Let’s get things straight right off the bat: portrait photography is not necessarily a close-up picture of a single person. I see it as an artistic, people-centered type of photography that captures the personality of the subject by many wonderful techniques us photographers use.
Now that we have it defined, it would be safe to say that photography is often associated with weddings, events, special milestones or business. For each of those cases, numerous articles can be found all over the Internet on why and how to hire the right professional. I, however, focus on photography as an event rather than photography for an event.
While nursing my wonderful - or at least I hope it to be - idea that anyone could use a photo session as a fun experience, a gift or a celebration of life itself, I realized, that as with everything in the world, there will be exceptions.
So why should someone NOT hire a professional portrait photographer?
1. The Wrong Place
In terms of location, you could be downtown Toronto on Monday noon or in the North Pole
(please hit me up when you head there, I’ll take photos for free) - and get amazing results. As long as you are in the right place in your head. The camera does not differentiate between good and bad emotions, it will pick on all of them - unless, of course, you are a master of disguise or you are truly capable to turn it off like a light switch.
Of course, we are never 100% happy and worry-free. The “perfect” moment - if we were to plan based on our moods - might take a while to happen, and also be a little hard to predict. The good news though, is that as long as you are in the solid middle on your mood scale, the professional photographer will always give you a hand to lift your spirits. A perfect photo session is the one you leave with the feeling you had the time of your life, and it’s a team work. To let the photographer take you there, be mindful, and get to know yourself.
2. Tight Budget
Even though we all in one way or another tend to mind our budgets, choosing an artist while being worried about breaking the bank is a risk. A low-charging novice could be talented but lacking experience to bring out the best in your 2-year old. Going with the basic package instead of a premium one might sound like a great idea, but apart from the price, you should consider other things. Will the time of the session be enough? Are you going to be satisfied with the number of photos included in the mini package? A photo session lasting longer will contribute to a better experience. That’s the key in my view, in approaching a photo session as an event of its own. I also noticed that my best shots usually get taken towards the end of the first hour. By that time, after having had a few laughs, people finally get used to the camera, the photographer - and relax, allowing their personalities to shine.
Another point to consider is that photography, as with any kind of art, is subjective. There are many camera owners, but only few photographers see the world through their lens in a special way that makes you wonder: how would they see me? What would I learn about myself? Your heart flutters, you are ready to propose to your dream photographer… and then it turns out you cannot afford them.
There are several options in this case. You could save up. Or, you could wait for a while, get your friends to participate, and save up some more. You could also keep searching for someone who has a different style that you’d love, and is more budget-friendly. But please do not ask a photographer to replicate another one. It would be offensive to second-choice photographers, and probably, they wouldn't be able to copy the style you’ve seen in the past simply because they have a different set of eyes. Nobody likes to be told how to do their job. Trust your photographer, and keep in mind, that you’re investing in a memory you and your loved ones will cherish for years. Make peace with your photographer, budget and bank - or don’t do it at all.
3. Photography is not your thing
Some people are crazy about cars, others couldn't care less; some are avid nature-lovers, and for others a weekend camping would be a punishment. Photography is no exception. The value of photography is hard to question during times of reminiscence: we often turn to pictures as unfailing reminders of our loved ones, and the great times we had. Photography is many pleasant things: a fun experience, a unique gift, wall art that is a keepsake for years. However, not everyone will see it as such, and it’s fine. I am not seeking to convert those people into the church of photography. If photography as art does not turn you on, snapping a selfie by CN Tower is a valid alternative to paying a professional whose value you question.
As a portrait photographer, I very much believe in what I do, and I'll write a sappy article about it later. However, as happy as I am every time I book a session, I am even happier when I get to “click” with my clients. And those happen to be found outside of the categories above. I believe anyone could have a blast through a photo shoot, if only for the fact that it is something exceptional; and my greatest reward is having your parents exclaiming themselves as they unwrap a wonderful framed photo of their grandchildren. At the same time, I am only after selling you something you need - even if you did not realize.
Photography is an experience for you as much as it is for me. Let’s have a great time together, shall we?