonest to clients. A version of this happened to us a few years ago by a fresh out of fashion school girl who literally copy pasted the entire Seams Couture website on to her own page and added her photos. If she's 25 years old how on earth did she get 25 years EXPERIENCE so quickly??? Right. Mike is right, meet your Vendors in person and ask questions. 4 agree Reply I have encountered this when I was looking for a baker. I checked out the website of the first place my family recommended, and I noticed that the photos were either professional quality or really poor. A quick reverse image search proved that all of the professional quality photos were from external sites, and that the baker had even taken camera photos of images on her computer. The photo she was using as a logo wasn't hers, and she had even left the watermarks from other bakeries on some of the photos in her gallery! As an artist, it makes me furious that this woman would have such disrespect for another person's intellectual property. I didn't care how good her cupcakes might have tasted, I was sure to hire someone else. 9 agree Reply This happens in the cake business all the time too. Inexperienced bakers steal photos of great cakes and pass them off to clients as their own. If the client doesn't do the same type of homework mentioned in this article, they just might end up with blurry pictures of a horrible cake too! 1 agrees Reply Sadly a problem accross many industries. I am a creator of alternative bouquets and have lost count of the amount of times this has happened. I watermark my photos but still they do it. I have heard so many excuses from people as to why they do it, I don't believe any of them. My *insert family member here* just died, my web designer did it, I didn't know it was wrong, you didn't have the inage watermarked so it's ok (my old images are not, but it's still illegal lol) It's a frustrating waste of a business owners time to police it and leaves consumers at risk of being ripped of. Makes people wary of buying remotely, which affects business. Nicole Answer 6 agree Reply Agreed that this is across all industries. As a publisher, if I spent my time sending take-down notices to people who have reproduced our content elsewhere on the web, I wouldn't have time to produce any new content. Basically: if you put content on the internet, it's difficult to control how people use it. Make plans accordingly. 4 agree Reply This post has some good advice! I agree that this is a problem for many industries. Just paying attention to some of the vendor discussions that have cropped up over the years on the forums I belong to (I'm a stationer)… sometimes another stationer will copy a design, and sometimes it's even actually taking the photograph of an invitation from another stationer's website to use on their own website. For some reason, this happens a lot with etsy, probably because of all the newbies there. Aside from the major copyright issue, not all printing equipment is the same, and not everyone is as good as assembling things like layered invitations. I've read that even several officiants have had the wording & images from their websites copied by newbie/dubious officiants. 2 agree Reply That's really too bad that people feel like they have to do this. Before I took photography in college, I had a tonne of friends ask me to shoot their weddings, but I turned them all down because wedding photos are a big deal and I didn't want to mess it up and ruin their photos of their big day. However, once I had graduated from my photography college course and was ready to start shooting weddings, I realized that I had no wedding portfolio, so what I did was I asked some of my friends to dress up in wedding dresses so that I could practice taking photos and to show some sort of portfolio to people. Soon some of my closest friends were getting married, so I offered to be their wedding photographer as their wedding present. They just had to pay for the film, processing and any out of pocket for me. I soon had a wedding portfolio and then I went from there. There is no need to steal from other people's hard work in order to get into the business. It just takes your own hard work to get you there. 13 agree Reply A couple friends getting into photography & catering searched around to other newbie wedding industry people and put on a series of staged weddings. They went so far as to work with real timing, to try to get some experience with the stress & the deadlines & variables they could run into–making a real cake, not doing cardboard with icing, a costume change, did a couple with photos pre-ceremony and a couple with all photos post-ceremony, some with locations changes & some which went directly into the reception. The newbie caterer used the events as client tasting opportunities, as well. I think it was a great way to gain a more complete kind of experience, and aside from the actual cost of food (which since they ended up eating the food, they all kind of chipped in to cover) because the venues were either free or willing to donate use of the space they were able to do it with a very low budget. Side benefit, when they had clients asking for recommendations or references, they all had at least one vendor of each kind they could suggest whom they'd worked with. Yay networking! 