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is your photographer legit?
30A Photographer

5 ways to find out if your 30A photographer is legit

Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Clients frequently call us with horror stories of their experience with another photographer. It's the same horror stories time and time again...

"I hired a photographer that had a professional social media page and their website was full of beautiful photos, but after I scheduled my session with them they:

  • took my money and just ghosted me

  • the images were nothing like what was on their website

  • they didn't deliver my photos for 12 weeks"

Does this sound familiar? Has it happened to you?

Do you know why this happens so frequently in the photography industry?


It is because the photography industry is not an accredited profession.  This means that ANYONE can pick up a camera and claim to be a professional. They are not required to have a college degree, a certification or any other kind of regulation to perform photographic services. Some are not even required to have a business license in their county (if operating under the counties income limits).


>> RED FLAG <<

On that note, if you are not looking for some of the other red flags, you might hire someone who picked up a camera yesterday and claims to be a professional photographer today (yes, we have even heard this horror story). Many times, they will take your money and even show up for the session, but the images are very poorly done, or not deliver the images at all. ​


As a consumer, you literally have 1000's of photography styles and price points to choose from. You have to research the options and find the right price point and photography style that is just right for you, but you also need to verify their credentials! When you first think about it, this seems like a daunting task when once again, there are 1000's to sort through.

Keep reading to see 5 easy tips on how to simplify this task!

Is a contract required?

While we hate contracts and questionnaires, in reality they really are a great clue as to the experience level and legitimacy of a business.

Contracts should be set in place to protect both YOU, the client and the photographer. Is there a contract in place in case it rains, delivery of images, images rights, what to expect, dates, times, cancelation policy, etc. 

If your photographer does not ask you to sign a contract, that is a huge red flag. Many times this is dangerous scenario as it can leave you out to dry if they take your money and run.

Protect yourself and choose a photographer that requires a contract.

30A Senior Portraits

Do they have a business license?

While I understand that a business license is not required to own a photography business if your income is below the city/county requirement, there are several reasons it's best to choose a licensed photographer.

-Businesses that have an LLC, or other license are more likely likely to be running a more legitimate and professional business.

-These businesses are less likely to scam you

While a business license will not guarantee you stunning images or a luxury portrait experience, it will at least give you the confidence this person is not doing this just as a "side hustle".

Image turn around time

This is a fantastic question to ask every photographer. While it may not seem very important at first, it will bee very important when 10 weeks have gone by and you have not receive your memories yet.

Any professional photographer will be upfront about their image turnaround times and deadlines. While I understand that there are "peak season" in the photography industry, a true professional with a developed work flow should be able to turnaround images within 3-4 weeks (and even shorter during non-peak seasons)

Exception: weddings and event photography image turnaround can run up to 6-8 weeks

30A Photographer

Client Gallery Example

As you check out their website and social media sites like facebook and Instagram, you fall in love with their style... and then after your session, the images you receive look nothing like the images they showcased. Unfortunately, this is a common bait and switch scenario that happens in this industry. It easy for photographer to only post their "Best work" on their sites.  And sadly, sometimes these sample images are even stolen from other photographers.

To avoid scams like this, ask to view actual client galleries. Request access to view an example gallery that is the same type of portrait session you are hiring them for. This will give you an idea of the variety and types of images you can expect to see. This will give you an idea of their style and what retouching edits are made before being showcased on their website.

Is correspondence prompt and detailed?

One reason so many pick up a camera and become a photographer is because they love to create images. They jump into a business without realizing all of the administrative tasks that come along with running a successful photography business. So while they might be a great photographer, they tend to overload themselves with sessions and not allow enough time in their day for administrative tasks like answering emails or phone calls. While they may still take great photos for you, it may become a daunting task trying to contact them with any questions or concerns. 

With that being said... what is the typical response time for a photographer? Many photographers work odd hours or even odd days of the week to accommodate for busy season and their home life. Because of this, allow photographers a 24-48 hour response time during PEAK season. Be patient, but also watch out for responses that take more than 3 days or are very vague every time you contact them.

30A Photographer

In Summary


When you think about...

Choosing the right photographer is almost like choosing the perfect handbag. There are 1000's of handbag styles out there and price points ranging from Walmart and Kohls to Fendi,  Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

When looking to capture your memories, are you looking for something from Walmart that will work for now, but you would be ok with throwing away later, or are you looking for a Louis Vuitton Luxury type experience that you will cherish for a lifetime (or maybe even something in between).

In summary, the perfect photographer is out there for you! One that meets your style and price point requirements. There are 1000's of photographer options and the search can be fun and exciting, just be wary of the following red flags:


  1. Does not require a photography contract

  2. No Business License and/or does not obtain proper permits

  3. Has an image turnaround time of 4+ weeks

  4. Refuses to show a typical client gallery with at least 30+ images of same family/subject

  5. Has a slow response time (greater than 48 hours during peak season)

30A Photographer


Hello There!

Welcome to Melonie Marie Photography

My name is Melonie and my husband is Tim. We are a husband and wife team with over 25+ years experience with portrait photography.


To view my career credentials, degrees, certifications, licenses, permits and more > click here < or keep scrolling to read more about me and what I can do for you!

As a mother of 2 beautiful daughters, 1 incredibly handsome son and a bonus mom of 2 fabulous step kids, I understand how important it is to capture all the memories we possibly can with each other.

Sometimes we document them with just our phone, and sometimes we look for a professional that will capture something that we not only look fabulous in, but something that we will be excited to display in our home and view every day.

That's where we come in!

Luxury Home Decor Products


Why our Clients Love Us!

Our clients love what we can do for them because we go beyond just making you look good.

You deserve the absolute best portrait experience / photo adventure out there. You deserve to feel confident in your images and be captured in a way that you will cherish for a lifetime. We don't follow the photo "trends", instead we cultivate each of our portrait sessions so that each client will have timeless images that will reflect the pure amazingness in every person we photograph. 

We provide a VIP photography service for every client. From planning and style creation of your session, to delivery of your home decor, I want you to feel at ease. If you have any questions, please reach out to us by phone or text at

(850) 460-4437

30a senior photographer
30a photographer

What is a CPP?

While there are no business mandates or certification requirements for someone to become a photographer, that doesn't mean that the credentials are not available to obtain. 

Photographers have many options for both educational degrees and certifications. One of those certifications is the Certified Professional Photographer Exam (CPP). This is an intense exam and certification program for photographers. They are required to pass both a technical written text and an image certification test that proves they understand and know how to apply the true concepts of lighting, posing, composition, rules of thirds, broad vs short lighting and more.

I am proud to state that I received my CPP certification in the spring of 2015


Other Accolades

While I was excited to pass the CPP exam in 2014, my most cherished memory is receiving not only my Masters Degree in Photography but also my Craftsman Degree in 2016.

My images have been in magazines and books and I have several images that have gained enough recognition to be on the world art tour.

I have served on several Photography boards including Professional Photographers of America Council and served as President with the State Of Michigan Photography Association.

Once a year, I continue my education by attending at least one or two photography conventions and I also share my knowledge to others by teaching at multiple photography events and camera stores across the US.

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