I'm sure people involved in professional services bristle at the thought that everyone in their profession produces the same level of work. Any accountant can produce a tax return, so what's the difference? In particular, photography seems to be a victim of this kind of thinking. Anyone armed with a digital camera is potentially a "professional photographer."
When I've lost projects to other photographers who are substantially cheaper than me, the clients seem to think the skill set and the quality of the output are interchangeable. Why not save money and go with the lower priced photographer?
Recently, a client asked me to "manage" the work of an out-of-state photographer who was going to take pictures of a couple of staff members. I sent the photographer, chosen by my client, specific instructions on how I wanted the photos taken because I wanted to make sure they matched the photos I was taking concurrently.
The quality difference between the photos is palatable. A sample of the photos I took, on the left, are beautifully lit, exquisitely toned, and extremely sharp. The photos taken by the other photographer, on the right, are over lit adding a lot of shine to the subject's face. Additionally, the incorrect white balance was probably used because the photos have kind of an orange/red tint, not easily corrected.
Compare the sharpness of the images. My photo is very sharp, shot with one of the industry's top portrait lenses and a focus point aimed directly at the subject's nose. The other photographer's photo is actually out of focus. This is the result of using either an inferior lens or accidentally focusing on some other part of the subject.
Incidentally, the other photographer actually charged more than I did on a per person basis.
Bottom line, all photographers are NOT created equal.
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