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Choose a professional photography service

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I’m often surprised at the standard of the profile portraits I see on otherwise good websites. And I’m pretty keen for my clients’ sites to feature a professional portrait photo. For me, having a strong, memorable profile shot is a no-brainer.

So, I was relieved when my new client said:

“Don’t worry! The photographer is lined up. Pics will be ready within the week”

Sure enough, a week later I was presented with the pics: about 200 untreated images. Each shot was an almost identical frontal, head and shoulders pose. I actually had trouble telling them apart. None had any character. My heart sank… I began the task of sifting through, trying to find the ‘needle in the haystack’.

I gave up after 15 minutes to conclude that the photographer’s level of service was unacceptable. Why?

  • Handing over 200+ random images hardly suggests quality control. It’s the photographer’s professional duty to spend time selecting just the best images. A professional should use editorial judgement, expertise and common sense in choosing the pics that reflect the character of the sitter. All sadly lacking in this case.
  • The best photographers don’t shoot hundreds of images. They are better-prepared and take a smaller number. They spend time getting the lighting right. For example, Harry Duns connects his camera to a monitor so that he can review test shots with a client. He carefully checks and re-checks raw images on a relatively big screen (digital camera displays are bright, but small). There is no need to shoot 200 pics because he’s confident 20 will do.
  • There was no variety. The background didn’t change; the lighting was flat throughout; there didn’t seem to be any attempt to try different poses, or even facial expressions.
  • My client looked incredibly tense in almost all the photos. The best photographers help people prepare for their moment in front of the camera. They take time to talk with their subjects, and in doing so, help them feel at ease and confident. They’ll ask what the photos will be used for; how the subject wants to come across; will the images be re-produced in print and so on.

My client was ripped off by a charlatan. I learnt a valuable lesson.

Contact me for information about the next Harry Duns Open Studio or for a private portfolio shoot

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tom Thomas 22/02/2011, 4:45 pm

    I am the face shown above!
    I’ve been meaning to get some proper professional portrait photos done for a while. After spending only 20 minutes or so with Harry I am now in the possession of a portable set of images that I will reuse across my personal brand, from business cards to social media – I have a nice mix of 3/4 length, close-up and in between.
    Harry put me at ease very quickly with his rapport, which is important when you need good results in a limited time.
    And thanks to Mick for sorting the logistics (I was a very last minute booking!).

  • Mick 22/02/2011, 7:54 pm

    It’s great to know you’re happy with the photos, and thanks so much for sharing here.

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