If you found yourself asking “How much should I pay for product photography”, chances are you are considering your first moves in eCommerce.
Whether you are going to be involved with an online store as a founder, marketing mind, or a freelance photographer – this product photography rates guide may come in handy, as it drills down into major aspects of the matter.
Let’s start with listing out the components that go into the product photography costs.
How much should I pay for product photography?
It depends on internal factors [your budget, quality requirements, urgency, volume] and external factors [country, brand value, level of service].
For example, it depends on your internal requirements if you need just one image or many, where a discount can be applied. If you want to do jewelry images, they cost extra due to difficulty levels. If you need a special post-editing technique, the bill is going up too.
External factors don’t depend on your requirements: the USA has higher rates than Malaysia. A reputed product photography service provider with a high Google ranking will cost more than a freelancer on page 10 of Upwork. All these little aspects contribute to the total product photography cost.
Let’s check out all valuation components in closer detail.
How product photography pricing is formed
We are talking here from the point of view of an established studio that has to cover all of these costs on a monthly basis.
- Team salaries
Photographer, retoucher, and the customer relationship team are the minimal set of the crew who needs to be remunerated for their expertise, efforts, and time.
Models, MUAs [makeup artists], art directors, marketing executives are part of a premium team and can be hired on a one-off or part-time basis.
Needless to say, salaries differ from country to country and depending on the background of the given professional.
To illustrate, the typical industry rates are these (roughly):
- Photographer - anywhere from $1000 to 3000 per day for ecomm/on figure and lower level advertising
- Photo Assistant - $300-450 per day
- Digitech - $500-750 + whatever gear they rent for the day (monitor/laptop/cart/dongles/cables/sometimes even the camera
- Retoucher gets $50-150 per hour, $50-75 for catalog and ecomm, above for anything else
- Administrative clerk - $3,271 per month
- Model - $750-1000 per day
- MUA - $750-1000 per day plus kit fee for their make up kit
- Art director - $1000-ish per day
- Stylist - $600-1000 depending on what they do, if they need to source props/clothing items/etc. then they will charge a prep day for similar price
- Taxes + insurance
Depending on the size of your company, country of residence, and legal status, a photography business may need to pay anything from 5% to 50% in tax.
The minimal insurance policy needed to do business in the USA will cover property, equipment, and a liability policy with a cost anything from $2k/year.
When answering how much is product photogaphy, it's worth mentioning that images of luxury goods will cost more. For example, if you need to ship luxury goods, you might face extra insurance charges or even hire security to deliver certain items for a shoot.
- Quality assurance and brand power
If your burger is cooked by a new sous chef at a highway fast food outlet or Gordon Ramsey – it will cost differently. And taste differently too.
You get it. Creating a brand is hard work that takes time, money and effort. On the other hand, this is also your quality assurance, as brands have a system in place to provide consistently high-quality work.
- Studio rental fees and electricity bills
Studio rental fees and electricity bills are also part of the pricing formula for image-making services.
For example, a 1600 sq. ft studio in New York may cost anything from $4-6k per month with bills adding another $200-400 to the final amount.
Hourly photo studio rental starts with $35-50 per hour and a 2-hour minimum rental period.
- Photo equipment cost and rental fees
Photography equipment is never cheap if you rent it or buy it. But the price range and the list of equipment are too big to cover here.
- Customer relationship management
There are lots of software solutions used to make business communication seamless, orderly, and efficient. CRM, website, mobile app, chat and email solutions all cost money to a business, yet save money and time for a client.
Such digital commodities create new efficiencies across all phases of a photoshoot: from exposure to the service on Google search to getting processed images via an app right into your Shopify store library.
- Retouching (flat rate per image)
Basic image retouching can be included in the regular product photography price, but if you need some complex post-production manipulations, they will cost extra.
At Squareshot, we charge a flat per image rate of $4, $9, and 14 dollars per image depending on the complexity level.
- Shipping and delivery
Naturally, unless you operate your business next door to a photo studio, you will need to account for shipping expenses when considering your ecommerce photography pricing. Most business is done online now, so in all likelihood, you will end up sending your items to a studio for a shoot with a courier or delivery.
What is predictable product shoot pricing?
Predictable shoot pricing is when a product photography service is productized to create a flat rate instead of an hourly rate. This simplifies the process of payment and budget planning for clients.
This allows you to calculate your spending before going into the shoot and often avoid going over budget.
