Want better product photography? Give a pro a chance

As an online retailer, you could spend a lot of time and effort taking photos of your products. But with a phone camera and limited equipment, it’s hard to get the best results; customers comparing similar products online may opt for a photo taken by a professional photographer, even if you have done your best.

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“Great quality product photography is one of the best things you can do to enhance the branding and perceived value of the products you sell,” says Robert House, Creative Director of ProductPhotography.com. “No one will buy something that is marketed as high quality if the photo doesn’t match. “

It’s not just photographers who think so: a 2019 study published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, for example, found that “image quality is associated with a higher probability than an article. be sold ”in second-hand peer-to-peer markets.

Hiring a photographer with the right equipment and the right experience will likely result in better photos than you can take – and it might be more affordable than you think.

Know what kind of photo you need

Before hiring someone, it’s important to know what you’re going to be asking for. Will the photo be used on a corporate website? An e-commerce platform? On social networks? Common types of photos include:

White background

A well-lit product shot against a crisp white background is like a good pair of jeans: it doesn’t cost a ton, can adapt to a variety of settings, and will appeal to just about any potential customer. Product photography websites that post prices typically charge between $ 10 and $ 90 per photo for this type of shot. Variables that can affect the price include the total number of items in your shoot; editing and formatting needs; and products that include multiple pieces, such as a board game, or that may be difficult to pull, such as shiny objects or clothing.

Lifestyle shots

A one-model shirt is very different from a flat lay shirt and can help shoppers visualize themselves with your product. However, shots like these cost more. On product photography websites that display pricing, costs range from $ 150 to $ 250 per photo for a basic background, and more if you want a template or props.

360 degree photos

If you have a product where all angles matter, like a shoe, a 360-degree photo that allows the customer to rotate the product and see it from different sides can help. House says these photos have been around for decades but did not gain popularity because they required technical expertise to be used online. New platforms have made the process much easier. “I think they’re going to get a lot more popular,” House says. This type of photo, along with short videos or GIFs, can cost anywhere from $ 30 to a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality of the output.

Know where to look for a photographer

Mail studios

Package your products and send them to a studio equipped for product photography. Prices are often posted online and are easy to compare.


  • Logistics are easy.
  • Access to a fully equipped studio no matter where you live.
  • Very experienced in product photography: these photographers are probably taking product all day, every day.

The inconvenients:

  • You will not be able to take pictures on site, if that interests you.
  • Some businesses, such as restaurants, simply cannot mail their items.

Tip for finding a good match:

  • If you spot a low advertised price, read the details. The price may be a “base rate” that requires two or three paid add-ons before meeting your needs. When you compare companies, make sure that you are looking for prices for equal services.

Local photographers

You may know a photographer near you. Alternatively, some ecommerce platforms, like GoDaddy, have a network of product photographers that you can tap into if you’re already a customer. Fiverr, Upwork, and other independent markets are also a good place to check out. Professional Photographers of America maintains a searchable database at FindAPhotographer.com.

Keep in mind that the experience of taking portraits or wedding photos does not translate directly into product photography. There is no substitute for experience and specialized equipment when it comes to tackling product-specific challenges, like properly lighting a shiny object or minimizing shadows and blurred edges.


  • You can participate in the photoshoot if you wish.
  • Large or complicated projects can be easier to manage in person.

The inconvenients:

  • Prices can vary widely from place to place, making it difficult to compare.
  • Your region may not have experienced product photographers.

Tips for finding a good match:

  • Hosting the photoshoot might seem convenient, but studio shots are usually easier because the equipment is already set up, according to House. Check if the photographer offers this.
  • Ask to see sample product photographs when interviewing photographers.

The case for DIY

There are cases where investing in your own professional grade gear makes sense, such as if you sell a lot of one-off products, like antiques, collectibles, or art online. If your budget is tight, try using an app with product specific tools until you can afford a pro. Square Photo Studio is free, while Adobe offers powerful editing software for around $ 10 per month.

The article Want better product photography? Give a Pro a Shot originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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