19 Apr CGI vs Photography: What’s the best choice for me?

Choosing between photography and CGI can be a difficult decision for marketeers. With this article, I’ll hopefully be able to give you an insight into the pros and cons of each, to help you make a structured and concise decision on which route to take for future projects.

For the interiors market, producing imagery has always been a major component within the marketing process. For many years, and still today, brochures and catalogues are printed in their thousands and distributed far and wide. With the internet and the growth of social media, the channels for marketing products have grown even further.

For many years, photography was the only option. CGI/CAD/3D visuals were of poor quality and highly unrealistic, however over the last few years, technology, software and hardware have all improved to a point that now it is possible to create an entire room set ‘virtually’ without the need for any set build but still be totally convincing and photo realistic.

CGI opens up many new avenues for even more creative and stunning imagery

When build a CGI room set, essentially, we are creating a digital file. This in turn means it can be re-opened and revisited at any time in the future. You can change anything within the room, from door finishes, styles and handles, to architectural features and styling elements.

Why would I want to reuse a set you may ask? With the ever changing and fast paced cycle of styles, stock and suppliers, it’s easy for budgets to spiral on constantly building and creating new imagery using photographed room sets.

Discontinuing an item, or changing the design from one supplier to another, the cost of re-building a new photography set just for this can be immense and hugely uneconomical, both financially and ecologically. With a CGI room set, this doesn’t have to cost the earth.

With CGI, you’re also not restricted by size or design. With photography, the bigger the set, the higher the cost. With CGI this does also stand, but the scope to create vast, grand and open spaces can be achieves at a fraction of the cost of building a room set of similar proportions in the studio. CGI is limited only by your imagination!

photovscgi-reuseAn example of a set being re-worked to show a new door finish. Produced for East Coast Fittings as part of their Gaddesby Bathrooms Range.

Sound too good to be true?

Although CGI is great, it’s not perfect… yet, but we’ve got a solution for that. There are a few items that don’t work as well being computer generated – organic items and soft furnishings. It is possible to create these in a 3D format, but the time and effort required to do so can become extremely costly vs the true cost of photographing the items. To combat this, we use our years of photography skills and experience to ‘merge’ the two mediums together.

We first use a ‘place hold’ within the 3D, virtual room set, to create shadows and aid with lighting and styling, before photographing the items and digitally merging the two together.


What if all my products are soft furnishing items?

This is where a decision between using purely photography or a mix of photography and CGI becomes the big question. If you are wanting a number of different sets at a lower price, with more variation in both the architecture and the look and feel, CGI is your best option. If you would like the same setting/room set and style for each product, photography can become more cost effective.


Photography and CGI both have their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately, the likelihood is the final decision will be down to costs and economics. To help figure this out, below I’ve listed the  pros and cons for each.


  • Can be quicker and cheaper for a large number of items in the same set/environment
  • Could be more cost effective if including a large number of specific products


  • Can build large elaborate sets at a much lower cost
  • Assets remain intact as they are digital files
  • Quicker turnaround on changes with lower costs overall
  • Show more variations with ease


  • More expensive for larger set builds
  • Usually limited by physical build size
  • Once the project is completed, the set is dismantled and can’t be easily re-used
  • Can take longer to make structural or decorative changes to a set


  • Could be more expensive for a large number of soft furnishings and organic products
  • Can be more costly if a large number of specific products need to be modeled in 3D


If you’d like to know more or to discuss how we at Overview could help you, why not give us a call today, on 01977 550 522.



Creative Director at Overview Studios. Toby works across all areas of the business, from marketing and sales, to photographic and CGI production with a specialism in materials, lighting and styling.