Hey Guys! O gosh! Where do I begin? I wanted to write a blog this morning with a warning. Every day I see social media flooded with "ISO Photographer" then hundreds comment offering their services. Most for little to nothing. Every day I also hear horror Photography related stories. The worst stories come from Weddings. Weddings are a one time thing. Moments that only happen once in your entire lifetime. Thus making them that much more important to make certain you hire a true Professional. Every single Wedding that I photograph, someone; or multiple people, tell me their "terrible Photographer experiences." That is no exaggeration. I am constantly told of how the Photographer never showed up, or how they never received any images, or how terrible the images were. It's such a tragedy that my industry has become what it is. An industry that is flooded with a market of people that pretend to be something that they are not, at the result of loosing memories that they were in trusted to document.
My best piece of advice for hiring a Photographer is to look at their work. Look at them from a large computer screen, not from a small phone. Is it over-saturated? Over processed? Are there "halo's" around the tree lines from over editing (zoom in and look!)? Are white objects white? Are the images over exposed and blown out causing loss of detail in their faces (bright white)? Are the images clear and sharp? What about shadows or sun spots all over the subjects of the image? Look at their pricing, and ask questions!
The market is FLOODED with people whom own a camera and call themselves a "Photographer" to earn a tiny bit of cash on the weekends. To be completely honest, it is SINKING our industry. I wish so badly that we could go back to the film industry when it wasn't so hard to tell the "True Professionals" from the "Hobbyist". Photography is so much more than clicking a button on your camera. A Professional has years of training, and knows how to fully control a camera. Shooting in Full Manual gives you the control to set your shutter speed to adjust for active children, or a bride tossing her bouquet. If you don't want a blurry subject, setting your shutter speed is a must. "True" Professionals set their own White balance so a Bride's dress doesn't turn out Orange, or Green, or a newborn baby doesn't have a blue or yellow tint to them. Professionals adjust their Aperture. This can to allow for 15 people to be in full focus; where as a camera on Auto will only focus on the closest object, that being a person or object, the camera knows no difference. Ask if they shoot in RAW format or JPEG. RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. Because no information is compressed with RAW you're able to produce higher quality images. JPEG format compresses the image and results in a loss of resolution as well as data. In saying that, RAW format requires software that can edit such images and then convert the images into a JPEG for client viewing. RAW files are not recognized my all computer software. Professionals editing with professional grade equipment will shoot in RAW for best imaging results.
What about flash? A new trend is "Natural Light Photographers". Is Natural Light gorgeous? Absolutely, BUT do they know how to implement On and Off camera flash when Natural Light goes away like when it's a cloudy day or a dark indoor reception during a wedding? Images with not enough lighting become grainy and even blurry. This is a huge must for Wedding Photographers. You have to know how to use additional lighting properly. Untrained use of added flash will cause ugly shadows. It takes training and lots of practice to be to the level one should be at to shoot a Wedding. Shooting with Natural Light is grand until it is no longer available. On and Off camera flash, when used properly, can diminish shadows, even while using the natural lighting. Most professionals know how to implement flash for enhancing the lighting around them to result in gorgeous shots.
A tell all sign of an Amateur pretending to be a Professional is PRICE. I work in the business literally 65+ hours a week. This is my Full Time Job. When I am not out on Photography Sessions, I spend at least 8 hours a day on my computer editing, building albums, marketing and blogging-which is a must for keeping my website to show up in search engines such as Google. I spend hours in my car driving to new locations all over the DFW area scouting shooting locations. I spend weeks on end preparing for my next Expo and spend thousands investing in High Quality Canvas to display my work at such Expo's. I have Thousands upon Thousands invested in gear, and am constantly required to replace gear due to them going out and burning up. When you shoot all the time, gear runs down quickly, and have you priced lenses recently? My monthly cost alone to run my business is more than my car payment. I have paid assistants and the list goes on. I simply can not shoot for less than I do, and really I am one of the Cheapest in my industry, speaking from a Professional sense. I want to offer my clients the absolute most that I can because I value Photography. I feel everyone needs Photographs to document their lives. Photographs that will spark memories later on. I don't want to over charge, and therefore have priced my sessions and products accordingly. I am not in this business for an overpaid position. In saying that, I also value my Profession. I can not shoot on a dime and make it a Full Time Profession. I don't want to do anything except what I do and have done for a decade and more. I shave o much invested in this. I pour my entire heart into what I do and I want nothing more than to continue to do what I do. I charge what I charge so that I can continue.
I certainly hope that you understand my rant this morning. I love you all with all my heart and want to give you Photographs that document the moments in your live's that you are living today, and want to remember tomorrow.