Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why a professional photographer?

I hear it all the time, "Why should I hire a professional photographer to make my portrait. They're so expensive!" I also, frequently encounter people who, for one reason or another, think (or at least say they think) they can't take a beautiful photograph.

A friend of mine is one such lady. I've been "after her" for the better part of a year to allow me to photograph her portrait, even on a time for prints basis. To say she was reluctant is to put it mildly.

In the middle of last year she referred to me a friend who was planning to get married. Her friend signed a contract with me, hiring me to photograph her beautiful day. As part of my "advertising campaign" I give my friend a $100 gift certificate for the referral. The certificate is good only towards services (sitting fees, etc) and, of course, has zero cash value. For personal reasons, my friend was in a position where she had to redeem it now or not at all.

So I finally had my opportunity to photograph this beautiful lady.
Why was she under the impression that she did not photograph well? During discussions, it soon surfaced she had not been provided with an opportunity to be photographed by a professional photographer. Her experience was limited to those results provided by friends and family and by the large chain stores providing a "portrait studio experience".

A professional photographer takes their time and they bring all their experience to bear when creating a flattering portrait that the client will be proud to display in their home. They consider as many variables as possible:

  • First and foremost is TIME! Making portraits is something a photographer does all the time and so is very comfortable. For many clients, making a portrait is something that will happens only a very few times during their life. They are unsure and may be afraid of looking foolish. A professional will take all the time necessary to help the client become comfortable. Because any un-ease or discomfort can be easily seen in a photograph, it is only after the client is comfortable that a striking portrait can be made.
  • Rather than using the same lighting as in their previous client, a professional photographer will "customize" the lighting to the needs of the portrait.
  • Does the client have a "best side". Many clients will favor one side over the other. A professional photographer will take these preferences into consideration.
As in most things, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive (dare I say "cheap") portraits will usually bear the brand.

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