The example shows what someone and a real professional can do in the same location, same time of day... but knowing how to manipulate light. Let's talk about what hiring a pro is all about...
A person at a business we patronize has a high school senior aged guy. But we found out that rather than coming to us, his mom photographed his senior portraits. Now I don’t know about you, but if my mom photographed my senior portraits, that would NOT be an experience I’d want to tell my friends about!
Seriously though there is a point I want to make about this. The most important point is that because his parents chose to save a little money (ANYONE can afford us) he missed out on what would have been an incredibly powerful experience he’d remember and enjoy the rest of his life. I’m not saying that being photographed by his mom wasn’t something he’d remember too, but there’s a vast difference between being photographed by your mom… and your parents seeing the esteem-building value of hiring a professional to capture what will probably be the most important portrait in his life. You see, a senior portrait not only signifies that pivotal change from childhood to adulthood, but also the resulting photos will follow you forever… good or bad!
We all know that cameras are advanced enough that anyone can point a camera at someone and get a decent exposure. But there’s a huge difference between simply a decent exposure… and capturing who that person wants to be and how they want to look. It takes more than a “nice camera” to create an impactful portrait. The photos his mom took were simply records of how he looked standing there. I specialize in crafted lighting, composition, and photographic techniques as only a real professional can to make jaw-dropping images they can’t stop looking at. The real shame of this is that he will never know how great I could have made him look and how those images could have made him feel.
I take my work very seriously, so it pains me to see this being done to people all across our country. There’s an attitude that since a camera can focus and expose, then all one needs to do is to go to cliche locations, take corny pictures, and do cheesy special effects. While it probably won’t happen, I hope that someday people will realize that a “nice camera” doesn’t create a portrait, just as shiny pots and pans don’t make a chef and sharp knives don’t make a doctor.
I understand the temptation to just “do it yourself”. Believe me I know! My parents didn’t have much money, but all three of their kids still had Senior portraits. My wife’s folks worked hard for every penny, yet they saw the value in regular professional portraits of her family. Because those portraits were so well done, the portraits still live today on our walls for us to see and experience every day.
Look, we ALL have thoughts of cutting corners when faced with a job we think we could do ourselves, whether that be car repair, landscaping, plumbing, or a service we think we can become an expert at by watching a video online. But I’m reminded of a lesson my former accountant impressed upon me. He told me, “I’m a professional at what I do. I keep up with all the new laws. I can handle your finances and taxes much better than you can. You’re a professional at what you do. Since you’re a great senior photographer, you can certainly do it better than I can. Let me do your taxes and you photograph my kids’ senior portraits.
Again, we all know the pain of spending our hard-earned money. But also remember… that pain only lasts a short time. Portraits and mutually supportive relationships last a lifetime.