You may have seen the news recently about a woman posing as an in-home family photographer, who drugged the baby’s mother in her home with the intent of kidnapping the baby. While this is an extremely rare occurrence, it is a legitimate cause for concern and all parents should be diligent about who they invite into their homes.
I have put together a list of some basic things to look for when searching for an in-home family photographer. While none of these are a guarantee, there is a much greater chance that individuals who meet these basic criteria are far more likely to be trustworthy than those who don’t.
Photographers aren’t required to have a professional license per se (like cosmetologists, attorneys, physicians, etc), but anyone operating a corporation, LLC, or partnership is required to have a federal EIN number and to register the business with the state in which they are located (sole proprietors are the exception). You can check to see if a business entity is registered in Pennsylvania here, or check with the Department of State where you live.
Any legitimate business entity should have general liability insurance. This protects both you and the photographer in the event of property damage or bodily injury while he/she is in your home. You can ask for proof of insurance coverage if you are unsure.
While not necessarily required for photographers, any professional who has direct contact with children would be wise to obtain a state police criminal history record check, child abuse history clearance, and an FBI criminal history background check. These clearances are mandatory to work in schools.
These days it is extremely easy to create a website, and there are countless platforms on which to do it, and at no cost. Therefore, having a website is not an indication of legitimacy, and not having one certainly doesn’t mean the person is not a professional. However, there are some things to look for that might be a red flag: not having a dedicated domain (i.e. familyphotographer.godaddy.com vs. familyphotographer.com), excessive grammatical errors, generic text, and lack of contact information are just a few signs that the person you are dealing with may not be a professional.
This is a no-brainer. A good photographer will have plenty of satisfied customers and should be willing to let you speak with a few of them if you ask. You can also check Google and Facebook reviews. While positive reviews can be easily faked, someone who is not reputable may have an abundance of negative reviews. However no one is perfect, and there’s always two sides to every story. Check to see if the photographer posted a response to try and accomodate any unsatisfied customers.
Legitimate business owners look for opportunities to grow their businesses and network with other professionals. Ask your photographer if they are a member of their local Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations.
Hiring someone who supports their local community and charity organizations is a win-win situation. By hiring them, you in turn help the community. Not to mention it speaks to the integrity of the person you are looking to hire. Support local!
Keep in mind that none of these tips are a guarantee, but someone who meets most or all of these conditions will greatly improve your chances of finding a professional whom you can trust, and who will stand behind their work.