A scary new wedding photography trend: Fraudtography

 Going through my facebook feeds today I came across an article from offbeatbride.com about a term called “Fraudtography”. There are other terms that describe this also such as “fauxtography” and many others. I have a similar story but pretty much the same concept.

I can speak firsthand about this as a few days ago in one of my photography groups a new photographer came in to rant about her wedding photographer at her recent wedding. It was a bait and switch that happened to her and being fairly new to photography she fell for it. What happened in her situation was she found a local photographer who had loads of online photos but could not produce any printed images during their meeting. She was presented with a lot of digital images and thought this photographer was really good and she even had some nice reviews.

Well it turns out she was not even a photographer, she was a middle person who would find cheap photographers on craigslist to do weddings for her and she would pay them chump change. She would keep all the profits. She would also give them discounts if a bride would post review articles about her photography business prior to their weddings and before they got the pictures. On her wedding day a photographer shows up who she doesn’t know and didn’t hire and says “the other woman sent me here to shoot your wedding”. Well the bride was furious but what could she do. The women she met with could not be contacted and she tried several times. The bride saw the equipment this person had and it was substandard for shooting weddings in low light. The person did not even have a flash. She also noticed that the person shot in auto mode all night. The bride decided just to try and enjoy her night as much as she could even though she was stressed out about her photos.

When she saw her photos they were not horrible, but not good either. Luckily she has some photos to remember her special day. The problem is all of the indoor photos of the reception are awful. Taking indoor pictures with no flash left her with dark, grainy pictures. The first dance was a blurry blob. The bride is going to pursue for damages in court and she has learned a valuable lesson. When the wedding is over and everyone has gone home the only things you will have is your rings, your dress, your love, and photographic memories.

Now the article also talked about new photographers who would steal images off other people’s websites to use them on their own sites to sell their services. One of the things I always tell my brides at meetings is “even if you don’t choose me please make sure you look at the other photographers printed portfolios and albums”. For every one of my images I have on my website I can show you an album or the gallery for the entire wedding. One other thing to look for is style, if the style of the photos do not match then they are probably stolen images. The biggest “red flag” is the price. In the Boise, Idaho area for wedding photography coverage on an average will start at $1200, if you are paying less that this then the photographer is probably very new and probably doesn’t have the proper equipment to be shooting a wedding. When I show up at your wedding I am carrying somewhere in the range of $25,000 worth of camera and lighting with me along with my second photographer who is carries similar gear. Both of us have the professional skillset to photograph a wedding properly. Wedding photography is one of the most stressful jobs, as you are dealing with a bride’s special day and you only have one chance to get it right. Don’t risk your day to a “Fraudtographer”. This is why there is such an expense in wedding photography.

Here is a full link to the article and give credit to Mike Allenbach and offbeatbride.com. Here are the top 10 ways the article says how to look for these fraudster photographers.

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.

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.

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: ———–

If you are bride getting married at a destination wedding or locally here in the Boise, Idaho area. Give us a call, let us buy you a cup of coffee and discuss your wedding photography plans with you. Call today 208-779-0183 or send us a email on our contact page.


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