Professional Photographer vs. Uncle Bob – who should you hire?

Part 1 –

Good ole’ Uncle Bob – every family has one or two of these fellas. You know who I am talking about. He’s the guy with a DSLR Camera and is itching to prove he can use it. Occasionally we find ourselves in competition with Uncle Bob for the privilege of photographing a wedding.

Uncle Bob may be a perfectly capable photographer, but unless he’s an aspiring wedding photographer chances are he hasn’t shot very many of them. Weddings are many things but most tend to be at least a little chaotic. It’s a job that demands professionalism and the ability to respond to changing lighting situations, manage timelines and people, etc. For the sake of brevity, this blog post is just going to focus on the differences in gear between amateurs and professionals.

Just in terms of equipment the difference between the images Uncle Bob will produce and what we will produce is profound. Uncle Bob probably has an entry level DSLR, like the Canon Rebel or the T3i .These are nice little cameras, no doubt, but they are not what the professionals are using. The cameras used by professionals make a difference in terms of the quality of the images, particularly in low light conditions.

The lenses used by professionals are also far and away better than the lenses commonly found on entry level DSLR cameras. We exclusively use ‘L’ series lenses from Canon and they are the best lenses they produce. Compared to their cheaper Canon built alternatives they focus faster (critical in fast moving action), take crisper images (in part due to their state of the art image stabilization technology) and employ better quality glass for their lenses which reduce chromatic aberrations (a technical term used to describe how the lens distorts color). I could go on but you get the idea – lens quality plays an equal if not greater role than the quality of the camera itself.

Last but not least we have off camera flash. Honestly when it comes right down to it this is what ultimately separates amateurs from professionals. Some call themselves ‘natural light’ photographers which is a cleverly marketed way of saying they don’t have off camera flash. Shooting ‘natural light’ is great and we do it all the time, but there are many situations that require more light, like when taking pictures indoors. Why is having the flash off the camera better than on camera? Simple: On camera flash is so close to the image sensor that it fills in all the areas of the subject with light. What you are left with is a flat looking image because there are no facial shadows to reveal form for the viewer. The cameras we use don’t even have a flash built into them, which should speak volumes about the value of on camera flash to the average professional.

All of this gear takes a fair amount of capital investment to accumulate, and that is one reason why professional photographers charge what they charge. Honestly this photography subject really deserves to be more in depth, so I promise to follow up with more details including examples using photos.

-Written by Cameron Baron

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