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Hiring a Professional Photographer or Outsourcing Product Photography — Which is Cheaper?

Product photography is one of the most important elements of your online business strategy and requires you to invest your resources mindfully for sustained growth of your online fashion store. It can also be financially challenging to manage, especially if you are a small business trying to make it in the online eCommerce space. Before you start spending money on product photography, it is critical to weigh all your options to choose the one that fits your current goals and budget. 

The two most popular options when it comes to professional product photography are – hiring a professional photographer (in-house), or outsourcing product photography. Both have their place, and this article will help you understand the similarities and differences between hiring a professional photographer versus outsourcing your product photography, focusing on the costs and budgeting implications of both options.

Why Hire a Professional Photographer?

There are many reasons to hire a professional photographer rather than outsourcing product photography. Professional photographers have the experience and expertise to produce high-quality photos that will make your products look their best. They also have the equipment necessary to capture great images, including digital cameras, lenses, and lighting.

Additionally, professional photographers can provide you with a variety of services, such as editing and retouching, that can really make your photos pop. And if you’re looking for something truly unique, a professional photographer can often create custom looks and settings that will really showcase your products in the best light.

Is Outsourcing Product Photography Cheaper than Hiring Professionals?

If you’re running a business, chances are you’ll need to take photographs of your products at some point. Depending on your product and the type of photography you need, you may wonder if it’s cheaper to outsource product photography or hire a professional photographer.

There are a few things to consider when making this decision. First, what kind of photography do you need? If you need highly specialized photography, such as for products that will be sold online, it’s probably best to hire a professional or at least consider a photo retouching service. Many online marketplaces have specific image guidelines that brands need to follow with their product imagery. Professional photo retouching/editing services can be tremendously resourceful and cost-efficient to create eCommerce-ready images at scale. 

For example, if you are planning to display 360-degree images of your products, outsourcing your product photography will be much more convenient and efficient than attempting it in-house. In general, hiring a professional photographer will be more expensive than outsourcing product photography. However, it’s important to weigh the cost against the quality of the results you need. If you need custom or high-impact lifestyle photography, it’s probably worth the investment to hire a pro. On the other hand, if your focus is on the volume or number of product images, outsourcing your product photography may prove to be more viable and cost-effective. 

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Professional Photographer?

If you’re thinking about hiring a professional photographer or outsourcing product photography, you might be wondering how much it will cost. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of photography you need, the location, the length of the shoot, and the number of images you need.

Basic portraits or headshots can cost as little as $50-$100 per hour, while more complex shoots (like lifestyle or commercial product photography) can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per day. Location is also a factor – shooting on-location for lifestyle product photography will typically cost more than shooting in a studio. The number of products you need to shoot is another crucial factor to consider when assessing how to approach your product photography. The more products you have, the more product images you will need (considering at least 5 quality shots per product). 

The number of images you need will also affect the price – most photographers charge by the image, so if you need a lot of photos, it will cost more than if you only need a few. 

Do you need high-quality images? If you are an already established business, chances are you want to have high-quality images displayed on your website as well as your social media accounts. 30% of US shoppers admit that they will not purchase a product online if the images are missing or of low quality, according to a survey by Salsify Inc. 

As an eCommerce fashion retailer, compromising on image quality is probably one of the worst business decisions you can make. Consider this – 41% of US shoppers ranked quality images and product descriptions as one of the top three reasons for choosing where to shop online. In light of this, whether you choose to outsource your product photography or invest in in-house product photography, quality must be assured at all costs. 

Is Outsourcing Product Photography a Good Idea for Your Business?

Outsourcing your product photography can be a great way to save money. But is it always the cheaper option? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a professional photographer or outsourcing your product photography.

Pros of Hiring a Professional Photographer:

  • You’ll get high-quality images.
  • You can control the style and aesthetic of the photos.
  • You’ll have more input into the final product.

Drawbacks of Hiring a Professional Photographer:

  • It can be expensive and time-consuming.
  • You’ll need to schedule around the photographer’s availability.
  • There’s a risk that the photos won’t turn out how you want them to – the results are often entirely dependent on the photographer’s skill. 

Pros of Outsourcing Product Photography:

  • It’s usually cheaper than hiring a professional photographer.
  • You don’t need to worry about scheduling or availability issues.
  • The costs can be as low as one-fourth of traditional photoshoots.
  • The turnaround times with professional photography services can be very fast.
  • You can render AI-driven product imagery and create a high volume of images in a short amount of time.

When Should You Outsource Product Photography?

Outsourcing product photography can be a great way to save time and money. However, it’s important to know when to outsource and when to do it yourself. Here are some tips to help you decide when to hire a professional photographer or outsource product photography.

When you don’t have the time: If you’re running a business, chances are you don’t have the time to take photos of your products yourself. Outsourcing product photography can save you time so you can focus on running your business.

When shooting images in-house is not an option: If you’re not a professional photographer, it’s probably best to hire someone who is. They’ll know how to get the best shots of your products and make them look great.

When you want high-quality photos: If you want high-quality photos of your products, hiring a professional is probably your best bet. They’ll have the equipment and experience necessary to get great shots.

When you have a limited budget: If you have a limited budget, outsourcing product photography can be a great way to save money. You can find affordable photographers who can provide high-quality.

When you want a large number of product images: If your goal is to create a high volume of high-quality product images for your eCommerce business, it may be a good idea to outsource product photography. This is especially true today with the rise of modern photography services and studios and AI-driven on-model imagery. 

Professional photography studios can help you create stunning product images at an impressive price point. What makes modern photography services so special is the ability to render hundreds of eCommerce-ready product images at lightning-fast speed and at fraction of the cost of hiring a professional photographer.

Platforms like FlixStudio are leading the way with end-to-end AI-enabled on-model imagery that can create impeccable eCommerce and catalog-ready product images for your online fashion business. With FlixStudio, eCommerce brands can create high-quality product images at turnaround times as fast as 48 hours, and round-the-clock model availability.

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Arunava Acharjee

(Product Marketing Manager)