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The Importance of Professional Photography

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Basso is on your side ◊ edis ruoy no si ossaB

Commentary & Photo By Claudio Basso

There are so many options in photography today that consumers have a difficult time deciding where to spend money and where to save it, leaving them with the question, “When do I need a pro or an artist and when can I just use my point and shoot?”

Let’s talk for a second about the magic of photography. It allows us to live eternal, bringing back a moment, or a face, over and over again, far into the future, even after our journey here on Earth has ended. In past centuries this was achieved by master painters. Leaders and aristocrats spent serious money to commission their portrait from the best artists.

The artists, on the other hand, often celebrated their spouses with a beautiful painting. The emotion generated by the whole process was powerful, just think of La Tosca or the movie The Girl with a Pearl Earing. Even the Master Photographers followed the tradition with wonderful images of their loved ones.

Why is a Professional Portrait Important for Business?

What happens when you arrive at a party or walk into a trendy bar or restaurant? People “check you out” and in the first few seconds they build an opinion. Be it right or wrong it is a common behavior across the world. That says a lot about the power of your first impression.

The Power of Your First Impression

It is more powerful than your business card, the titles next to your name and your resume, all combined together. Your first impression will determine who will talk to you and who won’t.

The same thing happens when people see your picture, online and off, the Power of First Impression applies in all its majesty. You know you need a portrait of yourself, particularly in your work environment. Now you have a choice. You can go to a cheap photographer and be done in ten minutes and probably end up saving money but getting a generic, cheesy or boring image. Alternatively you can go to an artist, someone who has the ability to tell a story with one image, your story.

No matter what your brand is—“Eco Friendly,” “Reliable Real Estate Agent,” “Mean Executive,” “Rebellious Intellectual,” or anything else—your portrait can and should project your unique brand. If you don’t have a professional portrait done by a true artist, you literally are missing the chance to let a picture speak 1,000 words about you. In this age of social networking, this becomes even more important because you need your portrait to be consistent across all platforms that your image is visible on. What if you had an excellent corporate shot and then your next potential employer Google’s you to find you on Facebook with an image shot by your child at home?

What About Personal Portraits?

“Hey my husband and son have good digital cameras and Photoshop, why should I spend the money in getting a professional portrait to send to family and friends for the holidays?” some might ask. Now remember one thing. It is true that anybody can snap a photo and also that today’s digital technology can help. But think carefully before you choose, if you buy Microsoft Word does that make you a writer? The following card we made explains it very clearly:

A good portrait is not a picture of you, it’s a representation of your being. It is not a frame of your forms, it’s a confession of your soul.

Let’s think about this past Thanksgiving holiday. We get up, dress up, and visit family, eat turkey and all the other good food, drive home, go to sleep. Next morning we wake up, have coffee and go to the bathroom. After that we realize it’s all gone, the cycle is completed, and all we have left is the value of the time spent with loved ones, the rest just decays.

If time is the most valuable of our resources, wouldn’t you want to have a tool that allows you to stop it? Right… Let’s say pause it and rewind it?

That is the job of photography. Now think of what you are interested in conserving for posterity, your forms or your soul? The answer will direct you either to Sears or to an artist. Either way I wish you satisfaction and happiness with the results.

What About Point & Shoot Cameras?

I am currently sponsored by Canon and I shoot with their top camera, the EOS 1Ds Mark III, an amazing piece of engineering, which sleeps comfortably in the gear bag with all its related equipment. While it is not that difficult to take it out and get it going for a picture, I do not have it hanging around on a table collecting dust. This means that most of the times when there is a cute situation happening, most of the times with one of our pets, I miss it because of the time required to set up and shoot.

Then the Camera Gods created the point and shoot. Good quality, easy to operate, does not require a bag full of lenses and stuff, can sit around and it takes two seconds to get ready to shoot. I have one and I love it! It shoots darn good images and it fits in my jacket pocket when I go out. I push that baby to the max and I am amazed at what I get out of it. It is also discreet and does not call for attention in a public situation so I don’t have to explain what I do for living. So I am a big supporter of the point and shoot. I strongly recommend you to get one of those little cameras, you will be blown away by the results.

While I always carry one around, because you never know when you’ll stumble upon a photo opportunity, I would never use it on a job because it would limit my array of tools. For instance, I enjoy driving a Cabriolet around town—it’s a dream. I don’t own one but I would not use it for a 3,000-mile road trip. My students always look at me with wide eyes when I say that and someone usually asks: “But Claudio the point and shoots are the cameras that the amateurs use to outbid us on jobs…”

The so called Spray & Pray photographers, those that go out, shoot a million images—hey it’s cheap—in the hopes of getting a good one. I have nothing against them, everybody needs a chance and we live in a free country. What I think the market deserves is more education for clients so they understand what each job entails and then they can make educated decisions. Let me give you another example. Ladies you carry lipstick and powder in your purse, because you never know, right? For most occasions that is enough to get you back to your diva level. Now would you carry your entire collection of makeup with you, say, when you go out to dinner? Obviously not, that is what I mean. There is a tool for every job.

