Choosing a professional photographer

Are you really willing to trust your headshot and hard earned dollars on an amateur photographer?  A professional portrait is your key to unlocking client's doors.  If you think any old headshot will do as long as you can see your face we'd respectfully urge you to think again.  Try flicking through websites, magazines or newspapers and you'll find that among the sea of flat, fuzzy, ordinary photographs there are some that seize your attention while you skip past others.  Why?  Because the skills that professionals bring to photography - which include composition, lighting, focus and high levels of technical understanding - make a very real difference to the final impact in the image's end use.

What Professionals Know & Do For Their Clients

The ability to create an out-of-the-ordinary image is the art of photography.  Whatever the subject, whatever the medium, the professional photographer's job is to make the client look good by creating powerful images.  Being a professional means making the client's interests your own.  So when you, as a client, put your photography in professional hands, you get enthusiasm on top of an array of creative, technical and organisational skills.  As well as having the creativity to visualise the composition, the knowledge to place the lighting, the eye to capture the moment and the people skills to manage the talent, professional photographers also must do the maths, understand the ever-changing technology, run the computers, and make great images even better through digital manipulation.  A professional can magic up a stylist, hire a helicopter, search a location, source props, and understand exactly what technical specifications are required to produce the files required by graphic designers, web designers, printers and publishers.  Professional photographers can also safely archive your photographs for future use.  Cameras are getting smarter, but cameras don't take pictures.  People do.  And in photography as in any other field, professionals do it better.

Experience & Credibility

One quick and easy way to find out the credibility of a professional photographer is to check whether they are an Accredited Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP).  To become an Accredited Full Member a professional photographer must fulfil strict requirements in the AIPP Accreditation process, which looks at their photographic and business practice.  Together with the rigorous entry criteria the AIPP have a strict Code of Ethics for members, which binds them to meet high standards when dealing with clients and other photographers.  The AIPP also provides ongoing education via seminars, workshops and its prestigious annual award ceremony.   Paul is not only a member of the AIPP, but has frequently been asked to be a guest speaker at AIPP seminars to educate & demonstrate award-winning techniques to other photographers. Furthermore Paul has been asked to judge other photographer’s works at their annual award ceremony!!

How Can I Be Sure That The Money I Invest Is Going To Give Me The Best?

A professional headshot is an investment, but who wants to pay top restaurant prices for cheap fast-food products?  A professional photographer should use camera equipment producing high quality digital files, such as a Canon 1Ds MarkIII which creates files up to 10Meg in size.  This way you can be sure your image will produce fine detail and amazing skin tones in even the largest billboards!  Expertise with both flash and ambient lighting is also vital to achieve the right amount of shadow and depth to achieve natural, flattering skin tones and sparkling highlights in the eyes.  Knowledge of face angles, poses and techniques to ensure you feel relaxed in front of the camera are skills that only years of experience can provide.  An advanced level of digital retouching and artwork is also essential to receive final files that look polished and professional, yet that keeps you looking natural and not like a plastic doll!


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Paul Sargaison


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