This is a subject I feel terribly strongly about.
Passion vs Profit references the types of photographers that operate today.
Before i get into it, i am fully aware that there is a finite amount of passionate photographers who operate perfectly good business a professional level (but im not here to talk about them today). I have found that these are in the minority and diluted by the passionless.
Let me explain the difference between the Profiteers and the Passionate’s
The passionate types.
Ill start with the nice guys. The people who love photography, love the art and the science, love composing and creating. These are the guys who travel far, stay up all night, spend hours, days weeks on projects. The passion for photography comes from the desire to take, and create, the love of the chase and ultimate satisfaction of the results. The pursuit of the passion can often come at great cost in time, money and resources to the photographer but thats what makes us passionate about it.
Alot of amateur photographers will never move into doing chargeable work as they would happily shoot for the love of shooting. The ones that do elevate themselves to practicing it for a business will often maintain a semi pro status (i will cover these more in the next section)
The other side of the coin you have the Profit photographers. The ones who do it more for money more than anything else.
These can be further broken down into 3 subgroups. The professionals, the semi pros and the “have a go” types.
The Professionals. At the professional level you will in every sense be ripped off, there no two ways about it. They have fine tuned their business to make every single element of photography chargeable. Now while I agree, good photography is worth paying for I believe that pro photographers have crossed a line to the point of blatant extortion. They have mastered the art of photographic emotional blackmail. By this i mean you pay someone to take your photo.. however they wont let you have those photos without paying a premium. Imagine youve hired someone to photograph your wedding but you dont get the photos, instead you are left dangling by a hook and your only option is to purchase copies of these photos at a huge premium. Another example is if your swizzed into going into a large multi chained high street studio for £20 only to be offered a print / canvas product at the end for £1000 at the end. You pay for someone to take your photo… they show it you and then demand a huge premium for it otherwise you wont get it. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I cannot imagine anything worse than being on the customer end of that business model! Professional ultimately will be pretentious and pompous and dismissive of anything but their product and will be full of sales pitch and promise. Be very careful around these types they will clean you out.
Ive heard lots of reports that some of the more veteran professionals often come across as tired slow and jaded when it comes to their attitude toward shooting. Once upon a time they probably were passionate about their work, but many years later and hundreds and hundreds of weddings later it would seem like nothing more than a day at work. This is one of the more common horror stories people tell me about when im shooting a wedding. Miserable old photographer turning up, doing the bare minimum and leaving. This will only ever reflect in their efforts to capture you on the day. In my opinion if your so fed up of shooting weddings or portraits then retire before you ruin someones magical day.
The Semi Pro At the semi pro level you get a mixed bag of photographers. This is probably the best place to shop for a photographer in my humble opinion. Prices are often competitive, what they offer for the money is often quite good. Watch out though, semi pros come in good and bad flavours. Some Semi pros try to emulate the professional business model, either because of greed or want to be perceived as professional themselves. Though the over charging is the only quality that they share with a professional. In short they will try to inflate the total price as high as they can by itemising ever chargeable part of it.
Not all semi pros are evil soulless money grabbers, oh no. Often when a passionate amateur rises up and decides to build into a business they will rebel slightly against the the standard ’empty your clients pockets’ business model.
Passion to shoot is a powerful incentive to get work and keep prices low and retain customers. At this level the semi pros might not be able to offer the immaculate level of product the professionals can but you will find the quality of the actual photography can be as good if not better than what professionals can provide.
If i was hiring someone it would be from this category. A perfect mix of passion, skill and price.
This brings me to my last group
The “Have a Go” types. In recent years there has been a boom in these bottom feeders. They will often buy an entry level SLR or worst and with no qualifications, no experience, poor equipment and attempt to charge money for photography. Its simply a quick buck to them. These people produce some of the worst photography I have ever seen.
These people will pop up on a recently created facebook page, filled with children sitting in a bedsheet or an poory lit over exposed medley of photographic fopars. In attempts to rustle up custom they prey on other peoples facebook pages, often messaging people who have shown interest trying to poach customer, lots will stalk facebook groups and forums, often offering wedding or portrait services for unbelievable low prices, under bidding legitimate Pros and semi Pros. Essentially what you will get is a skill less, useless, and more importantly passionless excuse for a human trying to pass of as a legitimate photographer. It is simply because of the misconception that anyone can do it and photography is just clicking a button.
Avoid these people at all cost, they are not worth your time, money or consideration.
To conclude… if your hiring and you dont want to be terribly ripped off or alternatively terribly disappointing aim for enthusiastic semi pro types of photographers. Look for passionate examples of their work, look for frequency of work, ask what equipment they use, then ask if they are available… then and only then ask the price.