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Why Hire a Professional Photographer?

It goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway—cell phones are everywhere. There’s nowhere you can today where you won’t find someone using their phone, whether for business or pleasure. And frequently, whether you’re at work, a concert, or wandering a store, you’ll see people using their phones to take photographs. With the advent of phones, cell phone photography allows for a kind of constant picture- taking that would have been impossible in years past. People want to capture moments, and they do. But are there still times when a professional Chicago photographer is a better bet than your phone? Absolutely, yes.

Consider: imagine you’re a car enthusiast. You love cars. You read about them. You drive as many different kinds as you can. You may chase vintage car shows around the country. You might even own a few beauties of your own. But are you really qualified to restore a car from start to finish if you’ve never had any professional training? You can probably muddle your way through. But the answer is, likely not. The final product won’t be what a professional could have produced.

The same goes for photography.

To be very clear: keep taking your own pictures, for sure. But just be aware that there are certain situations where, no matter how thoroughly you’ve done your research or how much money you’ve invested in cameras, you just need someone who is an expert. Read on to find out why hiring a photographer in Chicago, IL, may be your best bet sometimes.

1. It’s not just about the picture

Think of your favorite restaurant. While all restaurants have similar trappings—menus, tables, waiters—the one that keeps drawing you back undoubtedly has something unique to it which goes beyond food. The same goes for photography. Anyone can cook, right? If you want to throw together a meal, it’s just not that hard. But if you want to throw together a gourmet meal people will remember for years, you need experience. You need a professional. Plus, you want to eat that meal somewhere truly special. Same goes for photography—professional photoshoots are a full-on experience. To extend the analogy, they’re the meal plus the fine wine plus the amazing atmosphere and company. 

The best photographers create two kinds of memories: the photos they take of you and the memories of the day those pictures were taken. While you’ll hang the photographs in your home or in your office as a tactile memento which can be shared with everyone, the memory will be something you and the other people at the shoot will also cherish forever. 

There’s a reason once people find a professional photographer they really like, they go back to that person again and again. A kind of relationship is eventually established, adding to the overall experience. Think about a wedding you went to or any kind of party with a professional photographer in attendance. It’s likely you talk about the photographer in the same breath as the pictures he or she took, especially if that photographer was professional, kind, respectful, and even funny. The best photographers listen to your specific needs and make you aware that it’s your shoot—not theirs!

No matter how great your phone or how good you are at taking selfies, they just can’t match the full-on experience a professional will provide. 

Conversely, if you have a terrible experience with a photographer, I guarantee you’ll harbor that memory too. You’ll tell people all about it. That’s why professional photographers work very hard to make sure you have a wonderful time at your photoshoot. It’s in their best interest for you to walk away happy and to then keep coming back to them.

2. The pros know the tricks

Sure, cameras nowadays are amazing—that includes phone cameras and other types. But no matter how good the equipment is, it can’t take the place of experience. Just check out a professional photographer’s website and take a good look around. You’ll see they’re not bragging about all the fancy cameras they have. That’s because it takes more than a good camera to get a good shot.

It takes knowledge of angles and lighting. Knowledge about what constitutes a good location. Professional editing. And the list goes on—these aren’t things the average person with a nice camera can provide. It’s something that requires years of experience to become familiar with. 

Imagine that you want a photo shoot done and you have a specific place in mind to take the shot. It’s somewhere that holds special memories for you and you really want it as your backdrop. But you don’t take into consideration weather, time of day, or even what you’re wearing. That means, if you take your own picture, your clothes might clash with the beautiful background, diminishing it. Or the lighting might be completely off because of the angle of the sun, also impacting an otherwise beautiful picture. 

If you hire a professional, that person will be able to advise you on what to wear to best complement—rather than clash—with the background. A photographer can guide you as to what the best time of day is to get the best light. He or she will visit the location early and make sure everything is set up ahead of time for the best possible experience and results. By the same token, the photographer might suggest some other locations in addition to that special one, to make sure you get a variety of beautiful shots, including the ones at the special place.

While photographing you, the professional will pay attention to things you may never have heard of—or if you have, which you may not care about—such as shutter speed and composition. Those details are important, but they don’t need to be to you if someone else is handling the heavy lifting. A professional takes all that stress off you and lets you just enjoy the moment.

After the photo shoot, the photographer will carefully edit the pictures based upon what the two of you have discussed. You may want retouching. You might not. Either way, photographs can be enhanced, and your photographer will do the additional work to make sure your pictures come out to the highest standard.

While your phone or camera can take good pictures, it won’t advise you on your wardrobe, suggest where you should stand, note that a certain background is a little too cluttered, or mention that the lighting is doing you no favors.

Professional photography is truly an art, and of course, you can learn it. But it takes years of training and practice. A professional is trained in all the little details that you just can’t automatically learn the moment you buy a fancy new camera.

3. Equipment

Yeah, I’ve mentioned several times so far that equipment isn’t as important as skill, and it isn’t. Professional photographers can work magic even with minimal equipment. But let’s face it—if you want the very best photographs, having the right lenses, tripods, flashes, etc. is a big help. Photographers invest thousands in their equipment, curated carefully over the years until they find what works best for them. Nice equipment will give you a good picture. Excellent equipment, in the hands of a pro, will give you a beautiful photograph to hand down through the generations. 

Sure, you might be willing to shell out a fortune for a nice lens, but if you don’t know how to use it right, and/or you’re only planning on using it once or twice, why not save yourself that chunk of change and just hire a professional photographer instead? 

Go back to that car analogy from earlier. You might have the tools to do an “okay” restoration job, but a real pro will have the tools to do a job so great that your restored car might win awards. Same goes for professional photographers. They have the best equipment and know how to use it to maximum effect.

What it comes down to in the end

Do professional Chicago photographers cost money? Sure. But, as I noted earlier, you can spend the money on equipment you don’t know how to use yourself. You can spend hours trying to get the perfect family portrait, only to be disappointed. Or you can hire a professional Chicago family photographer and save yourself time, effort, and yes, even money, because if you buy equipment you can’t really use, that’s just flushing cash down the drain.

Whether you need a personal portrait, a family photograph, or want to hire a Chicago headshot photographer, investing in a pro is the best way to ensure your photographs turn out as beautifully as the memories that you’ll make taking them.

I’m a Chicago-based professional photographer with years of experience taking headshots, photographs of families and children, portraits, and high school senior pictures. Please review my portfolio for information and samples of my work, and then book your session today.