It is interesting how the photography world has shifted over the past decade. With the advance of technology, taking a relatively good picture has become easier and easier. It has shifted the photography industry heavily with many new faces entering the marketplace. Now I’m all for people chasing their dreams and everyone wanting to aspire to taking great photographs, but I feel that the industry has come to a very interesting cross road. When I first started, I remember about 40-50 photographers listed in the local directory, today that number is an astounding 600-700 listed photographers.
I believe that my profession is still a special one and still requires many skills and dedication to hone and explore the craft. I feel that the general public has reduced the importance of a great photographer for their wedding or event because technology has allowed for generally acceptable shots dictate the market perceived value of what we do as photographers. Many people have entered and exited this industry over the last 2-3 years. Some of the people have pushed the creative part of the industry to new heights of which I applaud, but many have diluted the value of what we do by charging prices that are for one, not sustainable to make a living and two make what we do as professional photographers seem cheap.
A professional photographer spends countless hours perfecting their craft. As a blend of both art and science, we constantly strive to work on our communication and our techniques. We learn how to pose you to make you look good and interact with you to make you look natural while posed. We spend time mastering skills like lighting so that we can perform under the most unfavorable circumstances. As professionals we are counted upon to perform and deliver quality photographs to you our clients.
So when you go to visit a photographer, it is okay to ask them how they perform under various circumstances. It is entirely okay to ask them for samples and have them show you that they are indeed capable of giving you something more than the general person with a camera in their hands. Afterall, these are memories that will stay in your family for centuries. I firmly believe that you should take the time to be sure that the photographer you chose for your special day or event is going to be the right fit for you.
One thing I would ask you to consider the next time you contract a photographer is this… Just like you, we have families and mortgages in addition to the maintenance of our equipment as well as the other costs of doing business. So when you come to visit with us and talk to us about your wedding day, remember that we not only want to deliver the absolute best of our abilities to you, but also that we love what we do and we all want to be able to do this as our life’s work. We understand everyone wants a deal, but think of it the other way. If your boss came and told you to work at a lower rate than you currently make, how would that affect you? I believe that a large part of this misunderstanding is that there is a lack of education to the general public about how much work can be involved on the back end.
If you are a new photographer in the industry, all I ask from you is to really understand what it takes to be a working photographer. We as industry professionals ask that you look at the true cost of doing this as a profession. You must factor in time shooting as well as editing, cost of insurance (and you really should have this), maintaining your equipment as well as things like marketing and education. Simply put, working for the equivalent of $8.50 an hour because you didn’t factor in all of the time and cost of doing business is not even good enough for the minimum wage in Vancouver. If you are serious about entering this profession, it would do you a world of good to sit down with an industry professional and ask them how to calculate the cost of doing business. It will save this industry from imploding.