Post # 1
We found a photographer and now we’re down to the contract negotiations. She requires 50% at time of contract signing. She does not accept credit cards, which is almost a deal breaker for me. With a CC you have the insurance that the card company will refund you for services not rendered. I don’t think she has a business license, and no store-front.
Most artists I know don’t have a business license, however if this photographer decides to up and move….I’m totally screwed.
Do you ask for an ID when signing a contract?
Post # 3
We wrote checks for all our deposits. You have a contract, so I would think that you should be able to get your money back if there is a problem. However, your question about ID concerns me… Our photographer has been in business here in town for 15 years. He does work in a studio that is attached to his home, but he is a member of the BBB, the local Rotary Club, etc, and has a great reputation around town. We were pretty sure he wasn’t going to close up shop overnight and disappear with our money. Same for the rest of our vendors. If your photographer has no studio, no business license, no insurance – what you really have is a chick with a camera. Maybe she takes great photos (and I assume that is what, in your opinion, makes her an "artist") but she’s not a business woman. If you have any doubts about whether she’ll be around to take your photos (and it sounds like you do) I would find somebody who looks more like they are running a real business.
Post # 4
In Washington state, you can search on the Dept of Revenue website to see if a person has their business registered with the state, and see if the business is a sole proprietorship, LLC, etc. If they are registered with the state in any fashion, they’ll have a UBI number too. There’s probably something similar for Oregon.
I wouldn’t worry about not having a store-front, I think that’s fairly common. But I would try and research her business structure, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with flat out asking her. Tell her you are concerned about providing a sizeable deposit without knowing more about her business. A professional shouldn’t be offended by this, and should be able to provide any documentation you ask for. You may also want to check some references.
Our photographer was fairly new to the industry, but we felt better knowing that she had created an LLC for her business (& accepted credit cards), and were overall impressed with her professionalism in contracts, products, communication, etc.
Like many bees and posters have said, go with your gut. Wedding photos are too important to take a chance on.
Post # 5
Many wedding photographers don’t operate out of a store-front since they don’t typically need any studio shooting space. And many states/cities don’t require a formal business license. So those two issues shouldn’t necessarily disqualify someone from consideration.
The key thing here is to find out more about her reputation. Can you Google her and find out if there are any articles or message board postings about her? Or ask her for references from former clients, other photographers, as well as wedding planners/coordinators she’s worked with before. Does she belong to any formal wedding photography organizations that can vouch for her?
Most photographers stake their business on their personal reputation and work hard to keep it clean and spotless. If she has an established business in the community, she wouldn’t risk her reputation by not doing right by her clients. I hope that helps. Good luck!
International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers
Post # 6
I agree with the above posters and wanted to add that our photographer did not take credit cards either and she works out of her home with no store front.
I had the opportunity to watch her photograph another wedding and I really liked her work. I also felt comfortable with her.
If you have any doubts, I would recommend finding another photograher.
Post # 7
Definitely talk to her, mention your concerns, and mention that a contract is two ways. Your deposit gaurantees that you will go with her for your photography, so what is she doing to gaurantee that she’ll show up?