Newbie Here--Needs advice buy different camera or hire photographer?

csamoylov

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First of all thank you for taking the time to read my post. I am new here and just starting an online consignment store. I've been taking my own photos with a simple Cannon Powershot S3 IS for eBay. Which is fine for eBay but doesn't produce the quality I'd want for my actual website but, maybe it's the lighting, editing etc? Not sure. Anyway, I've come to a crossroads should I purchase a Nikon D5000/Nikon D5100 DSLR camera, an additional light and learn photoshop OR hire a professional photographer?

My budget is pretty limited as I am small start up company with virtually 0 capital. Many of the product photographers I've found are asking $60-$75/hour which is out of my budget. I only get 1 of each item so each item needs to be photographed individually and the inventory changes constantly.

I currently have the Cannon Powershot S3 IS as mentioned as well as a backdrop stand, white paper, 1 light setup, and Photoshop (although I have no clue how to use). I would just like to get some opinons from someone who is a photographer in what the best direction for myself to go is? Thanks again for the feedback in advance!
 

MLeeK

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If your budget is pretty limited with 0 capital, then you certainly can't afford to hire a photographer. Depending on how many items you are photographing you could be looking at anything from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
your camera can absolutely produce the quality and then some that you need for your website.
you just need to learn how to use it for what you want to create.
What are you taking photos of? Depending on the size I'd recommend a light tent which is a lot cheaper than hiring a photographer. If it's a HUGE light tent it's still cheaper to buy!
We kind of need more information about what you are photographing to help you to learn how to do it in a way that is going to give you good quality.
 

Stradawhovious

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You want great pictures now? Hire a photographer. Even at $60-$70 an hour it's still cheaper than the equipment/training it will take to get to that level, depending on what your time is worth. Also, I've seen how good product photographer's work. In only a couple hours time they can accomplish quite a bit as long as you are organized, know what you want and know how to relay that information to the photographer.

Let me put it another way.... You could buy a Nikon D3X for several thousand dollars, and without the training on how to use it, and how to take good pictures your net results probably won't be any better than your canon power shot.

Just sayin'.

Best bet, stick around here, learn how to use the camera you have, and watch your photos get better over time. Then replace the ones on your site as your skills grow, and replace your gear as you outgrow it.

Remember what you paid for this advice
 
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csamoylov

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Thanks for the advice. I guess my next question is what should I expect or how many photos should I expect to be done in an hour at $60-$70/hr?
How does the light tent work?
I am taking photos of shoes/handbags/accessories and clothing photographed on a white gloss mannequin.
 

tirediron

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First of all, getting a knowledgable photographer for $70/hour is going to be a challenge. I second Mleek's advice on the light tent. They are a very simple device; a cube, made of diffusion fabric, with one open side, and large enough to put whatever you have inside (Unless you're photographing very large items) and fitted with lights on the outside which provide an even, diffuse light, suitable for almost all product photography. They can be had on eBay from a 4' size down to 12", and from >$1000 to <$100.
 

Tony S

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Show an example of what you get now , explain what you are doing, and perhaps more ideas will come in from folks on how to improve what you can get with the equipment you have now. I would think with a tripod and some creative lighting or DIY backdrops you could get a standard set up where you could repeat the quality from one item to another. Sounds like you have plenty of inventory that flows through and changes that by the time you get a photographer back in the store your items may be gone or completely different. It will be much more convenient to do it yourself.
 

KmH

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...should I purchase a Nikon D5000/Nikon D5100 DSLR camera, an additional light and learn photoshop OR hire a professional photographer?
Well, learning how to use the new camera effectively should only take you 6 months to a year, plus 6 months to a year to learn how to use Phoroshop effectively.
 

MLeeK

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You don't expect any images at $70 per hour. That is only for the photographer's time. You then purchase the images you want after that. If you are lucky and you find someone cheap? you are looking at $25 per image. You might get lucky to find an average photographer at that price, but reality you are looking at about $50 to ??? for digital images. Each image.
If you want to hire a facebook or craigslist photographer with the same basic skills you have you might get the photographer's time AND the digital images for $70 per hour.
Professional results are NOT cheap.
 

