Charleston photographers come in all shades of talent and style. Here we’ll explain the difference between a great, professional photographer who is in control of his or her craft and new, inexperienced photographers who still call themselves “professionals.”
The digital age of photography has seriously changed the art. A strong technical knowledge is no longer required to create a good photograph. Once we were introduced to the digital back – that’s the preview screen – the need to understand lighting and camera functions became much less important.
This is great for camera manufacturers. Knowledge and start-up capital used to be a huge obstacle for people. Not anymore. Manufacturers have made taking pictures so easy that customers are willing to purchase cameras that would have been out of their reach in the past.
Nowadays cameras have Through The Lens metering (TTL), which measures light. When a camera is in auto mode it measures the light, sets the camera’s settings for an accurate exposure and transfers the data to a digital sensor. That sensor creates a preview which appears on the digital back. It’s a complex technical process, but it’s simple for the user. All of this simplicity has affected the industry.
There are two types of photographers working today. There are those that take great pride in the craft, exploration and technical understanding in creating – really, truly creating a photograph – and those who walk around and take snapshots. The second type focuses on the business side of things, largely neglecting the technical, creative and quality-related aspects of photography.
This sort of thing happens in every industry, but it’s really sad with photography. Many clients spend their hard-earned money on photographers. They expect them to capture beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime moments. Lots of times, they’re being taken for a ride.
Charleston, SC is one of the most visited cities in the nation. It is considered by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers to be the number one tourist destination in the U.S. That makes Charleston a hot bed for tourism, weddings and other visitors, all of whom want professional pictures.
As a result of this market, you can only imagine how many Charleston-based photographers there are. Thousands of camera-owners try to get a piece of the market. For most of them, earning any money at all qualifies them as “professionals.” Even without experience, schooling or business licensing of any kind, they are trusted by clients to document some of the most important moments in their lives.
It is easy to snap a few photos, put up a website and ask for hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars without much experience. What makes things even worse is that these “professionals” can do all this without accepting any responsibility when they fail. For some reason, everyone who ends up with dissatisfying photographs blames themselves for the failure. They think, “I should’ve taken the time to find someone better.”
No one blames the photographer.
Clients can increase the accountability of their photographers by thoroughly examining portfolios, asking key questions and being patient throughout the selection process. Also, be logical when you look over someone’s work. If you find yourself thinking, “I could do that,” then he or she is probably not the professional you’re hoping to find.
Don’t be afraid to ask about their business licensing, either. Or their insurance, or how they’ll respond if the pictures come out poorly. There is no reason to be intimidated. You’re going to spend a lot of money on your wedding photos. You deserve to know what you’re getting into.
Most Charleston photographers have a specific focus. But that won’t stop them from trying to come across as a jack-of-all-trades. Use the internet to simplify your search and figure out whether your potential photographer is the expert he claims to be.
Photographers who end up on the first page or two of an internet search are usually very reputable. Google (and other search engine providers) rank their search results based on a combination of factors. If a site has been around for a while, showcases new work regularly and engages visitors (among other things), the engine rewards them with a prime spot. When you try the standard search terms – things like Charleston wedding photographers, Charleston portrait photographers and family photographers in Charleston – you’ll easily find the most reputable photographers. They’re right at the top.
The most important thing is to take your time. Keep an eye out for consistency. Take a hard look over the past work. It’s okay to trust your instincts, too. If you get the feeling that a photographer may not be able to deliver on his promises, find someone who will.
Choosing a photographer to document your important moments can be challenging. You’re on a budget and want to get the most for your money. The irony here is that you actually get more value when you spend more money. Rarely does anyone ever complain that they overspent and should’ve went cheaper. That’s because their photos are phenomenal.
On the other hand, it’s common to hear someone regret their decision to go for a cheapo photographer.
Don’t rush the decision. Evaluate your options thoroughly. Consider price, but – even more – consider what you get for that price. When you find a photographer that speaks to you, you’ll know you’ve found a value.
Photography is art. It takes experience, knowledge and years of practice to master the craft, and the difference between an expert and an amateur is evident. So when you spend your money, don’t spend it on a bum. Spend it on an artist.