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?
If you want your product photography project to be a success you need to hire the right product photography services provider.
If you choose the right photography services provider
- Your needs will be appropriately matched with solutions and services
- Your project will be completed on time and on budget
- Your project will be organized and professionally managed
- Your final images will meet your quality standards
- You will have solutions that satisfy your ongoing product photography needs
If you choose the wrong photography services provider
- Your product images could take up to 4 times as long to acquire
- Your cost per image will be significantly higher than budgeted
- Your project will be unorganized and poorly managed
- Your departments involved in the project will be negatively impacted e.g. product management, warehouse, ordering
- Your final images may not meet your internal standards and the standards set by your industry
- You boss will not be impressed (which we all know is not good!)
You can clearly see that choosing the right provider is extremely important.
9 considerations when evaluating photography services providers
1. Track record, experience and reputation
Carefully evaluate the track record and experience of the provider. Have they successfully completed projects that are similar to your project? For example, if your project involves photographing thousands of products varying in size and shape at your distribution center, look for a photography services provider that can demonstrate that they have a proven onsite solution and a track record of completing complex high-volume projects.
- Read this article for information on the components of successful product photography projects
Reputation is so important. Do not judge the provider’s reputation on what they say – we all think we are great. Make this judgement by reviewing customer testimonials and case studies, asking for references, and calling clients that are listed on their website. If you speak to enough of their customers you will get an excellent sense of how suitable they are for your project. Ask about their services, overall product photography and image editing expertise, project management skills, customer service, and image quality.
2. Onsite and in-studio solutions
It is best to select a photography services provider that offers both an in-studio solution – you ship your products to their photography studio – and an onsite solution – they set up a photography studio in your warehouse, distribution center, store or office (basically they come to you as opposed to you delivering products to them).
This is important for two reasons:
- If your project involves thousands of products you will likely want an onsite solution – shipping thousands of products to a remote studio would not make economic and logistical sense.
- After you have completed your initial photography project (usually the largest project) you will be looking for an in-studio solution. For example, let’s say you have 10,000 products that need images and you produce 250 new products quarterly, an onsite solution would work best for the 10,000 products and an in-studio solution would be best for the new products (ship 250 products quarterly to the services provider’s studio).
Virtually all providers offer in-studio services but very few offer onsite services. If you are looking for a long-term provider select one that offers both on-site and in-studio solutions.
- Read this post to learn about your options for outsourcing your product shots.
3. Full service
A full-service provider will offer a complete suite of services including:
- In-studio and on-site product photography
- Complete image editing services
- Customer image review and approval
- Image re-shoot and re-editing services
- Image formatting to industry and internal specifications
- Image hosting and management services
Look for a full-service provider that offers services that will satisfy your current and future product image needs.
Price is important – everyone has budget constraints they need to work within. You will be quoted either by the product or by the image. If you plan your project well in advance you will know exactly how many products need images, which image views each product category needs (e.g. product category A requires a left, top, right and close-up), and the total number of images you require.
When you compare provider quotes you need to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Is the project being quoted by the product or by the image e.g. $25 / product or $9 / image? Carefully review the quotes to understand what services are being provided – photography, image editing, image formatting etc. – and what costs you are responsible for e.g. the customer pays for the photographer assistant.
Price matters, but so does experience, track record and reputation. Consider all quotes; the cheapest often includes the fewest services and comes from the provider with the least experience.
5. Professional project management
A typical product photography project involves many elements including:
- Photographers, assistants, product managers, warehouse staff, image editors, and managers
- Studios and photography equipment
- Ordering, delivering, prepping, and photographing products
- Editing, QAing, and formatting images
- Project monitoring
Without capable and experienced project management, product photography projects can go off the rails fast. When this happens, production and image quality suffers and costs increase.
Make sure that the provider of photography services has experienced project managers that have managed projects similar to yours. This will go a long way to ensuring your project’s success.
6. Photography workflow software
The efficiency of the photographer and the photography studio has the biggest impact on the overall cost of the project. Photography workflow management software is designed to streamline and automate the product photography process.
Photography services providers that use photography workflow software have the following advantages:
- Increased photography production – the photographer focuses on photographing products not on managing product numbers, image views, and file renaming. These activities are automated by the software.
- Faster image editing turnaround – because the software is connected to the Internet the images are uploaded immediately after they are captured making them available for editing. The time period between image capture and image editing is minimized.
- Project synchronization – the software is synchronized with a web-based project management system. Any changes made to the project – add a product number, change image views, delete product categories – are immediately updated in the software at the studio. This way the photography studio is always up-to-date with the project.
Look for a service provider that has software to manage and automate the product photography process.
7. Online project monitoring
It is common for people involved in a product photography project to be remote from the photography studio itself. These people need access to the project for updating, production monitoring, and image QA.
Image production management software provides online access to the project for project monitoring and image management.
Look for a photography services provider that provides online project access through Image Production Management Software.
8. Product image review
It is important that you have the opportunity to review your images before they are formatted and sent to you. It is your right to reject images that do not meet your standards and for these images to be re-edited or re-taken at no cost to you.
If the service provider does not have an image review process you may find yourself in a situation where you have paid for images that do not meet your quality standards.
Look for a photography services provider that includes an image review process.
9. Image hosting and management
It is beneficial to work with a provider of photography services that offers image hosting and digital asset management (DAM) solutions.
Most businesses that acquire thousands of product images need a system to manage those images and automatically format them for eCommerce and cataloging systems and for their customers e.g. resellers that require images for sales purposes.
Look for a photography service provider that also offers digital asset management solutions.
Have You Selected Your Service Provider Yet?
I hope this post will help you select the right provider for your product photography project. Please leave a comment; we would love to hear from you.