Why you should hire a professional photographer (even if you have a nice camera)

Professional photography is a luxury.  A true professional has thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  Not only is that equipment insured, but the photographer will also carry at least a million dollars in liability insurance as well.  While some professional photographers have been formally trained at a university, many (myself included) are “self-taught.”  Self-taught does not mean that I picked up a camera one day and decided to start shooting.  Self-taught means that I spent hours gleaning every amount of information I could from every source I could find.  Because I am a strong believer of education, I have invested thousands of dollars learning from some of the BEST in the industry.  I have taken multiple online courses from the likes of Kelly Brown and Susan Stripling to name a few.  I have attended one-on-one mentoring with Jennie Pyfferoen and Jessica O.  Photographers who have invested this kind of money and time into their craft are not cheap.  As I said, professional photography is very much a luxury.  In fact, it’s one that I can’t always afford seeing as my husband is a public school teacher.  This baby is my LAST one.  Because I have taught my husband how to use my camera and really only wanted a couple of maternity photos, I decided to risk having HIM take my photos.  I had low expectations.

Thanks to pinterest, many people mistakenly believe they can recreate the beautiful photos they see.  Many times people will show me photos that they want me to recreate from pinterest.  I have to say thinks like, “Susan Stripling created that photo.  The starting rates for her services are $10,000.  While I have taken some of her courses, I am not her.  You will need to hire her if you want that photo.”  There is SOOOO much that goes into creating beautiful photographs and nothing compares to experience.

Thankfully, my husband did a fairly decent job.  I got the few photos that I want and I will cherish them.  But I do want to show you the mistakes he made.  Not to embarrass him or call out his mistakes.  I knew he wasn’t a professional when I “hired” him.  But to show you that even with fancy equipment, beautiful clothing and location, nothing compares to hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

First, this was a maternity session.  Maternity sessions are difficult because women are much larger than their normal size.  In my own situation, my face and legs were beginning to swell.  I started this pregnancy at the same weight I ended the last one.  It was HOT. But I wanted to look beautiful and show the nobility of motherhood.  How do you make a woman feel beautiful when she’s much larger than normal?!?  Pose her well.  There are so many “secrets” to posing a pregnant woman that it is difficult to pull off a well-crafted maternity session.  I practiced in the mirror so I would know what was flattering.  But even still, it was difficult to execute from the other side of the camera.  Here are some of my posing “fails.”  And this is kind of embarrassing, because it’s ME and these photos are not flattering.

2016-06-09_0001You might not think these are too terrible.  But they are.  Look again at the top photo.  I look miserable and fat.  Much how I felt while being photographed.  My husband was so consumed with the technical aspects of the camera that he forgot to interact with me and get those beautiful expressions that I adore as a photographer.  In fact, that was true in almost every photograph he took.  A true masterpiece is one that has beautiful expressions in addition to beautiful execution.  He did not direct me to pose in a flattering way.  He did not use the most flattering technical settings (which is very difficult to do.  I was more worried about him getting the photo in focus, so I did not harp on getting the settings to the way I would have done it).  What’s the problem with the middle photo?  This is something that nearly ALL women are concerned with.  Fat arms.  My husband loves my arms just the way they are, but every woman photographs with fat arms when they are posed this way.  It’s a simple fix, but one he wasn’t aware of and one I couldn’t see on the other side of the camera.  This is a similar problem with the bottom photo.  Not only is my expression dull and lifeless,but I look much fatter than I actually am.  Again, a quick fix that a professional photographer would have caught and altered.

Now take a look at this photo:2016-06-09_0002

The arm problem has been fixed, but the light is TERRIBLE.  Even if you know how to pose someone and use your camera correctly, a professional photographer MUST know how to use LIGHT correctly.  While I thought this would be a gorgeous location (which is was), after I saw this round of photos, we had to abandon this spot.  Light trumps location.  Every time.  There should never be that dappled and uneven light on my arm, dress, neck, and hair.  My face is not well lit.  It’s a terrible photograph.  At this point, I feel like I need to put in a little disclaimer:  My husband was very patient with me and I was with him.  Again, I went into this photo shoot with low expectations.  I’m not disappointed in his work.  I got the 3-4 good photographs I wanted out of this experience.  It just took several hours and two days of shooting which we were both okay with.

One of the most difficult things to do when learning photography is understanding how to get your subjects in focus, while still making the photo look professional instead of like a snapshot.  Even with my coaching, my husband still messed up.  More than once.  Like I mentioned before, I had to adjust my settings to a more beginner level so he could get me in focus.  Here’s just one of those lovelies…2016-06-09_0003

But because I know what I’m doing, I was able to make a lot of adjustments and got the photos I want.  Seriously.  You should hire a professional.  It means less time waddling out in the heat with your large swollen belly and beautiful photographs that are flattering and in focus and well-lit.  2016-06-09_00072016-06-09_00062016-06-09_0004

And I ordered a canvas of that bottom left one, there.  Because I love my family and being a mom is the best.

Rhea’s 9 month photos | Kingsport baby photographer

This baby is so amazingly sweet.  She is so happy and full of life.  She’s the kind of baby that can make a mother want to have another one right away.  Not that I’m announcing anything for her family.  She just reminds me so much of my first baby and how much fun he was and how much I ADORED him.  I mentioned to her mom that it seems like all the babies I have been photographing ever since I became pregnant have been little angels.  I’ve had enough of my own babies to know that not all of them are, but it sure makes me excited to bring another little one into the world.

Her great grandmother made this darling little quilt.  I attempted to make one this time for my baby and it was a lot of work.  This quilt was so much more intricate and beautifully done.  Rhea just barely turned 9 months old and is crawling all over the place and pulling up and standing.  She has a streak of independence in her and was determined to spend our time together picking the clovers.  Which was precious.  Don’t you think she looks so much older than 9 months?  2016-06-06_00052016-06-06_00062016-06-06_00072016-06-06_00082016-06-06_00092016-06-06_0010