Many people are wondering why professional photographers come with such a high price tag attached to their portfolios and if it's really worth it.
So, let's look at what you are really paying for.
Unique style and approach
Every photographer has their unique style that they've developed over the years. Before hiring a photographer, it is very important to take a look at their portfolio and see if their style fits your perception of beauty. Some photographers tend to produce work in more classic, clean style, while others like to give their photos a more faded, vintage look. Some amp up the vibrance while others purposefully lower saturation to give their work a more "earthy" vibe.
Education and training
Most photographers spend years practicing their practical skills and working on their unique style. Keep in mind that photography is not just about pressing a button, it is also artistic vision of every single frame. Photography is an art. And every artist spends a lot of time doing research and learning about masters in their field.
While you might find something that looks like a great deal on your local craigslist, kijiji or groupon site, I urge you to read that fine print at the bottom of your contract. If someone is charging you 10 times less the amount of other photographers in your area, this should ring a bell. Often it means that you will be charged separately for everything that is normally included into a portrait session package. E. g. separate fee for each high-resolution image, online gallery, retouch.
While a good photo can be taken with a regular phone, it doesn't mean that you will be able to use it in as many different ways as an image produced with a high-quality DSLR camera and professional grade lenses. Expensive professional cameras record way more information about every picture than any point-and-shoot camera and this information is crucial in post processing.