Hiring a Professional

Why hire a professional photographer?

With the advances that we see in technology, photographic equipment is becoming cheaper and easier to acquire every day. The power of consumer grade photographic equipment is growing at an incredible rate making it easier for the amateur to get professional grade equipment. So most people assume that by buying the more expensive camera gear will make their photographs appear better. While there is some truth to this (else why do pros buy better gear) the fact remains that photography is not a simple point and click art. As the ease of buying professional grade equipment grows, so do the number of bad photographs.

So what exactly separates the amateur photographer from a professional one? The simplest answer to this question is the same as what makes a better doctor, lawyer, mechanic or any profession: knowledge and experience. The skills involved in taking better pictures are more complicated than simply pushing the “auto” button on your $1,500 Sony and clicking the shutter button.

For one, we have the aspects of composition and lighting, the two single most important parts of photography. Without knowledge of where to put the subject, background and other incidentals (composition) then images will appear off-balance or poorly defined. A picture improperly composed will be boring and unpleasing to the eye. Lighting is even more crucial; many a fantastic photograph has been ruined by using the flash attached to the camera or facing your subject directly into the sun. Shadows and light give a photograph emotion and without proper use of lighting pictures become flat and uninteresting.

Another important skill is speed. We want pictures of events as they happen. This is common at weddings, birthday parties, corporate functions, sporting events and many other events. Without the ability to operate that expensive camera equipment in a timely manner, the moment is lost forever. But if the photographer can move their equipment into place and have it set up ahead of time, then even the briefest of moments can be turned into cherished memories.

Professional photographers also have another skill that is harder to define: creativity. We practice for hours and hours, weeks on end shooting many different situations, reading trade magazines and talking with other professionals to learn the craft of photography. We know what works and are able to experiment with those techniques to produce amazing works of art. We aren’t simply “picture takers”. We are artists. And just as anyone can pick up a paintbrush and start putting paint on a canvas, it takes a special person with the skills and creativity to actually put that paint to use and make something beautiful.

Finally, it is extremely important to be able to put photographic subjects at ease. Putting someone in front of a camera and telling them to act “natural” is the surest way to cause them to look tense and uncomfortable. And a tense subject is never as attractive as a relaxed one. Being able to point an intimidating camera at someone and flashing lights while keeping them calm and relaxed is a skill all on its own.

One last thing to consider on the topic of hiring a professional photographer. Would you have your Uncle Bob who just bought a bookkeeping program file your taxes? If you needed to treat a broken leg would you call your friend Chuck and have him come over to set the bone since he had been a boy scout? Presumably you are a professional in your career and would prefer to have a professional service your needs in any aspect of your life. So when you need photographs, why wouldn’t you hire a professional photographer?