I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but, I think it's a good idea to hire a professional photographer that specializes in what you need. It's for this reason that I hired a professional photographer, despite the fact that I too work as a professional photographer. In this article, I'm going to discuss why.
I recently launched a cosmetics brand called Lésina Skincare. The brand focuses on producing a 100% natural moisturizer and for this, I needed some high-quality images. I decided on hiring Helena because this is what she specializes in.
Personally, I'm not a product photographer, it's not what I focus on. However, as someone that has worked in the industry for almost 10 years, I understand the fundamentals quite well: Lighting, composition, and use of color are all things that make a great image.
Even from an equipment standpoint, I have all the tools required. I have plenty of lighting equipment and modifiers available. I have all the right lenses including macro and tilt-shift lenses such as a 90mm f/2.8 from Canon.
I even have high-resolution cameras at my disposal including medium format systems should I want to use them. Despite all of this, I decided it was a better idea to hire someone that specialized in product photography instead.
Photography is probably the most democratized industry in the world. Virtually everyone has access to highly capable cameras through their smartphones. Add social media websites such as YouTube into the mix, and anyone has the ability to learn how to take amazing photos.
The problem is that this takes time and also a great deal of effort. I mean sure you can sit down and learn how to take amazing photos and this skill would probably benefit you 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.
If you're not going to work as a professional photographer then spending ridiculous amounts of time learning how to take professional images is pretty much pointless. That time spent could have been used towards developing the product, marketing strategies, sales, customer service, or virtually anything else that would generate income or interest in the business you're actually in.
Hiring Helena meant that I could focus on launching my product and working on the website. Additionally, I was able to put much-needed time towards developing the social media presence and podcast.
Had I tried to create the images I needed I would have ended up wasting my time and potentially ended up with worse results too.
Photography equipment can be quite costly. Cameras, lenses, and lighting are all important however, that's not where the costs end when it comes to photography. In many cases what makes certain images possible are the accessories, props, backdrops, and modifiers. I may have a lot of the camera equipment required for most types of photography, but I do not have what's required for product photography.
What's worse is that I wouldn't know where to begin in what's required for a final composition. Sure I could spend lots of time on Pinterest, however, once again this is time wasted on something that could be done better by someone that specializes in this area. And even if I knew what I needed for the final compositions, the cost overall would have been more than what Helena was charging for her photography.
Effectively, I would have ended up spending more time and money on what would likely have been worse results.
It's Talent, Not Gear
Photographers know this point really well, it's not the gear, it's the photographer. This is not to say gear doesn't matter, of course, it does but it's not really why anyone would hire a professional photographer.
In the last 10 years, I've never had a client ask me what kind of equipment I use. Clients usually look at your portfolio of images or more often than not they follow a recommendation. This is precisely what I did when I hired Helena for my photography needs. I looked at her portfolio of images and decided she was the best fit for my needs.
There was no discussion about what camera she used or what lenses she was planning on photographing my moisturizer with. I didn't worry about things like sharpness or resolution because those things didn't matter at all. I didn't care about how technically perfect the image was going to be. I was more interested in color schemes and lighting styles because that's what was going to help the brand.
This is an important point to learn for budding photographers. Clients care about the end result that they're going to get from you. If the product you deliver is what they need then it doesn't matter how good your camera gear is.
For those that are interested in knowing what gear Helena used, she shot with the Canon EOS R6 and the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II lens. These can be purchased here in the UK second-hand for less than $1,900. That amount is only enough to buy one of the tilt-shift lenses I own, however, I still hired Helena because she was the more capable person for this kind of photography.
In almost all circumstances, skill will beat equipment.
In the current age, access to great camera equipment is easy. Most smartphones for example have highly capable features for both video and photography. Even information and education are easily accessible via websites such as YouTube. However, a skilled photographer is still extremely valuable.
If you're building a brand or working on content for your marketing then a skilled photographer is going to provide a great deal of value. It's one of those things that seems like you might be able to get away with it being done cheaply or even by yourself. Unfortunately, it rarely works out when you try and cut corners.
In my experience, it's always been best to hire someone that specializes in a particular area. Those kinds of photographers not only have the know-how for not only photography but also provide guidance on what will ultimately end up working best for you.