pho·tog·ra·pher : a person who takes photographs, especially as a job. Webster’s Dictionary
In today’s technological and digital world we are all photographers. :o) With cameras in our smart phones, to small point and shoot cameras, to larger DSLRs with changeable and unique glass. I love seeing people out there capturing important moments in their lives and the lives of others, from Grandma’s catching their grandchildrens’ winning goals and touchdowns, to my fellow pro friends documenting a wedding with a great love story.
As of late I have noticed a large increase in the “point and shoot professional.” We all start somewhere and in today’s world point and shoots become many starting points, which is fantastic! I applaud all whom take an interest in photography to better themselves and their photos! But there is a large difference between pros and the point and shoots.
I wanted to take a bit of time to describe what you get when you hire a professional photographer and some of the differences you will notice that will make your session unique to you and make you proud to display that shot on your wall! :o)
What are you paying a professional for?
When you hire a pro you are paying for many things including: your pros’s creativity and expertise in knowing how to make a session unique to you, a specific amount of time for your session, post processing time, a specified number of digital downloads, and their love for photography!
Isn’t digital photography cheaper? Why are your prices higher than XXX Photography?
Digital photography has revolutionized the photography world, in some ways for the better and in others for the worse. It’s made it easier to catch flows or closed eyes in camera rather than get home, develop film, and see that all shots have closed eyes and you come away with zero shots of a desired pose. Easier image modification, increased abilities to shoot in low light situations, and create striking color and black and white images of the same shot.
Here comes the confusing part: for amatures or point and shooters, digital is most times cheaper. But for professionals, it is far from it. In stats published in the last few years, a professional session done completely digital costs as much as one-third more than the traditional film methods.
1. Hardware and software are continuously changing. Dark room equipment and cameras from as early as eight years ago to one hundred and fifty years ago expected their equipment to last from five to twenty-five years or more. Today’s digital equipment from cameras, computers, software, lighting equipment, SD cards and more are often obsolete after only a few months and sometimes only last a few short years, requiring many things to be upgraded frequently. Upgrading is very expensive.
2. When a photographer shoots a session digitally, there is a lot of post production work to do when they get back to the office. Downloading the session, color corrections, batch actions, backing up files on external hard drives, retouching, uploading online galleries, and getting these to clients. Many times this process take two to three times as long as the actual shoot itself does. In years past, it was a simple drop the photos off at the lab, pick them up, and bill the client, but today it is the photographer, not the lab, that is working at their computers to prepare your images for perfection, presentation, and preservation. Many pros are also their own accountants, they place the print orders, they are putting the orders together once they arrive, doing the invoicing, keeping their financial records, and more. Most photographers include all post processing in their session pricing rather than billing for things individually, makes the pricing much easier for everyone involved :o)
3. Digitals have meant that faster turn arounds are expected. While in some cases this is true, but if you are editing a ten hour wedding, this is going to take significantly longer than a family session or mini session. I edit sessions in the order they are taken, do my best to deliver them quickly, but I also prefer to take my time to ensure that all images are edited to the best of my ability so that you can have years to cherish your session.
Are you legitimate?
Photographers, like any other business, are required to be registered by the state, charge sales tax, and file taxes. The requirements vary by state, but in Ohio you should have a vendor’s license or EIN number. Sales tax is to be charged on anything tangible, such as prints & products, and filed every six months. Sessions are not taxable. Then come April 15, you also are required to file your business taxes just like any other business. It’s always a good idea to check to see if the photographer you are inquiring with is legal, no one wants to get caught eluding the government and causing problems for not only the photographer, but you personally. Those photographers caught charging for product and not paying taxes can be charged with fraud, face fines, or even jail time. It’s always best to be legitimate and stay within the governing rules for any business.
Why should you hire a professional vs. a point and shoot?
