Why should you invest in a professional photographer? Why not an amateur?

I have wanted to post something to this effect for quite sometime now. There are a lot of reasons to use a professional photographer. Many of which people do not know, or simply overlook. I am going to share 2 things here that I did not create myself, but I have permission to use. One is a photo, the other was a craigslist post. I agree with many of the things said by the photographer on the craigslist post, however I do not agree with everything he posted. One of the things he said was amateur photographers should not charge. I disagree with this. I believe it is completely acceptable to charge for a service, if you can produce a quality product. You have to start somewhere, so charge what you are worth. The only problem with this is that a lot of amateurs think their work is better than it actually is. I should know, I was one of them. The more experience I get and the more I learn and become better at the more I realize there is so much more to learn!

Here is the image that is a great illustration of why a professional photographer is invaluable! It was taken and created by a fellow photographer in Utah over at http://illuminatedmoments.com/. Obviously she did not take the picture on the right, but someone she knows did.

Why to invest in a professional photographer

Exactly the reason to choose a professional photographer!

For skeptics that are concerned with the accuracy of the image, here is a link to the blog of the photographer that created the image. She explained it quite well.

Here is the craigslist post. Again, I strongly agree with all but the one thing I mentioned above:

Professional Photographer Seeking Actual Breathing And Paying Clients


Am a professional photographer in the Rio Grande Valley and am searching for serious clients who know the value of an amazing photograph. A photograph can capture a moment in time that otherwise could not be replicated, whether it be from a wedding, a pregnancy, birthday party (QuinceaƱera), or other special event that occurs in one’s lifetime. A photograph can also help market a business in ways that some business owners simply cannot comprehend. Consumers are visual. Heck, people in general are visual beings, and sight is the bodily sense we depend on the most. It should be obvious that the visual aspect of your campaign would be one of the most important. Photography and Videography can be one of the most meaningful investments you make in your lifetime. Why risk those special memories just for a cheaper rate to a photographer whose quality and experience is sub-par to say the least?

These are a few things that I can promise that I can or will not do as a true professional:

Things I promise to do:

I promise to use actual professional grade equipment (well over 10k) that is well worth your investment, and not some entry level camera I picked up at Wal-mart along with some groceries, socks and toilet paper that was also on my shopping list for that day.

I promise that I will be honest about my experience or schooling. “I have been shooting since I was twelve-years-old with my disposable Kodak or Ashton Kutcher inspired Nikon Coolpix point and shoot,” is NOT an acceptable form of experience.

I promise to have each and every one of you sign a contract that protects not only you from the photographer skipping out with your $500 deposit (Yes, this does happen.), but also protects me from those of you who try to skip out on paying me. (This happens more often.)

I promise to dress appropriately for each photoshoot or event that I attend and not like I am about to head out to the gym or worse loose like I am about to steal away the Maid of Honor/Best Man away for as secret rendezvous when I should be capturing the bride throwing the bouquet.

I promise that I can cough up whatever legal documentation you need that can prove that my business is legitimate. (IE: Tax ID, Business Paperwork ect…)

I promise to always charge you sales tax for anything that I provide because that’s the law. I can’t keep taking amazing photographs from prison for tax evasion.

I promise that I can actually take amazing photographs of women that does NOT require them to be nude or in a bikini.

I promise to use all anti-duckface filters that I have at my disposal.

I promise to always make sure you sign a model release.

I promise to always have a backup plan for when the shit hits the fan. If my camera breaks, no problem, I have a backup. What? My batteries are dead, no biggie I have extras… you get the picture.

I promise that ALL of the photos that are on my online portfolio and Facebook page are actually mine and that I didn’t steal another photographer’s photos or pull a ‘copy and paste’ from Google Images.

I promise that any music I use on any videos or slideshows for your event contain royalty free music and not a Billboard top ten that will probably land the both of us in court for copyright infringement.

I promise that I will always shoot in ‘M’ or Manual mode. Despite what others have told you… ‘P’ mode isn’t short for ‘Professional’.

I promise to always shoot portrait and commercial sessions in RAW for the best quality images. JPEG is for events. Then again you probably have no clue what I just said.

I promise to respect you as a client and your time as I expect to be respected, as well.

Things I promise NOT to do:

I promise never to charge you a ‘friend rate’, unless that is you’re actually a close friend or family member. ‘Facebook friends’ need not apply for this service.

