I'm not a professional photographer in that I do not charge others for my photography services. I also use an entry level camera which is extremely outdated at this point in time. In addition, my lenses are decent but definitely not considered "professional."
So what makes a professional photographer?
I spend a good deal of my time on the internet following other photographers and reading up on photography. Over the past few weeks, I have had several friends post links to previews of their photo sessions with professional photographers. I have to say that I could not believe how poor the quality was on some of them. There were issues with exposure, lighting and focus. In my opinion, it is quite unprofessional for a "professional" to be presenting their clients with these photos.
I spent about 10 minutes the other night taking pictures of the girls with my 85mm lens. Here are my results. I personally think that these are better than the ones those "professionals" had taken.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Sure, it's easy. They are your kids. True. True. But I do take photos of others, including children, at every opportunity and I can assure you that they look like this. In addition, my children are not as cooperative as you think they are. If you are photographing children, you need to employ some tricks.
For example, Allie was running around in the back yard and I was unable to take photos of her aside from this one during my 10 minute session.
The sun was setting and I didn't have much light back there. I hate bumping up my ISO because my camera does not handle an ISO higher than 200 very well.
Here's Emily giving Anna a "squeeze hug."
And Emily working in the garden.
If you are going to hire a photographer, I would suggest checking out their blog if they have one. And most do. Usually photographers place the best of the best on their portfolio website but they do not have that option on a blog. If they had a not so great session, they will still post a preview. From what I've seen, these previews are a good representation of what you will get if you hire this photographer. Just something to keep in mind.