When consumers are in need of a photographer, the choices can be overwhelming. Photography is, after all, a service, and we all know that shopping for services is very different from shopping for tangible goods. Much like getting a haircut, you have no way of knowing what the result of that service is going be until after you have experienced the service. Couple that with the fact that the need for photography is often to capture a once in a lifetime event, and, unlike getting a bad haircut where it will eventually grow back, you have one shot at getting it right! So how do you choose? Entrusting these events to a pro photographer is often your best bet. As part of our ongoing series, “Why Hire a Pro?” we will today explore the topic of continuing education.
Professional photographers often participate in continuing education events. These events can vary in scope from national conferences featuring world renowned photographers sharing their techniques to multi-day workshops taught by an industry expert to local seminars lasting a few hours taught by local pros. We regularly participate in all of these, because as professionals we are constantly striving to hone our skills so that we can deliver top quality images and service to our clients. Our goal is to stay fresh and be prepared to use our equipment under any circumstance. Hence, continuing education is a huge part of what we do.
Last week we attended Imaging USA, the yearly conference of the Professional Photographer’s Association (PPA). This conference had over 11,000 attendees and showcases some of the finest photographic talent in the nation. It consists of multiple days of seminars, a tradeshow and opportunities to network and trade ideas with our peers across the country. The seminars are taught by successful photographers who are willing to teach their methods and techniques that serve to inspire us in our quest to deliver compelling images to our clients. Hence, we are exposed to a wide variety of photographic techniques and have access to experts who are willing to share their expertise and offer guidance.
We also attended the the Imaging Expo, which is a trade show. Trade shows such as this afford hands on testing of the latest equipment and exposure to vendors offering the highest quality products that may not be routinely available to consumers. It is here that we have face to face interaction with experts to give us tips and tricks on the subtleties of our equipment, or solve a particular difficulty we may be experiencing. We also shop at the trade show for new and exciting products to offer our clients, such as new albums, or new and interesting ways to display your images.
But conferences are just one way professionals keep their continuing education up to date. Workshops and multi-day seminars given by local and international industry leaders keep pros up to date on industry trends, as well. Styles change, and your photographer needs to be prepared for you. Wedding photography has gone from a dozen or so formal shots to full-blown photo-journalistic coverage documenting every move of the bride and groom’s day … and there are no do-overs! Senior portrait photography has gone from … well …just look for a minute at my senior portrait from 1979 and a senior portrait that I shot recently at a continuing education workshop that I took with renowned senior portrait photographer, Amanda Holloway. Yes, trends change and our participation in these types of continuing education keep things fresh!
In the last year we have also participated in hands on workshops with international photographer, Roberto Valenzuela, as well as some of our local favorites, Zack Smith and Mark Eric. Oh, and by the way, see the badge on the left side of our site? You guessed it, more education. Click it to learn more about Shutterfest. And yes, we are SO pumped that we will be there in 2015!
There are plenty of other forms of continuing education that are available and that we engage in on a regular basis, including reading trade magazines, participation in online forums and articles and watching online training videos from sites such as Creative Live. Any and all of these mediums help us keep current on shooting and technique, as well as help us stay current on best business practices, best social media practices, and the like.
Big or small, your photographer’s participation in continuing education can make the difference. When shopping for photographic services be sure to ask about which forms of continuing education your photographer participates in. It can be one indicator of how up to date the individual is with current styles and techniques.
Check back next week for another post in our series “Why Hire a Pro?“, and if you missed last week’s post on editing, you can find it here.