There are a LOT of people who have digital cameras right now who want to start their own photography business, or make extra money taking pictures. I think this is WONDERFUL, and I believe it can only help the industry in the long run. But I also think that consumers should beware. The affordability of digital cameras has led to an influx of amateur photographers who are offering their services for cheap – really cheap! And for the unsuspecting client who goes on pricing alone to determine who should document their precious memories, cheap may sound really good! But cheap isn’t always – or even usually – the best.
I love what this photographer has to say:
“Let’s pretend you’re a mom with a 3 month old baby, and we meet. You’ve got your baby with you, and I comment on how adorable he is. You smile with pride. You tell me that you took him to a photographer for his newborn pictures, and excitedly offer to show me. I say I’d love to see them. You pull out a few prints and hand them over, all smiles.
It so happens that the pictures you had done are, well, not good. Not good at all. As a Professional Photographer, I easily spot a lot of things that you wouldn’t see on images coming out of my studio.
What I say to you: “Your baby is adorable!”
What I want to say to you: “I wish I could get you to take off your mommy goggles. Your baby is adorable, but these images are awful…. You love them because you love your baby, and you’re looking at the images through your mommy goggles. I wish you could see that they are horribly underexposed. I wish I could make you understand that none of them are even in focus. Your baby is posed awkwardly and looks really uncomfortable, and the angle from which the ‘photographer’ took the picture is not flattering. This is drugstore printing too, these are not good quality images and won‘t stand the test of time. I’m really sad that these are the only images you will have of him as a newborn, because I see him sitting there on your lap and he’s beautiful – and the images are not. I think it’s a shame.”
I don’t think there is anything wrong with amateur photographers offering cheap pictures. We all have to start somewhere, and in my opinion one of the best ways to learn is to get out there and take pictures of everyone we can! But if you’re a mom or dad who wants something special out of your photography session – if you want portraits of your loved ones that will look beautiful on your walls and stand the test of time – be sure that you judge the photographers work, and not just their price list. Check out the portfolios of the photographers you’re considering. Ask to see past work from a similar session. Call and interview the photographers you’re considering to find out how much experience they have. Meet them in person to get a feel for more than just their portfolio and price list. How often do they photograph seniors? How well do they interact with children? How comfortable are they with babies? Read the articles listed as links at the bottom of this page, all of which were written to help consumers find an excellent photographer.
Above all, consider your reasons for having pictures taken. I spent years taking my kids to the Wal-Mart portrait studio and am still perfectly happy with the pictures I got there… they were great for wallets and gifts to give to family members… but not one of them hangs on my wall. Do you just want a “good picture” to put inside your wallet, or give to Grandma on her birthday? Or do you want a canvas of your precious little girl to display above your fireplace? Sometimes, price should be the first consideration, and sometimes it should be the last.
If you need a cheap photographer, there are many out there! And if you like the work they’ve done in the past (which should be presented somewhere, on a website, a blog, or some type of online gallery), then by all means, hire them! Just be aware that, as with anything else, photographers come with different levels of experience and different skill sets. I haven’t been in this business nearly as long as some of the other photographers in the Bowling Green, KY area. I don’t have nearly the experience with, say, family portraits, that other photographers here have. I might not be the cheapest photographer in Bowling Green, nor am I the most expensive, but that isn’t always the best way to determine who to hire. Take a look at my website, take a look at theirs. Give us a call, or arrange some interviews, then hire the person who you think best able to capture your special memories the way you want them to be captured.
Here are some links to help you find a great photographer:
PS. If you visit the links above, you may notice that I’m not listed on her photography registry. There are a few reasons for this… First, I haven’t been in business for three complete years (I’m going on my third year now), therefore I don’t have the experience she deems necessary to be considered a professional on her registry (take that into account when considering who to hire!) Secondly, my pricing for digital files is less than what she deems necessary so as not to undercut the industry. Since I don’t work primarily off of digital files, my lower pricing works for me for the time being. Third, I’m not actively looking to attract more business at this time. I have an excellent client base with people I absolutely love, and am accepting most new business by referral. The wonderful people I’ve photographed over the last few years keep me more than busy enough for now!