The Value of Hiring a Professional Photographer

Today, everyone and their grandmother has a smart phone.

The cameras on these phones are improving with each new version. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t I love using my phone to capture everyday moments of my friends, family, pets, and take fun selfies with my husband. I find that snapping photos with my phone is a convenient way to help me remember the events in my every day life. 

My husband complains that my cell phone photos are so much better than his. Well, I should hope they are! I’ve been photographing professionally since the concept of camera phones was just someone’s wild idea. 

With all of this easy access to cameras, why hire a professional? In this post I’ll share with you why I value hiring a professional, as well as how I believe that I bring value to my clients. 

 CLICK ABOVE TO HEAR PENLEY'S AUDIO PORTRAIT

CLICK ABOVE TO HEAR PENLEY'S AUDIO PORTRAIT

Equipment and Knowledge of How to Use it

I am an on-location photographer, meaning that I go to my clients wherever they are. Locations typically include their home or another outdoor location that has personal meaning. My session locations are all different, and I have professional equipment that allows me to navigate all types of conditions and scenarios -- dimly lit spaces, really bright or harshly lit areas, etc.

I choose not to get caught up too much with the type of equipment I use, but I have invested thousands and thousands of dollars into it and feel as though it is integral for me to be able to fulfill my clients' many different needs.

I own an up to date, professional quality camera as well as a back-up camera in case of failure (I shoot with Canon), lighting equipment (I use Elinchrom), lighting stands and grip, light modifiers to help modify light, and now with my audio portraits, I have invested in professional audio recording equipment. Since I am running a business, I want to be prepared for all scenarios so I am never letting my clients down. Not only does that require me to have the tools for the job (and back-up!), but the knowledge of how to use it. To my knowledge, no camera or light has ever gotten together and produced a portrait session on their own — Ha!

Any professional you hire should have the necessary equipment to be able to provide you with the quality you expect, as well as give you confidence in knowing they come prepared on the day of your session. I’m not saying that every photo session has to involve a ton of equipment (many of mine don’t), but there is tremendous value in having gear available when it’s appropriate.  
 

Vision, Artistry, and Guidance

I believe there to be extreme value in being on the receiving end of an artist’s vision. We are all unique and have something different to bring to the table, and a professional’s job is to bring their vision and artistry to the portrait session. It is important for me to collaborate with each of my clients, especially if they have their own vision for their portraits or artwork, but ultimately it is up to me to bring my vision and artistry to reality for each of my subjects.

Part of hiring a professional is about taking advantage of how they “see.” I have spent 15 years as a professional and even longer training my eyes to “see.” Seeing in still frames is very different than seeing in motion or looking around the room with clear vision. True professionals have trained their artistic eye to see and capture images creatively — to frame images with thoughtful and intentional consideration of composition, line, color, design, contrast, lighting, etc. They know when to press the shutter and choose that moment resulting in something very special that beautifully represents you and your loved ones.

A significant value when working with a professional is receiving guidance. When I have been on the other side of the lens, I’ve experienced that need for guidance. My clients expect and deserve to be thoughtfully guided before, during, and after their session. I know that a valuable part of my job to tell my subjects whether or not that what we are doing is working well from an imagery or audio standpoint, as well as guide them toward different posing, actions, and activities that I feel will result in the most stunning imagery and audio. 

Editing

Part of my value as a professional is my editing abilities. Yes, I know how to use Photoshop and utilize it for my clients’ final artwork, but I am talking about culling the best images to present to my clients. I would be doing them a disservice if I handed them a pile of images and told them to figure it out. A professional should use their years of experience to narrow down a reasonable number of images for their clients to make selections. Again, this is where I use my trained “eye” as part of my services to my clients. 

My audio portraits include audio pieces that I professionally curate and take time to thoughtfully marry with my clients’ favorite still images. I edit for flow and clarity so the audio is ultimately pieced together into a beautiful final heirloom slideshow. 

Editing takes a lot of time and expertise, which is part of what I believe my clients deserve.  
 

Participating in Your Portraits is Now Possible

Hey you! (The one holding the camera phone snapping photos of your dog and/or your kiddo). You’re never in your photos and when you are, it’s kind of awkward, right? Hiring a professional allows you to be in your own portraits in a way that is just different than using a selfie stick or handing a phone to a friend. I know this because I’ve experienced it. 

One of the elements I love most about photographing is capturing relationships and connection between loved ones -- animal or human. This is something that is really hard to capture if you aren’t part of your photographs. 
 

Experience

I know that being on the other side of the camera can be strange or even uncomfortable for some. It is imperative that whoever is in front of my lens or behind a microphone during my audio portraits is comfortable. The more relaxed my subjects are, the more successful the final artwork is likely to be. An undeniable value of hiring a professional is that they have the experience of working with a wide variety of personality types in many types of scenarios. True professionals are experienced in trouble shooting when issues arise, and they know how to make sure there is a sense of “flow” in the session so you feel confident that you’re making a good investment.

Very experienced professionals collaborate, make efforts to bring their vision and artistry to life using their experience, troubleshoot lighting and technical conditions, navigate personalities and animal behavior where applicable, and show sensitivity to family dynamics — all while making sure you enjoy yourself in the process.  That’s always my goal, at least.


The next time you decide to work with a professional, I hope these factors are helpful to you.