First off, if your friend or a local student wants to photograph you and you’re up for it, then definitely go for it. Model for them, have some fun, be their muse. But if you need photos for auditions, promotions, your website, or whatever, it’s always best to hire a professional photographer. Here are 6 reasons why:
1. You’re in charge, not them
When you seek out a photographer and hire them, you are the client, and you are in charge. This doesn’t mean that you get to make all the rules. A professional photographer knows what they’re doing and you should listen to their advice. But, as the client, you get to customize the experience. If you need a photo of a certain person at an event, want a colorful wall as the background of a headshot, or have another specific idea for your session, your photographer can make it happen. Within reason, their job is to serve you and make sure you’re happy.
A great example of this is model sessions. Most photographers do model sessions when they wanna play with the camera or have a really cool idea. While client sessions are about bringing the client’s vision to life, model sessions are about the photographer’s vision. This is what you’ll get when you hire a friend. It’ll be fun, but it might not be what you really want.
2. Money talks
No one wants to admit it, but money does talk. My paid sessions always come before my non-profit work, model sessions, and my personal work. This means they get priority booking, faster delivery, and more attention to detail. I run a business and I can’t pay for my cameras or groceries with exposure or experience. Money really can be that extra little push that makes someone put in more effort. It shows us that we are literally valued and worth it to our clients.
A very practical reason to hire a professional is insurance. Professional photographers, like myself, have all kinds of insurance. Liability insurance keeps the photographer and the client safe. If you get hurt at a session, liability insurance can cover the cost of medical care and damages.
Professional photographers have all sorts of fail-safes put in place to protect the client. Birth photographers have back up photographers. Wedding photographers have second shooters. Portrait photographers have back up cameras and assistants. All professionals have contracts and insurance.
4. Experience matters
Professional photographers have a lot of experience and education under their belts. This makes a big difference. Photography isn’t just a gift that some people are born with. No one pops out of the womb a Pulitzer Prize winner. Talent is part of it sure but the experience is most of it. Also, actually taking pictures is barely a quarter of our time as professionals. WE have to know how to edit, how to communicate with clients. We have to set up policies and systems for client management, bookkeeping, paying taxes, everything it takes to run a business. And most importantly for you, we have to know how to make our clients feel comfortable and beautiful. This also takes time, education, and experience.
5. No hard feelings
If the shoot doesn’t go wonderfully or you end up not loving the photos, a friend might take your feedback personally. With a professional, you never have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or ruining a relationship. Professionals know how to handle criticism and use it to improve their business. You might just gain a new friend instead of losing an old one.
6. Show what you sell
Whether you are seeking headshots for your own business, auditions, or job hunting, the goal is to sell yourself to whoever sees your portrait. You need people to immediately know that what you’re selling is a high-quality product and that YOU are a professional. In order to prove that what you’re selling is high quality and professional, you have to show it. This is why you dress well for an interview and print your resume on nice paper. Your headshot needs to be professional so that you will be seen as professional. And even if you can’t tell the difference, other people can.