The Camera Didn’t Do It.

A photography friend stumbled across this on Facebook and liked it.  I read it, and thought it was so well written that it should be shared.

Fuzzy Duenkel operates Duenkel Portrait Art in West Bend Wisconsin, and this is his blog.

We the People…

…should not be trying to do what a professional can do much better. 

6a00e5512a8c66883301bb08162821970dThe above example is pretty extreme, but it shows what a real professional can do in exactly the same location, same time of day (a few minutes apart)… but knowing how to manipulate light.   Obviously this is not the person in my article. 

Let’s talk about what hiring a pro is all about…

A person at a business we patronize has a high school senior aged guy.  But we found out that rather than coming to us, his mom photographed his senior portraits.  Now I don’t know about you, but if my mom photographed my senior portraits, that would NOT be an experience I’d want to tell my friends about! :)

Seriously though there are two points I want to make about this.  The first and most important point is that because his parents chose to save a little money (ANYONE can afford us) he missed out on what would have been an incredibly powerful experience he’d remember and enjoy the rest of his life.  I’m not saying that being photographed by his mom wasn’t something he’d remember too, but there’s a vast difference between being photographed by your mom… and your parents seeing the esteem-building value of hiring a professional to capture what will probably be the most important portrait in his life.  You see, a senior portrait not only signifies that pivotal change from childhood to adulthood, but also the resulting photos will follow you forever… good or bad!

We all know that cameras are advanced enough that anyone can point a camera at someone and get a decent exposure.  But there’s a huge difference between simply a decent exposure…  and capturing who that person wants to be and how they want to look.  It takes more than a “nice camera” to create an impactful portrait.  The photos his mom took were simply records of how he looked standing there.   I specialize in crafted lighting, composition, and photographic techniques as only a real professional can to make jaw-dropping images they can’t stop looking at.  The real shame of this is that he will never know how great I could have made him look and how those images could have made him feel. 

I take my work very seriously, so it pains me to see this being done to people all across our country.  There’s an attitude that since a camera can focus and expose, then all one needs to do is to go to cliche locations, take corny pictures, and do cheesy special effects.  While it probably won’t happen, I hope that someday people will realize that a “nice camera” doesn’t create a portrait, just as shiny pots and pans don’t make a chef and sharp knives don’t make a doctor.

My second point is about scratching each other’s backs.  I understand the temptation to just “do it yourself”.  Believe me I know!  My parents didn’t have much money, but all seven of their kids still had Communion portraits.  My wife’s folks worked hard for every penny, yet they saw the value in regular professional portraits of her family and her seven kids.  Because those portraits were so well done, they still live today on our walls for us to see and experience every day.

Look, we ALL have thoughts of cutting corners when faced with a job we think we could do ourselves, whether that be car repair, landscaping, plumbing, or a service we think we can become an expert at by watching a video online.  But I’m reminded of a lesson my former accountant (who passed away some years ago) impressed upon me.  Bob Spaeth told me, “I’m a professional at what I do.  I keep up with all the new laws.  I can handle your finances and taxes much better than you can.  You’re a professional at what you do.  Since you’re the best senior photographer in the nation, you can certainly do it better than I can.  Let me do your taxes and you photograph my kids’ senior portraits.”

Bob knew the value of helping me succeed so I can help him succeed.  It’s a two way street.  He knew that if he had only taken my money for doing my taxes but then photographed his own kids, I would have less financial ability and less interest to give him my business is return.   From that lesson, I now reciprocate with businesses that patronize mine, whether that be bartering, or regular payment for services. 

Again, we all know the pain of spending our hard-earned money.  But also remember… that pain only lasts a short time.  Portraits and mutually supportive relationships last a lifetime.

They are his pictures and it’s from his blog, but I just couldn’t say it any better. Here is the link to Fuzzy’s blog.

The point is that even with a sophisticated camera that comes with all the bells and whistles, if you don’t understand lighting (auxiliary off camera lighting in particular), understand balance and composition, and if you don’t have a knack for making people feel relaxed and know how to pose them to bring out their best features, well even all the bells and whistles are only going to produce a technically good lousy picture.

I’m a professional photographer and I take pride in creating art featuring you and your loved ones; art you are going to be proud to hang on your wall.

I am John Mitchell, MPA, APPO
Storyteller. Artist. Photographer

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