Technology is advancing on an exponential level. Who DOESN’T own a computer or digital camera these days? Most families I know even own a DSLR camera. Professional labs know this and have made themselves available to the general public so moms can place an order for prints or even a wall canvas and have it delivered to their house in a week. Don’t have Photoshop? No problem. They can even do the color correcting for you. The majority of them even have software you can use on their website to design your own album or greeting cards.
So with all this technology available, what role does the “family photographer” have, if any?
I think the answer lies in the questions I get asked at least once a week, such as “I want to take a picture of my kids, but how to I make the background blurry?”
Anyone can pick up a camera, put it on “program” or “automatic” and capture a moment. But there really is an art behind capturing a GOOD image. And it isn’t just about “making the background blurry”. Its knowing WHEN to make it blurry and how blurry to make it…and when you shouldn’t make it blurry at all. Its about light: what light to use, natural or flash or both, and how much of it to use. How to shape that light on your subject. What lens to use so as to not distort your subject, or if you WANT to distort your subject, what lens will give you the effect you want. Did you even know that some lenses distort? What about shutter speed…how fast does your shutter speed need to be to create a crisp image of your child running toward you? How slow should your shutter speed be to create an intentional blurry picture of your child dancing? How to angle your camera…are you looking down at your subject or looking up or straight on? What effect do different angles give the viewer of the photograph? Did you even know it did give an effect? Its about facial analysis. A good photographer will do a facial analysis of you before taking your picture so they know how to make you look your best and to reduce the appearance of flaws. It is about framing your subject and making sure there are leading lines to your subject and making sure there is nothing distracting in the background. What about post-production? That is the real art behind a photograph. Do you want your picture to be sepia toned or black and white? Vivid colors or maybe a washed out Abercrombie look? Maybe you want a 1950s look or a Holga camera look. When you send it to a lab to do this, they only make reds red and blues blue.
There is so much more than just picking up a camera and snapping a picture. It takes a photographer YEARS to learn good photography and after they learn it, they still need to keep abreast of all the latest trends.
So while the trend of photography has shifted from formal portraits in a library to more fun, photojournalistic photography…there is and always will be a need for GOOD photography. Even if it is just to put up on your FaceBook profile.
I want to hear your thoughts…what do you think about the family photographer? What do you think about paper prints?