I promise never to desaturate or color grade your photos to give it that ‘antique look’. Please give your photos at least forty years to age.

I promise never to use Instagram. EVER…

I promise never to over-tilt the image to the point that I land your great-aunt Mildred in the hospital for vertigo when she walked by your framed engagement photo.

I promise that I will never overuse a vignette or ever use a white vignette period.

I promise to never use selective coloring (spot color), textures, poor typography (text) on any of your photos.

I promise that none of your photos will ever end up on Youarenotaphotographer.com (Very Important!)

I promise never to force your family to hold up a picture frame for a photo. That’s just plain stupid.

I promise never to over-soften your skin and make you look like a Barbie doll reject. Example: HERE.

I promise that I will never overdo HDR. If I do use HDR, you’ll never even realize it.

I promise never to force an engaged couple to pose in front of an abandoned, burnt out, decrepit building where a family of four perished the winter before. That’s just in bad form.

I promise never to hang your newborn baby from a net. I don’t remember signing up for a newborn fishing expedition or a resulting lawsuit when that net breaks.

I never promise to Photoshop something that I know that I can’t. Just because I can Photoshop that little extra budge in your tummy or arms doesn’t mean I am required to. (Unless I’m getting paid to do the extra editing, and in that case Photoshop away!!!)

And lastly, I promise never to use my pop-up flash!!!
And to finish…
All satire aside, the honest truth is that if you are looking for a quality photographer who will give you great images then Craigslist is NOT the place to be looking for them. Google, research and word of mouth are your best bets when looking for a photographer. There is nothing wrong with being an amateur or a hobbyist photographer, but amateurs shouldn’t be charging clients to begin with. If you see a price that is too good to be true, then it probably is, as the saying goes. If you cannot afford a professional photographer, my advice to you is to step away from Craigslist, take a few months to save up and then book an actual professional, your wall and Facebook page will appreciate it. The question that I get the most is why professional photographers charge so much… Here is the answer: My time, my cost and most importantly… my talent. It takes several hours to not only shoot, but to take those images home and to edit them in Photoshop (or whatever other editing software people use), if it’s several hundred images (like in a wedding for instance) we can end up making about minimum wage. It also takes time to learn new software and techniques used to create your images. My equipment on a whole is rather expensive because it is professional grade equipment, I spend thousands of dollars a year not only buying gear, but maintenance on said gear, as well. Talent cannot be bought, it sometimes can be taught, but more often than not a great photographer has a natural talent that can’t come from any book.

So, the next time you try to hit up a photographer for some free images or a ‘try out’ session or to try to get a few free prints thrown in, remember you don’t go up to a dentist asking them to throw in a free cleaning. You don’t go to a restaurant and try to get a free meal. You don’t visit a doctor and expect them to hand over a discount. We don’t expect you to do any of these things either, just like in this example: HERE. Now, that would really be in bad form. There are a ton of great photographers in the Rio Grande Valley. So stay away from Glamour Shots in the mall, the convention center (where every amateur photographer under the sun seems to be), and downtown and spend some time instead looking some of us up online. The Valley has photographers that are versatile and some who specialize in certain types of photography (wedding, quinceaƱera, maternity or commercial). I promise you, there is someone out there who fits you and your budget.

Yours sincerely,
A Rio Grande Valley Professional Photographer

There was a lot to read there but great information. I do hope that this helps you understand the benefit and value in a true professional photographer.

As always, if you are interested in scheduling a wedding or other event with me, please visit my main website, http://www.ldsphotographer.com, and send me a message!

  1. You know, I didn’t even need to see these comparisons to know how valuable a professional photographer is. Your work is very impressive, btw. I just wish I could go back in time and have you do my wedding. My photos were terrible. They were done by my mom’s friend, a really nice lady, but we ended up never getting one of the rolls of film and the rest were so, so, so amateur. My mom said she was good and that she’d do it as a gift. I seriously cannot even talk about wedding photography with my family because I get so furious. I will never get that opportunity back to have those precious moments properly captured. If I could go back and talk to myself, I’d say “Salem, go really cheap on EVERYTHING else! Nothing is more important (well, other than the actual temple marriage) than having quality photography (and getting the heck out of the reception before 10pm!). My wedding would be my only do-over in my entire life. I’m glad I chose to get married, to marry Richard, and to do it in the temple, but I would change a lot of other things about the whole experience and the photography is at the top of the list.

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