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Product Photography Pricing Solutions



Getting photography can be difficult, here's some great solutions!

Starting a new business and becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult and exciting things you could do in your life. It takes more than just making the product and expecting everyone to just magically want it. You need to market it and sell it.

Photography is just a single step in the marketing process, but a very important one. First impressions are everything in the consumer world and a photograph of you product gives that first impression. It can be sole determinate on whether a consumer will buy or pass on an item. Companies invest huge money on trying to make their products look better than their competitors and i've seen the results.

One company i know of had their entire catalog rephotographed and redesigned to have a cleaner and more modern look to it. Their other catalog had been photographed by a friend of the business and designed by a friend as well. The marketing executive convinced the owner to raise their budget to accommodate using a design firm for the new catalog and a professional photographer. After the catalog was released they saw un-uptick in sales by 20% immediately.

Here we'll discuss some options on how to get photography and why we at Products On White, started our business that addresses some of these hurdles.

Option 1:

Shooting it yourself

Where as this sounds like a great idea, it's typically not. Let's face it, not everyone was born with a creative eye, but photography is a little more than that. There's a lot of technical knowhow that goes into photography. For example which Fstop is the best aperture to use when shooting a product and what sort of shutter speed will you need. If your using flash, what sort of modifier should you use and how do you meter it to get the best exposure. Different types of products often times need different types of lights, which one is the best? Certainly, digital photography has made this process a lot easier, but it hasn't made the fundamentals of photography any simpler.

If you're dead set on shooting it yourself or at least trying, you may find yourself racking up quite the bill to discover that the quality of imagery your getting isn't exactly up to par with your competitors. Heres a good link on how to set it up 


First thing you've got to get is a camera ($400 - $2000) and a lens. Preferably a longer lens that can shoot at a high fstop is useful so that the entire product is in sharp focus.

Next you've got to get some lights. Our lighting setup at POW is typically 5 lights, but that's just how we do it. There's a million different ways to light a product and some work better than others. If you doing it yourself, you may want to try using window light and a fill card (a big white card). Sometimes people like to recommend using one of the white tents but we've found that those lighting tents render an image this lacks a dynamic quality of light and flattens out the image too much.

So after you've got all the equipment, and you've got your images, most images require a little bit retouching to bring out their best qualities.Every image requires a little bit of retouching, mostly cleaning up the surface around the image. This requires a little bit of photoshop knowledge.

The estimated cost of shooting your products yourself are based on mid range photography tools. Keep in mind, the real gamble is that your products might not end up looking that great if your not knowledgable on how to use the tools.

Camera: $600
Lens: $1000
Light Tent: $100
Lights: 2 x 500
Photoshop: $600
Total Estimated Price: $3300

This is quite the gamble to take, but if you can make it work and you have a lot of products to shoot than it might end up saving you money.

Option 2:

Having Your Uncle Do It

Ok, this is sort of a funny way of putting it, but as a photographer I hear the phrase "My uncle (or other family member) just got a new nikon, I think were going to have him shoot our wedding (or other important thing) for us." all the time. Having a great camera, doesn't necessarily make a great photographer and this is especially true for products. Product photography, when photographed in a professional way, is highly technical in nature and can be a little tricky. I don't know if i'd trust my uncle to craft the primary sales and marketing image that represents my company and brand.

Option 3:

Using Craigslist

Maybe it goes unsaid, but using craigslist to do anything can be a bit of a gamble. You have no idea who your going to get. It might be a seasoned professional or it might be a guy with a camera. Make sure they have a portfolio of work that meets your standards.

Often times I see people posting that they need (for example) 75 products photographed and they have a budget of $500. Don't expect to many professional to respond to something like this, because the rates are well below market rates. Chances are at this rate you'll find someone like in the example above who is just trying to make a little money from their new camera.

Option 4:

Hiring A Professional

This is always the best option. A professional photographer easy to find too. If i was looking, I would start my search at www.workbook.com . These are the true industry professionals. You will get the best images this way, custom tailored to whatever your hearts desire. You get to be there at the shoot and approve every shot as it comes in.

The main draw back is the expense. A typical day for a professional photographer starts at $1500 a day and ranges to $2000 a day. If you take into account all the overhead (studio cost, lighting, photography gear...) and the time to produce the shoot, this comes out to be about fair. Negotiating a usage contract for the images. This can be particularly confusing and frustrating if your not used to it. By law, the photographer owns the rights to the images they photograph and license the images to you. This licensing is an additional cost based on what your going to use it for ($0 - $100,000??). Usage Story 

On a professional shoot there will typically be other expenses involved, like a photo assistant ($250 -$400 a day). If there's a lot of products a prop stylist might be used ($250 -$400 a day). If there's a lot of images and products being shot, all that needs to be organized as it's shot and be prepped for retouching and a digital tech may be hired ($400 - $600 a day). If there's a lot of people coming to the shoot to watch, a production assistant might be hired ($150 -$300 a day). If you want to build a set, theres the cost of the set and cost of people to build it. If there's a location involved theres the cost of the location to rent ($1000 -$2000). Lets not forget retouching, which is traditionally $75 - $175 an hour.

In a hypothetical situation, lets say I'm a small business owner that has 20 products that needs photographed on a white surface to be used on a website or ecommerce catalog. Easy. How I would estimate this project is as so:

Photographer Rate: $1500
Usage: $500
Assistant: $250
Retouching: $600
Estimated Total Cost: $2850

In this case you, get what you paid for. The most amazing product photography money can buy exactly the way you've always dream it being.

Option 5:

Working with Products On White aka POW!

Sure, this is a shameless plug, but we've crafted our business to address all the frustrations we were seeing with small, new and medium sized businesses were having getting simple product photography.

First, the quality of the imagery had to stay as amazing as it would if wewere hired on a custom professional job. Through testing and planning, we decided that by limiting the backgrounds to 1 of 4 setups, we could still have the maneuverability to craft light on an object in a way that still maintained a style that is unique and professional in quality. This also helps us shoot faster and with consistency. This keeps cost down, which we pass on to the customer.

Second thing we did was get rid of the usage thing. Usage is confusing, frustrating and just plain pisses most people off. So where as we still own the copyright, you are automatically licensed for an unlimited time, for whatever you want, where ever you want.

Third thing we did was make it a flat rate per object being photographed. This makes it easy to budget with and easy to sell to a boss. There's no confusing a flat rate.

We also wanted to make it assessable if you only had 1 or 2 products you needed photographed. If you were to hire a professional, you would still pay a full day rate to get those products photographed. That didn't seem reasonable.
We wanted to make it simple to order and take out all the hassles that you would find with negotiating back and forth with a professional, posting and rooting through a craigslist ad responses, having to figure out how to use all the new gear you've purchased or trying to figure out how to tell your uncle that his pics aren't making the cut. We made it as simple as humanly possible. You can order on the site, the type of background you want, the size and write a little bit how you'd like it photographed and just ship us the items to be shot. It's that simple.

We believe in making the photography side of your business easy and affordable. So check out our site at www.powphotography.com

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  • Jeff Delacruz
Comments 5
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