Why hire a professional photographer?

This kind of applies to pretty much most industries today, everyone needs to save a few dollars with the current economic state. As people scout for your services these days to shoot a wedding or whatever it may be, you can talk until the cows come home about how wonderful your work is and how much experience you have but the burning and main question is 'THE COST'. They may ask you, "what makes you different from my friend Joe who just bought the lasest and greatest DSLR"?

Let me begin by saying that there are situations where all of us can get away without hiring professional help: photo-specifically, everyday shots of the kids, photos of the daily special in a restaurant posted to social media sites, grip-and-grin shots to be submitted to the local newspaper. But when do you need a professional photographer?

Generally: anytime you actually want something to look good; anytime you want to be able to hang it on a wall; anytime you want to sell your house; anytime you want photos of your kids that don’t end up with you getting too emotionally involved/frustrated. These are all perfectly valid reasons.

Aside from the more obvious aesthetics of professional vs. amateur, there is still a multitude of practical, concrete reasons you want to have a pro on board for things like portrait, commercial or wedding shoots.

Pros have the gear. They spend thousands – if not tens of thousands – of dollars on good, carefully-researched equipment rather than running to the local store and buying their fanciest prosumer camera because the sales person says it's good. They tend to have the really fancy stuff and spend lots of time learning how to use it.

Pros tend to also carry backup equipment in the event of failures. Can you imagine not having photos of your wedding day because your friend/family member says the camera's memory card seems not to be working?

Pros have experience. Like the trusty postman, we work in rain, sleet and snow, not to mention with awful lighting conditions, nervous brides and family drama. We know how to calm people down—because we do this all the time—and if we’re technically good we can handle everything with grace and sometimes profit from conditions others might consider problematic.

Pros pay for continuing education and perfect the craft full-time, rather than on the side. Pros spend a good deal of non-shooting, non-editing time learning and watching webinars, reading blogs and professional forums, searching for inspiration. Pros join organizations where they can network with colleagues and learn from each other; they attend workshops and seminars, sometimes traveling halfway around the world. As trite as it sounds, pros are constantly thinking about photography.

Pros have a workflow and will get it done on time. Let’s face it, best case scenario—even if your friend or cousin is a full-time photographer and offers his/her services on the big day, you could still run into problems. Professionals are bound to contracts and if they are indeed working as a true Pro, they’re not going to prioritize non-paying or informal jobs. I’ve heard from brides who went this route and didn’t receive their images for 6, 8, 10 months after the wedding.

Lastly, pros control quality from start to finish. Pros spend days sorting through thousands of photos, editing the images to perfection and creating albums. They use software that is the real deal. Every single image, down to the quality of the paper on which the album is printed, is controlled for the best possible outcome. You’ll never have nasty surprises, only tasteful, archival-quality images you can admire for decades to come.

If for no other reason, consider the money you spend an investment in the only tangible remains of the wedding, apart from the dress. You’ll be cherishing those photos for decades.