Choosing a professional photographer
Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Choosing a professional photographer in the democratic age of photography is still the best policy if you want a job done well and to high spec. We explore what this means.
Sure enough now a days there are many with digital cameras and just about everyone has some knowledge and appetite for making photos. It has become one of the main branches of the arts to develop in the past ten years and now we find ourselves in a position that almost everyone likes to think of themselves as a photographer. This is no bad thing on the one hand as many a good 'artist' has arrived from the ranks of the untrained. In the arts field we hear of the 'outsider arts'; those who are practicing but have no formal training. With photography now, it is not uncommon to have people that have done an online course and learned the basics of photography and then those that have degrees in the subject like myself, who have spent many years academically studying the subject and fine tuning technical skills as well as a full immersion in the theoretical and conceptual debates that abound within the domain of photography.
So which is best? Well it depends what you want. If you are looking for a start to finish professional job that involves advertising, commercial or documentary photography, then its best perhaps to choose someone who knows not only how to use the camera, but also the additional equipment and 'trouble shooting' skills that go along with being a pro. Photography is far more than making reasonably attractive pictures. It also embodies the potential for strong communication both conceptually, artistically and as a medium for promoting and influencing public opinion and event government policy. Photos, made in the right hands, can be powerful and effective. But they are can also be manipulative and poorly produced. Is there such thing as a poorly produced photo...? well yes.
How do you know if you are looking at a pro? Mostly you should be able to see by the quality of work on their webpage or publicity. If for example you want photographer for an even or wedding it is not uncommon for the person to come to the site to do a reconnoissance in order to assess the light, venue and see any difficulties that may crop up on the day. This is how a professional normally conducts themselves. People managements skills should also be a part of a good photographers work. Picking up the camera, doing the shoot and dealing well with people in sometimes stressful situations, is part of the professionalism that goes with anyone who knows their trade.