On the other hand, it results in efficiency for both sides, as the company also strives to educate their clients on the process, so that adequate expectations are created from the very start. For example, we have elaborated this Ecommerce photography newbie guide for our clients, to ease them into the process.
Flat rates vs hourly rates
When photo service providers like Squareshot plan how much to charge for product photography the decision is usually between the flat rate or hourly pricing.
Both are present in the industry. Freelancers and old-school studios tend to work using hourly rates or daily rates. For SMB clients this approach is less convenient as you cannot plan your spending and select what result you get for the money you pay [how many images you can fit within your budget].
Flat rates, when services are productized, are becoming more common for offerings that have a definable cost of goods. Catalog images or model catalog images are easier to productize, as you have a limited amount of ways you can shoot them.
Creative images are much harder to standardize and productize, so setting flat rates for advertising and hero shots becomes tricky.
Why is it hard to price hero shots and lifestyle creative images?
Because these types of images are very subjective and there is no "right answer" or one-size solution. The mere number of potential creative variables while creating hero shots makes productizing these services very hard.
A single image can be shot in an hour or a day. That's why it is common to use hourly rates.
Trying to bridge this glaring gap in the industry, Squareshot offers productized hero shots, which are semi-advertising shots with fewer variables to make them more convenient for the clients.
We only charge 2X for making the hero shot – this offer is popular with our clients, as their ad campaigns and social media marketing can have more specific forecastable budgets.
Product photography pricing 2022: how to make the most of your dollar
Still wondering “how much does product photography cost?”. Read our practical recommendations and respective guides on how to handle your product shoot pricing:
- Learn what angles showcase your product best. You don't need every angle, just the best ones.
- Don't photograph things you can recolor. If you have the same products of different colors, it's cheaper to shoot a single image and then order recoloring. (Consider checking out this guide: The complete guide to product photo retouching (squareshot.co)
- Carefully select products you send for the shoot or send multiples. Defects and imperfections can rack up your retouching bill. Make sure the product you send is in its best condition.
- Have a vision and align your expectations with the studio or a freelancer. A detailed explanation with references of what you want your images to look like will save you money on reshoots. (This piece sets the scene for a newbie ecommerce mind: What you should know before your next shoot (squareshot.co)
Summary: invest in research to find the best match
We hope this article set the scene for those wondering “how much does product photography cost”.
Our final advice is to take time to research the local market and talk to each shortlisted provider to find your best fit. Include freelancers and studios for the 360-degree overview.
The matter is that each eCom business is unique, and 2-dollar face towels may do with images produced by a starter freelancer. High-end watches will require a creative approach above all.
If you are looking to hire a product photographer, give Squareshot a chance to provide a no-obligation quote for your mission. Reach out to our sales manager by booking a demo.
E Commerce photography pricing FAQ:
Why jewelry and watch photography is more expensive
Jewelry and watch photography is very technical in photography and especially in retouching. Due to multiple tiny details and facets, reflective surfaces, unavoidable fingerprints, diverse materials combined in one product, they need skills and time to produce and edit.
It takes twice as much time to tune fine details. It's a very time-consuming process that requires more resources.
Getting comfortable with lifestyle product photography pricing for your project
If you are only starting to research How much does product photography cost, follow these steps to find your perfect provider:
- Understand your top and optimal budget for the entire shoot.
- Estimate the number of images you will need, size, formats, angles, types.
- Find best references of what resulting image you would like to get.
- Send 4-7 requests for proposals for this job to different product photo service providers, enumerating all the above requirements. Include 1 or 2 freelancers in the list.
- Discuss each reply to your RFP in the tiniest detail, to understand the timeline, process, and level of professionalism of the vendor.
By the end of this process, you should have a good idea of who is the best fit for you.
How to price product photography?
If you are a photographer, you may be asking: “How much should I charge for product photography?”. These theses will help define your price:
- The more you have been on the job, the more skills you have, the more you can charge, as you will provide better results quicker.
- The better marketing channels you have, the more you can charge, as your pool is higher and capacity is limited.
- The more happy clients you have, the higher your price tag may be, as word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing engine, even if it's Google reviews.
- The more bills you have to pay in terms of studio rental, equipment, salaries, bills, the more you need just to cover your costs.
- The more unique and creative your approach is, the more your brand should cost.
With all of the above, market and demand-supply ratio is one of the main pricing factors, so competition research is vital.