This is perhaps my most ambitious blog topic to date. To start the new year of 2012 I wanted to write about a topic to which I’ve been receiving a large number of emails about lately. The most recent of which arrived in my Inbox last month. Melinda from Atlantic City wrote, “Hi Adam. My husband and I are coming to Las Vegas next Spring for our anniversary and I want to hire you to take some photos of us around the Strip while we are there. I’m sold on your work but my husband has said that we have a good point-and-shoot camera we will be taking with us so what is the value of hiring a professional photographer? Please help me sell him on this!”
It’s an excellent question Melinda! While I can go on and on about the technical details of professional equipment and my years of experience in photography, I thought it would be best to actually show you the difference. To do so, I decided to conduct an experiment with the sole purpose of answering this question. To do so I setup a series of photo shoots up and down the Las Vegas Strip, just as I do with the many dozens of couples, birthday parties, and bachelor/bachelorette parties I shoot all year long. This time, I made use of a professional model as my muse.
This is Crystel Rivera. She is a professional model here in Las Vegas and perhaps one of the most talented and professional ones I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. A Las Vegas native, Crystel started go-go dancing in the major casino nightclubs when she was 18 and fell into modeling at the same time. She has been featured in FHM Magazine, on Penn & Teller’s show “BS!” on Showtime, and currently works as a Playboy Bunny at the Palms Hotel & Casino. (At the time of this blog, Crystel is redoing her website but if you are interested in booking her for an event or photo shoot, you can do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
To conduct the experiment I would photograph Crystel in different poses in different locations. While I do have lots of high-end, portable lighting equipment which I frequently use on the Strip, I decided to keep this simple and only shoot Crystel with the photographic equipment I could carry in a camera bag.
Here is the fun part of the experiment comes in. I also brought along a small, point-and-shoot camera as well. Specifically the Samsung ST100. It’s an outstanding little camera I bought for my wife and it takes wonderful photos. Amazon.com gives it a 4.5 out of 5 stars and while we paid much more for it over a year ago when it was new, it currently sells for $234.94, making it a mid-priced camera it its class.
Here are the rules I set for this experiment. So that I can remain an impartial person in this test, I handed the point-and-shoot camera to a complete stranger on the street and asked them to photograph Crystel. These strangers would give her direction to pose and then take as many photos as they liked until they were satisfied with the results. They would take her photo using fully automatic settings in the point-and-shoot, just as the vast majority of people do when they use their own cameras on vacation. I would then go and take a photo of my own of Crystel in the same location but utilize my over 15 years of experience in working with models and using top-notch professional camera gear to get my own result. Crystel was instructed not to add too many creative poses for the different photographers but to take direction from whomever was shooting her to get the resulting photos. So I present to you the side-by-side comparison of both shots in each location. One shot by an amateur with amateur equipment, one shot with a professional with professional equipment. All the "Before" photos were left as-is, as your average person does not have access to advanced retouching tools as I do such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as all the other plugins, filters, and after effect tools. What you will see first is the image captured by the amateur followed by the photo taken by myself and retouched as if it were one of my clients. In some cases you'll see more than one image from me as I was able to get a bit more creative in the results from some locations. Let’s take a look at the results!
PHOTOS AT BELLAGIO
PHOTOS AT CAESARS PALACE
PHOTOS AT THE MIRAGE
THE "WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS" SIGN
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS – FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE
The photos pretty much explain my point for me. The ones with the Samsung point-and-shoot camera took some fairly good photos at times, but in most cases the images were washed out, devoid of any emotion or depth, or just created bad photographs. I was recently doing a photo shoot for the television show Vegas Strip (seen on TruTV) and I was shooting some photos of one of Las Vegas' Finest for the show. I got some really creative shots with him and his squad car on the Strip and when I showed him what I shot in the camera he said, "Wow, your camera takes really good photos" to which I responded with, "Yeah, and the guy behind it had a little something to do with it too" and we had a good laugh. Part of the reason I wanted to hand the smaller camera over to a stranger on the street was to prove that many people take snapshots whereas a professional photographer with years of experience knows how to take a camera and capture a moment…create a memory as it were.
With the advancements of digital photography, picture-taking is more prevalent in society now than ever before. Chances are that if you probably have a camera in your mobile phone plus an additional camera somewhere in your home. Most people are familiar with posting their photos to Flickr or Facebook nowadays without even a second thought. And while we live in a society of shutterbugs, many people often lose sight in the importance of hiring a professional photographer for their events, their businesses, or even their vacations. I often tell my clients that a person with a cell phone creates a fun photo for Facebook, a professsional photographer creates something to hang on the wall.
Before writing this blog, I sent these photos over to Melinda, the woman from Atlantic City I mentioned in the opening of this blog entry and she showed them to her husband. We are now booked to shoot her Anniversary photos in April. If you are coming to Las Vegas for any important event or even just to capture some awesome souvenir photos on the Strip, email me at email@example.com or call me directly at 702-204-1740 for questions and availability.