The Space Coast has its complement of professional photographers just like any other area. We happen to think some of the best have chosen to live and work here. When your business has the need for images, or your event needs to be shown in its best light, you’ll need a professional. You wouldn’t call a friend who has seen every episode of “Law & Order” to your home after a break in; you’d call a professional. Your neighbor might make great cupcakes, but are you going to trust her to make your daughter’s wedding cake? Your business deserves the same respect, as does your family portrait or community event.
At a recent SpaceCoast Living production meeting, we were commenting on the photos that Jason Hook, our Photo Editor, had submitted to accompany editorial content. It is just amazing how the articles come to life with the photographs he makes to go along with them. With this being our annual “Arts Issue” we thought it would be a great time to talk to him about what professional photography, an art unto itself, can bring to any business or event.
Jason began, “I’d break this down to five things to consider; the expense, lighting, problems with inexperienced photographers, the equipment, and the direction a professional brings to the task at hand. Let me explain…”

1. Expense
While you might think a professional photographer costs more than you can afford, consider it might cost you more to NOT hire one. The images you associate with your business are the first impression one gets and uses to make a decision. Cropped that head shot from a wedding photo? Using that photo you took with your smartphone? People can tell. If a potential client sees two businesses listed, and one has a blurry, pixelated image and the other has a professionally lighted and formatted photograph, which do you think stands the best chance of getting the call? You’ll likely get more calls, and more importantly the QUALITY of client could be better as well. Good photography should last you 2-3 years. Jason normally will only supply the large, high-resolution image and allow the client’s designers to downsize it for web or print.  He’ll shoot artistically pleasing photos that will still work well for a two-page print spread and still look good on a billboard. “This makes the graphic designer incredibly happy!” Jason says.  “I will try to anticipate how the graphic designer will use the image. Then I will make room for a headline or text. I will also shoot the same subject with various media file formats in mind. I will shoot it one way to look good as a banner on the website and another way to look good as a small headshot.”

2. Lighting
Next, Jason wanted us to explain that lighting is critical to getting the best result. “That’s not a big flash on top of the camera, and that’s not turning on all the lamps in the room.” he says. A good photographer makes his (or her) own light, using what is there (or not), and adding to it in just the right degree. “Our tools, like those of other professionals, can be very expensive and highly specialized, but that’s what makes the difference, and it shows.” We’ve included a couple of photos that Jason picked to show how a professional photographer can make something from nothing. Called on for a shoot at the beach with models, planning, and the time of many people to organize, that day was cloudy and rainy. Cancel everything and reschedule for a sunny day, right? Not even close; that’s often impossible and always expensive. Jason set up lights, and MADE his own beautiful day. The photos speak for themselves.

3. Experience
That leads us into the the tricky problem of amateur photographers who mean well. We all know one, and maybe they’re very good. Maybe they’ll know how to take good pictures. Maybe they’ll know to give you jpegs and pngs at 72dpi and 300dpi in RGB and CMYK. Maybe they’ll know the difference in quality between APS-C and FF, and know to turn off the overhead lights. Maybe. Do you trust your accounting to “maybe?” Do you trust other aspects of your marketing to “maybe?” We’d guess not. At the very least, ask for a portfolio of work similarly lighted or staged. Your friend could wind up being a professional photographer someday. Maybe.

4. Equipment
Since we’re mentioning equipment, let’s get past the camera. There are a lot of good cameras people can throw money at to get a more-than-decent result. It is often the lenses, lighting, light modifiers, computers, and extremely specialized software that make the shot professional. A basic version of Photoshop used to be included with home office scanners and printers, but that’s just the beginning. Photographers often work with massive proprietary files from cameras similar to those you can buy, but are aimed toward professionals. Often what a photographer leaves with is just the basic image to begin working with. Seldom is the image directly out of the camera good enough to be published or given to a client. Again, the art kicks in and the skills of a professional photographer create the image from that file. The results are not only amazing, but can be manipulated to serve a purpose.

5. Direction
Lastly, and one of the most critical aspects of professional photography, is the direction a professional photographer brings to any project. Jason offered a simple example. “If I’m called to take a professional head shot for a doctor, lawyer, or other professional to use on a web page, there is so much more to be done than you might expect. I might suggest shooting a full length portrait, for example, knowing that I can reformat the image into the head shot required, but also have a great image on file for use in an editorial in print.” That one change in direction can save the client time and money, and also create consistency in their marketing, but you have to know what you’re shooting, and how to meet requirements a client might not even have yet. “Once a new client sees they have what they need because of the forethought and planning of the professional photographer, they’ll see the real value over the expense.”
We’re very lucky to have Jason as our Photo Editor at SpaceCoast Living, and hope that you continue to enjoy his photos within these pages. We know we will.