I had a fab chat with Dayve Ward about professional photography and why it’s important for your brand. Here’s his take on the subject:

With so many things in business costing money it’s no wonder that you’ll be looking for ways to cut costs. DIY is becoming easier (in theory) as more and more software exists to help you make your own website or do your own accounts but is this really effective?

I realise that there are some areas of business that one won’t venture. There be dragons! Designing your own website is one area that is basically still black magic and most people will employ the skills of a seasoned professional to get their online presence up to scratch.

But with photography it’s some how different. We all have a camera in some form or another. Even camera phones are pretty good these days. We’re also used to photography; it’s been a part of our life for ever. Surely you can take your own product images?

OK, I’ll chat about some the the things that might change your perception.

First off, let’s talk about equipment! If you intend to take your own product pictures then you’ll probably end up buying a better camera than your phone or holiday camera you’ve had in the draw for years. That’s a wise move of course. As with anything, having the right equipment makes for a better job.

You’ll also need some lights as we can’t rely on daylight to be just right all the time. You’ll need a background of some sort and you’ll need somewhere to set everything up.

You might be thinking that the investment in such equipment will pay dividends and save all that money you’d otherwise be spending on a photographer. Well, yes and no. The skill required to use any photography equipment and lighting takes time. I’m not sure I’d drive any faster in an F1 racing car than a Skoda. I’d be stalling it constantly for a start!

So you’ll also need to invest in the time to acquire some basic photographic and lighting skills just to operate your shiny new camera.

When I operated from a large studio in Coniston I had a spare room which I turned into a DIY room for those who had their own camera but didn’t have the lighting of background. It was a very simple set-up but the snag was that nearly everyone who used the facility asked me how to set up their camera. Naturally I helped them but when they returned most of the tuition was forgotten.

Whilst you may have an interest in photography (and many people do of course), your time may be better spent on other areas of your business like selling, marketing or planning etc.

Experience in professional product photography also includes other less obvious but very important areas. A professional photographer will know what style of image best suits your product and your blend in with your branding. They will have worked in many areas and acquired these vital skills. They’ll also know technically what a web designer needs and supply images that will fit your website perfectly. They’ll know to leave areas clear for text if needed and know the correct resolution to use. They’ll know to supply the images correctly colour balanced too (green cheese doesn’t look good!).

So, this is starting to look a little daunting. On top of your own business activities you’ll need to acquire a whole new skill-set in professional photography practice.

I know of many clients who have ventured down the route of DIY product photography only to end up with a pile of photo gear sitting, gathering dust in the corner. Money that they probably won’t get back.

Now, I’m not advocating never touching a camera! There are areas in social media where your DIY skills and iPhone work well. Really well. Showing snaps of you working or happy customers buying your product instil a good vibe on social media. They are important aspects of your business and really can be accomplished with minimal photographic equipment. There’s an air of honesty  with this style of photography that lends itself to social media and it really should form part of the mix.

When it comes to the product images that form part of your website and branding you might want to consider using a professional product photographer who makes a living making your products look good.