Every month we are contacted by folk working as product photographers or who would like to start out in the business.
Product photography is certainly an exciting career, you can end up photographing anything from drinks bottles to luxury watches. You never know what is going to come through your door next.
In our questions and answering sessions, we are hoping to give you further insight into the fast-moving world of product photography and eCommerce.
This month we are answering 10 commonly asked photography questions. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to us.
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1 – Is It Okay To Use Branded Products In My Portfolio?
All product photographers have a portfolio. Does that mean that they have worked for all of the brands featured? No, it doesn’t.
It is perfectly okay to use images of brand products that you have not had assignments for. Most brands are happy for their products to be photographed.
Is there a reason why you should feature brands in your portfolio? It is an excellent way of showcasing what you can do. You can even use the images to pitch. If you have snapped photos of luxury skincare brands, and the photos look really good, there is no reason why you should not pitch to these brands.
Just remember to not misrepresent them in any way. Before you start snapping away, spend some time doing a bit of brand research.
2 – Can You Tell Me The Difference Between a Modelling lights and Flash in Studio Light Set-Up?
No problem, and it is a question that many new photographers would like an answer to. It seems to cause a lot of confusion.
Take a look at a modelling lamp online if you don’t have one in your setup. You will find that the flash tube goes around the modelling light.
The modelling light is a continuous light that you can aim at an object. Once you have “aimed it, using the flash in the right direction makes the image appear brighter and clearer. It is in fact the flash that fires when you take the picture giving the object more intense light.
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3 – I Am Thinking About Setting Up My Own Studio – what modifiers and studio lights are the best?
Let me ask you a question in return. Are you just starting out? In that case, you are probably working to a rather strict budget. That is true of all new businesses not only the product photography industry.
It is all about investing smartly. Softboxes are the one thing that you should have in your studio. They are relatively affordable and versatile.
The good thing about softboxes is that you can use them for anything from portrait photography to other forms of photography including photographing products.
Would you like to know more about light modifiers? You can learn the art of working with light here.
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4 – How Much Should I Charge For My Work?
Although there are different charging structures in the business, the most popular way of charging customers, is by using the tried and tested method of day rates.
A day rate includes many other things apart from the photography itself. Don’t forget that you have to set up your studio. Also, you have post production. You may need to pay for a photography assistant so you should take that into account.
5 – What Lens Or Lenses Do You Recommend?
First thing first, I don’t recommend a macro lens, unless it’s a jewelry shot Yes, I do know that many product photographers like working with macro lenses but it does not work for me.
If you are a portrait photographer, I would recommend using a 100mm lens. My trusted f2.2 lens and I have taken many portrait photographs together. You can also opt for an 85mm to 135m, but there is one thing that you need to remember. Longer focal lengths can make your subject appear heavier.
When you want to shoot landscapes, I find that 16 – 35mm is more versatile. Would you like to know more about lenses, click on this link.
6 – What Camera Should I Buy?
I think that many cameras come with functions that you are not going to use. The truth is that modern cameras are overloaded. As a product photographer, you are probably not going through all of them if any.
Rather than spending lots of money on an expensive camera, I think it is better to invest in better quality lenses.
When you are just setting up your own studio, I think that the best camera you can buy is a crop sensor camera. What I love about them is that they are cost-effective and you can use them for anything. It doesn’t matter if you want to specialize in photographing cupcakes or luxury items.
When you are ready to move on and have made some money, investing in a medium-format camera is a good idea. Would you like to find out more about cameras? Check out this page.
7 – What Is The Best Monitor?
I am not going to pull any punches – monitors are expensive. Eizo is a high-end monitor that can help you to perfect your photographs and inspires confidence.
The other monitor you should consider is ASUS. More expensive monitors self-calibrate every 200 hours. Yes, there are other monitors which don’t self-calibrate. Great monitors to start out with include Philips, Asus and NEC.
Can you save time by using a monitor? Yes, you can. What I like about them, is that you are sort of learning on the job if you know what I mean.
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8 – How Can I Get A Job As A Photographers Assistant?
That question tells me that you are probably thinking about becoming a photographer in the future. Many of the great photographers started out as assistants. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Being a photographer’s assistant doesn’t mean you are going to end up holding the camera. It often means moving lights and props around the studio.
It is important to have skills that make you stand out. Before you apply for a job as a photographer’s assistant, it is a good idea to review your skills. Tech is now such an important part of photography that having experience with Photoshop and other post-production skills is a great idea.
9 – Marketing Product Photography
Once again, it is all about standing out in a very crowded marketplace. I know that many photographers use social media for marketing and Pinterest.
That is great, but I do think that the personal touch still matters. When you are working with big brands, you often work with a creative director. When you want to make an impression on a creative director, knocking on doors is the best thing to do. Let them see your portfolio and discover what you can do.
Remember that people buy people. It is not all about the price. You should never underestimate how important it is to make industry connections and putting a name to a face.
10 – Where Can I Get Ideas From?
As a product photographer, you will get most of your ideas from the companies you work for. I have always found that artistic directors have controlled the ideas.
That does not mean I don’t come up with ideas for my own stuff. I certainly do. When I work on expanding my portfolio, I often work in the same way creative directors do. I come up with mood boards and draw sets.
However, you will find that it is the job of the photographer to make clients’ dreams come true. They have a certain idea of what the finished photograph should look like, and it is up to you to make it happen.
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Next month, we are going to cover 10 more commonly asked photographers questions. Please feel free to send your questions to me, and I will do my best to answer them.