Camera phones are amazing these days. They’re so good in fact, that people sometimes ask me why anyone would bother paying for a professional family photographer.
I don’t think they’re trying to be rude (hopefully), they’re just curious. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately when I’ve been working out the prices for my family photo packages.
So, what exactly are you paying for when you hire a professional family photographer?
A professional family photographer will have better camera gear
It’s a question you ask yourself a lot as a photographer when you start out - is that £1,000 lens REALLY any better than the £100 one? The answer is usually YES!
When you look at a print from a professional photographer, you will notice certain things. In the areas that are meant to be sharply in focus, it’s REALLY sharp, there’s great depth of field (in focus main subject, pleasing blurry background) and the image looks just as good when printed, even on a large canvas for example.
All of these things are made possible by higher-end equipment; in other words, more expensive equipment!
A professional family photographer will have invested in a studio
Photography is all about light. Professional studio equipment gives you the best thing EVER as a photographer - controllable light! For me, being able to control the light means I can give a client the exact look and feel that they want in their photos.
Another big plus of higher-end (yes - I mean expensive again!) studio lighting is the ‘modelling lamp’ feature. Cheaper studio lighting tends to be ‘constant’ lighting, which gets REALLY warm if you’re under it for a while. Overheating newborns and mamas do not make great photos!
A modelling lamp gives enough light to arrange the shot under and then when I click the shutter, in a split second, the modelling light clicks off and the real, big boy lights flash.
Added bonus: kids love the flashes!
A professional newborn photographer will have specific skills and experience photographing newborns and babies
It’s not a lie that digital cameras in auto mode can do amazing things, although to take fantastic images consistently, you need to know how to control all of the elements properly.
But it’s not just about knowing what all the buttons on the camera do (although that does help); amazing people photography needs amazing people skills.
You can bet your life that any professional baby photographer will have taken literally hundreds of baby photographs before. And as well as knowing the best poses and angles, your baby photographer will have experience in how babies react to studio lights, what to dress a baby in for a photo session, and tricks to make a baby smile in photographs.
Likewise, family photographers and maternity photographers will have experience in making family groups vibe together and in helping mums-to-be look relaxed and confident.
A professional family photographer will edit your photos to perfection
The work is nowhere near done when your photo shoot is over. People often don’t factor the editing time into the equation when they’re trying to work out why photographers charge “so much”.
Photo editing is everything from uploading the images to the computer, to making changes to the lighting and colour balance, cropping in for a closer shot, and retouching the image (taking out blemishes etc).
Photo editing is a highly skilled part of the job and can be very time consuming; the software is also pretty pricey. But it makes a huge difference to your final images so it’s well worth it.
Photo editing is one of those ‘Marmite’ things among photographers: they either love it, or hate it. Personally, I LOVE it! I love going back over the images and seeing how they turned out and I love editing them into something even more special.
And A Whole Lot Of Behind The Scenes Stuff
I suppose one of the main things you’re paying a professional family photographer for is their time.
I know a few professional family photographers in Hull, and we’re all busy people! When we’re not shooting and editing images, we’re taking care of all the other bits of the business: the accounting, the marketing, the sales . . . there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on!
So, when you hire a professional family photographer, you’re getting the benefits of the investment they’ve made in their camera kit and their studio; have a look at my Christmas sessions to see how consistent my studio lights make every image!
You’re also getting skills that have been sharpened through loads of experience; and you’re getting a lot more of their time than you think!