Why hire a pro photographer?

A team of pros, ready for battle

With so many quality digital cameras plus the enthusiasts willing to work for little or free, the question comes up a lot:  why should anyone hire a professional photographer?  In my mind, there are four major reasons I hire a professional to do anything, whether it’s building a web page to installing a window.  Can I do all of these things?  Yes, I can.  And, I have.   But, since we all can only do so much in the course of a day–and only become an expert in so many disciplines in our lifetimes, we are all forced to choose where to spend our efforts.    With 17 years’ experience as a professional photographer, I’ve clearly chosen mine.  Here, then, are the major reasons I counter such questions with:

You get what you pay for
What’s your expectation of the quality, timeliness and satisfaction of a job you give to a non-professional?  Probably it’s just good enough.   If that’s what you want, you should hire an amateur photographer.

Peace of Mind
When you hire a bonded, licensed electrician, you put your trust in their skills and mentally check out of the process so you can attend to other things.  You know it’ll be done right and that when you flip that light switch, the lights will come on.  You know if they don’t, you know who to talk to.   You don’t worry, fret or stress because the problem is being handled.   With a professional photographer, you may be excited and interested in the outcome, but you don’t have to worry that the images witll be of high quality, of consistent tone and feel…..you’ll have the confidence that you are getting the best effort and the best results.

Quality Consistency
Anyone can take a great photo–especially with the digital tools available today.    A photographer I know, a pro, once had two flashes go down on him during a night time wedding–shot during a hurricane, no less.   He sweated a bit, made adjustments, and the bride never knew the difference.  The photos?  If placed side-by-side with images from other weddings,  other pros would be hard-pressed to guess which one had technical difficulties.    A non-pro would have folded when faced with a daunting technical issue like this, and the wedding would have been in jeopardy.   With a pro, you are guaranteed quality good photos every time–not just once in a while.

The extra 10%
An established photographer once told a much younger version of myself that I should never just give the client what they asked for.  There had to be a way to come back with something more, something in addition….some value-add.   That way if an assignment didn’t develop in the way the client was expecting, I’d have provided them with something else they could still use.   Great advice.  I call this the extra 10%.   A professional photographer is always thinking about what they can do that the client could use, or needs.  They listen to the client to truly understand the problem and use their experience and skills to provide a solution the client can’t be expected to think of.  Because they hired you, a professional, to do so.  The 10% is what you demand of yourself, not what the clients expects of you.

It’s a relationship
Why develop a relationship with a professional?  Because who are you going to call when you need your drain unclogged on a Sunday morning over a holiday weekend–the plumber you’ve worked with for many years or someone you choose at random in the phone book?   I’m always getting calls from clients wanting images processed for an ad, cropped, or to have a DVD burned from a long-ago assignment.  They know that no matter what I’m doing or wherever I am in the world, I have the systems and help to get the answers and what they need done quickly.   That gets back to peace of mind.

We live in a world in which we are bombarded with choices and information.  The professional in any field stands as an anchor in a sea of chaos, ready to make sense of your needs and to provide you with the solutions you actually need.   Whether you’re looking for a photographer or plumber, a tax accountant or a Realtor, do your research, ask for personal references, and do yourself a favor.  Hire a pro, and get back to your life and work.

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