What is the Best Approach Then?

I do not own the truth, all I can do is offer you my knowledge regarding all the options you have available so that you can make educated decisions. Ultimately the decision is yours. And don’t worry. Nobody has the right to judge you. Those who do probably are those that don’t even have the guts to pick up a camera and shoot.

I think the best way to approach the question: “Where do I spend my money and where do I save?” is like planning a vacation. You have a budget, some items are not discretionary like transportation and hotel and meals. Then you have the optionals. Even when you think of the non discretionary items you still have room to maneuver. If you want to stay at a four star hotel you may have to sacrifice flying first class or the flashy rental car. Depending on your needs and the outcome you want of your vacation, you make your choices. A classic example of a bad choice would be spending tons on a rental car when you are going to be in one of those resorts that you never leave. Another would be booking a five star accommodation when your vacation is packed with tours and activities, and you know you are only going to sleep at the hotel.

Thanks; Choices, Choices and More Choices

Okay here’s the refreshing breeze that will move the fog away. Whenever in production, we are faced with a bunch of decisions, many of which are impacting another; at first we feel like running around like a chicken with no head. Where to start from then?

I always say, in this scenario you have to prioritize and you better write down your list on paper. It is what we call a punch list. Regarding the choices in photography, I would suggest following this course, (again please note this is just a recommendation, you can figure out your very own methodology).

First let’s divide our needs for photography into three categories:

  • Business Use
  • Official Family Photographs
  • Everyday Casual Needs

Now we define the outcome—the desired objective of each:

  • Business: It is important that you have an image that tells your story and represents you the way you want to be represented—you need a pro.
  • Official Family: These are birthdays, for holiday cards and so on. For the majority of these images you can do it yourself with a little point & shoot. In these images, capturing the moment is more important than anything else. For those images where the moment is less important than the story you want attached to the picture, I would hire an artist. Note I say an artist and not a pro, I will elaborate on this later.
  • Everyday Casual Needs. Unless you’ve won the Powerball Lottery or are followed by myriads of paparazzi on a regular basis, you don’t need a pro at your side 24/7. This is the time when the little point & shoot shines. Two seconds to take it out and bang! You got the shot.

Now you pull out a calendar and list all the needs that fall in each category except c) because you don’t know the future, and if you do I would like to invite you out to lunch…

Based on the list from the calendar you allocate your budget dollars.

Before I let you go I promised I would elaborate on the difference between an artist and a pro. I will offer here a short version and leave the long one for another free report to come in the near future.

From Wikipedia:

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially, as, “a person who expresses themselves through a medium.” The word also is used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of ‘high culture,’ activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as artists, those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline.

A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialized educational training.

The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field. The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs.

In western nations, such as the United States, the term commonly describes highly educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, economic security, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work.[1][2][3][4] Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.[5]

So a professional photographer is someone who has studied and practiced photography to a depth of understanding and knowledge of the craft inside and out. The majority of pros are just that. An artist is someone who utilizes a medium to describe something, like an opinion, or an emotion.

A pro can give you an excellent image, an artist can tell your story with one image.

Et voila’ this method will guarantee you the best bang for your buck! I am offering this article for your use, for free because I believe it could help you be happier. I kindly ask you to forward it to anyone you think may benefit from reading it.

Thank you for reading.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

— Claudio Basso

“If you light a candle, you can then light a million more from it without shortening its life.”  — the Dalai Lama

To contact the author, email him at Claudio@claudiobasso.comFor more information about Claudio Basso, check out his websites: www.claudiobasso.com and www.renovance.tv.

[Editor’s note: The comments expressed in this article are that of the author, and do not necessarily represent Picture-soup.com or its staff.]


2 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DavidM and Linda Gregory, Andrea Caballer. Andrea Caballer said: Good read on he importance of professional photography. RT @lgphotography: thanks to @Diane_Davis for this link! http://bit.ly/7PXHD3 […]

  2. Bravo and well said. There is but one issue I think was left out and that is of the artist who is also a professional.

    I consider myself an artist and much of my work is art. At the same time I do professional and artistic portraiture. Because I do this for a living does it make my images less artistic? I like to think not. I create art for my clients and at times, I do professional imagery for clients. The line between Artist and professional is very blurred. It is defined by the viewer as is most (if not all) art.

    Michael Albany

    January 22, 2010 at 7:19 am

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