An overview of Product Photography
“Product photos are an important part of any product-based company’s branding. Especially with social media being such a big aspect of marketing.”
This is a rather long post about product photography – written from the standpoint of a product photographer. You will find information on different types of product photography. How to find a product photographer. DIY tips, pricing information, and FAQ’s about product photography.
As a commercial photographer I‘ve been doing product photography for many years. It is a wonderful way for me to support women business owners who make products. I first discovered product photography during a still life class in my BFA program. There I learned how to capture the shine of metals and the sparkle of diamonds. As I‘ve gotten older my appreciation for product photography keeps growing. I‘m feeling more and more drawn to the beauty in the simplicity and order of product photography. And the time spent alone in the photo studio getting the right light and angles feels meditative. Maybe it is because life keeps getting more hectic. As the world around me becomes more unpredictable, it is refreshing to create high quality images that clearly translate what a product is. How it looks, feels, and functions.
The need for professional product photography
There is an ever growing need for great professional product photography. How often do you look something up online before buying it? Product photos play a big role in your brand image. And are often the first impression your customers have of your product. As a business owner you know how important it is to put your best foot forward. So having crisp, high quality images for your online store is a must! Sometimes you can get a pretty good photo on your phone. But does that image really capture what your product looks like? Does it show the quality? I‘ll openly admit that if the image is bad I assume the product is also not great. Because why would you invest energy into a wonderful product, and then not have great product photography?
Why you should not DIY product photography.
Now, if you are thinking to yourself that you can buy a light box and do the photos yourself, think again. There are tons of products out there that promise to make DIY product photography easy. But if you want your brand and your products to stand out you won’t want to go the DIY route. Business owners and makers often start out with DIY photography. But, inevitably move on to hiring professional product photographers. This is because getting a good photo of a product requires a lot more than a light tent that makes flat boring light. It takes years of experience to know how to get great crisp product images. Online storefronts such as Amazon and Shopify often have strict requirements for images. And getting those right is time consuming and frustrating if you don’t have the know-how.
Each product shape is different. Every material reflects light differently. So it’s important that an experienced product photographer takes the photos. A professional product photographer uses software (Lightroom & Adobe Photoshop) to perfect images. Making sure the product photo has a perfect white background. And that the colors accurately reflect real life. Sometimes a product requires multiple shots combined together. This is especially common for jewelry and watches. I have years of experience capturing tricky products. Let me create the perfect final image.
Plus, aren’t there a million other things your business needs you to get done? So save yourself the headache and hire product photography experts!
What is stopping you from having wonderful product photography?
How to find a great product photographer near me?
Well, this is an easy one for me to answer. You have already completed this step. It may seem like you have to find a photographer in your area. But the great thing about product photography is if you are not in the California Bay Area we can still work together. I have several options for my out of town clients. Such as shipping products to my photo studio. Or traveling to you for larger items and bigger collections. Please get in touch, I’d love to chat with you about your product photography ideas.
Should I get styled product photos or catalog photos?
Catalog photos are generally shot with a white background. Whereas styled product photos can have a variety of colored backgrounds. The images can have props, and be in real life settings. Styled product photos are an important part of any product-based company’s branding. Especially with social media being such a big aspect of marketing. It is important that you have photos that represent your brand image. And speak to your target audience. This is where styling comes in. Is your brand earthy, organic, and natural feeling? Or are you wanting to show off a modern crisp and bright color palette? Not sure? Don’t worry. I am always happy to help brainstorm your brand image with you. Together we will come up with an amazing concept that captures the spirit of your product.
“It is important that you have photos that represent your brand image.”
How can I get my images to match criteria for Amazon?
Whenever I create catalog product photos on a white background I make sure to meet or exceed the criteria for Amazon selling. I will make sure you have files that are exactly the right size and specs. So the photos are ready to upload to your storefront.
Etsy doesn‘t require images to be catalog style, should I do them anyways?
Having professional high-end product photos will increase your sales. On Etsy, as well as on any other online store platform. Some products benefit a lot from having a setting. However, nothing can replace the crisp, clear look of a product photo with a white background.
The argument for minimalist product photography on a white background.
We all know those photos. The ones where we don’t think about the photo at all. We see what the product is. The surrounding area is pure white. Sometimes the product has a slight shadow to give it some weight in space. Or sometimes the product appears to be floating. There are no distractions, the photo is not telling a story. It is just showing the product. The texture, colors, shape. A high quality product image that is clear, simple, and direct. This may not seem like the most exciting kind of image. But people have been creating images that are records of man made things for a long time. Think of Magritte‘s 1929 painting. „Ceci n‘est pas une pipe“. Or Andy Warhol’s famous 1962 “Cambell’s Soup Cans” painting.
I love creating these images. The minimalism is actually much more exciting and challenging than it seems. Catalog photos, also sometimes called e-commerce product photography, needs to be very precise. Because of this it is important that you hire product photography experts for the job.
So now that you’re convinced to get beautiful high quality product photos the next step is to give me a call. We’ll work together to figure out how many images of each product you need and what the best style is for your brand.
Pricing breakdown & explanation
Pricing for product photography breaks down into 3 categories. For a full price sheet please contact me. I will send over the most up to date information.
1 – On White – Base Price
Product photography pricing starts with the base rate. Products with a white background, catalog style images. The starting price is $150. As the image count increases the per image rate decreases. Oversized items have an added cost to them. These images requires a more complex set up. Such as extra lights and a bigger set. For jewelry and watches the same is true. These products need a more complex set up to capture the brilliance and shine of the metals and gems.
2 – Simple Styled Images
The second category is simple styled images. For example an image of a product with a colored background. Or a product with a few props. These images have a slightly higher per image rate. These are more time consuming to create, and often require more retouching. Especially when using props like plants. Those petals and leaves are delicate and usually have a few scuffs that need retouching. However, if you plan to use the same set up for multiple images the per image rate reverts back to the base rate. This is because I can set up once for the shot and then just swap out the product. If a prop in the image needs retouching I only have to do it once. Thus reducing time in post processing.
Here are some samples of simple styled product photos.
Here is an example of two images shot on the same set.
3 – Complex Still Life
The final product photography pricing category is the complex still life. This is anything that requires an in depth set up. Such as the image below. Generally these images take a while to get right. And of course the increased amount of items in the image increases time spent retouching. Often these complex still life images are multiple shots combined together.
Taking the leap to invest in hiring a product photographer can feel daunting. But the process will be fun. And the final images will be useful for a long time. Not to mention having crisp professional product photos will elevate your brand. And improve your customers experience.
All Images © Ella Sophie
Ella Sophie is an artist and photographer living in Oakland California. She specializes in creating images that empower women. Through portraiture, boudoir photography and ethical fashion photography. Ella strives to change the perception that women have of themselves one photo at a time. When she isn’t working you can find her volunteering at the local animal shelter. Encouraging fellow entrepreneurs and artists. Or traveling and taking in the beautiful wilderness.
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