Do I Need a Professional Photographer? 13


Do I Need a Professional Photographer?

The following was inspired by a Poll introduced by @photojack on Twitter. The question posed was a simple one with a not so simple answer:

What Word or Phrase would you use to best describe the Photography industry today?

My answer was simply “ IN FLUX “ as I believe more than ever, that the amateurs in the industry are being weeded out daily and the professional photographers, passionate about their profession, like cream, are quickly rising to the top.

The introduction of digital technology has brought into to the market many part-time “shooters” that are directly competing with the full-time professional photographers. No studio expense, cheap equipment, many times no backup cameras, lens, lighting and charge a fraction of what a true full-time professional has to charge to make a living, all while providing mediocre photography at best.

During this “ FLUX “ the number of projects that I take on per month that are “re-shoots “ for clients that chose to use one of these part-timers has quadrupled from 2007. Most ask for a reduction in my rates as they indicate they already spent “X dollars“ and are over budget… and I simply say … (well, I’ll let you fill this in later)

Back to the question at hand “Do I Need a Professional Photographer? “

I ask:

  • Do you need a Photographer that has years of experience?
  • Do you need a Photographer that can capture your vision the first time?
  • Do you need a Photographer that is equipped with backup incase of failure?
  • Do you need a Photographer that will give you an IMAGE and not a SNAPSHOT?
  • Do you need a Photographer that is insured?

… this list can go on and on but I think you get the point.

If you answered NO to any of the above I’m confident that you would do just fine by having a non-professional photographer for your project or event and can safely STOP READING NOW.

The rest of you please indulge me with a few minutes of your valuable time while I explain some of my experiences over the years in hopes to make you a bit more knowledgeable to what a professional photographer does and the value that he/she provides.

PROFESSIONAL MODEL / ACTOR / ACTRESS HEADSHOTS

…Do your due diligence – Your image depends on it

As a Professional Photographer photographing Model, Actor, Actress Headshots based in West Palm Beach South Florida I speak with many who ask if I can “Rescue Their IMAGE”.

You see, not mentioning any names, there are many agencies out there that simply have a staff photographer take a few horrid photos and charge the client a bunch of money with no intent of finding them work. I’ve seen Headshots, Comp-Cards, and Portfolio Pages printed using Inkjet Prints, Lithography and even Walgreen’s that are grainy, blurry, bleed if wet, sickly in color tone and just simply awful! A Headshot / Comp Card or even Portfolio produced in this manor will get YOU ABSOLUTELY NO WHERE!

It’s the model’s, actor’s or actresses responsibility to do their due diligence before commissioning a photographer or an agency to create their IMAGE. As their IMAGE is what will bring them work or leave them on the sidelines.

Model Headshot Photography, Actor Headshot Photography, Actress Headshot Photography is all about creating a marketable representation of the person! A good professional headshot photographer is a great product photographer and advertising photographer whom can take a photograph in a manor that ** screams out ** USE ME! YOU MUST HAVE ME!! YOU MUST BUY ME!!! DO IT NOW!!!!

Bottom-line:

If it appears that you don’t value your IMAGE then why should anyone else?

GALA EVENT PROFIT AND NON-PROFIT / CORPORATE EVENTS

…Just Say No To The Cheese

As a Professional Gala Event Photographer based in West Palm Beach South Florida whom has covered countless gala events from Dance Award shows of 1,000+ attendees to the American Heart Association’s yearly Gala Ball, etc. I can’t express how many times I’m asked by varies profit and non-profit corporation if I would provide photo-bilities “SHOOT – PRINT – FRAME – DISTRIBUTE “ during the course of an event.

My response has always been place in a form of a question:

Do you wish to be viewed by your guests as a prestigious gala event or a Bar-Mitzvah?

At a Bar Mitzvah, photo-bilities are in order and are currently all the rage but at a corporate or non-profit ball or gala event, they simply are just tacky at best.

Would your organization benefit from a snap shot of your guests on a step & repeat backdrop, printed on an ink-jet printer, stuffed into a cheesy paper frame with the photographers logo stamped all over it and thrown onto a table for picked up at the end of the night?

OR

Would your organization benefit from offering your guests a professionally processed, lab printed, photograph capturing their mood and stunning attire while attending your well-executed and costly lavish gala event?

A Gala Event Photographer not only must offer quality high-end photographs that your clients will appreciate but also provide the respect during the event for those upper echelons guests, (dignitaries, celebrities, local officials and alike) which have come to expect nothing less! They must also be able to provide what PR Firms, Magazines, Newspapers and alike are looking for so when your organization is ready to pen a Press Release you will be confident that photos provided will meet the standards of the Art Directors / Publishers making it more likely that your press release will go to print and not placed on the back burner!

