How to prepare for your product photo shoot with a professional photographer

If you’re considering booking a product photography shoot for your brand, did you know there’s lots you can do to prepare before you even contact a photographer? Doing your research and being prepared will not only help you to get the most out of your shoot, but it could also help to keep your costs down too. So, before you take that all important step of getting your shoot booked, what can you do to ensure you’re fully prepared?

Be clear about your vision

Before getting in touch with a product photographer, make sure you’re clear about your brand identity and the purpose of your shoot. Who is your ideal client? Who are you trying to connect with? Understanding your ideal client is central to defining the look and feel of your shoot and styling your photographs in a way that will appeal. Are you looking for light and bright images portraying a clean and fresh feel? Or is your brand moody and edgy and you want your shoot to reflect that? 

You’ll also need to spend some time thinking about where the photos are going to be used. Are they for a specific campaign or product launch? Storytelling images for social media? Are you planning to use the images on your website? In a brochure or product guide? As thumbnails? Creating a mood board is a useful way to collate your thoughts, ideas and colour schemes for your product imagery. Pinterest and Canva are great places to start if you’re looking for inspiration. Your photographer will help and guide you as much as they can, but if you provide them with a clear vision for your brand, it will help them to create images that resonate with your ideal client.

Do your research

Before selecting a product photographer, take some time to ensure that you’re choosing a professional who is the right fit for you and your brand. Photography isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ specialty. Different photographers will have different areas of expertise and it’s worth taking the time to do your research to find the right fit. For example, I’m based out of my home studio and I generally work with lifestyle brands who offer products including candles, stationery and skincare ranges. If you contact me regarding a shoot for a surfboard or IT equipment, I’m potentially not the right fit (and just imagine the logistics of putting all that in the post). 

Take a look at the images photographers have produced for their other clients. Do they work with brands who are similar to yours? Do you like the styling and feel of the images? Spend some time looking at their website to get a feel for their work and creative direction. Remember to consider their timelines and availability too. Most photographers are likely to have lead times of around 4-6 weeks, so don’t expect things to happen overnight. You should also ask about usage rights, royalties for pictures that are used in the media. Not all photographers ask for usage rights (I don’t) but they can be a crippling expense for small businesses, so it’s worth knowing what your chosen photographer’s policy is.

HJ Photography

Prepare a product inventory

This is one of the most important aspects to consider when you’re preparing for your shoot. It will help your photographer plan your images and get prepared before they even pick up their camera. A product inventory can be best described as a product shopping list and it needs to consist of all products being shot; 10 bottles, 6 candles, 4 jars, 3 oils etc. 

Your photographer will need to know if the products come in different sizes, colours, the types of packaging and whether you’re looking for close-up images, group shots or individual shots of specific products.  

A product inventory is really a fact-finding mission that enables your photographer to plan and agree your product photography shot list.

Product shot list

Once you’ve shared your product inventory, your photographer will be able to work with you to finalise the types of images required for your shot list e.g. flat lays, angled shots, types of background and colour palettes. 

You’ll also need to discuss image sizes and angles to help plan your shot list, particularly if you’re looking to use your photos on a range of different platforms. 

For example, Instagram requires square images for grid posts and portrait images for stories, landscape shots work best for Facebook and banner images for websites are generally long and thin. All these different aspect ratios will need to be taken into consideration when planning your shot list, so think carefully about where your images are likely to be used. 

Props & Budget

Props are a key part of any successful product photography shoot and most product photographers will have a library of props and backgrounds they can use for your shoot. 

If they don’t have exactly what you need, or you have a very specific idea in mind, photographers can source props for you at an additional cost, or you might want to consider sourcing them yourself. If you have a particular colour palette in mind that fits with your brand colours, you may want to order specific backgrounds or colour themed props to reflect this. 

When it comes to budgets it’s worth remembering that, as a basic rule, the more photographs you require the higher the cost of your shoot. You can discuss your budget with your chosen photographer and decide on the number of design setups you’d like and the final number of product images they’ll supply. The more information you can give to your photographer, the clearer their understanding of the time involved in the project and, as a result, their initial quote is likely to be more accurate.

HJ Photography

Preparing and sending your products

Before you get your products packaged up and shipped, it’s important to ensure that they’re looking their best. Is the packaging pristine and undamaged? Are there any smudges or wonky labels? Photographers can fix a multitude of sins with Photoshop, but this will come at an added expense. If you want to keep your costs down, make sure there are no imperfections with your products before you send them. When you’re packaging everything up to ship, check that products are well wrapped and packaged to avoid any breakages or spills in transit. If you’ve asked for group product shots, ensure you’re sending multiple items and, if you’ve got any products that need to be opened or could get a little messy during the shoot, pack a few extras so your photographer doesn’t find they’re short on the day.  It’s always preferable to have too much of something rather than not enough!

Spending time planning will really help you to get the most out of your product photography shoot and enable your photographer to create a range of photos that truly reflect your brand vision and identity. If you’re a product-based business thinking of investing in a product shoot, let’s chat. If you’d like to find out more about the packages that I offer, drop me an email or book in for a free discovery call. I’d love to help you create the perfect images for your brand!

Pacaiba Beauty product photography

I hope that you found this blog helpful!

If you’re a product-based business and would like to find out more about booking a styled product shoot, drop me an email to book a discovery call, or take a look at my pricing and packages hereI’d love to hear from you!

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