Kate Haley Photography » Half Moon Bay Photographer Specializing in Child, Adult and Corporate Photography

The # 1 reason why you should hire a pro photographer


My poor, destroyed hair. I would- and undoubtably will- do it again though. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the photographer species: Lack of makeup, bloodshot eyes, and iPhone-only photos without any face-saving edits are givens as evidenced above. If you are wondering to pro, or not to pro, here are a few thoughts from a busy photographer who’s been at it for a long time.

Let me lead with that maybe it’s the bleach speaking but the best way to make a photographer want to drink is for Uncle Earl to say that he should buy and a fancy camera so he can get pictures just like they do, before asking where the “auto” mode is. (Spoiler alert: He won’t find one.) While it’s true that I really do use every spendy lens I own I’d argue that the equipment is less than 5% of what makes an image great.

So, why use a pro? Some of us devote huge chunks of our lives to improving our photography craft. Frankly the pay isn’t great, expenses aren’t trivial, and any shoot is just the short trailer for the many hours of editing that will come. If you can get someone that is willing to wade up to their necks in water, sprain something trying to contort into an optimal shooting position, and wreck their clothes while doing a belly-flop to get a rapidly racing kid shot, I’d take a real look at hiring them. You need a photographer that is never complacent and constantly goes over what they can do better next time.

The hair disaster above? That was because I couldn’t break my editing flow to wash the bleach out even though my head felt like a tiki torch. There aren’t a lot of people that will risk that to make sure the job is done right at most any cost. It’s iffy on Earl, you know? You likely need a pro, ideally one that is obsessively so.

I’ve shot from afar with a 103 degree fever twice, painfully slung a DSLR with a telephoto lens on it over a broken collar bone, had kids spit cookies at me and done other things I don’t want to cop to just now. I do it because I have to. I do it because your stories are that vital. I do it because there’s just too much beauty in this world and I have to pay some of it back.

(Note to Uncle Earl: I don’t mean to pick on you. Earl, I’m truly sorry. It’s just that I’ve played the occasional game of golf. Grabbing Arnold Palmer’s clubs, sadly, still wouldn’t improve my game much. A lot of us eat, sleep and accidentally almost melt the hair off our heads for this stuff. And no, there’s not an auto setting for any of that.)

My advice to everyone is to find the right pro. Know what it will cost, but also know that the picture’s value goes up exponentially in time for your family or team. If you are in the California Bay Area and need a photographer pop over to my site. I’m happy to talk. I travel at times. I’ll do my best to match make for any projects that I can’t take on too.

Here’s a peek into my bag anyways. Now that I’ve said all that, if you do really want to dedicate yourself to this, DO. There are some great teachers and my best advice is to shoot every single day, no matter what. I think that gear is somewhat irrelevant, as mentioned above, but if you are really making a go at it, here’s what I carry to most jobs. All are Nikon lenses and full frame.

Cameras: Nikon D800 and a Nikon D810. I think everything needs redundancy as you don’t get a second chance. I also do a lot of event work and lens requirements change quickly, so I always have both strapped on and at the ready. I’ll probably get a D850 soon (You might want to budget a couple thousand a year for upgrades… it will happen).

Telephotos: a Nikon 24-70mm f 2.8 lens and a 70-200mm f 2.8 lens

Primes: 35mm 1.8, 50 mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8

I have a few other oddballs but those are my daily drivers. If I have to shoot a concert from the sound board I rent a much longer lens. If you saw the cost, you’d see why. 🙂

You’ll also want to get at least one light source and a diffuser. I have 3 camera bags that I rotate, depending on what I need to take to a certain shoot and how mobile I have to be. The above cameras have an redundant media card option. I recommend doing this 110% of the time as you don’t want to screw up so grab a bunch of SD and CF cards. Also load up on batteries. I still haven’t moved to grips but someday will.

Be sure to get a high quality UV filter on the front of each of those lenses. It’s better to crack a $100 piece of glass than a $3000 one.

Finally, insure the heck out of it all.

Oh!! Most importantly NEVER forget to wash out that bleach!