How to know when you’re hiring an amateur photographer

When budget restraints start to bite for your wedding, hiring an “emerging” or student photographer seem very appealing. However, when you add up the costs of everything that you’re spending money on your wedding day, it mightn’t be the best option to hire an amateur, especially when you consider that the one thing that truly lasts from your special day is the photography.
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With lots of amateur and hobbyist photographers now having websites and Facebook pages for their work it’s getting increasing hard to know if you are hiring a pro or someone who just does a few weddings on the weekend.
  1. No ABN – without an ABN, you really shouldn’t be doing business and if they don’t hold an ABN then it’s likely your photographer won’t hold the requisite liability insurance either. Make sure your contract, which any professional photographer will insist you sign, includes the ABN and company/partnership/sole trader details.
  2. Certified Professional Photographer status – Both PPAQ (Professional Photographer’s Association of Queensland) and AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) recognise the elite of the profession with the Certified Professional Photographer status. Both associations also have amateur categories too, so just make sure you ask to see your chosen photographer’s certificate and make sure they aren’t misrepresenting their true status.
  3. Hard to contact during work hours – anyone in business should be available during reasonable business hours and should respond to enquiries within a legitimate, business-like timeframe. Anyone who takes 3 days to respond to an email or phone call is likely a weekend-warrior who works another job during the week. So that means they can’t earn enough from photography and can’t necessarily devote all their time to the craft. Is that really the person you want shooting your wedding? And what happens after the day if they get busy at their other job – will your images be delivered on time?
  4. Limited samples – if your photographer can’t show you examples from at least 20-30 weddings then you should really consider if they have the requisite experience. And make sure that the samples are REAL weddings, not styled shoots! Shooting models in controlled environments is very different to shooting a live, real-time wedding!
  5. Novelty images, heavy use of filters and having just one “style” of photography – You will want a huge range of imagery from your day – some delightful candids, some pieces of art, some natural, some posed and lots of fun and creativity. Be very careful of the photographer who tells you what style of photography they shoot. A properly trained photographer can, and will, shoot whatever style his client wants, whereas an amateur will tell the client what style he, or she, can shoot! Your day will be fluid – it will evolve, ebb and flow and you need a professional who can adapt to every changing circumstance. Lots of “fauxtographers” talk about “natural light photography”, but only because most don’t know how to use flash and fixed lighting to generate their own lighting conditions. Likewise the over use of filters or novelty shots can indicate lack of skill or possibly generic processing by an overseas photoshop factory – do you want your precious memories on an Indian condom package? And one shot with motion blur is artistic, but lots of images with blur just means the person with the camera really doesn’t know what they are doing!

 

Photo credit: Masterpieces Photography + Video

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