Professional photographers do much more than point and shoot. Experts at still photography have the background and equipment to produce high-quality images to document your special events or produce a perfect portrait.
General-use cameras continue to improve, and so does the equipment used by pros. Better cameras can produce images of higher resolution than standard cameras. Professional lighting techniques can make the difference between a so-so image and one that stands out.
Professional videographers and photographers use flattering angles and unique perspectives and settings that set their work apart from most amateur efforts.
Professional photographers use editing techniques to clear up imperfections and provide filtering and contrast.
If you want physical images to frame or tuck into albums, be aware that a professional-quality printing service can provide much better prints than those you might get at the local discount store. These kinds of companies have lab correction services and a range of papers such as metallic, pearl, linen and more.
Hiring a photographer
Good photographers have strong reputations. Since what they do is both personal and image-based, their work is easy to check out. Do your research to find a professional who works in the style you want for a price you can afford.
As soon as you know you need to hire someone to document a wedding or other major life event, begin your search for the right pro. Angie's List can be a great resource, in addition to asking friends and family for recommendations. Set up a consultation appointment with those whose work seems to be what you want. Use this initial meeting to find out more about their experience.
When looking at the work, take note of the style and variety of images, and how that matches your personal preferences. Pay attention to poses, angles, lighting and other techniques.
Make sure to ask about what to expect all along the way and the full spectrum of possible services and products. Be clear about how long the photographer will be on the job and when you'll see proofs or final images. Be sure you know what to expect in terms of end product. Will you receive digital or print proofs from which to choose final images, or will the photographer provide you a large selection of images with you being responsible for any prints?
When you are sure of what you want, be sure to get all details in writing, including prices.
Wedding photographer services
Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, so choose wisely when hiring a wedding photographer.
Check reviews, and create a list of candidates to interview. View portfolios, and ask questions about the photographer's style, additional fees for travel and parking, backup plans in case of equipment failure and more. Go with someone you trust, and don't sign a contract without reading it in full.
Expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 for up to eight hours of wedding photography service. For extra time, costs can increase to between $4,000 and $6,000.
There are a few options for photo printing: retail, online or at home.
For retail photo printing, you typically take your USB cable and camera or a flash drive to a store in your area that has a photo department, such as Walgreens, CVS or Walmart. The cost for prints starts around 30 cents, depending on the size.
You can also order prints online by uploading your photos and paying. The prints arrive in the mail. Prices vary based on the quality of the printing.
If you print photos often, it might be wise to purchase a photo printer to use at home. PCMag recently rounded up a list of the top 10 photo printers, which included brands Epson, Canon and HP. The prices range from $199 to $999.
How to preserve photos
Photos form a precious link to the past. Treat them with care. You can ask the photographer for advice on storing and displaying prints of special images. Consider also these tips:
Frame photos using acid-free mat board and backing. Leave space between the print and glass to prevent sticking; double matting is a good way to ensure sufficient spacing.
Store or display photos in cool and dry conditions. Avoid attics, basements, laundry rooms and bathrooms.
Photos are sensitive to light, so avoid direct sunlight or indoor lights.
Another way to preserve special memories is to have a professional video editor duplicate and transfer images to a digital format. A video or photography service can also digitally restore old or damaged photos, create montages from slides and prints and add music and other elements to a digital presentation.