3 agree Reply good to know! …im about to hire a photographer and this stopped me in my tracks….I want great pcitures that can be featured online …I'll keep up the search …. 1 agrees Reply Almost happened to me. Last year at a bridal show, this photographer tried to give us a good deal. I wasn't a fan of his work but my frugal fiancé saw the price tag. To convince him, we looked through his website and reverse google the pics. BOOM! FAKE! In the end, we went for quality yet within our budget. She's well known in our area and books more than a year in advance. The advice I can give to brides out there: quality over quantity. It's better to have less hours with quality pictures than an all-in-one package with shitty pics. 7 agree Reply Great tips, the one about only having covered workshops or portfolio days is so true. Reply We're using a photographer who was recommended by OBB, so I'm feeling pretty good about our choice. Jenny GG has been amazing so far and we're looking forward to her work on our wedding day! But even besides the OBB recommendation, she is constantly posting new work on her website and Facebook page, so it's easy to see consistent style and quality. 2 agree Reply Another way to avoid this is to go with a photographer recommended by someone you trust. If you have a wedding planner or a venue saying, "We've had great results with X," then you can trust that they've actually got some experience. Our photographer came with our venue's package, and we were thrilled with his work. 1 agrees Reply Great Post Mike! Excellent warnings for how to avoid being sucker-punched by FotoFakists! 1 agrees Reply Does anyone know how to do a reverse image search on a flash-based site? Reply You can always do a screen shot using the print screen button or your computer's snipping tool, then upload that image to a photo hosting site (say, tinypic.com), and then use that URL for the image search. Works just the same. Reply You can also just drop the image into google image. That is the easiest way to do an image search. I imagine a cropped screen shot would work for this as well. No need to upload photos to a hosting site, in fact that probably isn't the best idea if it isn't your photo. If you do upload to a hosting site… I would be sure to delete the photo. I know if I found my images hosted somewhere it would make me freak out a bit. Reply That's horrible! It's always shocking when I see these things but it's true, it happens! I like that part of my job is to help people choose the right vendors. Part of that is telling them who truly is good and who maybe just got lucky with good lighting. Reply Get to know the vendors you plan to work with! We are blessed to live in a small town so our photog was/is a personal friend and I knew our baker as well. 1 agrees Reply Sadly, this kind of thing gives legit professional photographers who are just beginning a career in photography a bad rep. Some photographers have many years of experience, but only for family and friends, before starting out. I can't imagine stealing images. Why be a photographer if you aren't creative and passionate enough to take your own pictures? There are a million ways to build your own personal portfolio. 2 agree Reply I don't think this is true. We've worked with a ton of new wedding photographers, and as long as their honest about their experience and skill and set their prices accordingly, there are tons of couples who love working with newer vendors. 5 agree Reply HIRE A PRO! A friend with a fancy camera and a fb page does not a pro make! Realize that real professional photography is an INVESTMENT! You get what you pay for! If you pay $100 you get $100 worth of product and service and experience! If you pay real professional photography prices, you get real professional service and experience and products! 2 agree Reply I think the problem is that consumers do not know how to tell the difference. I am a photographer myself, and I was trying to help my little sister find a wedding photographer in another state. I came across more than one photographer in my search that was using stock images for their portfolio. One of them priced their weddings like a pro, $3000+, but when I asked for more examples of work they could not provide it. Everything else was stock. 1 agrees Reply I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see a post about what photographers look for in a photographer. I mean, most photographers don't photograph their own wedding, right? They have to hire someone too? So what do you look at when you choose who to hire? What makes you think, "Okay, this person knows their shit"? Is it lenses and angles and effects? Is it the subject matter? 