I am very active on Facebook, particularly with “advertising” groups. A lot of the time, these posts will pop up in my newsfeed. I see a lot of the same “I’m looking for a reasonably priced photographer for _________” or “I want a great photographer, but don’t want to pay more than $50”.
I’m going to start with my own testimonial. About 3 years ago for our first anniversary, I was trying to come up with something to get for my husband. I stumbled across an ad for a boudoir photographer and thought “oh my goodness, this will be perfect!” My son was 8 weeks old at the time of my session. She came to my house, did my hair & make up and then we headed into my bedroom for the session. About a week later (she knew of my deadline) I received my pictures and my jaw dropped. They were amazing and worth every penny I spent on them. My husband was agog when he opened them, it was totally unexpected and I looked awesome. About 9 months later, I saw a different photographer offering a boudoir special if you let her use them. Thinking on my last experience, I jumped at the chance to do something special for my husband. She did not provide hair & make up, so I was left to my own devices. (If you know me, you KNOW this is not a good thing). I was disappointed in the shoot almost from the beginning; but I couldn’t put my finger on why. When I got my photos back, I cringed. They looked horrible! Honestly, I ended up throwing out the disc. Even my husband didn’t like them.
What’s the moral of this story? I spent a good amount of money to work with the first photographer and she was totally worth every penny. The second photographer was a lot cheaper so I “saved” money, but it was a total waste of my time and money.
Actual professionals pay taxes, have licenses, insurance, and spend a lot of money on gear, classes and other things throughout the year to make sure your photos look amazing. Being a photographer means being a lifetime student.
“Well, my friend has a nice camera and I’m just going to have her/him do them”. Go ahead. But don’t expect them to look the same as a professional’s images unless your friend happens to be a professional photographer. A camera is a tool. Over the years they have become a lot more use friendly with auto modes and some even have tutorials built into the camera. A camera is the device used to make an impression of a scene onto a sensor (or film). Just like a paintbrush, it’s the person using it using a combination of learned and natural skill that make art. And photos are art, whether it’s fine art or family portraits. Trust me, there is a lot more to a photo then pushing a button.
If you don’t know what to look for, there are tons of blogs dedicated to showing you what NOT to have done. There is one I’ve found that shows you what to look for in a portfolio and uses photos of dolls to explain. It’s called Take Off Your Mommy Goggles and I wholeheartedly recommend it when you’re searching for a photographer.
Please, take the time to look through a photographer’s portfolio and don’t just go with someone because of the number of likes on their photography page (you know you can BUY those?!) or because they’re cheap.