What You Need To Know About Starting A Product Photography Business
Product photography is one of the hottest topics on the Internet. Since online product sales took off, showcasing your products is more important than ever before.
Still, it is apparent that many site owners rely on what can only be described as poor images. Contracting a product photography business can mean the difference between failure and success.
However, product photography is not only relevant to online sales. Other media relies on high quality images as well. High quality photographs pop up all over the place. You see them in magazines and on billboards.
When you run your own product photography studio, you need to have a varied range of skills.
We are going to cover what you need to know about running a professional product photography business. Running a product photo studio well, is a bit like juggling. You need to keep several balls in the air at once.
Skills Really Do Matter
The first thing you need to focus on is your skills. Do you have the right experience to set up your own product photography studio? Most product photographers are professionally trained and may have worked in the industry for many years before setting up their own studio.
Before you even contemplate setting up and running any kind of photography studio, you need to examine your skills. It is not only about snapping a photograph.
Knowing how to light a product is one of the most important factors to take into consideration. Specialist training courses are available and are worth investing in.
Composition of a photograph is something else that you need to have personalized knowledge of before you start. In many ways, composition is what allows the end-user to interact with a photograph.
Do I Need To Have Experience?
Yes, you need to have experience before you set up your own studio.
Not only do you need to have an in-depth knowledge of photography, but there are many other things that you need to know. Don’t worry, we are going to cover much of what you need to know.
The best background you can have is previous experience of working in a photography studio. When you run your own product photography business, you will not only work with products. From time to time, you may also work with professional models.
Retouching is a vital part of professional product photography. That is another skill that you need to have before you open your doors.
How To Build Up A Client Base
Needless to say, your product photography business needs to have customers or clients. In general, product photography is seen as something which is a little “upmarket.” It is best to call your customers clients.
Not only will it make them feel more valued, but you will soon realize calling your customers clients will put you in a different mindset.
By calling them clients, you will value them more.
Building up a client base is often challenging. You will need to learn how to handle rejection. Perseverance is the name of the game.
The best tools to use include:
- Making direct customer contact
How Do You Market A Product Photography Business?
Marketing any business means to stand out in a crowd. You need to take a look at yourself and find your best selling points. Write them down and then start promoting them to companies.
Should you only market to large commercial organizations? No, you shouldn’t. To be successful, you really need to market to both large, small companies, and even to individuals.
Having a website where you can showcase your skills is one of the best marketing tools. But, when it comes to product photography, there is more to it than that.
One of the best ways to market your business, is to prove that you are results driven. When a client tells you that your photos have helped to increase the sale of a product, it is the best marketing material you can have.
After you have been in the business for a while, you will realize clients want facts. They want to know by how much your photographs increased the sale of certain products. Be prepared to have figures ready.
One of the best ways to market your business is by personal contact. Yes, you can have a smart online album available, but never lose sight of the fact that people buy people. In other words, marketing your business yourself matters a great deal. That is how you will start to build a client base.
Should I Run Promotions?
The simple answer to that question is yes.
Running price promotions is a great way to capture new clients. A well set up promotional campaign should work as a wake up call to potential users of your product photography business.
Not only may they not have heard of you before, they will probably not have seen your photographs.
Once you have captured a client, and you play your cards right, you will have access to their entire product portfolio. That is particularly true of larger Fortune 500 companies that may have many brands they need to market.
Going Old school
One of the best ways to gain new clients, is to start knocking on doors. That means going around to companies and showing them what you can do.
Don’t forget to surround yourself with facts and figures. Most potential new clients that you talk to want to know what results you have achieved.
Get your results verified by your clients. Point them out to new potential clients. Before you know it, you will have a client portfolio that will make your competitors jealous.
Do industry contacts matter?
Marketing and promoting your own business is expensive. One of the best ways of kick starting your photography business, is to rely on personal contacts.
If you don’t have any personal contacts, you need to create them. That could mean finding out who deals with product photography at a certain company and making a friend of them. Find out their name and start contacting them on a regular basis.
Of course, you want to showcase what you can do, but at the same time, don’t be too pushy. Remain professional but at the same time, make sure you are friendly.
Should You Specialize In A Certain Type Of Product Photography?
Having a wide range of skills is really what matters in this industry. You want to make sure that you are equally as good at photographing skincare products as you are photographing cars. Never underestimate attention to detail.
The more varied you skill set, the more likely you are to have a constant stream of work. Attention to the smallest detail is perhaps one of the most important factors when it comes to product photography. You really want to make sure you understand the best aspects of the products.
Communicating With Clients About Products
Don’t think for one moment that all clients can describe to you how they want their products photographed.
Instead, try to gain as much verbal and written information as possible. When a client wants luxury and high end products photographed, it is important that your photos show product value.
Ask the client for the product’s best selling points in their opinion. Now, you need to go away and make sure that your photos can represent the product in its best “light.”
For instance, many photographers create a storyboard before they go ahead and start taking photographs.
Your client needs to feel involved in the entire creative process. Talk to them about it and your ideas. Be prepared that they may not like your ideas. Don’t get upset. Keep on talking to them and come up with new ideas.
They will really appreciate all of your hard work. Also, it will make them feel involved and that they are in control. That is something that they will really appreciate. It is the basis for a great working relationship.
Some clients don’t feel involved in the creative photography process. If you can make them feel involved, you are onto a winner.
Working From Home Or A Rented Studio
As we all know, renting commercial premises is expensive. More of us than ever before are working from home. In many ways, working from home is the “new normal” and there is no reason why you should not work from home.
No matter where you choose to work from, it is important to set up a professional studio. It will not only help you to feel more professional, but if a client wants to visit you, it will create a good first impression.
