Support Local Photography Businesses
I've seen so many great photography business die within the past 7-10 years with the watered down version it's become. So many people with a kit camera and no technical or trade experience under their belts believe if they take a pretty picture, make some quick cash taking real business away from hard working and educated people.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m asked what I do, someone inevitably says something like, “ My neighbor’s daughter is a photographer. (Leading me to believe she’s a professional) “She takes the most beautiful pictures, she could be a professional.” Of course she’ is a twelve-year-old with an auto point & shoot camera and with one simple sentence they have taken my profession down to the depths of a coloring book. I get it’s not meant with that intention but photography is so much more than pointing a piece of plastic with a little black button and I think many people believe that to be true. But, there is a lot of planning, editing and knowing how to use the incredible mechanics of a professional camera that takes years to master. Who knows, maybe I’m just a slow learner. If I take all that I know right now and put it in a box, it's that much I don't know. It's a never ending learning field. So pulling a camera out of a box does not make a photographer and I find comparing the two is a bit insulting as well
Photography is the only business I know where people have no education or experience in the field yet are still comfortable calling themselves photographers. I know a hell of a lot about nutrition but don’t call myself a nutritionist. However, I do call myself a singer, but only in the shower when introducing myself.
My main point is, real professional photographers and their small businesses have been hit hard so please remember to help keep your local small businesses alive, including the professional photographers in your area. By using them and not the neighbors’ daughter or husband’s best friend’s wife who does this for fun. Read on and I will explain why and if it’s within your budget to hire a professional in any business, remember your helping someone to keep put food on the table, pay their mortgage and keep their livelihood going. We need your help even more these days.
If you go the other route and hire a non-professional, I hope it’s a pleasant experience and your photos are lovely. I only ask if the photos are not what you expected. Don’t call on a professional photographer to re-shoot at a discounted price. If price is an issue to begin with, find a professional photographer who’s willing to work with you. I can’t always do that, but I am always willing to try to work within a client’s budget.
This is what sets us apart - Think twice before going on the cheap.
A) NATURAL vs ARTIFICAL - I love using natural light every chance I get, but knowing how to use artificial lighting in a natural and expert way is not only technical but necessary. If someone says they are only a “Natural Light” Photographer, it often means they have no experience with lightning. This is not a bad thing, only a restrictive thing. Photography is all about light and if it turns out to be a gloomy day and you are depending on the “Natural light”, you are most likely going to reschedule. If you are limited on time and cannot change days, you need someone who can create day light without the sun’s permission. The right professional can do that. We have a direct line to the sun.
B) LIGHTING GEAR - This is not about the cost of someone’s gear. I’m still using some of my early gear and cannot live without it. But the quality and strength of light from good gear can help make better images easier and faster. It’s also about knowing what gear to be used in every situation. All lights, umbrellas and softboxes are not created equal. If your headshot is being taken and your photographer has a speed light attached to the top of their camera, you may be in for disappointment. But maybe not. I’ve done it in a pinch. shhhh
C) CREATIVE LIGHTING - Lighting can change the color, look and feel of an image. We can change the color of a background just like that? There are colored gels which can remove an undesirable look or create a different one. How about some color to go with your branding? We can do that. Hell, Let’s get creative.
D) BENDING IT TO MY WILL - Light can do incredible things. It can slim and reshape your face, hide certain facial features and help you appear slimmer. Brighten you up, wrap around you, past you or fill you in. We’ll just call it Cirque de Lumiere’. (Circus of Light) :-)
E) SKIN TONES - Another important reason to hire a professional who knows lighting. You want someone who is knowledgeable and experienced on how to light a plethora of skin tone’s This is important for sales teams and blended families who might be in the same frame. Lighting this pasty white girl differs from when I photograph my beautiful Japanese friend. Also, keeping the integrity of that person’s skin tone is very important when lighting and in post.
A) THE POWER OF POSING - Posing is an art form. Learning poses that work and how to convey them is not a simple task. We use poses to enforce the feminine or masculine narrative. Creative poses are used for groups, couples and people of different sizes to name a few. Posing comes in handy when someone has two different size eyes, a larger forehead, fuller waistline or bowl legs. This is something a professional photographer will have in their posing arsenal. A novice will not. Trust me when I say I was not always great at it, myself. I might not be now. You’ll just have to test me, won’t you?