8 agree Reply Got you covered!: http://offbeatbride.com/2013/11/bad-wedding-photos and http://offbeatbride.com/2013/07/wedding-photography-secrets 1 agrees Reply Make sure that you get engagement photos from the photographer right away. This is your first opportunity to see the quality of their work. A trend I am seeing now is photographers purchasing stock images from websites like shutterstock. I knew this happened, but I did not realize how much until I helped my little sister look for a photographer. It's crazy! Reply It happened to me! A photographer stole some of my images to pass to a bride as his own work. Luckily, she did an image search and discovered the problem. But since I published my blog post about it I have been contacted by two of that photographers brides/victims who have been supplied with rubbish wedding photos. They both realise now that he showed them a stolen portfolio. http://ww2.ollievision.co.uk/wp/index.php/steve-jackson-photography-stolen-portfolio/ Reply Even worse, one of these fraudulent people was recently so bold as to post an ad on craigslist asking if he could buy other artists' photos for his websites. He was willing to pay a whopping $150 for "really good photos." This went around the pro photography forums last months. http://www.slrlounge.com/craigslist-photographer-offers-buy-good-wedding-photography-portfolio Reply I remember that guy. We were all aghast that it was not $150 per image, at least. 2 agree Reply I've gotta say, when your budget is tiny, that's the time when looking at craiglist for photographers becomes much more useful, because you will find people who are just starting out and are *honest* about why they are only charging $100 — and usually will at least have pictures of non-wedding work to show you. But the caveats about checking for stolen images still apply, and frankly a just starting out photographer isn't going to have that kind of spectacular portfolio yet unless they are coming from a different line of photography (journalism, concert work, etc.) 1 agrees Reply Scary but i guess very easy to do! We have to post out wedding photography online to attract new couples and i hate slapping © across the middle of an image of a bride but what else can we do to protect our work? Bryan Reply For years, I was an amateur photographer, only taking pictures as a hobby. Last year (2013) I was hired for my very first wedding. I was completely honest with the couple that hired me and told them that I had never shot a wedding before. With that, they were just about sold. When the question of price came around, I honestly had no idea what to charge them, so I said, "How about $100 for my time, editing, a cd with all the pictures I take, and the rights to print them where ever and however you wish?" That sold them completely. I ended up having to give them a jump drive with their pictures instead of a cd because I took so many pictures, but they seemed pretty happy with my work. My point here is, I was totally honest, and it paid off for the couple and myself. Great article! Reply I feel like this is the nature of the beast when work is online and easily shared by absolutely everyone. It's especially important to meet vendors in person and let yourself trust your instincts, whenever prices are too good to be true, there is a reason for that. On another note, there are many ways photographers can protect their work: 1. As annoying as you think it is, do place a watermark of some sort on your images. Most people think that without the watermark, the image is a free for all (it acts more as a deterrent than anything else). 2. Learn how to send a DMCA (take down notice) to anyone who stole your photos. They are sent directly to an internet service provider who takes on liability if they do not remove infringed content. Also, if the same website receives more than 3 notices, it tends to shut that website down for the most part =) 3. Search by image through Google or TinEye to see where your image have been shared and take necessary steps to have them removed 4. There are also image tracking companies (for a fee) that send you weekly alerts as to where your images have been shared Reply I'm glad this article was here! I read it a couple weeks ago and didn't think anything of it; most of the photographers I'd checked out so far were ones I'd met in person so I didn't think it was applicable to me. Lo and behold I got a solicitation this week from a photographer who was an absolute steal for my area, so I went to check out her website and then thought of this article and decided to reverse search her pictures. Turns out her good pictures were from weddings from two different countries… Thanks for posting this article! It saved at least one person from this dire fate Reply Thanks for the Minor Threat link. Made my day. 1 agrees Reply I also recommend focusing on their blog. This is where images and stories and real people's names come together and is very hard to fake. Reply This does not surprise anyone in the industry and may even have been rampant before we all went digital. Regardless of the type of photography these are good tips to follow. Reply Hijacking pictures this way is a trick of con-artists who lure in brides and gets a hefty deposit, and then just runs with the money. These tips aren't just about avoiding a lame photographer. It's important to avoid being robbed! My nephew is a high-end wedding photographer based in L.A. And his images were used in this way. Reply Hello & Congrats to anyone planning their wedding. As a photographer, whom has photographed more wildlife and fine art than anything else, but love to photograph weddings when ever offered the opportunity. I can assure you, if you simply ask any photographer a few simple questions, you'll be able to determine if they have any real ability to provide quality photography. First of all, just because someone has shot a lot of weddings does not mean they are any good