February 13, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

Product Photography Services Part 2 – GQ Studios Put to the TEST!

It’s no secret how much importance I place on product photography – in fact anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that in my opinion it’s one of the most important factors when selling online, be that on eBay, Amazon or your own eCommerce store.

Professional, high quality product pictures, combined with high end and creative branding allow you to charge higher prices to your customers and therefore make more profit!

I can’t stress this point enough, and I don’t care if I’ve said it a thousand times, I’m going to keep repeating myself.

But the problem is that most people find product photography very difficult – they simply don’t know how to take good pictures, never mind have the equipment or expertise required (a quick search on eBay will show just how true this is!).

So what’s the solution?

Well one option is to simply learn how! I’ve created an extensive 5 part guide to product photography on this very blog which explains everything you need to know, in simple terms.

But of course this option doesn’t work for everyone as it does require an investment, both in terms of time and money. To do things properly, you need:

  • At least an entry level DSLR camera

  • A good lighting kit
  • A suitable backdrop

And this is going to set you back £400-£500+ so it’s not a miniscule amount and is simply out of reach for some eBay and Amazon sellers.

Another option is to do things on a budget, which is possible, but then again there are still other things to consider, such as time, space, expertise etc.

The point I’m making is that sometimes it’s better to simply hire someone to take pictures for you!

Now I already introduced these product photography services in a blog post last year, in which I explained how they work and looked at three specific, real companies that offer product photography at a price suitable for sole traders.

I also asked you, my trusted blog readers, to let me know which of the three services you’d like to test – to see just how good the final pictures really are.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done!

Between the three companies, GQ Studios was the one most of you wanted to test, and as their pricing was the most suitable for new businesses on a limited budget – I decided to go with them.

So without any further delay, let’s get to the test.

The Items

I decided it would be best to test two different items, to give us a better indication of the overall service. And to make it more difficult (and realistic) I choose two items that are fairly difficult to picture:

  • A pearl bracelet – white, glossy, reflective… a difficult product to get good pictures of without a proper set-up.
  • A phone case – this was see-through with some gemstone designs which made it a complex item to shoot.

I’m going to split this review into 4 separate parts and then I’ll give my final thoughts at the end.

Part 1 – Customer Service

Initially my experience with the company was off to a bad start as I called the number listed on the website a few times to ask some questions (mainly in regards to the products they accept as the site is geared mainly towards clothing and jewellery) but there was no answer.

So I did as suggested and left a message instead and I was happy to see I got a reply via email very promptly that perfectly answered all of my questions.

After that it was all pretty much smooth sailing, other than a very small blip to do with the delivery of the items (which was half Royal Mail’s fault) which cost one day of delay.

But other than that everything was excellent – the person I dealt with, Ross, was very helpful and answered all my questions. The invoice was emailed promptly and the whole process was very clear from start to finish.

Customer Service – 8.5/10

Part 2 – Turnaround Time

Obviously one of the main disadvantages to using a service like this is the time delay. You have to post your items to them, wait for the shoot to take place and the pictures to be edited and sent to you, and then you have to wait for your items to be posted back to you! Overall it’s a very lengthy process compared to taking pictures yourself, which takes no more than a few minutes…

And one way to minimise this delay is if the company you use has a quick turnaround time. For the purposes of this test, I’m basing the turnaround time on the moment the items were received to when I was emailed the final pictures, as that way we remove the postage element, which depends more on Royal Mail.

Overall this took 6 days using GQ Studios, which is honestly disappointing.

The other companies I featured in part 1 both promised a 24 hour turnaround time, which is amazing! But really I’d expect 72 hours as a maximum and I think that’s reasonable.

In fairness to GQ Studios, it does depend on their bookings and availability, but for such a small job, 6 days is just far too long.

Turnaround Time – 3/10

Part 3 – Picture Quality

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for and obviously the whole point of this test. Here are the final images received for our two items:

Phone Case

 

Pearl Bracelet

 

Overall I was pleased with the final result. While nothing “amazing/out of this World”, they’re very good quality, professional and clean images – especially considering that they’re difficult items to shoot.

Picture Quality – 8/10

Part 4 – Price/ Value for Money

I decided I had to add this 4th and final part to my review, as you just can’t judge the quality without also considering the price… and this is where GQ Studios really excelled!

In total, for 3 images of each item – so 6 images in total, the total bill for this product photography came to…

£12.

Yes, that’s right – £12 in total, not per image.

That comes to £2 per product picture, which is amazing really. I mean £2 per picture speaks for itself, and there’s not much more I can say about that.

Price – 10/10

And there you have it – this just shows that you really can outsource your product photography completely. The amazingly low price combined with the solid (if unspectacular) quality of the images makes this an attractive option for those who are only selling a few items and don’t want to/don’t think it’s viable to invest in a complete home product photography set-up.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

What did you think of the final images? Have you ever used a product photography service yourself and if so, what was your experience?

Just post below in the comments section and I’ll personally get back to you within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.

Otherwise, until next time!

All the best,
Andrew

4 Comments
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  1. Derrick Finlayson

    Hello Andrew,
    I have only just started reading your highly informative guide to start selling on eBay for under £50.
    GQ Studios sell images for £2. Even though this is very affordable, how would this make selling single low cost items (such as your second hand Grand theft Auto game) viable. Your profit was £2-3 without the cost of photography and the posting of the item to and back from GQ.
    Am I right to assume that this photography outsourcing is suitable for the more expensive single items or for bulk bought identical products where one photo can sell dozens.
    Great work by the way.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Derrick,

      For Used Goods concept you obviously DON’T outsource product images 🙂 You don’t have to do it.

      As they will be just single items, you take images on your own.

      You want to outsource product photography when you start dealing with bulk items e.g. you have 100 of exact same product to sell.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  2. Thanks for this Andrew. I have bought a DSLR camera and been on a couple of workshops but the quality of my images is still work in progress. I have found that I take pretty good photos outside with my camera which works well for a lot of products. However I don’t get that clean white background which is essential for my main products.

    I think the pricing here is excellent. I have only outsourced once and was charged £10 an image. This was still very cheap compared with other quotes I had received. The turnaround time was a lot longer than 6 days but the customer service was great.

    However, given your review, I will certainly give this company a go.

    1. Darren Grant

      The thing that trips most people up is using the camera in auto mode. The cameras auto-exposure will see the bright white area as over exposed and reduce the exposure accordingly.

      Most DSLR cameras allow a manual exposure mode. The manual mode is not as difficult as it might seem. Take a photo in auto mode and make a note of the settings the camera used, i.e the aperture (F number) and the exposure time. Set the camera in manual mode using those same settings but move the exposure time up to the next setting to expose the image more. It is better to have a slightly over exposed image that you adjust in your photo editing software afterwards than having one that is under exposed.

      Another possibility is the camera may have an exposure compensation setting where you can still use the auto mode but tell the camera to use a higher exposure setting than it normally would.

      In either case the camera auto focus still works so it isn’t difficult once set-up. It can be quite frustrating at first but you soon get used to it.

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