I occasionally like to rant a bit – it’s the part of my personality that makes me memorable and loveable, like that Israeli saying about the spikey fruit on the outside that’s oh-so-sweet on the inside. So humor me for a few minutes. : )
I came across one of those blog posts that I thought long and hard about copying, but realized that I couldn’t really do a better job of it myself, so why bother?
Yup. This photographer has captured so many photographers thoughts perfectly. Just because you can push a button doesn’t mean that your camera does the rest.
I had a boyfriend in college to thank for even introducing me to Single Lens Reflect (SLR) cameras. I remember him showing me how to rest my camera on a mini tripod in the window of a friend’s Manhattan apartment, leaving the shutter open for an extended period of time in order to allow NYC’s lights a rich night colors to seep into the shot. Miraculous! I thought at the time. But I didn’t really accomplish much more than that with that camera, other than to attempt to take inspired oeuvres d’art with all of my settings on auto. If I really wanted to get crazy, I might roll the wheel around to one of those miniature pictures to see if that made any difference on the resulting images. That Canon Rebel sat around for years, begging me to experiment with aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but instead getting used to take artistic shots of rusty water pipes on the sides of buildings. I fancied myself to be talented, even back then. ; ) But the low-budget, off-the-shelf frames surrounding those bland, perfectly, but boringly in-focus shots of Boulder, Colorado’s “urban landscape” said otherwise.
Fortunately, all of those prints have disappeared and the digital files that I didn’t know how to back up are also, conveniently “disparus”. (Sorry, feeling a bit French today.)
Fast forward through a mis-directed brief career spent in cubicles (once working for a woman who should have ridden a broom to our office in Denver, Colorado), oodles of photography classes, seminars, webinars, books, and embarrassingly bad early attempts at using studio lighting, and I can now confidently charge money for my services.
That’s because professional photographers do more than just be present to push that button (or at least, they should) and create that digital file. They pour all of their training and their obsession with photography into composing each of those shots (or at least, they should). Likewise, owning studio lighting equipment does not necessarily indicate that you know how to create catch lights in people’s eyes, separate dark hair from dark backgrounds, and oh, I digress.
When my clients come back in two weeks after their session to view their images in my studio, I swear to you that I am familiar with every little pore on their face, as well as the location of the logo on that t-shirt that I removed from all of the edited images. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Professional photographers spend a lot of time staring at your faces on their computers (at least, they should!). That’s the post-processing bit that makes good images really pop. Note: Photoshop can only take a boring, out-of-focus, poorly composed image so far (as noted in Erin Farrell’s post above).
And it’s the hard work that makes me love my job. If all I had to do was show up, press a button, and hand over some completely unedited digital files, I could go work for insert-a-photo-retail-chain-name-here. (Or I could give my digital work away at a ridiculously low cost.)
I refuse to produce average work. I do not want to be your average “Mom with a Camera”, who takes decent shots and works cheaply and quickly. There are times in life when all you need is photographic evidence that a birthday party was held or that Uncle Bobby’s 4th of July barbeque did indeed take place again this year. I take those shots too (although, I must confess, I should take out my camera at these events more often – but it’s so hard not to obsess about the quality of the images and just enjoy the event! : ) ). What I want to give my clients – as does Erin Farrell along with so many other boutique photographers out there – is a true Custom Photography Experience. And that is why professional photographers work so hard (at least, the good ones)!