Why You Should Hire A Professional Photographer
We all have that one friend who has a really nice, fancy camera. She may even consider herself a bit of a professional photographer because she spent over $500 on her fancy camera. I’m sure she’d love to come to your next event and take your family photos. But wait!? Before you take her up on that – Did you know that the quality of photos that come from that fancy, pro-quality camera are the same as those taken with a cheap instant camera? Unless that is, the person operating the camera is experienced at how to use their camera to its full extent.
It’s Not the Camera, It’s the Person Behind the Camera…
Today I am honored to share the wisdom (and some photos) of my friend, Meghan Dickerson, of Meghan Kelly Images. Meghan wrote and shared these words about why you should hire a pro photographer on social media last year on Small Business Saturday.
This retail-type holiday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the United States, and on the first Saturday in December in the U.K. But Meghan’s wise and practical words hold true for every day of the year and are true no matter what country in which you live. Consider supporting your local small businesses for all of your special occasions.
And now a word from our Pro!
“In honor of small business Saturday; a short (long) lesson on hiring a professional photographer instead of a big box store or having your friend who got a “fancy” camera for Christmas take a snapshot of you, and all about their pricing.”
Something to think about?
“I know it seems expensive, but did you know your professional photographer has spent thousands of dollars on equipment, hundreds a year on websites and licenses and insurance and gallery proofing sites and printing labs, and usually three times that on education?
Did you know it takes the average small business owner 3-5 years before they no longer lose money every year?”
Did you know that whatever time your photographer has spent with you taking photos, they’ve spent 3 to 5x (more if it’s a wedding) culling and editing your session and uploading it to your gallery? They might have invested time in style guides or in helping you dress your family, and they’ve almost assuredly spent days scouting the best location with the prettiest light.”
Did you know your photographer’s profit margin is razor thin (except on prints, which most people make on their own)? Most make well below minimum wage when you account for expenses and time spent per session, and they are taking time away from their families to make beautiful memories for you.
For more info on Cost of Doing Business for Photography, check out THIS BLOG POST, from my friends at Digital Photography School
The Pro Photographer Do’s & Don’ts
Please Do this!
“Please do: Look at websites and social media to find a photographer whose work you love so that you don’t end up disappointed.
Remember that you get what you pay for. If it costs a lot, just like anything else you value, it’s probably worth it. Most photographers will let you make payments up until the session date. If it’s out of your budget, find someone who is in it or schedule sessions every few years instead of every year.”
Also do this!
“Look your best. We usually CAN swap heads, remove wrinkles, fix your hair. But it will double or triple your post processing time and may cost you extra, so ask in advance what’s possible, and be kind and iron your shirt, take your phone out of your pocket and your hair tie off your wrist.”
And do this!
“Check contracts or ask your photographer about turnaround time. Unlike big stores, there’s just one of us and we want your images to make you look the way you want to feel. So let your artist do their work. But do expect them to deliver on their word to you. A photographer who is routinely missing their self-imposed deadlines without communication may not be the one for you.
Ask if there are ever sales or promotions. We have them and we want you to take advantage of them! Ask for their input on styling and what colors, patterns, and shapes of clothing will flatter you and photograph best.”
And finally… do this!
“Ask for print lab recommendations. We hate to see you spend hundreds of dollars on capturing beautiful memories for your family and then printing those gorgeous images someplace that will turn your face green. Costco and Mpix are my favorite direct to consumer labs.”
“Book in advance. A LOT of us are booked for fall by August. squeezing you in will probably mean a less ideal location or lighting, if it can be done at all.
Also consider doing your photos in off-peak season. Often they are less expensive and your photographer is usually less rushed and better rested, which may result in better images and faster turnaround times.”
Please don’t do this!
“Please don’t: Ask for discounts or free images. It devalues them and often means they lose money on your session. Only do this if the work is subpar (and by subpar I mean not representative of what they have on their website, which you looked at before the session because you read my guide. I don’t mean they are a light and airy photographer and you wanted moody images. I don’t mean it was raining that day but you didn’t want to reschedule and you’re grouchy there’s no sunset in your images) or you had a terrible experience with them.”
Also don’t do this!
“Ask for raw or unedited images (Really. You’re not saving them any time and you ARE asking them to cheapen their art for you. Culling and editing are an integral part of what makes their final art product worthy of their brand and your walls)
Ask for “just one photo”. That’s not how it works. It takes 75% of the effort to produce one finished image for you as it does 25.
Ask them to “bring their camera” to the next event you host. Invite them as a guest and let them enjoy their precious time off or pay them for their work.”
And REALLY don’t do this!
“Don’t blame them if you don’t like how you look. We want you to feel beautiful, and we will use the best possible posing and angles to get you there, but we can’t change who you are. And honestly, you’re so perfect and worthy of being remembered by generations to come. And I PROMISE that when you are gone your children are NOT going to say ‘Jeez, look at Mom’s muffin top!!'”
Final Words from Meghan
“I’m mostly a hobbyist (although I do have a business and take a few clients a year), so I feel like I can speak for the togs unselfishly when I say… hire a photographer. Pay them. Pay them well. You’re supporting an individual artist’s dream and their family and if you choose wisely you’ll have beautiful priceless memories of your family to pass down through the generations.”
If you would like to see more of Meghan’s work, or are looking for an excellent photographer in the California area, you can find her here:
Unlike Meghan, I am taking regular client sessions, so if you’re in Michigan, call me and see what I can do for YOU!
Final Words from Veronica
It is easy to find a friend with a “fancy camera” who will be willing to take your photo. Just remember – expecting a camera to produce an amazing photo is something like expecting an amazing oven to produce a beautiful cake. The camera is a tool, just like the oven. It’s not the camera, but the person behind it that makes the magic! So go ahead and start looking for the right professional photographer for you. And when you find that person….
Be kind and treat your photographer as you would treat any other professional. You would not ask your dentist to give you a discount or only clean half of your teeth, and you wouldn’t ask a friend with a fancy toothbrush to give you an annual cleaning and expect good results. So save your pennies, and support a pro.
You’re already here, so it’s a great time to learn 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me.
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