Soraya Rudofsky Photography » | Capturing the American Dream

You Don’t Need A Professional Photographer

I’m going to tell you a secret.  You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to take your picture. You don’t even need to hire one to take a good picture of you.

If all you’re looking for is to record what it is you look like, an iPhone selfie will do the job just fine. (I love the iPhone, and am myself an iPhonography addict!) Consumer cameras on auto mode are getting more sophisticated each year, with bigger and better sensors, and the images they make often aren’t half bad. Plus photography is fun, and there are lots of great amateurs out there who take lovely photos.

So why would anyone ever pay for a custom photo session? What do I offer as a professional photographer that you can’t get from the camera in your pocket, or your Uncle Fred’s fancy dslr that he got for Christmas?

Sure, there are the basics that professional photographers offer that come with our photography education and experience — flattering angles. Beautiful lighting. Making sure you don’t have a giant tree growing out of the back of your head. Preventing the sad and terrible outbreak of Oompa Loompa-ism that can inadvertently afflict the unwary amateur photo editor.  Don’t pretend you didn’t laugh at the “Pinterest fail” and “awkward photo” memes that perpetually circulate the internet.  At the very minimum, a competent professional photographer will make sure that’s not you.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Here are a few more reasons why hiring a professional is a great value.

1. I’m Your Expert Guide

It’s my job to guide you through every step of the process. At our consultation, I’ll find all about what you’re looking for, then help you find the sessions and products that are the right fit.  Maybe you’re just looking for one giant, really awesome photo to go over the couch in your living room. Or maybe you really want a little album with lots of photos of the kids to send to Grandma and Grandpa who live far away.  I offer packages and à la carte options so that we can customize exactly what makes the most sense for you — and be certain to get the photos that will be perfect for the proof of love you choose!

I’ll talk you out of wearing that hideous neon green sweater with the giant logo that will make your skin look weird. I’ll help you measure and pick the right size canvas to fit over your couch (and then come over to hang it for you). I keep up on the latest industry news and developments, including what’s in style today and what’s classic forever.  I’m forever looking for the best photo locations, props, outfit choices, and products. I know what looks good, and what doesn’t. I’ll always give you my honest opinion, because I want you to be thrilled and tell all of your friends.

I eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff (just ask my husband!) so you don’t have to.

2. The Session Experience

“Aw gee, Mom, do we have to have our photos taken?”

You may have heard your kids say something like this. Or your spouse. And I can’t blame them. Traditional photo sessions were those interminable, uncomfortable hours where someone makes you wait, then hold yourself in a really awkward, uncomfortable position in front of bright lights that hurt your eyes, then move your hand slightly , then hold really still again, then turn your head just a bit, now smile — you get the idea. Even assuming your kids could hold still for that, why would anyone want to?

What if instead you could get amazing, beautiful, meaningful photos that make your insides warm and fuzzy when you look at them, and have an awesome time doing it?

That’s the idea behind Playful Heart sessions for kids & families, and Beloved sessions for couples. Instead of a photo session, think of it as a playdate — a couple of hours where you can tune out all the distractions and just focus on being together. We’ll play lots of games that will make you smile, laugh, cuddle, and maybe even tear up with emotion. The littlest ones will love meeting Mico, the monkey that lives in my camera bag. But most of all, you’ll just be yourselves. No stiff posing, no “saying cheese.” Just you and your loved ones, having a great time.

Forget about the camera — leave that part up to me. While you’re busy playing, I’ll be taking beautiful photos of those gorgeous, authentic smiles that happen when the ones you love light you up. I’m there to help you connect to each other, and to see those moments — that special thing your eyes do when your baby says “I love you.”

3. Service & Vision

Creating a custom experience and amazing photos for you means I spend, on average, about 15-20 hours on each photo session. Dedicating that kind of time allows me to:

  • get to know you before the session and design an experience and overall vision for your photos that is meaningful to you and reflects your individuality;
  • have a relaxed session with no rigid time limits so we can be sure to get all of the wonderful images you’ll cherish;
  • carefully select the very best photos and edit them with precise attention to detail so you look your very best;
  • guide you through the process of selecting your photos and products so you’ll be thrilled with the results;
  • ordering and inspecting every piece of love when it arrives to me so that I can be certain it meets my standards for excellence;
  • hand delivering your proof of love — and hanging it on your walls if you’ll let me! — to make sure that you love it, and that you enjoy it with your family.

My goal is for you to have gorgeous, heirloom artwork that you adore showcasing carefully composed images of you and your loved ones in beautiful light experiencing meaningful moments together.  That’s not an aesthetic vision you can realize with an iPhone selfie, or when you’re just one of a gazillion clients who only gets 20 minutes while the next one waits in the wings.  I take on fewer clients each month so I can focus on you and your photographs, and provide you with artwork and customer service that exceeds your expectations in every way.

4. Insurance & all that boring legal stuff

As a business, I carry insurance, am licensed, and pay taxes.  I also require a contract that spells out the terms of our professional relationship. All that stuff is boring, expensive for me as a business, and totally unsexy to talk about. But it’s super important because it protects you, and me, and makes sure that you get what you paid for. It’s also simply the right thing to do (and, unfortunately, not everyone does it).

5. Proof of Love

Finally, this is where hiring a professional makes a tremendous difference. Have you ever tried to make a big print of an Instagram that you love, and when you see it in person it’s pixelated, or kinda muddy and icky-looking?  Digital images can look GREAT on a computer screen, and then terrible in print.

I don’t geek out on gear specs — I believe the emotion and artistic vision of a photo matter more than how big or sharp it is.  But there’s no question that professional cameras, lenses, editing and computer equipment give me the freedom and technical ability to make interesting, emotional, beautiful images that I couldn’t get with my iPhone, or with a consumer camera on auto. That’s why I spend thousands of dollars on gear that could otherwise be spent on shoes.

It breaks my heart when I see someone who has done everything right — hired a great photographer who makes beautiful, meaningful images that she and her family love but, instead of buying professional prints and albums, she decides to get a disk and print them herself online, or at a local chain. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen what can happen when you bring a beautiful, perfectly lit and edited professional photo to a drugstore for 99 cent prints.  It makes me want to cry that, after all that time and money spent to make something awesome, she ends up with a giant orange baby hanging over her little one’s crib.

So, though maybe you don’t need to hire a professional photographer to take you photos, you want to. You’re getting a tremendous value, one that only grows with time. Tomorrow all the money in the world can’t buy the photos that you didn’t take today.  This is an investment in something priceless — you, and the ones you love.

You love people. Let’s show them.

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