By the hour or day
As you would expect, with this method you will be charged a flat hourly or daily rate. We charge $150 / hour or $1,200 / day for still images and $200 / hour or $1,600 / day for 360 images (because they require more specialized equipment and software).
If your project has specialized image requirements that change from product to product we may find it difficult to estimate daily production. For this reason you would would opt for an hourly or daily rate.
To avoid hourly or daily arrangements we recommend you spend time refining your image requirements to the point where we can understand exactly what images you need for each product category. This way they will be able to quote your project by the product or by the image.
By the product
With this method the you will be charged by the product. For example, at $30 / product for 200 products, the total project cost would be $6,000.
This pricing structure often comes with 2 conditions:
- The number of images per product has a maximum, images over-and-above the maximum will be charged at a specified rate.
- Each product category will have its own per product rate. For example, a project for a bike manufacturer, pedals and brake parts could be charged at a different rate than frames and wheels. This protects the service provider if some of the product categories are difficult to photograph.
‘By the product’ pricing is usually tiered. The table below shows how this works:
# of ProductsPrice / Product
0 – 5 $60
6 – 10 $55
11 – 20 $50
21 – 50 $45
51 – 100 $40
101 – 200 $35
201 – 500 $30
501 – 1,000 $25
Over 1,000 $20
By the image
Similar to by the product, with this method you will be charged a price for each image produced. For example, if the per image rate is $8.00 and you have 100 products requiring a total of 250 images your total project cost would be $2,000.
‘By the image’ pricing will work fine for you as well as long as you invest the time in analyzing your image requirements. This is not a difficult process, here are the steps:
- Categorize the products you need images for. There are 2 ways to go about this:
- Put them in standard product categories e.g. a bike manufacturer has brake, gear, frame, and accessory products.
- Put them in photography categories e.g. a bike manufacturer has small products (brake parts, accessories), medium products (handle bars, seats, brake parts, rail components), and large products (frames, wheels).
- Total the number of products you have in each product or photography category.
- Determine the number of images you require for each product or photography category. In the bike example, for wheels you might want 3 images – a front image of the full wheel, a close-up of the tire tread, and a close-up of the spokes.
- Total the number of images required in each product or photography category by multiplying the number of products in each category by the number of images required for the category.
- Add up all the images required in all the categories. This will give you the total number of images you require for your entire project.
Now that you know all your product or photography categories and the number of images required in each category the service provider can come up with an accurate per image price for each category and therefore the total cost for the project.
# of Images Price / Image
0 – 10 | $20
11 – 30 | $18
31 – 60 | $16
61 – 100 | $14
101 – 300 | $12
301 – 600 | $11
601 – 1,000 | $10
1,001 – 2,000 | $9
2,001 – 4,000 | $8
Over 4,000 | $7
What Additional Charges Should You Anticipate?
Because product photography involves the uniqueness of your products and the specific image requirements you may have the service provider may need to apply additional charges to your project.
Below are some of the common additional charges you should consider when budgeting your project:
If some of your products are heavy a product weight surcharge may be applied. Heavy products are difficult to handle, often requiring both the photographer and the helper to lift and position the product on the table. This can be awkward, time-consuming, and at times require special equipment like heavy-duty photography tables.
This is a flywheel for a vehicle, it weighs more than 70 pounds and it takes 2 people to place it on the photography table.
Large sized products are also hard to handle and can require a second person to position them on the table. These products almost always require a larger photography table and large camera stand so the camera can get high enough over the table or platform to fit the product in the image frame.
This product is more than 9 feet long and 4 or 5 feet wide. This was photographed with a 9′ camera stands and a 8 feet by 12 feet floor-based photography platform.
Some products you can take out of their box or packaging and place them right on the table for photography, no prep required. Other products require extensive cleaning or even assembly prior to photography. A helper may be required for this prep. For the most part, basic product prep is built into the price but if extensive prep is required there would be an additional charge.
The image above is an example of the process required to unpack a product for photography.
Many products require styling before they can be photographed. There are many examples of products that require styling, here are a few:
- Clothing that requires ironing, special folding, and / or pairing with other apparel on a manikin.
- Food products that require special layout on a cutting block or countertop and grouped with other food products. Food products can also require special sprays and other methods to make them look as edible as possible.
- Products where the packages are reflective or they have inconsistent shapes. In these cases the photographer may need to move the contents around within the package to get the right shape. In extreme cases, the contents of the product will be removed and the package stuffed.
Imagine the effort that it took to layout these plates of food – a fair bit of styling I would think.
