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The Pros and Cons of DIY Product Photography

Given the steady decline of camera prices and the massive expansion of e-commerce in recent decades, it’s no surprise that the popularity of DIY product photography is alive and well.

As photographers ourselves, we understand the appeal of shooting your own products. Buying an inexpensive camera, setting up a home studio and cranking out your own photos sounds inherently satisfying, like making your own ice-cream.

But that approach usually doesn’t go too well.

While we’re not entirely unbiased in making this case, the fact is, your customers don’t have a whole lot of information to go on when making their purchasing decisions. If you’re not putting your best foot forward from square one, using the best possible visual representation of your product, you're shooting yourself in the foot before the race has even begun.

What we’re going to do in this article is briefly go over the pros and cons of DIY product photography (compared to the professional approach) in an effort to show you why professional photography is the way to go.

The Pros

Don’t get us wrong, DIY isn’t all bad. There’s a reason why so popular among new business owners. In the spirit of fairness, we’ll try to present all the benefits to be had from taking your own photos before we get to the downsides.

The first, and probably most attractive part, is that it’s cheaper.

While you do have to make the initial investment to buy the equipment, once you’re set up you can keep putting out new photos at no additional cost, as long as you have the time and energy to do so.

Another factor that draws people in is that you can do it all yourself.

 If you’re the do-it-yourself type, then designing your own website, setting up your shop, and taking all the pictures means you don’t have to rely on any third party to get your business going. There’s something to be said for pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Lastly, there’s the element of learning and sharpening a new skill.

Some people genuinely want to figure out their business as they go, including the photography. The idea of incrementally improving your skills, refining your businessover time is a very romantic one. A couple of decades ago, things might really have turned out that way.

But that’s one of the problems. Fact is, it's not 2000 anymore. The internet is crowded and growing all the more so. For every DIY photo you put on your website, there's hundred thousand others doing the same or better. Is this really the best place to learn as you go?

The Cons

Now we look at the other side of the coin – what you give up by DIYing.

First and foremost, your products simply won’t look as good.

You can get some pretty great results from a home setup, there's not denying it. But there's also no substitute for a professional-grade camera, a studio with proper lighting, and a professional who really knows what they’re doing. 

Expert photograpy take the visual appeal of your product from good to amazing.

Just ask yourself: when choosing between two products that seem exactly the same, but one of them just looks better, which one are you going to buy?

Given that the number of e-commerce websites in 2020 is estimated at around 12-24 million, you better hope that your photos are standing out from the pack if you want to have any chance of capturing your market’s attention.

The second problem is the opportunity cost - what you give up in return for for shooting your pictures. All that time and money you spend on getting your home studio up and running is time and money that could be spent on other parts of your business, where your comparative advantage is much higher.

Researching your market, finding your niche, engaging with your audience, crafting a unique brand message – all of these are things you’re spending less time on in return for good, but not great, pictures of your product.

Last, but not least, you have to do it all alone. You have only so much time, effort, and energy in a day. By insourcing every element of your business you stretch yourself thin. There’s too much on your plate, and in the end nothing really gets the amount of attention that it needs.

The Case for Professional Photography

The case for professional photography can be laid out rather succinctly: It costs more, but it works. This is where we excel, and we have the training and expertise required to consistently put out high quality work, on time and on budget.

Now, that’s not to say that beautiful photos alone will instantly take your business from zero to one hundred. But as 75% of shoppers rely on product photos when considering an online purchase, it’ll certainly get you off to a strong start.

By putting your photography needs in the hands of professionals, you’re also getting something a little less tangible – peace of mind. Running a business is a huge endeavor, and the more you can delegate, the more you can focus your attention on where it’ll make the greatest impact.

It’s the same reason why most people don’t fix their own cars or computers, or do their own dry-cleaning. As much as we’d like to, we can’t do it all. Even here at Spintop 360, we rely on strategic partnerships that allow us to focus on what we do best: shooting high quality photographic content.

The Bottom Line

If you still want to go DIY after reading this article, then we wish you the best. If you’ve found your perfect niche, have a killer value proposition, and your photos are decent, then things might still turn out alright. If not, we’ll still be here and happy to help.

For those who prefer the professional route, and want to take some guess-work out of the equation, feel free to check out our website for more details on what we offer: competitive pricing, an in-house studio, and multiple tiers of conventional and 360° photography options.

Focus your efforts where they matter most, and let us help you do what we do best. Click the contact button below to get started.