We have quite a number of people / clients asking us,
“What are the differences between a hobbyist, freelancer and full-time professional photographer“?
There’s no exact answer to this question, because it’s pretty much subjective. And every individual have different experience, style and skill set.
Technologies are so great these days, even if you were not a photographer you can actually take really nice shots with your mobile phones.
So why hire a photographer when you can just shoot your own?
Let us understand a little more about all types of camera, and what photographers need to know in the following:
Mobile phone camera:
What you’ll need is simply a standard framing, good environment light and an editing app.
For example; this photo has all of such.
Pocket Cameras, these days have in-built flash. You can even buy third party flash if in-built isn’t enough for you. Some pocket cameras have only fully automatic settings and some also have manual ones. So, when using a pocket camera, you can upgrade your picture a little by learning about manual controls and lighting/flash. We don’t need to worry about the environment not having have sufficient lighting as we’ll still be able to shoot by lighting the environment up with flash. A standard framing is still needed in such a case. And it’s optional to have it edited/post-processed in a computer software.
Have you heard about semi-pro or prosumer cameras? Semi-pro cameras are basically in-between cameras, halfway between pocket cameras and beginner Digital Single-Lens Reflex(DSLR) cameras. It comes with most of the features and settings that any beginner DSLR has, some come with fixed lens and some others are interchangeable. The main differences in semi-pro cameras and beginner DSLRs are their speeds, power and resolutions.
Nowadays everyone could easily own a DSLR, and it’s not difficult to shoot high resolution photos. Hence, the definition of a quality photo does not just involve its resolution, but also involve how well the ability of the photographer is, in utilizing his/her DSLR.
Let’s start with the basic:
If a photographer were using Auto mode, he/she can’t imagine nor control how his/her final photos will look like. “Let-it-be style”.
(For example, if that particular subject looked better as a silhouette but the camera is set to auto, the camera can’t tell what is better and might automatically produce a bright photo focusing on the subject. This is when manual settings do their job when you have an idea of how the final photo should look like.)
If a photographer is using the Manual mode; he/she probably has an idea of how he/she wants his/her final photo to look like. However, it is crucial for the photographer to be fully aware and able to appreciate how the array of settings like ISO, shutter speed, aperture etc is affecting his/her picture all at one go, when he/she is tweaking just one of those setting.
Other modes like, Aperture & Shutter Priority will affect the photos in different types of shoots as well.
Framing is subjected to the lens you are using. And a professional photographer should know when to use what kind of lenses in different situations. Most of the time, equipment has to be planned before the actual shoot. Professional and experienced photographer should understand their lenses and able to visualize what they can do with it. So in situation like, if a client have any last minute requests we can make use of the lenses we’ve got on the spot to make the best out of it.
Framing composition and storytelling in photos are very important. Of course, framing is not just about lenses, it also involve focal length, depth of field and framing rules. Usually beginners start with standard rules, but professional photographers can easily break these theoretical rules and invent refreshingly creative ways of framing their photos.
(3) White Balance
Most photographers set their white balance as AWB (through our research) ; it simply means “Auto White Balance”. A lot of hobbyist and freelance photographer actually depend too much on editing software, most of them take the shot first and go back and adjust the white balance. It’s important to adjust the right settings, not just white balance but lighting and everything else before you click the shutter. Yes, you can make adjustment in post-editing software, but you can only make the bad better but not the best even better.
(4) ISO compensation
An experienced and professional photographer can make sure, he/she makes the best of ISO.
I don’t see a lot of freelance photographer putting auto settings for ISO, however some hobbyists do that. ISO can be your photo saviour under low lighting conditions, and can be your photo destroyer too (if the picture is filled with so much noise you can’t recognize the face). It takes an experienced and skillful photographer to make it right in quality, as well as in time to capture the right moment, which is especially crucial for shooting children and events. Although these days, post-editing software has noise reduction feature which help a great deal but it will still not able to make it a good quality photo. The trouble comes when you decide that THIS is THE picture of the year, and print it out in high resolution, you’ll either see lots of noise grains or a slightly blurred image (from noise reduction process in post-processing software).
Professional Photographers moves around to shoot, they don’t stay at one angle. We do believe everyone loves more varieties of angles & shots, not stagnant multiple shots of the same framing.
This, although not directly under photography techniques, is important for a photographer to allow him/her to arrange or even motivate subjects to look their best.
Eg. Event group portrait; not just shooting for the sake of shooting, but sometimes shifting the subject around in the frame can make the photo looks much neater and more appealing.
Eg. Food photographs; Playing with angle isn’t enough for food photos, arranging the food position can make the food looks much more appealing and attractive.
Eg. Family portrait; although most families would like some candid shots as opposed to all posed shots. We do arrange them in ways that place their expressions and actions under focus and capture them more vividly.
We’ve talked about so many aspect but just covering the basic levels, do keep track of our blog for more tips and our advice!
Tips for hiring a photographer;
One important thing to take note is; always ask for the photographer’s portfolio for any related shoot that you are looking into. Do not make a decision to hire just by looking at the price & what gimmicks they provide. Do check on the more important points like quality, creativity, passion in them and good/bad services.
1) Normally people don’t really care about Quality, as long as their faces are seen in the photos they are alright with it. Trouble comes when 2 years down the road, they would like to print out in a larger format photo. And that’s when they realized they can only view it “nicely” on their computer and not when it’s printed out.
2) Creativity, everyone loves to be unique in their very own ways. And in photos, we want it to look unique, special, and stand out from the rest. You might want to look at shooting beyond the standard or what everyone else is already doing, and re-create framing and stories within that photoshoot itself, based on the synergy between the photographer and you.
3) Why is Passion important? Refrain from hiring the ones that have no passion in their job, they might be professionals but they have lost the most important quality that a good photographer should have. It takes a passionate photographer to go the extra mile to capture that perfect shot. And of course, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Imagine the eye with an extinguished flame.
4) No one wants a grumpy-faced photographer. Smiling is part of the Services photographers can provide!
No matter hobbyist, freelancer, or full-time photographers.
Choosing the right and skillful photographer is important!
(Credits: Most of the images used in the article are found in Google)
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