If your products take time to lay out on the photography table and this time has not been factored into the initial image price then there may be an additional charge. Here are some examples:
- Toys that have many components that need to be arranged in a specific way for the image.
- Industrial products like engine gasket kits that can have as many as 100 pieces that need to be laid out in a particular pattern prior to photography.
This product has over 80 parts that need to be laid out on the table, this process would take more than 20 minutes per product.
Some products cannot be photographed effectively unless they are displayed in a setting. Some sets are basic and some are elaborate. Home décor and furnishing products are great examples of products that require sets e.g. a kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom set. Sets can be time-consuming to build and photographing sets takes much longer than photographing products on a table-top.
The image above is a great example of a set that needed to be designed in order to display the cast-iron pot.
These images show a product being used or in action. For example, a person wearing sports apparel and working out, or a vehicle with specialty rims and tires parked or in motion. These images can require special scenarios and people. The cost of lifestyle images depends on the people, sets, and scenes required.
There are several images in the screen shot above taken from the Under Armour website. These are examples of lifestyle images.
In order to capture specific image views the photographer may be required to change their studio setup and use different and specialized equipment. It takes the photographer time to setup for these images and therefore an additional fee may be applied. The best example of these charges are close-up shots of specific aspects of your products like a connector, knob, switch, or area on the product that displays an important feature or function. For these close-up shots the photographer will need to adjust their lights, change lenses, and possibly add a ring flash to the camera for additional lighting.
This image is a close of a connector on an auto part – it is important for the buyer to see what the connectors look like. This would be classed as a specialty image.
You may have products that you want photographed together. For these images the photographer will need to prepare multiple products (unpacking, cleaning etc.) and lay them out on the photography table. Additionally, the photography for group shots can take longer than single shots.
Expect additional charges for group product shots.
This is a group shot I found on Gillette’s site. Classic group product image.
Summary of Additional Product Photography Charges
The table below summarizes the additional photography service charges:
Product / Image RequirementRate Information
- These charges increase as the product weight increases.
- Example: under 20 lbs no charge, 20 – 30 pounds $X.00 / product, 30 – 50 lbs $X.00 / product; over 50 lbs $X.00 / product.
- These charges increase the longer, wider, or deeper a product is.
- Example: less than 3 feet any dimension no charge; 3 – 6 feet any dimension $X.00 / image; 6 – 8 feet any dimension $X.00 / image; over 8 feet any dimension $X.00 / image
- These charges depend on the time it takes to prep and / or assemble a product.
- Example: basic unpacking and cleaning no charge; preparing and cleaning taking between 5 and 10 minutes $X.00 / product; preparing and cleaning taking between 10 and 15 minutes $X.00 / product; preparing and cleaning taking more than 15 minutes $X.00 / product
- Factors that affect this charge:
- How long it takes to style your products prior to photography
- Special supplies and expertise required to style the product
- Your specific styling requirements
- The cost for styling can vary considerably.
- This charge could be applied on a per piece basis.
- Example: a product has 40 pieces that needed to be laid out on the photography table, each piece is charged at $.XX, total additional charge is $X.XX.
- This charge could also be based on the time it takes to layout the product components.
- The rate charged depends on:
- The set design
- The materials and people required to construct the set
- The additional products required to be included in the set
- It is difficult to define a range of set costs – could be $50 to build the set or $3000 – depends entirely on your requirements and the products that you are displaying in the set.
- These charges depend on the product and the lifestyle scenario. Here are some factors that affect the cost:
- The expense of having people model and / or use the products
- The cost of putting the product on a prop – a model, manikin, a vehicle etc.
- All costs associated with creating a set (see ‘Set Required’)
- In general, if your images require a set to be built, consider the extent of the set (people, other products, design, and construction) and estimate the cost.
- These charges would be based on the time it takes to switch the studio and equipment around in order to capture the image view and be reflected as an additional $X.00 / image.
- These charges will almost always be by the image and will depend on the number of products in the image, the time it takes for the photographer to layout the products on the table, and the photographer’s time capturing the image.
What Other Costs Should You Consider?
Now that you have a good understanding of how product photography charges work you need to consider the costs of preparing and shipping your products to the service provider and returning them to your business.
Consider the costs of the items below:
- Producing a list of products you need photographed.
- Pulling the products from inventory.
- Preparing the products for shipping to the service provider’s studio.
- Shipping the products to the service provider’s studio.
- Returning the products to your place of business from the service provider’s studio.
- Re-packaging products where the package was damaged during photography.
- Returning the products to inventory.
These are real costs to your business and must be factored into the overall cost of your product photography project.