I’m afraid you are right, she did hire a fauxtog.
It’s like trying to read mud out there isnt it?
Without giving you a photography 101 course, and making you learn things that you have no interest in, here’s a few questions you can ask a photog you are considering to hire, and a few things to look out for
Are you licensed and insured?
Now this won’t guarantee that you will get good images, but it will weed out fauxs that don’t care enough about their work, or their business to protect themselves.
Ask if they belong to a photography association of some sort, like the PPA (usually this info is already provided on their website or marketing material). This means they have resources for both insurance, continuing education, and take pride in their work and their peers.
Ask how long they have been in business.
Now this is not to say that new to the biz togs cant be legit and/or very talented, but if a tog has been in business for 5+ years they have made it through a good small business hump, that fauxs are completely unable to get through.
Ask them how they back up/store your images
A real tog will have multiple ways of backing up to insure your images are never lost. Also ome togs only store your images for a certain period of time and it’s good to know how long.
A real tog will also have pro quality vendors. So if they only offer a cd of images, or use a printing service that anyone can use (Mpix, walmart, cafe press, shutterfly etc) steer clear. A real photographer takes pride in their finished product and will only use a pro quality lab to finish your prints.
Do they have a website that isnt free to you and me, and Tom Dick and Harry? A legitimate photographer will have a real website designed for them.