MLeeK

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Upgrading your equipment will give you the exact same results you are currently getting.
The only thing you require today to get awesome images is knowledge of how to do it. And at least 1 or two more lights.
 
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csamoylov

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Below are 2 of the shots which were taken by me. As you can see there is a huge inconsistency in the lighting. The shoes appear a yellowish color while the top appears to be a greyish color. When infact, they were both taken on a white background I have changed my camera settings to +2 exposure and it seems to be helping some.
My only issue with lighting tent is they are small and the clothing I am shooting sits on a mannequin which is approximately 5" tall. Any suggestions or are there light tents for this size and I'm just not seeing them? Thanks again for the feedback!
img5182v.jpg
img5266mk.jpg
 
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Stradawhovious said:
You want great pictures now? Hire a photographer. Even at $60-$70 an hour it's still cheaper than the equipment/training it will take to get to that level, depending on what your time is worth. Also, I've seen how good product photographer's work. In only a couple hours time they can accomplish quite a bit as long as you are organized, know what you want and know how to relay that information to the photographer.

Let me put it another way.... You could buy a Nikon D3X for several thousand dollars, and without the training on how to use it, and how to take good pictures your net results probably won't be any better than your canon power shot.

Just sayin'.

Best bet, stick around here, learn how to use the camera you have, and watch your photos get better over time. Then replace the ones on your site as your skills grow, and replace your gear as you outgrow it.

Remember what you paid for this advice

Holy cow! I didn't know you were still around. Welcome back. Who could forget that profile pic lol.
 

Tony S

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What was the light source? In the first that looks like a problem with color balance. In the second it's a lack of light, increase the exposure some. Once you get a set up that is consistent set your camera on manual mode so you have control over the exposure, you can start in an auto mode and then work from the exposure it sets for a shot. If you use a tripod then it doesn't matter if the lights are not bright enough, you just set a longer exposure which will work well for this type of shooting since nothing is moving.

Do a Google search for "product photography tutorial" and you get tons of tips. Here's one link that might give you some places to start.
http://www.tabletopstudio.com/ start with the FAQ page

You don't need the fancy lights in some of them, you can make do with clamp lights from Home Depot and some floods. Even make your own light tent or soft box by hanging an opauqe sheet in front of the light to diffuse it.
(diffusing the light will eliminate those highligts you got in the shoes).
 
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csamoylov

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What was the light source? In the first that looks like a problem with color balance. In the second it's a lack of light, increase the exposure some. Once you get a set up that is consistent set your camera on manual mode so you have control over the exposure, you can start in an auto mode and then work from the exposure it sets for a shot. If you use a tripod then it doesn't matter if the lights are not bright enough, you just set a longer exposure which will work well for this type of shooting since nothing is moving.

Do a Google search for "product photography tutorial" and you get tons of tips. Here's one link that might give you some places to start.
Tabletop Studio - Everything you want to know about product photography start with the FAQ page

You don't need the fancy lights in some of them, you can make do with clamp lights from Home Depot and some floods. Even make your own light tent or soft box by hanging an opauqe sheet in front of the light to diffuse it.
(diffusing the light will eliminate those highligts you got in the shoes).

Thanks for the info! I used a basic Calumet lighting set up with one light off to the left side that had an umbrella w/it. I recently started using a tripod which I did with the shirt not the shoes. When I set my exposure to 2 on TV mode thats the most exposure I can get however, if I switch to manual this option is not available? Thanks for helping as I'm totally clueless!
 

davisphotos

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Even though as a pro photographer this is not probably in my industry's best interest, I am going to suggest you get your own kit to photograph your items. In most areas, you can expect to spend at a minimum $5-$10 an item for photography, which for a consignment shop will pretty seriously cut into your profit. With good lighting, even a camera as basic as the S3 will produce good images, plenty good enough for web.
 

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