Why people hire pro photographers

Photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing and when they have vanished no contrivance on earth can make them come back again–Henri Cartier Bresson.

My niece and her tech husband live in Minnesota; they created a private blog to communicate with select friends and family when she became pregnant with her first child. It made it easier to post their thoughts, pictures and updates to the important people in their life scattered across several states. They have continued this practice for years including the birth of their second child. The other niece and her husband, less organized but equally engaged with friends and family across the United States, tend to send pictures with emails and texts. But these two sisters have one thing in common. They both regularly work with a professional photographer, recognizing that their cell phones and point and shoot camera images are not enough to satisfy their photo savvy audience.

So I was more than a little pleased to discover that other people have seen the error of their ways. A June 14th article in the New York Daily News has reported that families are “hiring professional photographers to document not just big events like weddings and bar mitzvahs, but everyday activities.” And these folks are sharing the photos on-line as well as through the more traditional medium of prints.

But the more interesting concept in the article was a question that many first year photojournalists also face; do these staged, and sometimes enhanced, photos present a realistic portrait of ordinary and “real” life? Catalina Toma, an associate professor of communication science at University of Wisconsin in Madison, weighed in on this, suggesting that people nowadays have more awareness of how they put themselves forth to the worldwide audience. She studies the psychological benefits that people receive from posting and sharing images on-line; people now engage in impression management as well as impression formation.

Clearly a professional photographer can play a role in creating a great impression. Photographers have an opportunity to assist people in capturing, displaying and sharing professional photos of authentic moments, letting the sitters play a significant role in choosing the location, establishing the situation and working as partners in order to give the photographers access to their real life. And the clients, including my nieces, seem to be pleased with the results as they recognize the talent and skills that a professional photographer brings to the scene. They also see the value in creating a legacy and timeline of their lives and not just the big events.

In an age of eroding fees and broader licenses, it is nice to know that the new generation acknowledges the value that a professional photographer brings to documenting their lives.

— L. ShoulterKarall/ASPP Midwest