In a world that is now booming with digital tech, and with an HD camera on almost every handheld device, how do you decide the answer to that age old question.. “who's going to take the picture?” A wedding, a senior portrait for a high school student, or more personal events like family reunions or baby pictures; how do you choose? How do you decide on the right person to capture those memories? Don't you simply point and shoot? We as a race have been doing this from the good old Polaroid days but even with that knack for pointing at a subject and pressing a button, there are so many factors to consider when taking a photograph. How is the light falling? What time of day. Is the scene set inside or outdoors. Are there shadows? Is the sun behind them or is the lighting off to the side? Do you have a shallow depth of field, are you shooting color or black and white, and many other details.. These are but few of the thoughts running through my head while shooting.
Clearly we have the option of making portfolios, meeting people and being able to use our gift to make memories for so many people, but how to start out? Some people have a natural gift for it, but if you really want to get serious about developing the skillset in that arena, education is a great place to start learning about the craft of photography. As an example, when I was first starting out I spent what I would exaggeratedly say a “gazillion hours in the dark room.” Developing and processing thousands of negatives in that room. I called it the "Ansel Adams days"; it's kind of like playing a musical instrument but never learning music theory, just learning it at your own pace and making it your own. To take your music playing to a whole new level... Same with photography, taking the time to really immerse yourself in the process and appreciate how best to use it. As far as finding who best to hire as a photographer, experience is a key component to consider.
As an example, when I was starting out, that was when I made most of my mistakes. I remember when photographing a group shot with a mom and dad, I didn't ask mom to take off her sunglasses. To this day 30 years later I still recall her anger at me. Good lesson learned. Another point I find myself saying a lot is having a mature peripheral. This means not having tunnel vision or being obsessed with one idea or a way of doing things. It's an incredible balance of being determined to get a shot and at the same time being open to another coming at you at the same moment. I've taught photography to some high school students and I would say, " Stop looking down or forward but look up and behind you.” Sometimes the best shot literally is behind you. It is great fun to be constantly aware of your surroundings and yet have all sorts of ideas and formulas and a list in your head but still you're on real time. Your visual 360 is also combined with present and future. Pretty engaging stuff. One of the things that propelled me into a career of photographing people is being a people person. If you don't like a crowd or being in the middle of one, it might not be for you. Or if you are timid and can't handle telling a crowd how to position themselves or even to have a sense of humor under that pressure, perhaps don't go there.
I've often thought of myself as a waiter of sorts, serving people and providing a service and making them happy. For the different age groups, I act different. I'm a little more more entertaining with the younger ones and more respectful for the older, like a waiter.
Another aspect of choosing a good photographer might be his style. This is what truly makes someone stand out from others. this is what will differ from person to person. Its almost similar to a person's clothing style. You cant typically change someone's feeling about their style or convince someone to like yours; they just have their tastes. So in this, you're on your own, but it is good to at least know the photographer's skill and competence and his ability to consistently render quality images under sometimes complete chaos with a calm and gracious demeanor.
In closing, I find that one of the most profound truths of my career is this: "Time is fleeting, Capture the moment". One of the most wonderful things about photography is simply stopping time, capturing a moment in time, and keeping it for all time. Like in films near the end of the story, when it all starts slowing down and it gets rather dramatic. That's because its coming to a close. which is where I come in. Stopping time and capturing a moment that will last for ages is somethign that can be treasured for the rest of our lives and I take it very seriously but with a smile.