at what they do. And just because they do the work cheap or charge a lot does not make them good or bad at what they do or claim to do… What matters is do they possess a professional level of expertise & equipment? Ask about their equipment and what they find works best to produce a quality image ( event ie: wedding portraits – actions shots )? If they can't tell you what they like and what works and call out their equipment piece by piece…and tell you they're using X right now but hope to get X later on…Well, they more then likely aren't going to satisfy your expectations. Most pros shoot with Nikon or Canon, Full Frame Formats ( FX ) professional cameras and most will require 3-5 lens per event to capture a particular look and feel. Otherwise, using off the shelf gear may provide some nice photos, they won't reveal the extreme details in the dress, arrangements and large groups from a distance. They'll more then likely fall flat and will not be enlargeable, without becoming grainy and useless. There are particular lens that must be used in order to capture particular looks and feels, there is no way around it. as well as particular settings that will be needed to carry out these task. And if they are needed to shoot low light and action shots, they will need a good set of speedlights ( flash units & related equipment ). If they don't have the proper gear, they are not going to produce those unbelievable shots you paid for. If your potential photographer isn't able to discus these issues with you, you should look elsewhere. Any true professional photographer loves what they do and they are always ready and willing to talk about it. It is our craft it is art to us, it isn't just a wedding to those of us that love our craft. You don't need to know much about photography, you only need to know, how to tell the BS from an honest professional that is happy to discus and explain how the process works and the tools used in order to accomplish the task. I hope I've helped in someway. Good Luck and Congrats! Reply I personally find that asking about gear is nearly absolutely useless. Perhaps ask if they have suitable back ups but the everyday person does not know what is involved or should they have to take a photography course to understand all of this. If you can't see obvious quality issues in their albums, prints etc. then who really cares how it was captured? I had a couple want to book me, they told me how great my work was, how clean my images were etc. Then the "hero" dad started to ask about what versions of software I was using and all this technical nonsense. It was far beyond small talk and it was very detailed and condescending. He then decided that I was not up to their standards due to some issues with my process in which I obtain the images that they once claimed they really liked. I do use great gear and software btw, I will discuss because I like gear but 99.9% of the time it is irrelevant to my couples and they don't want to be bored with those details. They simply do not care if the quality is there. 2 agree Reply +1! Reply Sometimes I wonder what the intentions of these lists are really for? Are they intended more to help newly engaged couples decide or to breath a little bit of life back into the industry? There is dishonesty everywhere but it seems to be have plagued the world of wedding photography unless we are all just fear mongering. The truth is the good is always expressed more than the bad. Blatantly stealing images etc. aside, I do not think that "new" photographers are intentionally trying to provide a bad service. A lot of "photographers" have a terrible blind spot that doesn't allow them to objectively view their own work properly and to accept what it really takes to photograph a wedding. It is not all about taking pictures, it actually does require a certain type of personality. When an error is made, it is so easy to call it "art" or a "you don't understand the tough conditions, I was shooting in" sort of scenario. The experience and skill involved to properly photograph a wedding is under estimated but then on the other hand it isn't even valued by others. I feel bad for couples that value good photography and get burned after making what they thought was an informed decision. I hate my wedding pictures. I was referred by another professional, I viewed work samples and was a working full time pro at the time. I do have less sympathy for those who make awful decisions because they based it on price alone. However, a lot is always revealed in hindsight. I think wedding photographers generally over value/glamorize their service and the public grossly under values it. We need it to be more realistic and meet somewhere in the middle. Perhaps then the message will be clear? Or has the digital age simply changed the face of what we are still trying to cling on to? 1 agrees Reply I am a wedding DJ just starting out and have had trouble booking jobs due to not having many references (like some of the others here, I feel that it's important to be honest about our experience). I found a lot of the comments here very helpful! Thanks for sharing! Reply During my career as a Rochester and Finger Lakes wedding photographer I've had to litigate almost a dozen cases where photographers have appropriated my work/s and passed them off as