I have been thinking about this question quite a bit lately.
Memories are one of the most important things to me. That's one of the reasons why I started photography. When I sit down and look at the books that I had printed a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, and I think about how precious those memories are. Those are investments that will last more than a lifetime. I see the smiles on my kids' faces when they see photos of themselves from a few years ago, they point, and tell me "I remember that!!".... that is why I do this.
The last time you went out to eat, how much did you pay? The last movie you went to at the theater, how much was that? If you are married, how much was the dress? The tuxedo? The flowers? The food? ... and then when the photographer gave his/her quote, did you cringe??
I have spent the past five years studying photography, learning about different lenses, natural vs. studio lighting, techniques, editing, etc. I have joined a local photography club, participated in gallery shows, and entered several competitions.
I have been asked several times lately about providing photography services to different people. I was even told, "It will be great exposure for your photography!" Then, when I mention that I won't do it for free.... total silence. No response.
Would you ever consider calling up a friend who happens to be a plumber, builder, hair stylist, dog groomer, interior decorator, etc., and ask them to do work for you for free because it will be "great exposure for their business"? True, photography is not my business, but I believe that my time and effort is worth something. This is something that comes from my heart, and there is a LOT of work and effort involved. More than what most people realize.
If you want to take your own photos, that's great! Go for it! A person can get wonderful images from just about any camera, and it really is amazing what cell phones can do these days. If you want to learn about photography, there is a wealth of information on the internet, and many people who would probably be willing to help you learn. I became extremely frustrated with chain "photography studios" trying to sell me the biggest portrait package they offer, and then becoming quite rude when I decided on a small package. The people working at those chain "studios" are not photographers, they are sales people.
I don't have a professional photography business, and I may never have one. I DO, however, hope to continue with photography as long as I am able to. If you ask me to help you with creating portraits, capturing an event, or photos of your favorite landscape, I am happy to work with you. I have my own style, so I may not be the right person for everyone. If someone decides to go in a different direction, I would MUCH rather have someone tell me that than simply not responding.
Just please understand, I can not offer anything for free. My time, my knowledge, and my effort are worth something.