1) Why should I hire a professional photographer? With the advent of the digital age, taking photos became easier. You no longer had to worry about getting "the" photo in 12-24 shots. Now you can shoot hundreds of photos in order to try and get one good one. Consequently many people decided to become "photographers". I hear the stories all the time. You have probably heard them too. "I hired a photographer to shoot my wedding and they did a terrible job." "I hired a photographer and I never received my photos." "I hired a photographer and I told them I was unhappy about the photos but they did not even care." The complaints go on and on and on. My heart breaks for these people. As a photographer I know the value of a photo, of the story they are wanting to tell so it hurts my heart when they did not receive a professional photo that they love. However, they must take some ownership in this as well. The "photographers" they often hire are simply people with a camera. Whether trying to save money, please a "photographer" friend or simply lacking knowledge, these poor souls entrusted someone who has not taken the time to study lighting, invest in studio lighting and proper equipment, studied under a mentor or make any attempts at all to better themselves. Look, I know everyone starts somewhere. When I first started photographing people I was not as proficient with my camera as I am now. I have studied years to get where I am. I still study. I will always study the art and technique of photography as I love the art form. A professional photographer is someone who has paid their dues, they have mentored under great people, they have studied lighting in all it's varieties and they have invested time and money to become a professional. ALOT of it. When hiring a professional, you are not just hiring someone with an expensive camera. You are hiring someone with the knowledge to light you and shoot you from angles that make you appear your best. You are hiring someone for their artistry, to come up with something different, not just copy photos on pinterest (and poorly at that). Professionals pay their taxes and give back to their communities. They carry insurance in case something goes awry. They hire second shooters for weddings and bring lots of extra cameras and cards in case something goes terribly wrong. Because it can. And it does. They can make quick adjustments for light changing and people moving. They know how to take a proper and artistic photo the client will cherish forever.
2) What makes you a professional? This is a hard one in the photography world because we are not required to have a degree, certification or ANYTHING that states we are a professional and know what we are doing. You can (and should) get certified but many don't want to take the time to study for the tests and submit their images for critique. If your photographer is not certified, maybe you should ask them why not? Were they not interested in putting in the time to make them a better photographer? I am a Certified Professional Photographer and I have also been certified in the state of Tennessee. I am currently one merit short of becoming a Master of Photography. A professional will also belong to professional organizations such as PPA, SEPPA and TNPPA. They will study their craft at every given opportunity.
3) Why does a professional charge so much? You know what it costs to print a photo at Walgreens so why do we charge so much for our prints? One reason is that you are paying for far more than the piece of paper on which the image is printed. You are paying for the expertise and time in creating the image itself. There is a famous story about Picasso. A woman approached him in the park and asked him to draw her portrait. He quickly drew one and told her the cost was 5000 francs. The woman was outraged and said, "Why so much? It only took you a minute to draw that!". Picasso looked at her and said, "No ma'am. It took me a lifetime." While I am certinaly no Picasso, the story rings true. You are not just paying for the time spent snapping the photo. You are paying for my education, my professional equipment, my time, my study: all things that help create a professional photo. Yes, the photo may take a second to snap but there is so much more involved. For instance, the time traveling to and from the session, the actual (usually about an hour) session, the consultation, the several hours spent uploading, editing and backing up your files. There is also the time spent during the preview where you place your order, then sending the order to a professional printer, receiving them back, checking them and then meeting with you again to give them to you. You may see only one hour of work but there are many hours behind the scenes of each session. Whew! I am exhausted even thinking about it! Also consider the equipment. The professional's camera body normally costs between $4000-5000 and each lens runs at least $1000. Additional lighting is costly too. Studio rental, insurance, taxes: we invest all of this money and time because we love what we do. We love seeing your faces when you see your portraits.
In other words, the old adage, "You get what you pay for" certainly rings true in the photography world.
Think about this...I just bought an expensive pair of scissors. I have never studied how to cut hair or been to a single class, but I love hair. Do you want to hire me to give you a new hairstyle?