Wednesday, September 15, 2010

101 Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer

Why hire a professional photogrpher?

"That's a great picture, you must have a really nice camera!" Such is the perception of most who don't really know anything about photography. It's about the same logic as saying "that was a wonderful meal, you must have a nice stove!"

After having been a photographer for many years (and even selling photography equipment for a while) I've heard this statement many times. When I was selling, customers would consistently come up to me and say similar statements. The one I probably heard the most was "My friend Tom has a [insert camera name here] camera and he gets great pictures so I want to buy the same one. Almost without fail the same said customer would come back a few weeks later complaining because "something must be wrong with the camera you sold me because the pictures aren't as good as Tom's." I would always reply with "may I see your camera?" and would then ask if they minded if I took a few pictures. I would put the camera in either aperture priority mode or manual, adjust the settings according to the photograph that I wanted to create, press the shutter button, and then show the customer the picture. They would always follow up with something like "Wow, that looks great, how come my pictures don't look that good?" To which I would begin the long conversation about how I use a camera as a tool to create the look I want instead of being dependent on a camera to do all of the thinking for me. Because of peoples, often erroneous, beliefs about photography I've decided to create a list of 101 reasons that people need to hire a professional photographer instead of depending on their "friend with a nice camera." This list - in no particular order - is mainly focused on wedding photography but can include any type of photography.

Professional Photographer Shawn Sharp...

1. creates photographs, he doesn't take a picture and "hope it comes out."

2. has spent years studying every aspect of making a photographs.

3. knows which lens to use in which situation.

4. knows how to set the camera for a consistent look regardless of location (ceremony, reception, outdoors, etc.)

5. knows how to properly use a flash for soft, even lighting.

6. knows when to use multiple flashes to create a beautiful scene.

7. knows how to make a scene look "natural" and not like he was using a flash at all.

8. knows what aperture to set his lens to to get the look he wants.

9. knows what shutter speed to set to capture the ambient light, create the feeling of movement, or freeze an object in place.

10. will sometimes spend several hours retouching one photograph to make sure it is perfect.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog about a Blog

So after debating for several months about whether or not I should do it I decided to take the plunge... What am I talking about you may ask? I've decided to do a 365 photo shoot of nothing but Black & White pictures. In case you're not familiar with a 365, its a photo per day for a year. Yeah, yeah, I know. Its not Jan 1 or anything but, true to the creatives ideals, I'm yet again breaking all the rules.... Head on over to and check it out! I hope you enjoy.

P.S. Feel free to download any of my 365 pics. No Charge, No Hassle.... :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prime Lenses: A tutorial for the rest of us...

What is a "prime" lens?

A prime lens is what all of the old masters started with. They let in a freak'n ton of light and are extremely sharp but with the trade off of not being able to zoom the lens. Want to "zoom" in closer? You have two choices, walk closer, or use a prime lens that has more of a telephoto focal length. BTW, "telephoto focal length" is nerd-speak for a lens that sees closer to the action rather than farther away (wide-angle).

Here is how the numbers on a prime lens work: a 50mm f/1.8 lens means that the focal length (what the lens "sees") is 50mm. This is about the same focal length that you would see if you didn't have any peripheral vision. Try holding your hands flat on the sides of your face like horse blinders to get an idea. Now get a friend to hold their hands flat on the top and bottom of your hands forming a box. Now look in the mirror. Don't you look silly.... :-)

The "f/1.8" portion is a measurement of how much light the lens will let in. It's really just a ratio of the focal length of the lens divided by the diameter of the opening in the lens. The wider the opening is in the lens then the more light that will be let in to the camera. A lens with an f-stop of f/1.4 will let in from 8 to 16 times as much light as the typical kit lens
that came with your camera.

A side affect of having a wide opening (lower f/number) is that you will get a more shallow depth of field. What in the heck is depth of field (DOF for short)? DOF is how much of the image is in focus. Ever seen a picture where part of the picture was in focus and the rest was blurry? That means that there is a Shallow DOF. If a picture has a Wide DOF then that means that more of the picture, is in focus.

Portrait photographers and photographers who work in low light settings love prime lenses, they are relatively inexpensive compared to most pro lenses, they make great portraits, and they are generally very small and Portable.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's time to Trash That Dress...

You want me to do what with my expensive wedding dress?!?

Yep, you heard me right. You've made the vows, been kissed by the groom, and had the first dance. Now its time to show your new husband just how committed you are to your marriage. Lets get some great pictures of you, in your wedding dress, doing something totally crazy. Want to jump in the pool? Fine! How bout rolling around in the mud with hubby. Great! Have him (literally) tear it off of you. Awesome! Whatever you've got in mind, Trashing the Dress is the latest craze for symbolizing your commitment to your new marriage for the modern bride.

I know what you're thinking. "But I paid so much" or "I want my daughter to wear it when she gets married." Well, regardless of what you paid for it, this dress was meant to wear one time and one time only, and as far as your daughter goes, did you want to wear your mothers dress? She won't either.

Trashing the dress is an opportunity, after the wedding is over, to really do something out of the ordinary in your dress. It can be done the day of the wedding or some time afterward, usually before the groom has to turn in his tux.

A Trash the Dress photo shoot is about creation, not destruction. You don't actually have to do anything harmful to your dress (or the grooms rented tux). There are a few things to bear in mind as you "trash the dress." If you are concerned about actually doing any damage to your dress, or to the rental tux, there are still plenty of options for you to consider. For one, water, in almost any form, is very unlikely to do anything to your dress besides getting it wet. Is your dress ruined if you get rained on? Nope! So you can jump through the sprinkler without a care in the world, or have your groom take you into the shower with the dress still on. Be creative, have fun, and trash that dress!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Relax, You're in the hands of professionals...

So you've done it, you said "yes" when he asked the question you've been waiting to hear since you were 14... Now "all" that you have to do is find a dress, find a location, get tuxes, deal with family and soon-to-be in-laws, hire a minister, food for the reception, flowers, a cake...wait, two cakes, hire a Photographer, find bridesmaids and groomsmen, decide between a DJ or a band; sheesh, the list just doesn't stop!

...Sometime Later....

Ok, here it is, your wedding day! Everything seems to be in order're still stressed! This is when you need to relax. It's YOUR day, enjoy it. You've hired professionals, take it easy and let them do what you're paying them large sums of money to do. I've met many a bride (and groom) that pay astronomical amounts of money for the perfect wedding planner and
photographer only to spend all day trying to "teach" them how to do their job better. Just relax, have a fantastic day, and let them do what they've been doing for years. Trust me, they have your best interest in mind. If they don't perform well then people get upset, tell their friends how unhappy they were with the service, and they end up losing.

As a photographer, I want your wedding day to be the best, most memorable day of your life. By the time your wedding day arrives we should have met several times to discuss your needs and wants for your perfect wedding. I want your pictures to show you as the beautiful bride that you are. Have a good time. It IS a busy day and there IS a lot to do. That's why you hired us in the first place. To get it done, and get it done right.

If you can't remember anything else about your wedding day; remember this:

Relax, you're in the hands of a professional ;-)