Let's face it photography is more accessible now than ever. I mean I can almost guarantee that everyone has a camera in their It’s like doing a DIY project: you might have a garage full of tools and some experience under your belt, but if you really want to get the job done right, you need to call in a pro.
So why should you hire a professional photographer?
Before getting too far, I want to make sure I don’t give the wrong impression. Most of the time, you probably don’t need to hire a professional photographer to get good pictures. However, there are situations where you and your gear just can’t quite cut it.
Even photographers who shoot photos for a living need to hire a professional photographer from time to time! Yes, I take my own family portraits from time to time, but I also hire a professional photographer every year. And to be honest there are plenty of reasons for putting your own camera aside and asking a professional to deliver the results you want.
While it’s true that almost any camera today can produce outstanding results, great photos are about more than just a camera. I always tell my clients, my camera is my paintbrush and my photos are my canvas. It takes more then my equipment used to create the images which is why my website and social media posts aren’t about what cameras I have or what accessories I use.
A professional photographer understands concepts like how to use lighting (both in studio and outside), the best locations, and editing to make the types of images that stand head and shoulders above what most people can get.
For example, I had a client book a senior portrait session for her son. When I asked about a location she insisted they use their home. Now, where most clients don't see this as a problem. Most photographers do. Why? Well, it's simple, there are a number of things we look for in locations we shoot at, and when shooting at a Clients home, we cannot control the environment. In this case, when arriving to the clients home, there were a few things I took notice to right away.
Suns location. The sun was coming from the back of the property, so in order to keep my subject backlit, his back would be facing the sun. This wasn't bad, however, the neighbors homes and barns were right behind the single line of trees, which meant they would be in the photos.
Misc Items on Property. The yard had items everywhere. Bird baths, garage, tire swing, etc. So no matter which direction I choose to shoot there was something in the frame I didn't want.
I knew after seeing the location there was no hiding the neighbors houses and barns. Even with using bokeh, they would still be noticeable. And I couldn't turn my client or he would be facing the harsh lighting (which is a BIG no no).
Even when I expressed some more concern the client still preferred their home. So I continued with the shoot. Once her son had come out, I noticed a few more details. His pants were too short showing off his ankles and socks when he sat and his shirts were very tight and didn't help his build.
Now, you have to understand, we as photographers, do not say things to be mean, rude, or bully. However, we know what you hired us for. And when things don't add up to create images, like the ones the client saw and hired you because of, it means we as photographers have to speak up. This session was a learning experience for me, as I learned that if my gut is telling me no way jose'...then I best listen and do what I feel is right.
Anyhow, I finished the shoot and delivered the images. I will admit they were disappointing, and I as the photographer was embarrassed as I knew I should have spoke up. To no surprise my client wasn't thrilled. She didn't like the houses and barns in the background, she didn't like what her son was wearing, and I couldn't blame her. So, I told her I really wanted to do a re-shoot, however, if we did I had recommendations on locations and clothing choices to assure she received the images she wanted. We re-shot the session at a location I recommended and the gentleman chose some more appropriate attire and when I delivered the re-shoot my client was more then ecstatic.
For most people lighting and composition, not to mention technical settings like aperture size and shutter speed, aren’t really things they notice or even know about.
Professionals are keenly aware of these factors that can add layers of complication to the simple act of taking a picture. They know how to deal with them, how to plan accordingly, and how to improvise when necessary, or re-shoot to get the best results.
This type of thought process doesn’t automatically happen with the purchase of a camera. It takes years of experience, including learning from mistakes and failures, to get things right. Anyone can learn these skills but it takes time and dedication. In the meantime, if you’re someone who just wants to get great photos it can be worth it to hire a professional photographer.
A mobile phone can take good shots on Portrait Mode, but it won’t help you know where to stand to get the best lighting, a pleasing background, and bring out your best smile.
Professional Photographers can do all of this and much more.
One analogy that I read that works well here is cooking. Anyone can look through a cookbook, buy some ingredients, spend a bit of time in the kitchen, and end up with a meal that tastes pretty good.
Professional chefs take the same ingredients and produce culinary creations that delight your taste buds and challenge your notions of consuming food. It’s not a matter of having the ingredients, but knowing just what to do with them in a way that no cookbook or YouTube video can explain.
Experience counts with cooking, and it also matters with photography.
There’s a popular saying in photography: The best camera is the one you have with you. That’s true to a certain extent, but if your goal is to get a specific type of photo, there are certain cameras, lenses, flashes, and other gear that are best suited to the task. These often cost thousands of dollars and can be the difference between images that are adequate and awesome.
Consider the 70-200 f/2.8 lens. These are expensive, heavy, and impractical for casual individuals who enjoy snapshots with their phones. And while you could spend the equivalent of a few month’s rent or car payments on one of these lenses, you might be better off forking over a fraction of that amount to a professional instead.
A photo like this is simply not possible with a cell phone or a basic kit lens.
This lens is just one example out of many, but the point is, professional photographers have researched the right gear for the job. It’s similar to how many people have a basic tool set at home. However, a professional mechanic has a garage full of specific sockets and drivers, as well as impact wrenches and other tools that are ideally suited to specific tasks.
Some people can probably do a basic oil change in their driveway, but serious work requires serious knowledge and an expensive set of tools to match.
The same is true for photography. When you want pictures that make you and your loved ones look your best, it sometimes takes expensive high-end gear to make it happen. And professional photographers have just the right camera gear to get it done.
It’s about more than just the photos, its an experience.
Anyone can take a camera, point it at a subject, press the shutter, and end up with some good pictures. They might even be great pictures. But when you hire a professional photographer, you are not only getting photographs, but an entire experience to go along with it.
Photographers create fun, energetic, exciting events that go far beyond simply providing a photo to hang on the wall or share online. I know photographers who have been shooting the same clients for over a decade because their sessions are about creating, not just images, but memories.
I recently did boudoir mini's in January, and after delivering the finished images one of my clients messaged me. Not only was she raving over the photos and how she and her significant other LOVED them, she thanked me and bragged about how much fun she had at the shoot.
Professional photographers create experiences that clients will share with friends and family. When people talk about photos from a session, wedding, or important event, they talk about the photographer almost as much as the photos!
They share stories of how the photographer made their kids laugh, treated people with respect and kindness, listened to their requests, and made them feel like the most important people in the world.
These are the kind of experiences that get people coming back to professional photographers. Moreover, it’s something that holding a mobile phone on a selfie stick can’t replicate.
On the flip side, when people have a bad experience related to service, they will often share that with others even more than a positive experience. Professional photographers know this, which is why they take great care to pay attention to their clients, create memorable photography sessions, and keep them coming back for years on end.
Why you should hire a professional photographer: Conclusion
I’ve seen people balk at the price of a professional photography session, and I completely understand that reaction. It can seem impractical or downright silly to spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a professional photographer.
That money could pay for a lot of camera gear, and even some educational courses to help you learn how to use it! But there’s a reason people pay that kind of money for professional photos, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised at the value you really get for your money.