How to Find a Product Photographer to Give Your Brand a Perfect Shot

If a picture is worth a thousand words, having strong photos of your products can be just the thing that gets someone to add to cart. Your customers rely on images to make buying decisions, especially when they aren’t able to touch and feel your product in a traditional retail setting. Having professional images also helps to legitimize your business, create brand cohesion, and convey personality. Sure, you could order a lightbox and snap an iPhone photo, but nothing beats working with a true pro.

How do you find this camera master? And how do you determine if they’re the right fit? These tips will help you hire the best photographer for your brand so your products can outshine the competition.

What are you looking for?

When starting your search for a product photographer, it’s best to hone in on the style of photography that fits your brand as well as your specific photo needs. Look for inspiration on social media and other websites you’re into so that you can determine your preferred photo style. Do you prefer high-contrast images with simple backgrounds or are you looking for products styled within an environment? Are you planning on using models or just shooting the items? It’s much easier to seek out a photographer whose portfolio aligns with your vision once you’ve done some initial research, and being able to present a mood board will get everyone on the same page.

It’s also a great time to loop in your web designer if you have one. Not only will they be able to speak to the technical aspects of your image needs, but they also can tell you if there are particular shots you should have taken to round out your website.

Finally, clarify with yourself the timeline and budget you’re hoping to stick to. If you’re on a tight schedule or limited budget, communicate that to potential photographers in advance in case they won’t be able to accommodate you.

Where to look for a photographer

Now that you know what you’d like your product photos to look like, how do you go about seeking someone to snap them? There are several ways you can find a photographer to work with, but perhaps the easiest is to start with your network. Ask your friends and colleagues if they’ve worked with any photographers they’d recommend. You can also find local photographers by searching hashtags on Instagram or checking the tags in photos of other products. And there’s always good ’ole Google. A search of “product photographers” plus the name of your city should generate additional leads.

When looking at their portfolio, make sure they have images that are similar to your vision. Just because a photographer takes amazing wedding photos doesn’t mean they’ll be great in a studio setting shooting products. They must be able to capture your brand. Lastly, try and find reviews and testimonials to give you a better idea of what they’re like to work with.

Questions to ask your photographer

You’ve narrowed it down to a handful of photographers whose work you like, and now it’s time to reach out to find the best fit. During this “interview” process, there are some key questions you should ask to ascertain their skill level and clarify your needs. Start by finding out how long they’ve been a professional photographer and what other brands they’ve worked with. The following questions will further help you to narrow down your choices:

  • Will they be taking the photos and/or will they hire an assistant?
  • How long do they need for editing and what is the turnaround time for the final product?
  • Do they have access to a studio space for shooting?
  • How do they handle various lighting conditions?
  • What’s included in their fee structure and what additional fees might you expect to incur?
  • Are they insured? Do they have a backup method for saving images?
  • Who owns the rights to the finished photos?

Likely, it’ll be important that your photographer has access to a studio along with the equipment needed for a successful photoshoot (lighting, clamps, backdrops, etc.). If a photographer balks at the more technical questions, it might be that they lack the experience you need for the project.

How much will a photographer cost?

Rates for product photography run the gamut based on variables like location, experience, the difficulty of the shots, post-production needs, and so on. An amateur photographer might charge $15 to $20 per image while a seasoned pro might have a range between $50 and $1,000. Keep in mind that fee structures also vary with different photographers. While some charge hourly rates, others may have day rates, per image rates, or per product rates.

Explain your specific needs and request a quote. Once you know how much they charge, clarify what is included in that fee. Your final price should include any travel expenses, equipment fees, retouching, and assistant fees. If there are any reasonable additional costs you could run into, be sure you understand and budget for them from the get-go.

Because hiring a product photographer is an investment and you want to make sure you’ve found the right person, consider bringing them on for a smaller job to start. This way you can see if you like their work and (very important) you like working with them before signing any big checks.

Preparing for your photoshoot

When the day of your photoshoot arrives, make sure you’re prepared so that things run smoothly and efficiently (especially because delays may cost you more money in the end). Discuss the plan with your photographer well in advance to answer some of the following questions:

  • What do you need to supply besides the products themselves?
  • Will the photographer be bringing props or other items needed for the shoot, or are you responsible for sourcing them?
  • Will the photographer be styling the products for the shoot or just taking photos? Do you need to hire a product stylist or be on hand to style the items yourself?
  • Who will manage the shoot? Should you come up with a shot list in advance to schedule out the day?

You’ll also want to double-check that the products you’re photographing are clean, organized, and ready to go. The more prepared you are in advance, the easier it will be for everyone involved.

Ultimately, great imagery can boost your business to the next level and give your customers a clearer sense of your brand and what they’re buying. Don’t rush the process. Researching styles, asking questions, and taking time to find a professional product photographer can keep your brand from having a total photo bomb.

Amanda Zurita

Seattle-based writer and editor specializing in lifestyle, travel, and design. Dog mom to the best boy. Obsessed with houseplants and the Italian Riviera.

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