I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who specializes in what you need. For this reason I hired a professional photographer, although I also work as a professional photographer. In this article I will discuss why.
I recently launched a cosmetics brand called Lésina Skincare. The brand is focused on making a 100% natural moisturizer and for that I needed some quality pictures. I chose Helena because she specializes in it.
Personally, I’m not a product photographer, that’s not my focus. However, as someone who has been in the industry for almost 10 years, I know the basics pretty well: lighting, composition and use of color are all things that make a great image.
I also have all the necessary tools in terms of equipment. I have plenty of lighting equipment and modifiers available. I have all the right lenses, including macro and tilt-shift lenses like a Canon 90mm f/2.8.
I even have high-resolution cameras available, including medium format systems, if I want to use them. Despite all of this, I decided it would be a better idea to hire someone who specializes in product photography instead.
Photography is probably the most democratized industry in the world. Almost everyone has access to high-performance cameras via their smartphone. Add social media sites like YouTube and everyone can learn how to take amazing photos.
The problem is that this takes time and also a lot of effort. I mean, you can certainly sit down and learn how to take great photos, and that skill would probably stand you in good stead in the long run. As the saying goes, teach a person to fish. However, the downtime required to learn these additional skills is excessive and a poor investment.
Unless you’re a professional photographer, there’s pretty much no point in spending a ridiculous amount of time learning how to take professional pictures. That expended time could have been used in product development, marketing strategies, sales, customer service, or virtually anything else that would generate revenue or interest in the business you are actually in.
Hiring Helena meant I could focus on launching my product and working on the website. In addition, I was able to invest the much-needed time in developing the social media presence and the podcast.
If I had tried to create the images I needed, I would have wasted my time and possibly got worse results.
Photographic equipment can be quite expensive. Cameras, lenses and lighting are all important, but the cost of photography doesn’t end there. What makes certain images possible in many cases are accessories, props, backgrounds and modifiers. While I have a lot of camera gear needed for most types of photography, I don’t have what is needed for product photography.
Worse still, I wouldn’t know where to start as to what is required for a final composition. Sure, I could spend a lot of time on Pinterest, but once again that’s a waste of time for something that could be done better by someone who specializes in the field. And even if I had known what I needed for the final compositions, the total cost would have been higher than what Helena was asking for her photography.
In fact, I would have ended up spending more time and money for probably worse results.
It’s talent, not equipment
Photographers know this point very well, it’s not the equipment, it’s the photographer. Of course, that’s not to say that gear doesn’t matter, but that’s not really why anyone would hire a professional photographer.
In the last 10 years a customer has never asked me what kind of equipment I use. Customers typically look at your portfolio of images or mostly follow a recommendation. That’s exactly what I did when I hired Helena for my photography needs. I looked at her portfolio of images and decided that she best suited my needs.
There was no discussion about what camera she was using or what lenses she wanted to use to photograph my moisturizer. I didn’t worry about things like sharpness or resolution because those things didn’t matter at all. I didn’t care how technically perfect the picture would be. I was more interested in color schemes and lighting styles because that would help the brand.
This is an important point that aspiring photographers should learn. Customers care about the bottom line they get from you. If the product you deliver is what they need, it doesn’t matter how good your camera gear is.
For those who want to know what gear Helena used, she shot with the Canon EOS R6 and EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II lens. These can be purchased second hand here in the UK for less than $1,900. That amount was just enough to buy one of the tilt-shift lenses I own, but I still hired Helena because she was the more capable person for this type of photography.
In almost all cases skill beats equipment.
In this day and age, accessing great camera gear is easy. For example, most smartphones have high-performance video and photography capabilities. Information and education are also easily accessible through sites like YouTube. However, an experienced photographer is still extremely valuable.
If you are building a brand or working on content for your marketing, an experienced photographer will add great value. It’s one of those things that looks like you can get away with it being cheap or even homemade. Unfortunately, it rarely works when you try to cut corners.
In my experience, it has always been best to hire someone who specializes in a particular area. Not only do these types of photographers have the know-how for the photography, but they also offer advice on what will work best for you in the end.