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Professional Photography: One Consumer's Story

It seems clear time and time again that due to the lack of standards in the professional photography world, consumers are continually running into problems and feeling ripped off. The sad part about all of this is with just a little bit of proper education, a bride, a family or even a new mother may not go through the heartache of paying for photos that just aren’t professional.

The following is a first hand experience from a Denver local consumer who had several bad encounters with up and coming photographers. Unfortunately, this consumer did not have the knowledge to ask the right questions and find a quality photographer that was in her budget. All names and details have been changed or removed to protect the parties involved.

Dear Denver Photo Examiner,

I wanted to take a second to write a letter to you detailing my experiences with some local photographers who have put a bad taste in my mouth regarding professional photography. I came across your article the other day detailing the ways to find a quality freelance photographer and what to look for when hiring someone and I just have to say, I wish I had found it sooner. Hopefully my letter can be a warning to other consumers who are looking for a photographer.

When my husband and I first got engaged, we embarked on the daunting task of trying to find a professional photographer for our wedding. Of course, we wanted to find someone who would be around not only for our wedding, but for all of the other important times in our life. We found a girl online who was “building her portfolio” and was offering free sessions in exchange for the opportunity to use our images online. As we were completely unaware of anything having to do with professional photography, this seemed like a fair deal to us. She had just started out and we assumed that we would be helping her and she would be giving us something affordable in return. The problem here was that we assumed, which as we now know is a huge mistake when it comes to working with a service professional. She was unclear about her prices and we were not educated enough to ask. She came and took photos of our children outdoors and the photos came out cute. We were happy with the result, but then we found out that if we wanted any of the photos we would have to purchase them at an established professional’s price. She was unwilling to work with us and wanted to charge us upwards of 400$ for just a few digital images. In the end, we were unable to work with her for our wedding and she was unwilling to be even slightly flexible with our limited income.

After this bad experience, we once again went back to the internet and started at square one. We found someone who had a portfolio and the pictures seemed good enough. Again, we were on a very limited budget with 2 children and one income. She agreed to trade services with my husband and at first, seemed professional and nice. Then as things progressed, we started to get a bad feeling. She was flaky with her phone calls and returning emails and many times we would have to speak with her husband. She did not offer an engagement session for us to get to know her and that is when we started to get very nervous. At that point, I asked a friend to come and take some photos of our wedding because we had already put a lot of money towards photos and I was afraid that this photographer would not come through. After 3 months, we received our photos on a disc, completely unedited. All of the photos were blurry, grainy and dark. After doing our research, we realized she had no experience beyond general snapshots and was completely unqualified to shoot our wedding, much less anything else paid. I was unable to use a single photo she took and was lucky that we had a friend there taking photos for us.

The reason I felt it imperative to write these experiences for you to publish, was because I believe sometimes people just do not take advice seriously. Our wedding was something we cannot do over again and it would break my heart to have another bride make the same mistakes I have. After coming across your articles, I realized that I should have taken the time to educate myself on professional photography. As a consumer, you just assume that a professional title means that you are getting professional results. I have come to realize now that in the world of photography, most anyone can call themselves a professional photographer.

Thanks for letting me take the time to voice my story

-Mrs. Smith

Comments

  • Angela 4 years ago

    I would just like to say that having worked with a number of professional photographers in the Denver area that are struggling to make ends meet because of the overwhelming number of inexperienced people out there doing jobs for cheap, I applaud that someone stepped up to say something about it. The old adage "you get what you pay for" rings true in all facets of life but especially in the photography industry, especially these days. I encourage everyone out there looking for a photographer to really take some time and look at portfolios before choosing someone to work with. Get referrals. Don't just go by whomever is cheapest or you are going to be sorely disappointed in th eexperience.

  • Sam 4 years ago

    I'm glad there are more people out there recognizing this reality. Most consumers of photo services (like my own) are convinced someone is a professional simply by the apparent calibre of his/her gear. The last 10 years have taken us from century-old film traditions to modern digital technology and $600 DSLRs that trump the $5000 "pro" cameras from yesteryear. As has been pointed out, that's not good enough. Anyone can buy this gear and go charge $500 for a wedding - but they lack any shooting experience, any professional/business acumen, and the less-understood editing knowledge to bring their work to fruition and deliver a satisfactory result. Often times in this industry, 'you get what you pay for.' If you're looking for bargains, make sure you see samples of their work, and always find out in advance what you are getting for the agreed price. Does the price include editing? How 'bout prints/albums? What do those cost a la carte? Don't be afraid to ask questions!

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