Is there such thing as CHEAP and good quality? Think about gas station coffee vs. Starbucks. Why do you pay $5 for a cup of coffee when you can get a cup of coffee for less than $1 at QT or at Seven Eleven? The answer is quality, and the experience. We can get a pair of nice shoes at Walmart, and can get similar looking Christian Louboutin shoes. Which one better quality? Of course Christian Louboutin will win without any doubt. And that’s why a pair of Louboutin costs over $1000. I know Louboutin shoes are out of lot of our price range, but there are other great alternative options such Kate Spade, Cole Hann and so on.
Now think about what is most important to you in lifestyle photographs? Do you want to look at these perfectly exposed and focused photos and remember the good times 10 years from now? Or would you like to look at some out of focus, under exposed photos with no depth of field, and remember how upset you were 10 years ago about the photographs?
Professional photographers enjoy photography, and do this for a living. If a professional photographer charges $50 or even only $100 per session including all digital copies and count the post production time, that photographer will have to do at least 2000 sessions per month to be able to survive, and I am not talking about surviving in CA. If you are a photographer and trying to earn enough each month to be able to pay the bills, do you think you can deliver high quality products and service charging only $50 per session? If you try that then you will be burned out and give up, so please think about it.
True professional photographers invest a lot in their gears, and learning photography and in improving their skills and service continuously. Since I am a Nikon shooter, I can give you an estimate of prices of different Nikon cameras. There are many different dslrs out there ranging from $500 – $5000+. Why do a professional invest in a single camera that’s worth a few grand? Why not get a D3100 or D40 for less than $1000 and get the job done? The answer is quality. I won’t get into too much technical detail but the answer is quality of your photographs, same for lenses. A 50mm f/1.8 cost under $150, but a 50mm f/1.4 costs around $500. Why? The answer is quality. The more expensive the lens is, the better the quality of the photographs are. Most of the prime lenses cost over $2000. These lenses help with getting better focused, better exposed, and very sharp images.
Does high end gear mean high quality? Yes, but high quality also requires photographer’s knowledge. A professional photographer knows how to use their equipment very well. When I attended Mike Colon’s workshop 2 months ago, I was blown away by his knowledge. If you don’t know who Mike Colon is, he’s a celebrity wedding photographer. I’ve attended several different workshops in the past 8 months, and learned a lot. That’s when I found out how much each and every single one of these photographers knew about photography and about their gear. And every single attendees were very sincere about improving their skills and knowledge and learning more about photography. I met so many wonderful photographers this way. And none of these workshops were cheap, and worth every single penny. Take a look at these two photographs. Both photos were taken with my D300, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.Both were taken at the same spot with same amount of natural light except for the camera settings. Which one would you pick, and why? Which photo would you enjoy looking at 10 years from now? Or even 20?
Look at these photos.
These children didn’t pose for me. They didn’t freeze. I had to be prepared for these instantaneous moments, and photographing children is a completely different story, especially the mobile children. They won’t stop at the right spot or in perfect natural light against the perfect reflector, but we have to make it work. Moms, Do you enjoy looking at these photos and laugh, and remember what happened at that moment?
Last but not least, a professional photographer is not a photoshopographer. I would like to take this opportunity and share an unedited, straight out of the camera photo from a recent shoot.
Here’s the color corrected version.
But this doesn’t mean that if a photographer does a lot of editing then that photographer isn’t a good photographer. What I mean is, great photographers know how to edit to improve a photograph while maintaing the true picture.
Anyone can create an image or alter any image on photoshop, but a true photographer doesn’t alter the actual image. I can guarantee you that if you look at straight out of camera pictures of every single wonderful photographer out there, you will get blown away. I’ve seen straight out of camera shots of some great photographers and all I can still say is, “Wow”. There are many other steps in post processing besides editing, and a professional photographer spends a good amount of time doing other post processing work. I won’t get into post processing details because that will have to be another complete post.
Post processing softwares are very expensive too. Lightroom costs over $400. Photoshop costs around $700. There are other excellent softwares. Professionals use professional softwares, not Picasa or other free editing softwares.
Now, I would like you to think about it. Do you think Starbucks should charge $1 for a cup of coffee like a cup of gas station coffee? Do you think a professional photographer with high quality of work and service should charge less than $100 for a lifestyle session including all images?
Photographers, Do you want undervalue your work and your creativity? Get out of the sales rack and don’t hesitate to price your work properly.
*This post was not intended to hurt anyone.
Have a wonderful wednesday.