I have a confession: I sometimes cringe when I log onto Facebook and see that someone has tagged me in a post. It means that I’m now up against every photographer that every friend of that person knows. And when I say, “every photographer,” I mean EVERY photographer. Of course I’m grateful to the people who refer me, especially when someone asks for a headshot photographer.
I think that it’s unfair to throw a hundred different photographers in a bucket and then tell an innocent consumer that we are ALL going to be able to give him/her EXACTLY what he/she wants.
That’s not how it works. Your expectations need to match your photographer.
I’ve already written a blog about getting what you pay for. I’m not trying to reiterate that here. I want to express that every photographer is very different. Those differences usually explain differences in pricing, but not always. What they do explain is that not every photographer can meet every person’s needs.
Professional photographers are just that – professional. If you are trying to capture newborn pictures, you only have one chance to get them right. Or maybe you want some boudoir pictures to celebrate an anniversary? Do you want the person behind the camera trying to take these kinds of photos for the first time? Talk about feeling awkward.
I’m not saying that every professional photographer can meet your needs. Every person specializes in certain types of photography, and that should not be taken for granted. Babies, weddings, boudoir, headshots, families, real estate, food, and pets… the list goes on and on. Each one of these categories requires a specific skill set from the person behind the camera. Usually, a professional photographer will only specialize in one or two of these.
I actually turn away work that I don’t specialize in. Want home photos taken for a real estate listing? No thanks. Gorgeous food shots for a menu? Nope. I collaborate with other photographers who specialize in these areas and refer the business to them. Even though I appreciate that my customers think I can do everything, I can’t. Yes, I can physically do the work and produce a decent product, but it’s not going to be as good as someone who specializes in that field.
Please understand that I love hobbyist photographers! They can produce some great photos. The problem is, they think they can do everything. Headshots are one of my specialties because I’ve learned over the years how to properly light a person, choose a background, and then edit a photo in a way that simply helps the best qualities of the person shine through. The skin tone isn’t going to be yellowy or green, those stray hairs aren’t going to be showing, and no weird shadows are going to make my client look like she has a double chin.
I know all of this, of course, because it has taken me years to perfect my craft. Any person with a selfie stick can take a headshot for free, but is it going to look the same as one of mine? Nope.
If you want to pay a Joe next door $100 to take family photos in your backyard and give you the digital files, then that’s fine. Just give Joe some slack and don’t expect any editing, and be sure to prepare yourself to deal with rescheduling due to Mother Nature or Joe’s schedule for his real job. Oh, and you may or may not like the photos.
If you choose a professional family photographer, instead, you can expect a cozy photo shoot in the studio if the weather isn’t amiable, and flawless photos of your family. We do it every day, so we can guarantee it.
I guess what I’m saying is just don’t put photographers in a bucket. We are all different and have different qualifications. Instead, ask yourself what you want in your photos, your expectations, and go from there.