Professional or Part-Timer

I was just on a Photography Talk forum where a professional wedding photographer was lamenting about how a “rookie” had undercut him on a job and that when it was all said and done the bride called him back to inform him that “All photographers were a rip off and that all they want to do is show up and collect a check.”  Obviously she had received sub-par images.  In fact she had received only 66 images on a dvd without any retouching.  On the forum there was a series of individuals who said “She got what she paid for.”  And I whole heartedly agree.  But I do think that the pro she contacted should have taken the time to explain to her why he was more expensive and how that it was about value and cost.

I agree with a large portion of what this photographer was complaining about.  Not the bridezilla that called him back.  But what he said about “rookies” killing the profession.  But I wouldn’t call them rookies.  Because anyone who is now a seasoned pro was a rookie at some point in time.  What I would call them are “Part-timers”.  These are people who have a 9 to 5 job and earn extra cash on the weekends doing weddings and events of that nature.  These are people the professionals should be taking the angst out on.  Just because you own an expensive dslr and some good lenses doesn’t mean you are a professional.  (Professional, as defined by the tax code means that more than 60% of your income is derived from the endeavor.)  If you don’t want the ire of the professionals directed towards you you should be talking with a few of them in your area and charging what the service is worth.  Even if this is just for the capturing of the images.

This brings me to another point about the current state of photography as an industry.  With the advent of digital imaging there has become this misconception amongst the masses that quality photography is “easy” because it is digital.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!   Here again we talk about perception.  All the client sees is the photographer coming in and capturing the images.  What they don’t see is the hours of education to capture that image correctly AND the hours of post-production needed finish the images that are the final presentation.  In the world of commercial photography they don’t see the hours of coordinating for the shoot.   Including wrangling models, stylists, make-up artists, hair stylists, props, getting the proper permits for locations. Not to mention making sure that they have all of the photographic gear working and ready to go.  Oh and let’s not forget about the hours spent working on the concept to help the client’s vision to fruition.

The art of photography has not changed in this transition from film to digital.   The only thing it has done is allowed the masses to take better snapshots.  And as I have heard another photographer tell a client who was complaining about cost of photography;  ” Snapshots are what you take.  I take photographs.”

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