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What Kinds of Factors Affect Product Photography Pricing?

Posted by Ashley Brook on January 30, 2023

The retail field has never been more dependent on photography. The relationship between company and customer often plays out through product photos — and while this is obviously most prominent in e-commerce, even shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores will carry out their initial research online.

What this means for your brand is clear: If you haven’t already committed to an effective, repeatable strategy for product photography, it’s time to start. Your customers will look to your official product photos to determine the relative value of your items. It’s up to you to give them what they’re looking for, not just in terms of image quality, but also in terms of details, angles and coverage.

Because you’ll need more photos over time, as long as you continue adding new items to your offerings, it pays to optimize your product photography process for maximum value. This way, you’ll get good results over time at a minimum cost to you.

You can make certain you’re on the right track in terms of photography prices and quality by investigating the state of the market today. Why are these photos so important — and, perhaps just as importantly, what can you expect to pay for professional photography? 

What is the Impact of Product Photography for a Business?

Before delving into the costs of product photography services, it’s worth asking what kind of value you’re receiving for that investment.

In cases where your products are sold online, either partly or exclusively, the impact is clear: With compelling, consistent and detailed pictures, you can give your customers a great view of your items that will help them make a purchase decision.

As online business has become a primary way to make purchases, businesses are stepping up their e-commerce efforts. Your company will have to compete against other organizations that have fully entered the era of digital commerce, and this means customers could be comparing product photos of similar items side by side. It pays to ensure your pictures look better in this head-to-head match.

Product Photos as Brand Storytelling Tools

Product photography’s role can go beyond its immediate impact on customers. When your product photos set a strong, consistent tone, they can serve as pillars of branding.

You can look beyond your e-commerce site to exploit the potential of a good product picture, especially one that places the product in context. 4Sight Marketing Tips’ Maxwell Onyeka pointed out that social media posts provide a good place to use product photos. On platforms like Instagram, visual content is an engaging way to grab customers’ attention.

Context counts when using product shots on social media. Onyeka recommends focusing on caption-writing and direct audience engagement around these posts. The images can show off the brand’s voice alongside its visual identity.

Product Photos on the Homepage

Hubspot noted that several prominent types of e-commerce homepage designs make use of product photos. Some companies, especially fashion brands, can use photos of models wearing their items on the main page, serving the dual role of creating a dynamic-looking website and inspiring viewers to imagine how they would look in those clothes.

In some cases, brands use minimal design and display standard, uncluttered product photos right on their homepages. This is a way to cut out any preamble and get shoppers started browsing items as quickly as possible. It is also a strategy that hinges on the quality of the product photos, as they’re the first thing consumers see.

Working in this way gives your brand an independent, entrepreneurial feel. While this strategy might not work for companies that offer dozens of different items and options such as alternative colors and sizes, it can be a perfect approach if your business is based around a small lineup of core offerings.

What Goes into Product Photography Pricing?

There are too many variables involved in product photography pricing to give a direct answer about the cost of a shoot, though it is possible to narrow the range down.

The unique nature of every company’s product photography needs is closely tied to the brand’s overall e-commerce approach. Some organizations will need a few images of simple products on blank backgrounds. Others will require fully featured shoots with production values that would fit into a glossy fashion magazine.

Your company likely fits somewhere in the middle ground between basic and complex photo requirements, and every individual shoot may have its own character. For instance, the first time you have a crew shoot a new line of products, you’re not just capturing images of those items — you’re setting the tone for how those goods and future related items will be presented to the public.

Estimates from around the Industry

While no general estimate can encompass your company’s unique needs, you’ll have to request a quote for that, there are some industry averages to compare and contrast. These figures can help you get started on your journey into professional product photography services.

  • Typical per-image pricing: Photography professional network Fash suggested that a shoot can range from $35 to $170 an image. The difference between those poles is explained by extra features such as necessary setup time and lighting requirements, as well as photo editing and post-production.
  • Impact of experience: One of the most important factors determining where a photoshoot’s price falls on the scale is the experience level of the product photographer. Fash’s industry data indicates that amateurs typically charge from $25-100 per hour or $25-50 per finished image, while professionals charge $100-300 per hour or $75 to $350 an image.
  • Alternative, creative photoshoots: Picsera noted the difference between per-photo shoots and those that are based on custom, creative requirements. For the latter, the project is billed by the day rather than by the image, and can cost between $500 and $3,000 for a day of photography. Additionally, there will be additional cost factors on top of the photographer’s fees, such as spending to reserve the location or buy the backdrop.

Especially if your brand goes beyond product photography to arrange other types of photoshoots, you’ll see a wide range of price quotes. In terms of logistics and complexity, there is a vast difference between taking corporate headshots, capturing carefully art-directed lifestyle photos of products and photographing utility infrastructure from a drone. Accordingly, each of these experiences will differ widely in price structure and organizational needs. All, however, are best handled by professionals. 

The value of high-quality photoshoots

Going by numbers alone, working with professionals or launching more complex photoshoots is more expensive than going with a bare-bones approach — or even taking product photos on a smartphone camera. Why do brands opt to go with the professionals? The answer has to do with customer perception.

Photographer Morgan Nesbitt explained the overall value of product pictures shot by professionals. These pictures help convey the brand’s values and make potential customers buy into the company’s industry leadership credentials. Self-taken photos can’t provide the same feelling, and may undercut the company’s authority.

Pictures taken by professionals can also serve the dual roles of showing the items in great detail and conveying a mood. Commercial photography experts have the experience and equipment to make products look their best in a still format, and they can put all that to work showing off your merchandise at its best.

Creating a feeling via a photoshoot is a subtle form of branding, but a valuable one. Once customers are used to seeing your company’s distinctive style of imagery, they will be more likely to recognize your items in the future, provided they are photographed in a consistent way.

