Reprinted from the VPPA Magazine.
Have you heard the news…Professional photography is dead!
Ok… it’s not really dead, but most professional photographers today are concerned about the weekend warrior armed with a mid-range DSL-R wooing away brides. This concern is based on the fact that modern cameras make picture taking so easy. While this may be true, we should never forget that a huge knowledge and equipment base separates us from the GWC…”Guy with Camera”. It is important that brides and portrait clients understand these differences.
We’ve all seen “Uncle Bob- the Photographer” at weddings. He always explains to us that he shoots professionally on the side as he shows his mid-range slr with a kit lens and flash on top. This is always followed by a question about what equipment he should use… a question that shows the essential fact that a good camera isn’t enough. I dutifully tell Bob that a kit lens won’t focus in a dark church and, even if the church will let him use it at all, an on-camera flash doesn’t flatter anyone. Then sometime later, maybe during the course of the reception, Bob proceeds to make a comment regarding what he charges- something to the effect of “yea… $500 tax free for a day’s work.” No wonder there are brides who absolutely insist on an under $1000 price tag!
Now, in all honesty, a bride who comes with those expectations really isn’t destined to be a bride photographed by a professional. So, Mr. Weekend Warrior really doesn’t impact us. However, that doesn’t stop the impression of being able to “get a great deal of something for next to nothing” from floating around in the minds of some… and that’s when the GWC becomes more of an annoyance. I often find myself having to educate prospective brides on the nature of our business and the realities of the services we offer, and that’s why I’m writing this.
We all know that photographers make great images. Expensive cameras, alone, do not. But at the same time, experience shows us that sometimes you need that extra stop on a lens or that higher ISO on a camera. Making the case that the quality of our gear allows us to provide a better product to our brides is an easy one. We make the same argument to ourselves every time we purchase equipment. As business people we are frugal with our money because we have to be. Every dollar we spend has to make us better able to capture an important moment. We spend the extra money to buy that 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 lens because it makes a difference. We buy the very best cameras because we need the highest quality, lowest noise sensor we can get. I’ve used Uncle Bob’s camera, and the images don’t have the latitude that can be achieved by a high quality/ high megapixel camera. The same argument can be applied to any gear in our bag or in our studio.
Yes; Uncle Bob is right. A mid-range DSLR camera does make picture taking easy, but there will be moments missed. No bride would accept having her special moments unfocused and underexposed. If that is acceptable, then $500 is a great deal and Uncle Bob should be called. If not, then professional photography isn’t dead after all.