Bottom-line:

Absolutely nothing will promote your next event better than word of mouth from a satisfied guest. It’s poor business to spend thousands of dollars on the venue, deco and promotion to later skimp on photography.

PRODUCTS, FOOD & FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Would you eat blue meat?

As a Professional Photographer whom photographs Product, Food and Fashion based in West Palm Beach South Florida I have worked with major restaurant chains, cosmetic lines to fashion designers and what still amazes me is that some of these companies and individuals, regardless of size, will spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising, promotion and research only to skimp on photography when certainly photography is the keystone to their entire business! Photography is what will SELL or NOT SELL a Product or Service, period!

Example:

Have you ever seen a steak photographed & printed in a magazine or advertisement, which looked blue or sallow in coloring? I don’t know about you but blue meat … umm … not so appealing! OR How about a fashion designers’ new line of say, ACTIVE WEAR photographed with a model that looks more WORN then ACTIVE?

It is so critical that no matter where your product, food or fashion is published, be it, web, print, TV or other media formats; the photographs you release for public consumption are your IMAGE and will be the way your company or product is represented.

As the old cliché says, a picture is worth a thousand words. My question to you is

“What WORDS are your photos saying to your target market?”

Bottom line:

A Professional Product, Food or Fashion Photographer will color sync (icc profile) all images before going to press so food looks appetizing, models look appealing, and products scream “YOU HAVE TO HAVE ME!” A professional photographer worth their salt can do all of this for you, the first time and do it with confidence!

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY AND BRIDAL HAIR & MAKEUP

Penny-wise dollar foolish

Once again, as a Professional Photographer based in West Palm Beach South Florida I have photographed numerous weddings and have dealt with my fare share of brides, bridesmaids, and mother’s of the bride and event planners. Over the past 2 years I have been receiving many phone calls that sound something like this:

“Hi this is so and so I recently got married and would like to have a flush mount album made with my pictures… I own all the images and have a CD which you can use”

8 times out of 10, after review, I find that the bride & groom had decided to hire a part-time “shooter” to cover their wedding for under a $1000, provide the full copyright and CD/DVD with over-exposed and under-exposed JPEG files taken with a consumer grade camera. In short order they realize that the amount that it will cost to have me “salvage “ enough photographs to create, design and send to press a quality Flush Mount Album it would cost double or at times triple the amount they could have spent on a professional in the first place!

Let me just say, if photographer does not care enough about his or her photographs to simply give away their copyright to their work, what makes you think they would remotely care about the images which they will capture?

Here a few things that really gets my goat:

  • It baffles me as to why a bride will opt not to have a licensed cosmetologist (Professional Bridal Hair & Makeup Artist) come to her location on the day of her wedding. I’ve seen a bride travel to a salon with her bridesmaids to have her hair & makeup done, only to have the salon run late, get into an accident rushing back to the hotel, arrive late to the church completely disheveled and stressed! Instead of simply spending the extra couple of dollars per person to have a professional come to her. Penny-wise dollar foolish.
  • Wait… It gets better… Have you ever seen a bride come out of a MAC makeup store just hours before her wedding looking like a drag queen cry all the way back to her hotel room only to wash her face and apply her own makeup? I HAVE! So much stress and completely unnecessary!
  • I’ve known a few brides that spent $20,000 and more on the gown, hairpiece, jewelry, hair & makeup, invitations, ceremony/reception hall and décor only to have the cheapest photographer photograph the wedding!

Bottom line:

If you hire a professional wedding photographer that has been around the block a few times he/she should be able to advise on what NOT TO DO as well as what TO DO that will make your special day a memorable and relaxing one. All while providing quality photographs the first time and a wonderfully designed wedding album that can be treasured for years to come.

BOUDOIR / PIN-UP / SENSUAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Classy NOT Trashy

If you’ve been on the web looking at photographs for more than a minute I’m certain you have come across a photographer pushing their boudoir, pinup or sensual photography and all you see is soft-porn or simply XXX junk! What the heck is going on? Good question, right!

When selecting a boudoir photographer it is imperative that you not only LOVE his/her portfolio of work but also feel comfortable in their presents. I suggest meeting the photographer over a cup of Joe to discuss the session to get a feel for their personality. Any warning signs that they’re simply a hack or even worse, get out of there while the getting’s good and don’t look back.

Example:

My Modus Operandi as Professional Sensual Boudoir Photographer is simply to make all my clients comfortable and confident they will be treated with respect before, during and after their sensual photography boudoir session. I’m so lucky to be able to work with my fabulous wife on these sessions as she is a licensed cosmetologist and provides all professional hair & makeup and set design. Being a married power team for 13+ years, but who’s counting, not only allows us to work seamless together but also allows the client to feel safe working with the two of us and the photographs show it.