1. Professionals take an interest in you, your family, your hobbies, and what makes you, you! We want to include as many poses and groupings as time will allow that are specific to you. We bring our knowledge, experiences, and equipment to capture this moment in your life so that you have memories to share for years to come!
2. Artistic. Pros are always looking for unique session spots. I could be driving somewhere for something completely non photo related and see a perfect spot for a family or senior session. Everywhere I look I see a shot through my camera’s viewfinder and am thinking what I would set ISO, Shutter Speed, & Apt at. At your session we are not only focusing on you, but the background, lighting, shadows, depth of field, and many other elements that not everyone can “see” through the lens that help to make an image memorable vs. a snapshot. This artistic vision helps us to craft your session into something special.
3. High End Equipment, we use the latest digital SLR equipment and cameras, but most importantly, we know how to use them. A large majority of pros do not shoot in Automatic Mode. Most shoot Manual, on occasion they may switch to auto, but nine times out of ten, it’s manual. With this equipment we can manipulate focal lengths, shutter speeds, aperture, depth of field, and lighting to each individual session. No two images are ever going to be exact, but we know what we need to do to get that desired outcome. And if we don’t, you better believe we are on top of figuring it out.
4. Lighting can be a very scary aspect to photography. On camera flash, off camera flash, soft boxes, back lighting, triggers, it’s a lot to take in and learn, but we know how to get our cameras to communicate with these great complimentary pieces of equipment. Many times I prefer to shoot as much natural light as possible, but on occasion, you just can’t, either there isn’t enough natural light coming through windows, or you are shaded and need a little fill light. Should you bounce the light or hit the subject directly, use the light stand behind the subject for a unique back lit shot? These are things we are always contemplating. When lighting isn’t used correctly, you can have underexposed or overexposed images, we know how to set our cameras to catch the natural light, use the right time of day, and/or get that OCF just where we want it.
5. Post processing software, all pros use it, even if it’s just to add a little fill light, or take a completely blown out photo that would usually be ruined and make it something fun and unique. This software allows pros to manipulate hue, saturation, vibrancy, turn to black and white, and more. This software however does not mean that we are miracle workers. Sometimes there are just images that don’t work no matter what you do, it happens to every photographer. But we take that image and we learn from it. We give a professional look to our images before we present them to you, the client.
6. Custom Printing Options. The majority of professionals work with professional printers to produce their high quality images. We work with pro printers to ensure that your images are delivered in the finest manner possible, on higher quality papers/products that are using brighter more vibrant inks, and have access to unique products. We bypass the low cost volume printers, such as WalMart, Walgreens, etc, because they don’t meet our professional standards for presevering your memories. You hire a professional for your session and deserve to have your images printed professionally as well.
7. Learning. Not all pros went to school for photography, I personally don’t think you have to. But I do believe that you have to have an artistic eye, have a creative mind, and a solid business plan. Being a pro requires a personal love for photography and the wanting to always learn more. It’s an investment, not only financially, but personally as well. Becoming a professional doesn’t happen over night, it takes years of practice and learning to get to where one is. Pros never stop learning, researching, or finding new ways of doing things. I am constantly researching, experimenting, learning, making mistakes that I can learn from, and bettering myself professionally in any way possible! If you don’t learn something new everyday about your profession, you might just be in the wrong one, lol.
And there you have it! Some of the biggest differences between pros and point and shoots! I am proud to call myself a professional, proud to say that I know my camera and lenses as well as my other equipment and it’s possibilities. I know that my images are better today than they were three years ago, and most all pros will agree, with every year you become better. We all start somewhere, with some sort of camera, but in today’s world, there are many things to consider when hiring a photographer. Are they in it just for fun and to do as favors for family, or is this their full time job, what pays the bills, and what they love? I will continue to learn so that I can serve my clients better than the day before and strive to always produce high quality images for you to enjoy for a lifetime! I love my job and all of my clients, family, and friends for their support over the last several years! Let’s keep this wonderful ride going! :o)