These days, photography is practiced by anyone with a smartphone, but it's mastered by few. When it comes to those once-in-a-lifetime moments—when you've got one shot at getting it right—you better make sure the person behind the camera is a pro. A proven professional photographer that is.
There's no greater proof than when the letters "CPP" follow a photographer's name. They designate a Certified Professional Photographer, someone who is putting in the extra work to stay above the rest. It assures you of this photographer's professional knowledge and experience, while also declaring that photographer as one who has achieved and maintains a higher standard.
Consistency. CPPs know how to achieve great results—every time. You get a strong collection of images that tell your story, not a few lucky snapshots, and you will work with someone who knows how to produce a quality image under any circumstances.
Technical Skills. CPPs are more than picture takers. They are students of art, lighting, posing, fashion and even interior design. They combine these elements to create images that fit your unique style and become works of art you will treasure for generations.
Unique Artistry. CPPs have the skills to create unique, customized works of art—not cookie-cutter pictures. They follow an artistic vision. It’s your story captured as a collection of art.
Professionalism. When you hire a CPP, you know you're getting someone who is willing to go the extra mile to deliver the best possible images. They are business owners who thrive on customer service and satisfaction, and they continuously aim to produce products that exceed your—and their—best expectations. These images are keepsakes whose stories you'll tell time and time again and treasure forever. Just about anyone can take a good picture every now and then. But when life's biggest moments are unfolding and there's just one chance to capture that perfect memory, don't risk it. Entrust your photography needs to Shana Davis Photography and see the difference for yourself.
"The way that I personally look at it is if I were going to get my hair cut, I am going to look for someone who has been to beauty school and who has the license to prove it, not just some random person who says, 'oh I've been cutting hair for years. It's the same for searching for a photographer.” – Tracy McGee, CPP
A professional photographer is a skilled photographer that has dedicated their professional working life to partnering with you to create beautiful images of you, your children, your family.
Professional photographers not only know their equipment and know it well, they are also legitimate business owners who:
Professional photographers do not need to “portfolio build”, they already have a portfolio. Professional photographers do not work for free: they understand that they provide a valuable service. Professional photographers are much like professionals of other occupations, they have overhead and create photography not out of just love but out of a dedication to providing families with lifelong memories.
Some photographers participate in industry wide certification programs (i.e. Certified Professional Photographer), competition (competing nationally and internationally against other photographers), teaching/mentoring other photographers, writing about photography and reviewing equipment for trade publications, will mentor local photographers to achieve high quality photography as the norm within their area, work within the trade organizations to help maintain and/or create a sustainable profession where all learn and grow, etc. A true professional photographer will have a large display of work available to look through on their website, will have a client list and should be willing to provide references, should be able to provide you with consistent and beautiful images and will partner with you to create images that you will be happy with for years to come. A true professional photographer is not only a skilled artisan but also a business person like any other professional you may know.
I have a really good camera. Doesn't just having a camera create a photographer?
No. Having a camera, fancy dSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) or otherwise, does not a professional photographer make. It makes that photographer a camera owner. Professional photographers not only know how to pss a button they know their equipment backwards, forwards and upside down, they spend a lot of time educating themselves about the craft of photography, they spend a lot of time behind the scenes running their business(es), and much much more.
Many of the best professional photographers take time to continue their education via other photographer run workshops, lectures and attending photography conventions as well as entering image competitions and such.
There is a HUGE difference between a pro and a hobbyist photographer. Hobbyist photographers enjoy shooting and may have a great handle on their equipment however photography as a hobby is VERY expensive and the expenses add up quickly, hobbyists quickly learn there is a big difference between maintaining a professional photography business vs. shooting from time to time.
The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art. We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen's and pay a $1.99 for a print –as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
"How in the world can you charge $95 plus for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?"
