Friday, May 17, 2013

What is a picture worth?

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old adage goes.  Etsy sellers would heartily agree that not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but a great product picture can be worth a thousand dollars too!  (Or, don't we wish....)  So, this brings me to my question: how much would you be willing to pay to have great photography in your etsy shop?  Are you willing to invest in all the photography equipment you need to get a great shot?  Or, here is something you might not have considered: Are you willing to pay a professional to take the pictures for you??

A quick etsy search for "product photography" will reveal a whole host of options for you, ranging from this listing for 10 pics for $15 to this listing for 10 pics for $115.  There are even super specialized photographers out there: this seller will take a picture of your products modeled by dogs, and this one specializes in taking pictures of products on American Girl Dolls.

I accidentally came across this genre of etsy sellers when I was shopping for photography equipment on etsy.  I was looking for a light box and I stumbled upon a whole list of professional (or semi-professional) photographers with lightboxes willing to take the pics for you.  I ended up buying the light box instead of hiring any of these people, but let me tell you: I kind of regret that.  The truth is, I don't have a very nice camera and I don't really know what I'm doing in terms of "stylizing" my items.  This is one of those situations where I should just get professional help.

My shop would actually be a perfect candidate for this kind of service because I sell multiples of the same product.  That means I can spread out the cost of a single photo against the profits from several sales.  If you sell one-of-a-kind jewelry or something like that, it could be prohibitively expensive to pay a professional photographer to photograph each item when you will never be able to use the photo again after you sell the item.

A few things to keep in mind before you buy into these services:

1.  You Get What You Pay For (Sometimes).  One of the primarily truths I have learned in my life as a consumer is that most of the time, you are gonna get what you pay for.  That's not to say that there aren't great bargains out there, but, more often than not, the best rule of thumb is to spend the most money you can afford rather than try to get an inferior product on the cheap.  Just look before you leap, is all I'm saying.

2.  Apples for Apples.  Make sure the photographer you are hiring has experience photographing the type of product you sell.  For example, I sell buttons which are a pain in the behind to photograph because they are shiny and reflect light all over the place.  The photographer I pick may have a wonderful portfolio of beautifully photographed hand-knits, but, before I sign on with them, I'm going to want assurances that they have photographed shiny stuff before.

3.  Communicate . . . and Be Specific.  Give the photographer the most specific instructions you can in terms of how you want your products to be staged.  You are both going to be a lot happier if you are on the same page from the beginning.

That's just a few things I'm going to consider before I try out this service.  What other advice do you have to offer?

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