• Charlotte Burn

Hiring An Amateur Photographer - Do The Benefits Make It Worth The Risk?

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

OK, so you need a photographer and you find yourself considering hiring an amateur over a professional. But should you do it? It is time to consider the benefits of working with an amateur photographer and if they outweigh the potential risks.

In a time when money is tight and costs are rising no one can be blamed for wanting to look for cheaper alternatives when it comes to the rising costs of weddings, marketing materials or professional family photographs! Hell, I did the same for my wedding and would do it over and over again. But you need to weigh up the pros and cons and make sure it is the right decision for you before you commit. It does of course come with its own risks, but do the benefits make it worth it?

Make an informed choice based on all the facts and save yourself any confusion further down the line.

What are some of the benefits to hiring an amateur photographer?

1. Cheaper rates than the professionals means you will be saving money

Quite simply, an amateur photographer is looking to gain experience, practise their skills and learn from every opportunity and therefore they appreciate they are going to have to work for cheaper rates then the professionals. This is the same with any job in any industry, as a trainee you start of on a lower salary than the manager - simply because you are learning your trade. This doesn’t mean you are trying to undercut or undermine the professionals (yes, I am glaring at all the professionals who get annoyed at us charger cheaper rates!), this means they appreciate their position in the hierarchy and understand that it simply isn’t good business to charge the same as someone who has years more experience than you.

Without taking experience into the equation, more often than not we don’t actually have the same overhead costs to our new businesses that the big professionals do. We use free websites (shout out to wix 😉) and we don’t produce masses of marketing materials as we tend to make the most out of all the free materials instead (hellloo digital marketing at its best). We rely heavily on word of mouth and our awesome past ‘clients’ to share the love and let people know. And we love a bit of good old-fashioned networking – walking around to local businesses, mums groups, bridal shops, wedding venues etc and just saying hello, I am here and looking to grow – how can I help.

2. You get to work with an extremely enthusiastic individual genuinely pleased you decided to book them and therefore happy to go above and beyond for you

Amateur photographers are in the peak of wanting to learn, wanting to be out there taking photographs and whilst enthusiasm doesn’t get you all the way, it counts for a lot!

Not set in our own ways (although developing a unique style) we are open to discussions about the final product and happy to be involved in a project that will enable us to further develop our learning and push our creative potential. We actively seek opportunities over a variety of photography projects and fields enabling us to learn from it all along the way and take that forward into every new photography adventure we embark on.

Instead of set packages with set outcomes you have the possibility to create something with us that works for you and us that is mutually beneficial – it is quite exciting really!

3. We really, really want to impress you and are prepared to go the extra mile

Just in case our cheaper rates and enthusiasm wasn’t enough – we actually really want to impress you. We don’t have heaps of previous ‘customers’ and reviews under our belt, so each and every person or company who does decide to go with us is extremely valued and special. Each of you get your own little happy dance and with that a whole load of hard work, effort and time spent in making sure you are 100% happy with the project we do together.

What are some of the disadvantages to hiring an amateur photographer and with them the risks?

1. We don’t have as much experience, which could mean missing some shots

Having not practised our art for years and years we just don’t have the same experience as the professionals do. This doesn’t necessarily impact studio photography (such as corporate or fashion) when we have more time to get the perfect shot, but it can impact your 'in the moment' photography such as weddings and parties.

Different in the moment projects throw up new and different challenges for even the most experienced photographers, but the chances are they have, somewhere along the road, dealt with it before. For amateurs, this could be the first time we have ever come across this problem and therefore we will naturally be slower in reacting.

For example, your marriage ceremony is in a lovely converted barn lit by fairy lights (sounds amazing BTW), it is dark and poorly lit so we will need a little longer to figure out how to capture the moment for you! We do try to work around this (or at least I do!) by visiting venues beforehand, taking practise shots before the big moment, taking LOADS of photographs in the moment and learning to adapt very quickly. BUT that doesn’t mean I will always get it right...

2. We can sometimes take a little longer to deliver final photographs which isn't great for strict deadlines

Now I say sometimes here not always because it all depends on the professional you are comparing us to. If you book a highly popular and super busy professional photographer, they may have a large number of projects and therefore need longer to edit yours. Whereas if you are working with an amateur or student photographer who only have a few projects at the same time we have fewer other commitments but may be slower at editing than the professionals as we are still learning. If you need your photographs for a strict deadline, and something has arisen when it comes to editing we haven't dealt with before - it could be a small risk that we may have a delay in delivering the final photographs.

This risk can of course be eliminated by working with an amateur photographer on projects where the finishing deadline (if it has one) is far enough in advance.

3. We may not have all the best kit for the job so prices may increase due to hiring equipment

As an amateur photographer, we may not have all the best kit for your particular job. If this isn't established early enough on in the booking process the charge may need to be increased to cover the cost of hiring it. A way to avoid this risk is by being 100% honest about your expectations at the time of your initial consultation with the photographer.

In addition to being honest about your expectations with the photographer you also need to thoroughly look for any previous work we have done so you can get a good idea of what to expect and our capabilities.

Photography equipment is very expensive (like seriously wow) so we will have what we can afford at the time, and we wouldn’t want to offer you a service that we didn’t think we could fulfil, but we need to be clear about your expectations. This doesn't mean we have to turn down your project. In this instance I would explain we need to hire it in from a company such as Hire A Camera and be able to incorporate the cost of this into the booking fee straight away, before you commit to anything at all.

For example, if you wanted me to come to a wildlife park and take some really great detailed shots of an animal that is a fair distance away – I don’t have the lens needed in my toolkit BUT thankfully I can hire it in! It doesn’t happen often, only if your project is something a little more niche.

4. The dreaded **What if they don't turn up?!**

Well I hate to break it to you but this could happen with any photographer.

When you book a photographer you agree to take that risk on them. You need to get a real feel for the person and not just the photographs they will be producing here. Spend time talking to them, do they seem professional? Pay attention to the level of customer service they pay you before the booking. Do they seem flaky? Are they hard to get in touch with for periods of time or have they already been reported in the past?

So, there you have it, in my opinion some of the benefits of booking an amateur photographer and some of the potential risks. But this shouldn’t just be what you use to make your decision.

The biggest factor should be having an open and honest conversation with the photographer you are considering. For example, if you were considering working with me, we would cover a lot of this in our initial consultation, before any booking has even be made and hopefully putting your mind at ease.

How I hear you ask? Well you may not have but let me explain 😉

  • We will discuss your event // day // project you would like photographing in detail. I will ask all the relevant questions I need to know to be able to determine if I feel I have the skills required to be able to commit to providing you awesome photographs. And if I don’t, then I will be honest and tell you. As I said above – I want to make people happy and if I can’t fulfil your requirements, I would much rather tell you now so can find someone who can.

  • I will find out about any locations required for shooting, and research them! I will ask for the details of when and how you will be using each location (or room for example) so I can really understand what will be required and what outcomes you are hoping for.

  • I will ask you to make sure you have seen my previous work, to be sure you understand my abilities, editing style and a little bit about me. It will be an honest conversation about my abilities as an amateur photographer and what that means for you, what you can expect from me in terms of finished outcome and how long that will take. Ultimately, I want to make sure we are a right fit for each other and you’re just as excited to be working with me as I will be working for you!

So, what are your thoughts after reading? Do you have any questions you want to ask or perhaps you would like me to elaborate on something? Maybe you want to get that initial consultation booked in so we can just get started? Pop a little comment below and let me know…

Charlotte xo

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