Why hire a professional portrait photographer?

One of the most common questions I've been asked and that I often see online is this: Why hire a professional portrait photographer when I can go to a chain and have my photos taken for a fraction of the price? 

Before I answer that question, let me just say this: I don't think anything is inherently wrong with store chains if you've done some research and weighed your options, especially if you're not currently in a secure place financially. This is not a post to coerce or convince, it's to bring awareness to the benefits of this service that may not have initially come to mind.

(I do admit that I'm slightly biased.)

When you go to a department store or a photo chain, the main selling point is the low cost. You are paying for photos, but whether those photos are decent or not, whether your photographer is experienced and passionate about photography and whether the people there are accommodating, polite and professional is a gamble.

Unless you're comfortable with having your photo taken, the experience is, at the very least, uncomfortable and draining after the long sales pitch afterward and the sheer amount of options when it comes to print packages can be overwhelming. 

Looking at reviews online for chains in Clearwater Florida, there is a disproportionately large amount of disgruntled customers that are given poor quality photos after an equally dismal session of: inattentive consultants, appointments running 30-40 minutes behind schedule and rushed, stressed photographers. I'm not placing blame on the employees at these chains, but this is inevitably what happens when expectations clash. 

Hiring a family portrait photographer may be more expensive, but let me list some of the benefits - at the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether high quality family portraits is something you actively save and plan ahead for: 

  • You get a chance to get to know your photographer through their portfolio, testimonials and about section before you even decide to book a session
  • Because your photographer is most likely the business owner, communication is painless and easy and this personability translates into a more comfortable photo session for everyone
  • Your photographer is able to travel to your location and photograph you in an environment where you feel at ease and comfortable
  • You might actually have fun

And last but definitely not least: 

Your photographer is experienced and passionate about the art of photography: they respect and value their work and most of all your experience. This translates into beautiful family portraits that are fit to display on your living room walls as well as the virtual walls of social media.  

Tampa Bay Headshot by Stephanie Bough Photography