Why choose professional photography? Truth is, you don’t have to. Almost without exception, everyone in our corner of the world has access to high quality digital cameras. Photography has never been easier. Smartphones have been a great equaliser; with each passing day it get easier to take better images faster. On average, 80 million images per day are uploaded to Instagram – an almost inconceivable amount. Granted, Instagram is a mobile platform and is therefore not necessarily indicative of peoples everyday usage of professional services. The point, however, is that in the ‘digital-age’ photography is clearly oversaturated. Every parent, has dozens if not hundreds (or thousands) of pictures of their children available at the press of a button. So why pay for a few drops of water in a veritable river of images?
There was a time (skip this if you care not for history) when photography was solely available for the gentry. The primary reason for this was the cost, both of production and equipment. Alongside this, people of import have always desired have their likeness recorded and preserved. First it was with painting, then photography became the new vogue and the eventual accepted standard. Photographers in those days were often scientists, or people with money to burn. To create a single image was incredibly time consuming and required an awful lot of chemistry to produce. Technical skill was of the upmost importance. Eventually, as the equipment was more widely produced and the process refined, photography studios (as we know them today) started to appear in town centres. It still wasn’t cheap but gradually it became more widely available. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that photography really became portable, the Box Brownie camera is often cited as the ‘game changer’ in this regard (perhaps your parents had one). It took another 70 years for colour photography to really develop (pun intended) – and then another thirty for the digital revolution to begin for the true democratisation of photography.
Photography has a rich but admittedly brief history. However, there have always been those who recognise its value to society; from those early scientists to the professionals today. Like any other creative profession, photography takes years to hone the craft and it is arguably beyond mastery.
If the goal of this blog is to persuade you to choose a professional, its fair to say that so far its been a mediocre performance. This is a topic close to our hearts, which makes it difficult to tangiblise (let alone persuade). However, it will perhaps help the case somewhat if we correct a few misconceptions surrounding professional photography – and the seemingly biggest barrier, the costs involved:
False: Your phone or compact can’t (yet) match the quality of our cameras. On a small screen, like a phone, the difference is imperceptible; however, on a large 24×20 canvas or print the difference is huge. With quality comes cost, ‘you get what you pay for’ (we say in our best Grandad voice)
True: Uncle Andrew may have an equal or better camera than us. So why not get him to do a few pictures? There’s no harm in it. Unfortunately, Uncle Andrew hasn’t spent years training and developing both his interpersonal and technical skill to create the images you seek. With portraits especially, the key skill is communication and making people feel at ease (everyone knows Andrew is a bit of an odd ball). Jokes aside, it isn’t just about the equipment its the intangible skills, which can’t be quantified that makes the biggest impact on the end product.
False: Prints from your phone at from a machine in Boots won’t be as good as a product you may receive from us. We don’t print in-house (that’s another craft in and of itself) but we do work with numerous skilled professionals to produce something of real quality. The same goes for our frames, canvases and wall-art. We don’t just press a button, there is whole boring and laborious process that goes on behind the scenes. It takes time to produce anything of quality, the same goes for prints.
True: Our services can seem expensive. Fifty pounds for a print? Extortionate! Fifty pounds for a haircut? Very reasonable. This isn’t us disparaging the good work of hairdressers, but there seems to be a stigma associated with photography and the costs involved. To continue the analogy, a good haircut lasts for weeks? Months? A good print from us lasts for years without fading and can be something you truly cherish in the meantime. We price our services fairly and each session includes a print to ensure there is something to take away.
False: Your skin softening app on your phone can’t make you look as good as we can with a pair of lights. Aside from the camera, there is a lot of other equipment involved to create your images. Lights, props, and software to name a few. We often find less is more, however, the use of professional software is a tangible and vital skill for quality work. It takes time, practice, patience and is best used delicately. The best work isn’t visible in the final product, which is often everyone is continually shocked to see the ‘before and afters’ leaked from popular magazines. We don’t work like that but it is still time intensive, often taking up to an hour to edit a single image to a professional standard.
False: All we do is take pictures. We wish! At our best guess, roughly 10% of our time is spent actually taking pictures. The rest is of course spent making daisy chains or some-such frivolous activity. Forgive the tone but this is perhaps the point that causes us most frustration. The rest of our time is spent on: consultations, editing, viewing, more editing, wrapping and presenting products and all the other boring stuff associated with running a business, admin, cleaning etc. It is both to our credit and detriment that things can often seem so quick and easy.
Misconceptions aside, we truly care about our clients and our craft and dedicate ourselves each day to improving both our work and our service. The truth is you don’t have to choose professional photography. Its the same truth for hairdressers, builders, designers, and any other service. You choose it because you care about the quality of the product and the service provided. We hope, at least, that we’ve managed to waylay some of the scepticism’s surrounding our work and those of our peers with this blog. If you made it to the end and took something from this post please let us know, and feel free to like and share.