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My fiance and I are looking at wedding photographers. She found one she says is perfect (matches our budget and preferred style). We talked with him over the phone yesterday and he seemed like a great choice.

However, I'm concerned because on one page I've seen, he says he's been shooting weddings professionally for 10 years. And yet, I've only found 4 reviews for him (all positive), his domain was registered 3 months ago (around the same time as the first review), and it only has pictures from 3 or 4 weddings.

This all concerns me because there are other photographers who have 50+ reviews and appear to be more established.

I expressed my concerns over this to my fiance and she seemed to take offense at me being concerned. I would be much more comfortable if I had an explanation for the lack of online presence, especially reviews. While I know there are perfectly reasonable possibilities for this, my mind assumes the worst and that it's a scam, because I've had close friends get scammed by wedding photographers.

How can we tactfully ask the photographer about the low number of reviews/shoots? The main concern is it might seem like accusing him of lying.

My fiance and I weren't even sure how to go about wording the question without offending the photographer or burning bridges.

  • Is the photographer expecting you to pay him upfront? I am not married, so I wouldn't know how it works, but it sounds unlikely to be a scam unless you pay him upfront? – Stian Yttervik Feb 20 at 14:13
  • @StianYttervik Yeah, that would be my thought too, unfortunately I believe all photographers require upfront payment. Probably to prevent themselves from getting scammed :/ – conman124 Feb 21 at 23:38
  • I'm sorry, this may seem off topic, but what is your/your fiancee's profession? This is a very common question you have when agreeing to buy a service. If either of you knows how to talk to potential customers or suppliers, they should take charge. This is a common thing in the business world and many people do this daily, depending on what you do, this question has to he answered in a completely different way. Btw, it's a common thing to talk to other customers and exchange experiences... – Raditz_35 Feb 22 at 14:31
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In my dealings with businesses and people in general, I find that sometimes the most tactful approach is also the most direct. Instead of asking, "Why are there so few reviews?"--which feels like a grilling--ask instead, "Where might we see the earlier reviews?"

If you are writing an email or letter, you might say something like the following:

Where may we see reviews of the your earlier weddings? We found the reviews on your website for the most recent weddings but we were unable to find any going back more than three months. On your website at (list URL of specific page) you say you have been professionally photographing weddings for ten years. If you could direct us to those earlier reviews, we'd appreciate it very much.

A telephone conversation might be similar except you might have to use the title of the page instead of the URL regarding the location of his statement about having been in this profession for ten years.

Mentioning the ten years in a non-accusatory manner is vital because:

  1. It is the key issue upon which your concern is raised.
  2. It catches him off-balance and forces him to account for the missing information.
  3. His response will either: a. Give you the location of the missing reviews. or b. Try to distract you from wanting to see them.

The reason it usually works to present the situation this way is that it assumes he is an honest and genuine businessman, which allows him to retain his dignity. An honest businessman will apologize for having failed to link to his archived material, or wherever it is, and eagerly make it available to you as potential customers.

On the other hand, if he is not a genuine honest businessman, he will have to lie about those missing reviews. Some common ways of "lying" are to respond as though he were being grilled. For example, if he gets defensive or angry and/or makes you out as being indecently "checking him out," he is almost certainly running a scam.

If he senses that you are a hard case to win, he might even link you to fake "reviews." There is no telling how creative he will be. However, your fiance's concerns about offending him are probably misplaced. If he's honest, he will be apologetic and helpful; if not he will be tense and probably offended no matter how polite and tactful you are.

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I don't know where about you live, but where I live (western Europe) it should be perfectly reasonable to ask about this. If he is a reasonable person, he will understand your concerns, especialy if you tell him about the experience your friend had.

I'd go for something along the lines of:

Hello John,

I recently noticed that you have a surprisingly low amount of reviews online and that your portfolio seems rather small.

Since one of my friends once got scammed by a 'Wedding photographer', I'm just a bit curious about this.

I'm sure you have a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.

I hope to hear back from you. And once more, I don't mean to offend you with this.

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    saying "I don't mean to offend" does not prevent offense. It can actually make it worse. Mentioning scamming in the email makes it clear you're worried he's a scammer. This seems like a great way to lose the wedding photographer rather than to get your reassurance. – Kate Gregory Aug 6 at 15:29

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