The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business. The cost of TIME Approaching it from a time standpoint, let's imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling to your destination to photograph your session. Here is an example of a time break down:
· booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time paperwork)· Pre-session Prep time (30 minutess –1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks vehicle checks)· 30 minutes travel time TO session· 15-30 minutes Prep time at location· 60 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject· 30 minutes travel time FROM session· 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer minutes time spent backing up the original images· 2-5 hours editing time to psent you with a diverse gallery of edited images· 1 hour Prep time getting ready for ordering Session· 1-2 hours time with client for ordering images· 1 hour sorting through and checking order· 30 minutes-1 hour nicely wrapping order· 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped· any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues
In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer's level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.
The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:
Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality for about $2,700 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $5000 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success. These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.
Discussion on other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we'll skip many of the intricate details. An overview: the costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will have at the studio. Plus the cost of employees.
APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS: Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 "sheet" or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 a company who has leased photography retail space in a rather well known discount retailer closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation. The reason it happened is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ for "professional" prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough –those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing vs. many custom photographers.
A little history – the whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your "PORTRAITS" are considered the "loss leader". Your portraits that are meant to symbolize a once-in-a-lifetime stage in your child's life are part of what a store considers a way to get you in there door to spend more money on goods that you might not really want or need but because you're there "anyway" you buy.
Also keep in mind that when you go to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don't have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in an environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for as well as the lovely captures of natural expssions. You simply get a bare bones, "SAY CHEESE" experience.
REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER: There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars. Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock. They called various "experts" who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer. He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area. He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong. After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to "start her up." The captain disbelieving went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life. The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed. This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer!
A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000. The accounting department contacted him immediately. Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent "a few minutes" fixing the ship "with his hammer and a few other random tools". When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 –did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill? The man confidently responded: "In fact the time was worth the $1,000. The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company."
Now I'm not saying that photographers fix large ships but being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer's part (years of practice, study, experience, etc). A photographer's expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? These photographers often undervalue what they do because they have the realization that they do not have experience or expertise but are very adept at pushing the shutter on the camera. Many times these casual "professionals" neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc.. When you hire a photographer of sound reputation, you are hiring an expert, one that knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work a photographer possesses not only sound knowledge in the technical and creative aspects of photography but also good, reliable equipment and back up equipment.
The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.
I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family's memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family's most precious investment.
I found this article at the Professional Child Photographer Consumer Guide web site:
Photography has become commonplace, virtually everyone loves taking photos and most people do a ptty decent job at it. However there are times when you want to hire a professional photographer to create extra special images for your family. You want to display some incredibly beautiful, emotive images that capture who your family is at this moment in time, you want those photos to repsent something spectacular, you have this vision of gorgeous albums, a stunning framed portrait in your foyer, an outstanding gallery wrap canvas hanging over your fireplace mantle.
Framed Digital Image
You begin calling to interview photographers and inevitably you explain to them that you want to print these images yourself. You’re looking for the photographer that will create those beautiful, evocative images for you, unique to you and your family and you want them to hand over the images for you to print. Somehow you’ve come to believe that getting the disc of images is best because you control the process and it’s cheaper to print yourself.
What?! Come again?
This scenario is very representative of the photography market today. Somehow people have been brainwashed into believing that digital files are the best option when, in fact, they are not. Digital images are MEANT to be is a temporary method of storage: all too many things can go wrong with digital media leaving you in a lurch with a ton of images that were never printed; images that will never be displayed in your beautiful home; images that will never be archived and made permanent. Lets face it, for many people, after you get back your disc from said photographer, the disc goes in the drawer to never see the light of day…maybe JUST MAYBE to be unearthed (if you’re lucky) in a year or two with an “I meant to print some of these…” utterance.
Why some photographers do not sell digital images or sell them only at a premium price
Many professional photographers will not hand over that disc at a low price point. The public mistakenly believe it’s because these photographers have a desire to “hold your images hostage” but that isn’t the case in most instances. Most photographers are DEDICATED to the artistry of photography. What this means is that they are selling a full service experience and are dedicated artisans who either print those images for you themselves or entrust their favorite professional photography labs to do it for you. They are not selling a DIY experience.