Should Photography Cost Money?

In our digital age, photography became much more accessible to everybody, and it is mostly a good thing. But there are few outcomes, which are not all positive.

I would like to talk about one such aspect in this post – how this technological advance affected professional photographers. In the old times, when people needed to cover an event, make family portraits, or anything else that had to be photographically documented, they would have to use professional photographer’s services, because there was no other choice. Nowadays, however, in order to save money, many prefer just asking a friend who has photography as a hobby, to drop by and take some shots. Of course, I am not talking here about mass media events, but for example small companies do that when they have all kind of social activities for their employees. When I was working at a high tech company, and they knew that photography is my hobby, they used to ask me to cover various company events and meetings… for free of course. A few years back they’d have to hire a professional photographer to do that.

Family portraits – I think the practice of gathering the whole family together and hiring a pro to shoot family portraits is almost extinct because everybody has a digital camera, and snaps tons of photos all the time, so people think there is no need to spend extra money on a pro.

And one of the most important events – weddings. Even though for many people wedding is an event of utmost importance they still try to cut costs by asking their friends-amateur-photographers to cover it. And even when people hire a professional wedding photographer they look for the cheapest prices, thinking that photography can’t cost “this” much, because it is so easy nowadays. And really good professional photographers have to lower their prices, which in turn affects the quality of their work because they still have to make a living, and now it means doing more work for the same money – thus spending less time on each assignment. I’ve turned down some of my friends requests to shoot their wedding because I don’t feel experienced enough, and it is way too much of a responsibility for  me. I only shot one wedding, for my very close friends and only because they couldn’t afford to pay professional photographer. Doing that I realized that shooting weddings is a hard work!

After being involved in photography for a few years, I can say with confidence – a good photograph is still as hard too create as it was 10, 20, and 30 years ago. I am not talking about ‘color representation’ or ‘correct exposure’ or any other technical aspect for that  matter. I am talking about ‘the photograph’ itself, you know, what it tells the viewer, and how it does that. Powerful, beautiful, tender, exciting, creative, breathtaking photographs are still as rare as they were before. It might not seem like that because you can see many beautiful photos on the internet, but that’s only because internet brought billions of people and many talented photographers among them into one place (the internet).

Lets go back to family portraits – a good family portrait made by professional photographer will capture the family, their feelings, the affection between family members the way that no snapshot ever will. Many years later, looking at that portrait you’ll remember what it was like back then, and it will be a pleasure to look at all your life.

Weddings – there can be no substitute for a good professional photographer. You really want you wedding day to be remembered in all its glory, and no inexperienced amateur can do that. And there are all kind of unexpected things that can happen. For example what if your friend’s camera breaks in the middle of the event? Or his batteries die? What then?

People, remember that good photography is hard to create, and it is a full time job, so don’t try to find the cheapest guy out there, which could mean that he won’t spend enough time on your assignment.

European award winning photographer Magnus Bogucki created a video describing how much time it takes to photograph wedding – from preparation, to the wedding day, to post processing and final wedding album. I highly recommend watching it. You will be surprised how much time it really takes, and how many different activities are required for a successful wedding shoot.

Surprised? I bet you are.

You can also visit Magnus’s website at, he is a really good wedding photographer, and to prove that one of his photos won an award for being among the world’s 50 best wedding photos of year 2010 by Junebug!

So, now what do you think, should people pay professional photographers, or anyone can snap good photos with his digital camera?