Lending Club Blog

Paying for Portraits

Having a young child, we take a ton of photographs at our house. A recent experience with a professional photographer reminded me not only how expensive they can be, but also how unnecessary they are in many cases.

Even though I consider photography a hobby of mine, I realize that I am still very much an amateur. Fortunately, the advent of digital cameras, image editing software, and low-cost printing methods have helped to make up for my shortcomings. I am able to take many great pictures simply because the low cost allows me to take so many. What I lack in skill I can make up for in volume. That’s why my professionally photographed family portrait was so disappointing. While the pictures were pretty good, I have hundreds of better ones that I’ve taken myself.

Before the stream of comments defending professional photographers starts pouring in, let me say that the value of professional photography endures in many circumstances, just not in all cases. Once-in-a-lifetime events, or situations where taking your own photographs would distract your attention from the event itself, are still best left to professionals. I’ve had wonderful experiences with the professionals who photographed my wedding and took pictures of my newborn child. In those cases, their amazing talent was well worth the price.

As for a cost comparison, my recent portraits cost $50 for two 5×7 reprints. At one popular photo-printing site, Shutterfly, 5×7 prints are just $0.99 each. Other sites offer even lower pricing. Even if you assumed that online prints were of lower quality and needed to be replaced every 5 years, they clearly cost significantly less. This greatly reduced price would quickly offset the costs of taking the pictures yourself. With technological advancements, even $100 digital cameras probably give you more capability then you’ll ever need. One final advantage of taking your own photos is that you own the copyright and can use and control your image as you see fit.

Family portraits and similar recurring events can likely be preserved just as well, and for considerably less money, by doing it yourself. There will still be times when using a professional makes sense, it’s just not nearly as common as it once was.

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 8:12 am

Comments (2)

  1. Wish my wedding will be as good, good luck.

    August 16th, 2009 at 2:40 am

  2. Some good points and as a pro photograher I am not going to
    complian because digital cameras have turned the industry on its
    head. I would however like to say its not the camera but the person
    behind it! There is a lot of skill involved in taking a good
    portrait so I would encourage people to look at samples provided by
    a noted professional photographer before jumping to the conclusion
    that volume is better than quality.

    October 19th, 2010 at 7:59 am

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