If you’re thinking about blogging or just trying to up your social media game, you already know that how you present yourself is everything. Attracting an audience will require good content, which is a lot of pressure! You may look at big-time influencers and wonder whether you need to shell out major money for a fancy camera. Before I start, I wanted to point out the difference in the three above pictures. Far left is taken with an iPhone 8+ after brunch, the middle is an professional photo from the amazing Emily Staubus, and the last one is a taken with a Canon 60D body and EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Spoiler alert: The iPhone picture actually got the most engagement out of these three pictures. So clearly, you don’t need a DSLR to engage with your audience. So should you stick to your smartphone camera, buy a DSLR or just hire a professional? As someone who does all three, I’m sharing my perspective! I hope it’s helpful for ya. 🙂
- Start around $500 and go up to $10,000+
- You can adjust exposure, aperture, shutter speed, etc. to control how your picture turns out
- Can produce high-quality images for brands and sponsorships
- You’ll have to learn how to use your camera if you’re interested in shooting manually
- You probably have a smartphone, so it’s free!
- Less control over photos; very basic settings that can make it difficult to shoot in low light and other non-ideal settings
- Harder to make professional-quality images for partnerships
- Much easier to use than a DSLR
- Your images will be great quality and likely impress your audience
- You won’t have to worry about bugging someone to take your pictures (shoutout to my #InstagramHusband)
- It’s a lot of fun to shoot with a professional
- Can add up if it’s a weekly or monthly expense
If you can afford it, spring for professional photography. It requires the least amount of time, you don’t have to worry about editing, and the final product is better than anything you’ll produce on your own. It’s also super fun to try out new locations with a photographer, and you may make a friend along the way!
But if you’re like me and ballin’ on a budget, you probably can’t pay for profesh photos every time. So here are the questions I’d say to ask yourself:
- Will you use the DSLR outside of blogging? I spent about $1,000 on my camera, but I also bought it because I thought I’d be a multimedia journalist (insert facepalm emoji). If you travel or spend a lot of time with family, a DSLR can be an awesome investment just to improve the quality of pictures you post for friends and family!
- Do you have a friend or family member who will take your pictures? You could always set up a tripod and do it yourself, but for most portraits, that’s not realistic. I thankfully have a very patient husband, but if you don’t have someone who’s willing to learn how to use a DSLR, there’s no point in getting one.
- Are you making the most of your iPhone camera? Most of my top-performing pictures were taken with my iPhone, and I almost certainly wouldn’t buy a DSLR if I didn’t already own one. If you’re taking your pictures in natural light and editing them well, the quality should still be relatively high!
Like most of my advice posts, I’m not going to tell you what to do because I’m too stubborn when people tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. But I think it’s always important to remember that spending money doesn’t always mean you’re going to get an immediate return. If you practice enough, your iPhone content will be good enough to get great engagement! If you have money to spend, I’d recommend using it on networking events, advertising on social media and taking courses to help you improve your social media strategy! Honestly, those things have paid off for me way more than having a nice camera. What are your thoughts? Do you think a DSLR is worth it, or do you approach it a different way?
Ayana Lage is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in Tampa, Florida with a background in digital media and content marketing. She’s worked for Bustle, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and numerous freelance clients. As a blogger, she’s worked with 50+ lifestyle, fashion, travel and food brands. When she’s not blogging, she’s focused on her day job in digital marketing, watching Queer Eye, or laughing aloud at tweets from @dril.