Digital Photography Studio Or In-House Solution? Which Is Best For My Business?

By: William Penworthy

What exactly can a digital photography studio achieve that canít be done in-house with off-the-shelf equipment? Is it really the case that a professional photography studio can achieve significantly more than any business could accomplish in-house with digital cameras and photo editing software? Essentially, is it worth the money investing in the marketing and promotion of your products, services and business with professional advertising photography, or would you be better off settling for an in-house solution instead?

Of course, the first and most obvious reply to the question of what a professional photography studio has that your business is unlikely to have is a professional photographer. Experienced commercial photographers are able to bring a significant number of benefits to the table, not the least of which is their experience. Itís always important to find out what experience a photographer has to ensure that it meets with your own business expectations. A professional commercial photographer will be able to provide a wealth of experience in helping to plan, design, compose, light, shoot and edit a product photograph which says a good deal more about your business, its values, its standards and its products.

The problem is that too many businesses make the assumption that advertising photography is simply about taking a pretty good photograph of a product. If this was true, then professional commercial photography studios would have died out long ago. The difference is far greater even than the difference between a family holiday photo and a professional photo shoot including a makeover. The apparently escaped lunatics grinning inanely back at you from last yearís holiday snaps might well seem a world away from the carefully manicured, coiffured and made-up photo shoot carried out by a professional photography studio for a special occasion. Given the choice, itís fairly clear which photo youíd prefer to use if trying to sell yourself!

But whilst we can all see the difference between a family holiday picture and a professionally prepared and posed photo shoot, many business owners seem entirely oblivious to the same level of discrepancy in terms of quality and appeal between a photo taken by a professional digital photography studio and an in-house employee armed with an off-the-shelf digital camera and a photo editing package purchased in the high street. The talents and experiences of a professional commercial photographer should not be under-estimated. It is both an art and a science - the art of visualising the end result, of seeing how the light, textures, colours and shades all work together, and yet a science in getting the right level of lighting, the right amount of contrast, the right equipment, settings, aperture, exposure, and many other aspect which make up a completed photo.

Then of course, there is the post-image editing. The benefit of using a digital photography studio is that they will be geared towards using and manipulating the images digitally. This is yet another example where experience, knowledge and a professional ability to bring both the ideas of art and science to the table will benefit your business far more than just a plain, basic product photograph. Often those who play with image editing over-do alterations, making it obvious that editing and manipulation has taken place. The true art of digital photography and image manipulation is in generating an image that communicates with an audience. But if that audience is distracted by the aspects of the image, the false appearance of the image, or poor quality editing, then the message is lost, and the entire effort is wasted.

So the most importance answer in terms of what a professional photography studio can offer a business looking to use advertising photography for marketing and promotional purposes is the experience, knowledge and professionalism of the commercial photographer. But there is much, much more. The digital photographer will certainly have a long list of contacts for items such as props, locations, scenery, lighting, transportation, models and other services which make a basic photograph leap out and start saying something positive about your company.

But then itís also important to consider the equipment and services available at the better studios. Whilst it may be true that not every digital photography studio is decked out with state of the art photography equipment, those which do stock such equipment will be able to create images which are leagues ahead of the majority of photographs vying for attention. Off-the-shelf digital cameras might cope with images of a few megapixels, but for professional commercial photography it may well be important to be able to use two or three times the number. With Phase One camera equipment at the very cutting edge of what can be achieved in digital photography, you should always look for a digital photography studio equipped with Phase One camera equipment, as well as such facilities as an infinity cove, professional lighting and the ability to view and review the digital photographs as they are produced, to enable an active discussion which will help direct the shoot.

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