B) ANGLES AND THE POSE - It’s not just the pose, it’s the angel where you're shooting from as well. A novice might have you standing in a great pose and only shoot you straight on instead of from down low or off to one side. These will create a completely different feel and tell a different story. Therefore, a seasoned photographer will speak to you or have you fill out a questionnaire prior to your session.
C) LOCATION vs STUDIO - Location is a big deal. Depending on what my client has in mind, I also have a list of locations for them to choose from. This is also where good gear comes in handy. Good Portable gear is a must. Whether it’s an outdoor shoot or in an office or business, we are prepared for anything.
3 NIT PICKY
A) THE LITTLE THINGS - Most novice photographers are not type A in the beginning. They will often be too nervous and forget to pay close attention to the little things like stray hairs across someone’s face, lint on a jacket, loose mascara under one eye, a necklace gone wonky (This ruins a good photo every time) same with a twisted tie. Fixing a wonky necklace in editing can be challenging. The area around a neck has different lighting and skin texture. Details are important. Therefore, all these things are necessary to pay attention to and may not always be easy fixes. It’s so much easier to get it all right in camera foremost. Editing takes time and money you don’t want to spend. Not that this has ever happened to me... okay, maybe once.
B) STYLE AND FEEL - A professional knows what works and how to help you choose colors, style and accessories which help to convey the message you want to share with your friends, colleagues and clients. Every detail counts.
When shooting food for a restaurant, cookbook, wine dinner or content food styling and color is hugely important. Another HUGE pet peeve, when I see my favorite restaurants posting horribly discolored photos of my favorite dishes on-line. Hire someone to showcase what you do best in a great way. Color balance is easy enough to correct but sharp images are even better to have in your marketing arsenal and so is your own professional photographer. NOTE: Food should almost always be shot in natural light and styled well. Also not as easy as someone might think.
C) MAKEUP AND HAIR - Many of us will recommend having a makeup and hair person at the shoot. This can always be helpful for both men and women. They will help with shiny skin on head and face, cover five-o’clock shadow, smooth hair, cover blemishes and fix makeup to name a few things. This is not mandatory, of course, but recommended for those planning to use these images for the next two to three years. For women, you can use your own makeup artist and have yours done just before the session. Professional makeup is not overdone or heavy. It’s meant to enhance your best features and hide and flaws.
A) TAKING THE SHOT - A professional knows that how the way we shoot has a significant effect on how photos are edited. Shooting in RAW vs JPEG is another way. Those light & airy bridal photos everyone loves are a tad over exposed to get that look but for a male CEO’s portrait I might under expose to create deeper shadows and drama. This is also true for food photography. It's an artform to get the colors correct and not over or under saturated.
B) YES IT CAN BE EDITED - But know not everything can be edited well. Trust me, It’s much more simple to iron that shirt, have your hair colored the week before, bring your shaver to work, pack a second shirt or jacket just in case.
A) THE RIGHT GEAR - The camera body doesn’t have to be the best on the market, believe it or not, but a professional will have two bodies in case one has an issue. No camera, no job. Good glass is everything. Meaning lenses will be top shelf. That’s where it counts. Knowing your camera and what lenses to use for what looks are so important. Many newby’s have a kit camera that will not take crisp photos and good printing may become an issue..
B) TRIPOD or NO TRIPOD - Tripods help control shake, which allows you to create a crystal clear and focused image that can be printed and enlarged if need be with no issue. I don’t like tripods myself but I am a bit shaky naturally so. I believe they are a necessity when shooting headshots and portraits, no matter what.
C) TETHERING - Other than a family session, a professional will come prepared to tether their camera to a laptop for two reasons, One to blow up an image to check clarity and focus. Two, so you can choose the photos you like best right on the spot.
D) BACK UP - This is where a professional camera is the difference. These cameras have room for two different memory cards. Because you never know. After a shoot, I back up to a hard drive before I even head home. Some photographers upload from their cameras. I’m not that cool. Before the end of the day, all my work is uploaded to two other locations, one that is off site from my camera and hard drive, just in case the studio blows up. Every Photographer has lost photos before implementing this technique. Bottom line, your photos are safer with a professional because we get it.