If you need to put together a more elaborate photo shoot, you can rent a studio on a temporary basis. Also be aware that you may need to work on location from time to time. That is a factor that comes into play when you are working with certain brands or photographing cars.
Car manufacturers often want cars photographed in their own showrooms.
The same is true of cosmetic and clothing brands. They may even want you to attend fashion shows and work backstage with their models. It is about creating that storyline which is so important when it comes to selling products.
Investing In A Commercial Photography Business
Setting up a dedicated studio is all about investing in the right kind of equipment. Of course, you need to make sure that you have the right cameras and lighting available. But, at the end of the day, it is about so much more than that.
When it comes to product photography, there is one point that matters more than anything else. That is creating dynamic photographs that are enhanced to emphasize the client’s needs and desires.
As you will probably have realized by now, technology is the product photographer’s best friend. You need to make sure that you have the right kind of technology available to retouch and create fully customized photos.
Retouching and enhancing photographs is one of the most important parts of the business. Yes, it is great to have the best cameras and lighting equipment, but the truth is that technology plays a big part.
Finding The Money to Investment
When you are thinking about starting a product photography business, you may already have some of the technical equipment you will need. If not, you need to invest in what you need to turn your business into a success.
You can borrow money from all sorts of sources. Before you do so, it is important that you come up with a business plan.
This is what a business plan need to include:
- Where to find your clients
- Your skills and experience
- Cash flow projection
- Marketing plan
- Accounting procedures
- Skills and relevant experience
- Costs of running the business
Creating a business plan is a great way to get “to know” your business better. It allows you to think things through. Most importantly, it lets you analyze the market place that you are getting into. The most important question that you should ask yourself, is where your clients are going to come from.
Cash flow projections and profit calculations must be part of your business plan.
Setting A Price
Many independents individuals who start their own product photography business, don’t take into consideration the true operating costs of their business. Yes, you may remember to bill out for materials, but you also need to take time into consideration. That means time taken during the entire creative process.
Of course, if you are planning on running a larger product photography studio, you also need to remember to allow for staff costs.
See your business as an investment. The money that you invested in the business, you need to get back at some point or another.
The price that you set must be a fair reflection of the job. Each job is different. You need to make sure that you cost every job on the right basis.
Your Product Photography Website
Your website must reflect what you are all about as a business. Make sure that you have the right to display clients’ photographs and use their materials. Not all clients that you work for, are going to want you to display their materials. It is important that you get the right permissions.
On your web site, you do need to talk about your skills and expertise. Many in the photography industry don’t want to shout about themselves – that is where they go wrong. Often in product photography, the ones that shout the loudest get the business.
Yes, you need to be a self promoter to make it within this field.
Your website should make it easy for potential clients to contact you. By all means, state your business hours, but at the same time, point out that sending an email at any time is perfectly okay.
Make sure that you sound friendly and very approachable. Using too much technological language does not create clients.
Above all, you need to come across as skilled and professional. Explain the importance of eCommerce and product photography. Many companies still don’t appreciate the importance of having quality images to share with their customers.
Using Social Media To Market Your Business
One of the best tools that you can use, is to use social media to market your business. Many of the contacts or clients that you are looking for, are active on social media.
How many social media platforms should you aim to be on? The answer is simple. You should try to aim to be on as many as possible.
For instance, you can use YouTube to promote your photography skills by giving short master classes or talking about cameras.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are three other platforms that you should consider when it comes to promoting your business. That does not mean that you should post clients’ photographs. You can by all means do so, but you need to make sure you have the rights to post photographs of what is legally your clients’ products.
Understanding Legal Rights
Not only do you need to be a bit of an accountant to run your business well. You also need to understand the legal rights of working together with clients.
It goes without saying that all brands have commercially sensitive information that they don’t want to share with their competitors. From time to time, they will share that information with you.
To make sure that you maintain happy working relationships with your clients, never divulge information with third parties.
Working Locally, Nationally, and Internationally
When it comes to starting a product photography business, the world is your oyster.
Thanks to modern technology, many product photographers find themselves working with clients across the world.
Not only are brands sold internationally, but many “buyers of product photography” work across borders.
That means that you may be based in the United States but they may be based in Canada.
That is great, but it does present its own unique challenges especially when it comes to payment.
Make sure that you are very clear on the client’s terms and conditions so that you get paid at the end of the contract.
Legal disputes in foreign countries are not something that you want to get involved in.
That being said, there is no reason why you should not work across borders.
Many national companies will also get in touch. Working with national domestic companies is a great idea as it will help you to establish your product photography business further afield. Many national companies “copycat” campaigns.
That means your photographs will be seen over a larger area. In the long run that will help you to establish a name for yourself. Working with national companies is a great way of getting your photographs seen by a larger audience.
Local businesses are great sources of revenue. When it comes to product photography, you may find yourself working with someone running a business from home to a large international enterprise.
That is what makes the industry exciting and gives you the experience you need to grow your business.
In many ways, running a product photography studio is an ongoing learning experience. It is a business that is constantly evolving.
Can I Make Money With Product Photography?
Yes, you can make money when running a product photography business. As always, you need to follow basic business principles.
Professionalism is more important than anything. When someone says no, you have to learn to move above and beyond that. Discuss what the client does not like about the photographs and take it from there.
Of course, there will be business owners who say no to your services. Look at it this way, the next time you can contact them, they may say yes.
What you need to know, is to explain the benefits of good quality product photography. The end user often finds it hard to interact with a product. That is why it is so important that every photograph tells a story.
Product photography is more important than ever. We are increasingly buying what we need online. What will make the product that you are photographing stand out in a crowded market place? Ultimately, that is what product quality is all about. Can your photos help to sell a product?
When you are confident that they can, there is no reason why you should not start a product photography business.