How do I choose a photographer? (Part3)

In your search for a photographer, often you will come across…

 

The ” Gear head” –

“We use only the top of the line, professional,  “Brand X” equipment to achieve the best result..

                Ever notice how the only people who want you to think that certain cameras make better pictures either  want to sell you one, or happen to own them? A little common sense here is in order. Camera manufacturers, like any company, advertise the quality of their product, many times with wording that most people only partially understand. With digital cameras, the buzzword today is MEGAPIXELS, and the advertisers hype “bigger is better”. Far too many photographers (and consumers) get sucked into this propaganda, after all it seems to make sense. “The more information that I can stuff into a file the better.”  The simple fact is this…  If your photos aren’t good in the first place, getting a camera with more megapixels will only allow you to enlarge your crappy photos.  Rarely do I see clients who are willing to pay for enlargements big enough to tell a noticeable difference in file size.

                 I’m a big fan of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn. To listen to some of his music you would swear that there are two guitarists playing…till you saw him live. Wow! Interestingly enough, it seems that his favorite guitar was an old, beat up Stratocaster. Wouldn’t a new Les Paul make his songs sound better? Doubtful… just like me playing a new Les Paul wouldn’t give me new found talent.

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                I’m a Nikon guy, so here’s a comparison of a couple of Nikons offerings for comparison.  The Nikon D90, has 12.3 MP and sells for approx. $759.00. The Nikon D3s ( Nikons latest “big gun”), has 12.1 MP and sells for approx. $5200.00. If megapixels really are the determining factor, then the D90 would be a better camera right? Why would anyone buy a $5200.00 camera when a $759.00 camera will put out the same sized file? Just a casual search on the internet will show that almost all professional photographers agree that light is the most important factor in the quality of an image.

                The advantage of today’s cameras is convenience & control (for the photographer), NOT image quality.  As a portrait photographer I have the advantage of time and location. I can control the light with time of day that I shoot, flashes, reflectors, location, etc. Wedding and sports photographers don’t have these luxuries most of the time, so they may need to compensate with a camera that is built to operate in different conditions.

 

                Today with digital, we also have the issue of retouching/”photoshopping”.  Enter…

The ” Purist” –

“Your  images will come straight from the camera. I take the time to set up my shoots so that no retouching is necessary…”

                I included this with the gear head post because it’s somewhat related and this rant is kinda short. The implication is that a proper photo needs no retouching.

                 Consider this: any photo you’ve seen of your favorite celebrity in a magazine, movie poster, or billboard has been thoroughly retouched, from head to toe.   You always want people to see the best possible you. Ask yourself if you would rather look like the reality-TV you or the movie-star you? Every commercial, video, or print ad you ever see will have hair, make-up, camera filters, and digital color-correction. Most music videos retouch their women frame-by-frame. Yes, it can be (and often is) way overdone, if you want a picture that looks nothing like you, go can get one of Cindy Crawford ,right?

                Like all other photography equipment, retouching software is a tool. A tool that if used properly help to achieve the look, mood and the purpose of the photograph.

 

                In this day and age, a good photographer can make great images with any medium to high quality camera. People who spend an excessive amount of time discussing the type of equipment/software they use will also use the equipment as an excuse for bad images . What you really want to know is what type of images they can produce consistently and if they can show you plenty of samples. It’s the final result that matters. If you are happy with what they show you and everything else checks out OK, you can assume their equipment is adequate for the task.

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