By Patrick Weilmerier | Imaging ServicesThis post answers 4 questions about product photography rates: 1) How do product photography service providers differ; 2) How are product photography services charged; 3) What additional charges should you anticipate; 4) What other project costs should you consider?
Do you know how much it costs to produce your product images? If your answer is no, don’t worry, you are not alone. The majority of businesses that produce product images in-house do not know how much each product image is costing them.
In this post, I describe 16 factors that impact your product image cost and provide tips on how to reduce the cost.
16 Factors That Impact Your Product Image Cost
There are two categories of factors that impact your product image cost:
Product specific factors:
- Product weight
- Product size and shape
- Number of pieces per product
- Number of product categories
- Number of products per category
- Preparation required before photography
- Product identification
- Repacking after photography
- Photography difficulty
- Image editing difficulty
Project logistics factors:
- Availability of products
- Ability / experience of photographer
- Ability / experience of photographer helper
- Photography studio workspace
- Location of the products
- Ordering and delivering products to photography studio
Product Specific Factors
1. Product weight
Heavier products are difficult to prep for photography, photograph, and handle. They also take longer for the photographer to the position when shooting. Both handling and positioning time impact product image cost.
Cost Cutting Tip: First, group products by weight so that the photographer is shooting products with similar weights consecutively. Secondly, bring in additional photographer helpers. And third, make sure your studio equipment is designed to handle heavy products.
2. Product size and shape
Large products often take longer, and cost more, to photograph than smaller, easy-to-handle products. Also, large products often require different photography studio setups than smaller products.
Cost Cutting Tip: Plan ahead – group products by size and shape, hire extra help and make sure your photography studio can handle large products.
3. Number of pieces per product
The more pieces a product has the more time it takes to arrange the product prior to photography. Depending on the number of pieces and size of the pieces, studio setup and lighting may need to be adjusted.
Cost Cutting Tip: Organize your products into groups based on the number of pieces. This will minimize the time it takes to adjust lighting and studio setup. You may need to add another helper – one to arrange the product pieces and one to pack the previous product away.
4. Number of product categories
The more product categories you have to image the more often you will be required to adjust your lights and photography studio setup.
Cost Cutting Tip: Work within product categories and minimize switching as much as possible. Transition from category to category smoothly making sure that the next category is as similar as possible to the category before.
5. Number of products per category
Frequently changing product categories and shooting only a few products per category is one of the biggest factors slowing production and increasing the cost per product image.
Cost Cutting Tip: Make sure that the next product category is as close to the one before as possible. This will minimize lighting and camera changes, thereby saving time and reducing the cost per product image.
6. Preparation required before photography
The time it takes to prepare products for the photographer varies – some products require cleaning, others cleaning and assembly, and others can be photographed right out of the box.
Cost Cutting Tip: Arrange the photography studio so there is sufficient space for the photographer helper to efficiently clean and assemble products. The more photography studio space the better, working in a cramped space is inefficient and slows down production.
7. Product identification
It is critical that the photographer can easily identify the product number, determine the image views the product requires, and track which product images have been captured and which have not. It is common for photographers to spend the majority of their time identifying products and tracking product images using various lists and spreadsheets.
Cost Cutting Tip: The best way to organize the product photography workflow is to use Image Production Management software for managing the product photography, image editing, quality control and project management functions. The alternative is to stay as organized as possible using a series of Excel spreadsheets.
8. Repacking after photography
Once the product has been photographed it is passed to the helper who repacks the product. This process is quick for straightforward products and time-consuming for complex products.
Cost Cutting Tip: Stay as organized as possible and try and set up the photography studio in an area that allows you ample space to prepare and repack products.
9. Photography difficulty
Some products are easy to photograph (a low cost per product image) and others are difficult (a high cost per product image).
Cost Cutting Tip: Again, plan ahead – review all your product categories before you begin the project, consider how you are going to photograph the challenging categories and group like products together.
10. Image editing difficulty
Some images are quick to edit and others take time. Factors at play here include image quality standards, clipping paths, color correction, the number of pieces in the image, and shadow removal.
Cost Cutting Tip: Analyze each product category to determine which ones present image editing challenges. Research approaches to editing the challenging images – more often than not you can discover productive editing techniques that achieve your desired results.
Project Logistics Factors
11. Availability of products
When there is a steady and consistent flow of products to the photography studio, production increases and product image cost decreases. When the photographer and helper are waiting for product (and therefore unproductive) costs increase. Inconsistent product availability can be due to poor planning, lack of company-wide buy-in, or simply product unavailability.
Cost Cutting Tip: Make sure all levels in your organization – management, marketing, cataloging, inventory, shipping, and others – buy into the importance of product mages (reduce returns, increase sales). If you have buy-in, product flow to the studio will be more consistent, production will increase and costs will decrease.
12. Ability / experience of photographer
It always pays to hire an experienced product photographer. They understand production / quality balance and can be more than twice as productive as inexperienced product photographers.
Cost Cutting Tip: Hire a product photographer that has a proven track record working with table top photography in a production environment. The key here is ‘proven’ – I have hired many photographers over the years who claimed they are ‘productive’ but in the end, they simply could not strike a balance between production and quality.
13. Ability / experience of photographer helper
The most cost efficient workflow allows the photographer to focus on what they are good at – product photography – and not on preparing products for photography. A good photography assistant empowers the photographer to focus.
Cost Cutting Tip: Hire a reliable, hard working and organized photographer helper. This will allow the photographer to spend more time shooting and less time handling products.
14. Photography studio workspace
Workspace impacts production and product image cost in a big way. Ample studio space allows the photographer room to quickly and easily adjust their lights, backgrounds, camera stand, and products. As well, sufficient studio space makes it far easier for the helper to arranging, prepare, and repack products.
Cost Cutting Tip: Secure the largest workspace you can in the location you are shooting – warehouse, distribution center, office etc. It is also best if the workspace is isolated from traffic (forklifts etc.) and sheltered from dust and debris.
15. Location of the products
If your products are in different locations you either ship the products to the studio or move the studio to the products. Either way, the product image cost will be impacted.
Cost Cutting Tip: Analyze your products before you determine your photography studio location, set up the studio where the majority of the products are located. Determine how much it costs (time and money) to ship the products that are not at the current studio location. Estimate the cost (time and money) to move the photography studio to the products. Chose the most cost-effective and productive option.
16. Ordering and delivering products to photography studio
Products that require product images will need to be ordered from inventory and delivered to the photography studio. For most businesses, products must be recorded as a sale when taken out of inventory and delivered to the photography studio and a return when the photography studio is done with them.
Cost Cutting Tip: Order products in reasonable quantities, enough to keep the photography studio productive but not too much such that sales are impacted. Also, edit and QA images quickly after they are photographed, this way if a product image is rejected it can be reshot at the studio before the product is returned to inventory – this avoids ordering and delivering the same product twice.
* Subscribe to the Blog
* Request Pricing
* The 10 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make With Their Product Photography
Decrease Your Product Image Costs
I hope you find this post informative and helpful when it comes to decreasing your product image cost. Please share your thoughts on this article by entering a comment below.