In my personal experience I’ve learned that people often ask for photographers to work for next to nothing because they compare the profession to snapping pictures with their phone’s. Yes, taking a picture with your iPhone is very simple and easy but this should not be the basis to which a professional photographer is devalued.
Here are some things you should consider before putting your preconceived thoughts against the value of what a professional photographer does.
Taking half a million selfies and loads of other pictures with your smartphone cannot be compared with the time and effort that we as photographers have put into mastering the art of photography. You might see photography as a mere pressing a button on a fancy camera, but if you (as a person who has no knowledge in professional grade cameras, lens or equipment) were to wield that my Canon 5D mark iii and 60D with a 24-70mm prime lens on both shoulders with flash guns for more than 5 hours you’d realize that it is not an easy feat.
Additionally, all the variables that photographers need to work with are overwhelming, but not everybody is aware of that.
Take, for example, a professional sculptor – it is not the fancy rasps and rifflers or even clay that makes that sculpture what it is, but it is the experience and knowledge of the sculptor which results in the clay masterpiece.
Each image and movement are like working through a maze of problems but we solve them, ALWAYS. For example, your groom’s men have buttonholes on the wrong side to each other making the image a bit untidy or your bridesmaids are of different heights and body shapes thinking they know what will flatter them but don’t, which could cause variations in the images that aren’t flattering all round and in reflection leaving you unhappy with the image. Do I inconvenience them to get your images looking as close to perfect by asking them to change the button holes or change positions? You damn right I will! Especially if it meant getting you the best out of that moment for your USB or photo album.
Professional photographers like myself are far more aware of their surroundings than those who don’t practice photography as a career. We have spidey senses believe it or not. This doesn’t mean that we’re able to stop a cake from falling as if we move at the speed of light (sadly we don’t have such types of super powers) but, chances are that we will notice a greater number of things happening and moments worth capturing than a non-photographer would. Add to this the experience we will certainly be ready to capture the right moment and surely will have a greater success rate in turning out pictures that are usable and professional.
After hearing my example of the skilled sculptor, you’d probably say that the gear doesn’t make the photographer, and you would be right. But more often than not gear is crucial to what we photographers do. For example, a smartphone flash will illuminate a photo just enough for the face of the person to be visible in low light situations, but that small light source will make the light so harsh that you won’t probably like any of the photos you take.
However, with our professional-grade camera and flash will be able to simulate more natural-looking light and capture enough ambiance in order to capture the best of that situation.
The advances in lens and camera technology allow photographers to utilize multiple techniques to create unique images – techniques which smartphones are not equipped to do, such as selective focus and light control.
Imagine what would happen if you had your wedding photographed with a smartphone wielded by a person who knows nothing about photography except what the camera icon looks like. Imagine how the resulting wedding album with its weirdly cropped and grainy images would look. Now imagine what a professionally-crafted wedding album looks like, being created by a photographer who loves their job of looking through the camera and making sure that your images are the best that they can be. This is what we photographers do. We deliver quality because this is art (and for some of us is also our life).
We spend hundreds if not thousands at times making sure we are covered with insurances especially by having public liability. I care as much about the image as I do anything that is important to you. I am not sure of many photographers that can say they damaged a £4.5m car and lived to tell the tale and not sell their house and close business (alas here I am). We do this to not only protect ourselves but you, your guests and any vendors or suppliers you use. You also want peace of mind that you wouldn’t need to fork out thousands of pounds as being the client and contracting that person liability could lay with you should an incident occur.
Professional photographers, much like professionals in any other field, invest a great amount of time, money, and effort in what we do. Devaluing our work is just well, quite frankly rude and ignorant. Just as you wouldn’t want anybody to devalue or voice a lack of appreciation for what you do, professional photographers who take pride in their work feel the same way.
So if you’ve stuck with me until this point in this blog, thank you but I will leave you with one simple question: How would you feel if your work and passion were devalued and discredited?
Drop a comment below, what are your thoughts on being devalued? Have you been devalued? What did you do? What are the challenges you find face this art or your line of work? Have you regretted devaluing yourself trying to please a client/business?