Great product images allow your customers to see all the details of a product. In fact, photos can have a major impact: three-quarters of consumers are inspired to purchase due to visual content. Only product photographers know how to present items in the best possible light. But how much should you expect to pay for such service? To answer that, it’s necessary to be clear how product photography pricing works.
Product Photography Pricing in 2020
There are four ways you can pay for product photography: by the hour, day, image, or product.
If you pay by the hour, expect the service to cost anywhere from $25 to more than $500, although average rates ranges from $94 to $262. A photographer may prefer this type of pricing if you have specific needs and a diverse range of products. The problem is it may be unclear how many hours you can expect the photo shoot to take, which means you could easily end up spending more than your budget.
For a daily rate, expect to pay between $300 and $3,000. Paying the day makes it easier to calculate how much you’ll spend than paying by the hour. However, you’ll need to be sure that your project actually requires a full day of the photographer’s time.
The next option is to pay according to the number of images you need. Bear in mind, you may need more than one image for each product. Prices per image range from $10 to more than $400.
Finally, you have price per product. This may be an option if all your products are relatively similar, as the photographer will find it easy to gauge how long the shoot will take and how much effort it will require. Plus, the photographer will be able to use the same equipment and techniques throughout the shoot. The more products you have, the lower you’ll pay per product, with average rates ranging from $20 to $85.
Why the Variation in Product Photography Rates?
As you’ve seen, there is a huge variation in how much you can expect to pay. Alone, the above gives you no idea how much to budget for your product photography. However, it’s far from impossible to figure out — you just need to consider your specific situation and needs.
A number of factors contribute to the price of product photography, including the experience of the photographer, the type of photography, and whether the photographer is independent or works for a studio. Let’s consider each in turn.
At the low end, you have beginners and hobbyists. These photographers charge less than $50 an hour and $10 to $25 per image. Whereas the results may be better than what you could achieve on your own, they’ll be far from professional.
Next in the price range, you have amateur photographers. They tend to charge up to $100 per hour and as much as $50 per image. Again, they have no formal education in photography, but they do have some experience and have sold their work in the past.
Charging around the same as amateur photographers are students. Some may have an interest in photography and are taking some relevant classes in the subject. Others are apprentices to professionals.
After this, you have the professionals themselves. The least expensive are semi-pros. They have a background in photography and have been working for at least one year. However, they likely only do photography part time and have another job on the side, perhaps in media. Their hourly rate can be as high as $150 and rate per image starts at $50.
Professionals are those who work full time as photographers and have been in the profession for several years. They have a significant educational background in photography and a large portfolio. You’ll pay up to $300 an hour and images start at $75.
Finally, there are top professionals. They may charge more than $500 an hour and sometimes even more than $1,000 an image. It’s unlikely you’ll need this level of quality for your product images.
Remember that you want someone with experience in product photography rather than just photography in general! You may see better results from an amateur who only does product shoots than a semi-pro who focuses on portraits — and you’ll pay less.
Type of Photography
Product photography falls into two main categories: Amazon product photography and lifestyle product photography. These have quite different costs.
Amazon Product Photography Pricing
You’ll pay standard prices for regular e-commerce product photos. Since Amazon is by far the largest e-commerce platform, any product photographer should know how to take pictures specifically for Amazon. This includes:
- Providing you with images in the right file format.
- Using sRGB or CMYK color mode.
- Keeping the image free from additional objects, text, and graphics.
- Using a pure white background.
You can check Amazon for the full requirements.
Lifestyle Product Photography Pricing
Also called in-context, context, and custom photography, lifestyle photos show a product in a curated environment. These are aspirational photos that encourage customers to associate a product with a specific lifestyle and imagine using the product for themselves.
For lifestyle photography, you’ll pay the standard rate plus some additional fees to pay for models, create a set, and rent props. Typically, you’ll pay a flat rate for every day of shooting, plus the production expenses. This can add up to around $2,000 to $5,000 per day.
If you want to be present for the shoot (which is recommendable), you’ll also need to factor in this expense. There may be no studio near you that offers lifestyle product photography, meaning you’ll need to travel to the location.
To make your lifestyle photo shoot worthwhile, it’s important to have a clear idea what you want. Be as specific as possible and discuss ideas with the photographer beforehand. This will allow the photographer to be prepared on the day of the shoot and improve the chances that you’re satisfied with the photos.
Independent Photographers vs Studios
Photographers can work independently or at a full-service studio. There are several pros and cons to either option, in addition to differences in price.
Photographers who work independently often share the studio where they do their photoshoots with a number of other freelancers. They do their other work — such as editing pictures — from home. You’ll receive much better results if you choose an independent photographer who does use a studio for shoots and has access to professional equipment.
Even if you live in a small city, you should be able to find multiple independent studios in your area. This will enable you to choose between a range of photographers and find someone within your budget. You may even be able to negotiate the rate — this is much easier to do when you work with an independent photographer than a full studio.
Another benefit of choosing a photographer in your area is that there’s no need to factor in travel costs and shipping of products. The downside, though, is that some photographers are in high demand, meaning it could be a long time before you’re able to schedule a shoot.
Unless you live in a big city, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a professional studio in your area. However, it could be worthwhile seeking one if you have a large or complex project. For instance, it’s more likely that they’ll have the necessary equipment for a lifestyle product photoshoot.
Make sure you find a studio that specializes in product photography to receive the best quality. These often charge lower rates than studios that cover more areas — although the price will still be higher than what you’d pay an independent photographer.
Another good thing about working with a studio is that they have experience receiving products. They have processes in place to store and then return your products, no matter the shape or size. However, if you will need to ship a large number of products, you may end up spending a lot.
Can You DIY Product Photography Using Your Phone?
After seeing just how expensive product photography can be, you may be reconsidering hiring a photographer at all. If you have a high-end phone, you can take professional-quality pictures yourself, right?
Definitely not! The quality won’t be even close. Photographers have specialized equipment that goes far beyond the capabilities of the top phones on the market. Plus, they’ve spent countless hours (perhaps years) studying techniques and best practices. This is not something you can learn with a few online tutorials and how-to articles. Photographers also have editing software and the skills to use it. All this makes a huge difference to the end result.
Although they may be expensive, professional product photos are essential. There’s no need to feel that you must contract a high-end professional, but you should choose someone with experience. Consider it a necessary investment.
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