I coined my style of Boudoir Photography as “ CLASSY NOT TRASHY “pinup of sorts. Wonderfully to my surprise we were sought after by the Todayshow, interviewed, and featured in February of last years, Valentines Day. The full story can be read at www.todayshow.com or at my blog at www.alluremm.com

Bottom line:

Remember, if you hire a professional boudoir photographer you will not only feel confident and relaxed but will also be rewarded with high-end magazine quality boudoir photographs which can be kept for yourself of given as a special token from the heart instead of a the same ol’ cliché gift!

In conclusion:

It’s my hope that at least a few of you have a better understand as to what a professional photographer can offer! In turn you can now answer the original question, “Do I Need a Professional Photographer?” for yourself…


About Joseph Cristina

I'm a full-time Palm Beach based Professional Photographer with over 18 years experience in both Photography and Graphic / Media Production. Formal training was received from FAU and the Art Institute in the late 80's. I've worked within multiple advertising agencies along with having work published internationally. Allure Multimedia, LLC is my photographic and multimedia studio base in the sunny Palm Beach, FL. The studio's capacities are many from professional photography to advertising design and multimedia presentation ie. (Wedding Photography, Corporate Events, Modeling, Mitzvahs, TV and Internet Advertising Spots) to name a few. In this digital age, the number of part-time photographers has increase 100 fold diluting the industry with what are known as "weekend warriors". This has lend itself to a rise of a cottage industry of amateurs posing as professionals, underbidding and misleading only to then produce mediocre, at best, final production work. Clients coming to us for professional photography or media creation are reassured by our professionalism, impeccable service, and final product provided, they have made the right decision in commissioning our studio.


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13 thoughts on “Do I Need a Professional Photographer?

  • Lisa Minns

    I like your writing styyle. I think you did a good job. As I’m sure you can tell from my articles, I write exactly the same way I speak. My work sounds more like a conversation with a friend than a formal writing project. I think that’s what your work sounds like as well and I like it. Not only are you my favorite photographer but now you are also a favorite writer!
    I still get compliments on the headshots you took for me. Thank you!

  • Andrew Hathaway

    Great piece. I’ve noticed that when I ask clients ‘what do they want to do with the photos, what do they really want’ that they have a difficult time articulating that. So they seem to go on auto-pilot that, ‘yes’ I know I need photography but …” and the goals start to get more murky. I really like the perspective on a gala request for a tacky photo gimick the right response is to run away from that gig (and no doubt that organizer as more of the same will follow).

    On the flip side, I’d have to say that the lower barriers for entry have allowed some new talent to effectively compete in a shifting world order where people don’t seem to care as much about professionalism in the form of having that expensive but little used back-up camera in the bag. Lower standards seem to becoming more standardized, with the dubious belief that technology (like Photoshop) will fill in the gaps where we used to rely on expensive profesisonals.

  • John Douglas

    A very accurate portrayal of what really happens when speaking wth a potential client. Unfortunately only about 20% of the people you talk to will listen and more importantly hear the message.
    We have had brides in studio crying three months after their wedding because the weekend warrior they hired provided them wth unusable digital negs. But she owns them, so now it’s her problem.
    My problem is that most of these shots are not able to be salvaged. Under/overexposed is somtimes correctable (alot of work, but doable). Out of focus is generally what gets brought to us. I had to tell one poor bride that the only way to recapture a particular shot with relatives from abroad would be to fly them back, recreate the setting and the mood and do the shot over. Her response surprised me. I was being ridiculous, since she came to us first (even though she hired someone else) I should feel obligated to at least attempt to fix the photos. You can imaginemy shock at this statement.
    Does anyone remember the adage “You get what you pay for”.

  • Joseph Post author

    I always apperciate readers whom take the time Out of their busy schedule to offer their comments! I am truly touched by all of you! Thank you.

  • Kris

    Awesome post! Well written and most importantly very to the point. I would love to share these thoughts with future potential clients.

  • Joseph Cristina Post author

    By all means Kris! I hope it help addressing some issues that come up while sitting with the client! Thank you very much for taking the time to write a comment. It is very much so appreciate by me!!

  • Drgyyc

    You’ve managed to put into words, many issues clients are sometimes afraid to ask, or even admit! I may just have to put together something like this when I revamp my site. Thanks for the great post!

  • Joseph Cristina Post author

    You flatter me. Use any portion of my rant that you wish and if you provide a link or credit I would be very greatful. I hope some of the information will prove too be helpful to you and other photographers faced similar issues on a daily bases!

  • Greg Warren

    Great article, enjoyed it very much. It made me think of the one wedding that I was asked to shoot, and though I recommended repeatedly that she go with a professional who has the experience for wedding photography (I even referred her to a couple of photographers I knew personally with wedding photography experience), she insisted that I do it because she was on a very tight budget. Thankfully she was very happy with my work, but it’s probably the last wedding I do without some serious tutelage from a wedding photographer. Cheers!