What Are the Different Types of Product Photography Services?

There’s more than one way to show off a product. Depending on your e-commerce strategy, you can adopt one or more of these approaches. Capturing the right style of product image is a way to give a clear indication of what your brand stands for, while also making a case to buy the items in question.

Possible styles include:

  • Simple/blank background: In some cases, it’s best to let products stand alone. This means capturing the items with no background or extraneous details that could split viewers’ attention. Even if your main product image for each item is more complex, having some simple photos can be a worthwhile decision.
  • Amazon product photography: To sell your items through popular third-party e-commerce sites such as Amazon, you may have to adapt specialized versions of a simplified product photo style. MyVA360 explained that professional photographers tend to already know how to take photos in Amazon style — on a plain white background, in a very specific color mode and file format.
  • In context: Having some pictures where a product is in use can help viewers visualize themselves buying that product. For instance, if you sell clothes, showing those items on models, as part of a well-matched outfit, can make them stand out in a way they wouldn’t alone on a blank background.
  • Lifestyle photography shoots: There is a level of visual polish beyond a standard in-context product photo. These images can resemble editorial spreads in fashion magazines and show a large amount of personality relative to other photo types. It can become a key part of marketing and branding, especially for a luxury brand.
  • Up-close, multi-angle and 360: Advanced packages of photos can show off multiple aspects of an item, helping shoppers make a decision. While 4Sight Marketing’s Maxwell Onyeka suggested taking photos from many angles and giving a zoom-in option, Hubspot suggests using a 360-degree view viewable as a video file.

While there’s more than one way to take a product photo, the through line between these many types is the fact that they’re all best captured by a professional photographer. An expert can not only capture the pictures you need, but can also help consult with your brand to determine the right style for you.

still photography CTA scaled Photography Pricing

How Can Photographers Create Effective Product Shots?

The actual process of taking product photos is an involved process, requiring preparation, technology and execution to get right. Shopify gave a breakdown of the product photography process, with tips including the following:

  • Gathering gear and setting up: Important equipment for a product photoshoot includes a tripod to keep the shots steady and consistent, along with a backdrop and reflectors to capture the light, even in a shoot using natural light. With this gear in hand, the photographer can set up a consistent area to take multiple product shots in succession.
  • Capturing a variety of images: During a shoot, a photographer can make subtle changes between shots, like swapping in new background colors or switching up the angle at which an item is sitting. This can help get the ideal image — and also give alternative pictures for use as marketing collateral.
  • Performing photo editing: A photoshoot doesn’t end when the final product has been snapped. Rather, photographers can go to work adjusting the images’ color balance, contrast, sharpness and other traits. In some cases, retouching will be even more drastic, with alterations to the backdrop to make sure the item is shown in its best possible context.

Most organizations don’t have trained commercial photographers on staff, so it can pay to bring in experts for all stages of the product photoshoot process. These professionals have built their abilities over years and can deliver a consistent result with less time and effort than an inexperienced photographer would need.

Access to gear and connections to local studio facilities are important parts of the expert photographer’s tool kit. Companies that build relationships with trained photo experts can reap the rewards of their skills, all without adding permanent salaries to their own payrolls or incurring capital expenses for in-house facilities and company-owned gear.

How Are Emerging E-Commerce Trends Impacting Product Photography?

The next generation of e-commerce websites is poised to bring even more advanced use of product photos. This means that to keep up, your brand may have to invest in these high-tech strategies. Some examples of the trends coming down the pipeline include:

  • Extreme image quality variety: Designhill suggests that sites that are rich in photos have become the most compelling options in the e-commerce field. Rather than loading their main pages with text, companies following this model are investing in a wide variety of product pictures, all taken in high quality to attract visitors’ eyes.
  • Limited animation: Images that move could capture attention in ways that static pictures can’t. TheeDigital explained that e-commerce retailers have begun using very limited animations as part of their image gallery options, for instance to give shoppers an even closer look about how clothes fit and move.

The overall convergence between photography and other media types such as video and digital imagery is a trend to follow over the next few years. As brands expand into new media types — for instance, if fashion companies offer up virtual reality or augmented reality fitting rooms — there will be a need for innovative new kinds of visual content.

Brands of all kinds are becoming more adept at using imagery in general. This means techniques and polish levels that may have been “good enough” even a few years ago are no longer sufficient to keep your company on top in its sector.

Teaming up with a professional photography service is a way to stay abreast of all relevant trends in product imagery, and prepare for what’s next. In a competitive e-commerce climate, ability to adapt may be the critical factor that keeps your organization ahead of the curve with your target audience.

How Do Professional Crews Help with Product Photography?

With product photography services fulfilling an important role in your company’s branding and its direct efforts to make sales, your organization needs consistent, reliable and effective photos. Working with Crews Control’s expert commercial photography crews can deliver the needed level of quality, time and again.

Crews Control teams offer many advantages — they are able to provide artistic, creative and graphic design guidance for a photo shoot. They are also equipped with the latest and greatest in photo equipment. This matters, because no matter how powerful smartphone cameras become, there is still a benefit in using pro equipment, including tools such as light reflectors and tripods.

The commercial photographers who work with Crews Control also understand the ins and outs of their respective regions. This local knowledge may involve finding the best studio in town for a standard, blank-background shoot, or determining the best, most picturesque spot to carry out an outdoor lifestyle photoshoot.

Our expert photographers come to the job with more than seven years of experience, ensuring they understand how to capture your products at their best, quickly and effectively. As with our videographers, these professionals prioritize customer service and are easy to work with. No matter which variety of product photography is best for your organization, you can get it with an expert product photographer.
Download our ebook to learn more about professional photography, or request a free quote now.

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