their own. In this industry you truly get what you pay for, but you also have to use your own intuition, instinct and judgement, but many deny their better judgement when they're hot on the heels of a "bargain". A lot of brides end up burnt by inexperienced and unprofessional wedding photographers because they're trying to save a few bucks. My advice to any and all prospective brides is to make photography your #1 investment. If you have to make concessions and cut corners do so elsewhere where the compromise and consequence won't be so significant and regrettable. Reply I'm a photographer and I agree with this article in general (particularly that image theft is wrong and passing off is even worse). However, we have to remember that all photographers have to start somewhere! You can't have a full wedding in your portfolio without being given the opportunity to shoot one in the first place….. so this article is in danger of saying "don't hire anyone who's not a veteran"… which I don't agree with. Also, I currently collaborate with/assist other photographers. My images appear on my sites (with permission) but also appear under their brand. Therefore, if someone was to find images from my portfolio on other websites, that does not mean that I'm passing off someone else's work as my own… they are my images and appear on both sites legitimately. I agree that clients should be careful but I don't think that they should take this article as utter gospel as there are exceptions to the rules. I agree with the general warning principal though, there are some people out their who don't realise what a true honour it is to be asked to capture a couple's precious moments! Reply I chose a photographer who was recommended by the wedding coordinator who came with my venue package. She was able to tell me about the photographer personally–how she worked with couples, what her personal strengths were, a little more about her style–because the photographer had shot weddings at that venue before. Basically, she was recommended to me by someone who actually had experience with her. Personal recommendations are the way to go! Reply Great tips thanks for sharing! Reply Also, stolen photos is a problem with vacation rentals….beware of that honeymoon rental that looks too good to be true. They steal photos from other rentals and resorts and make fake listings. Stealing photos has been bad business on the internet for years, and goes waaaaaayyy beyond just the risk of hiring a shady photographer. Reply Any advice for when you've vetted your photographer thoroughly and the photos you get back on your wedding day were insanely less than savory? We had graininess, pixelation, and none of the photos can be blown up past an 8×10 without looking like a grainy blurry mess. Oh, and the editing. I'm a brown girl. And that day, I looked well, much less than brown. I've contacted the photographer directly, after having professional photographer friends see if there's anything they can do to help. Their solution: ask for the RAWS. Photog says she doesn't release the RAW files. HALP PLZ. 1 agrees Reply That's hard. I think that in this case you have an argument for her making an exception since the photos are at a much lower standard than her portfolio and an in particular since she didn't correctly process/expose for your skin tone. Agreeing to not publicize anywhere (online, etc) that she made an exception for you might also help. And I don't know how to say this to her without it sounding like a threat, but this is really *is* the kind of situation, if she doesn't attempt to rectify it, that should be mentioned in online reviews on yelp/wedding wire/etc, since it might be a one-off mistake/bad day, but it might *not* be. Reply Man, I am really curious to see the photos ha. As a photographer I imagine that there could be a few things wrong with the photos. 1) Maybe there is a post processing added grain that she added that can be removed 2) Maybe she exported them accidentally at too low of resolution, it could be that her settings in lightroom are set too low and that she might not know it especially if she is newer to photography (or even if she is not). BTW You do not need the raws. For one you probably don't even have a program that converts raw files to jpgs you need jpgs or tiffs to print. It sounds like one of these a) the photos were out of focus to begin with or soft focus. b) she added grain to them for her personal style or c) she exported them at too low of resolution. or….d) she accidentally shot them as small jpgs in her camera. Can you get the metadata info and look at the dimensions and the dpi? Dpi should be 300 and dimensions for the longest edge should be about 2000 to 3000. There is also a quality setting in lightroom that allows you to export at 100% 80% 60 % … the default is 60% maybe she doesn't realize this. It needs to be 100%. If she just uses photoshop and uses camera RAW her settings for saving the files may also be set to low. Find out the photo info and if the dpi is 300 and the longest edge 2000 to 3000, If they are it is probably not a file size issue. Instead… it is either an added grain/preset/action or the photos are soft focus. 2 agree Reply Wow! I didn't realize this was happening in our industry. 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