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Product Photography - How to Get High Quality Product Photos on a Small Business Budget

June 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 169

The recent economic downturn has been a blessing for us entrepreneurs. With the Government and high-profile businessmen such as Virgin's Richard Branson and Innocent Smoothies' Richard Reed backing schemes for new businesses, now is as good a time as any to jump in and act on that idea you've been sitting on.

Once you've decided to take the plunge and found your product, at some point you'll be looking to have your own website, with engaging content and high quality pictures that really show off your items. A quick scout around local photographers' websites will show just how expensive a professional shoot can be - I'll use my real life example to demonstrate. I was quoted for 50 items of costume jewellery, 3 photos of each. The quotes came back ranging from £400 to £1400! For my start-up budget, getting great results for as close to zero as possible was the goal, and a change of tactics provided a clear winner, reducing the cost to £50.

Posting an advert online using a local classifieds website (my choice was, was not only free, but provided a plethora of photographers to choose from, all within a local area. As it's your ad, you can specify how much you are willing to pay; handy when you're cautious with every penny that leaves your hands! Of course, as anyone can reply to an ad, there will be better responses and better applicants than others. A quick request for the photographers' previous work will remove any time-wasters or low quality applications. Here's a quick list of things to include and ask for in your ad:

  • Who are you? The photographer will need to know who they're dealing with, so make sure you tell them who you are, and what you do. You by the same token need to know who they are and what they do - will there be any reason they have to abandon the project because of their main job or education?
  • What do you want? The more specific and focused your ad, the higher the chances you'll find exactly what you're after. Be sure to include the amount and angles of pictures, what format you want them in, if you want them on a white background etc. The more detail you can give the less confusion for the photographer
  • When do you want it? Agree a timeframe before allowing any work to be started, but make it realistic! Ask when they expect to have the work completed; if that doesn't suit you, choose another photographer.
  • Previous Work? Always ask to see examples of previous work; the more the better. An experienced photographer will be more than happy to showcase their past shoots, making it easier to find the right person for your job.
  • Where? This goes without saying, but if you are taking it to them you need to know an address! If they're willing to give a full address, they're more than likely serious about completing the job, but if you're giving them valuable stock, it might pay to be a little critical of their house when you get there. Run down, unkempt houses with broken windows could mean they'd be less than careful with your products (tipping my hat to past experience)! If they are coming to you, directions would be helpful!
  • How much? Possibly most important. While it's true you're looking to pay as little as possible, remember they're also not likely to do something for nothing, or even a lot for a little. Don't be afraid to tweak the advert - once you've got people responding regularly, you know you've got the right price for your job.

Having recommended this method countless times, I tend to get asked the same questions - a favourite being 'How do you know you can trust the photographer with your items?' In truth, you can never be 100% certain they won't accidentally damage something, or worst case run away with your items. The cautious people out there might do well to have the photographer come to them, that way the whole process can be overseen. So long as you're willing to take time and have a conversation with your photographer about what exactly you want, you should get a positive or negative feeling for them. If you're unsettled, don't risk it.

If the reduced cost alone isn't incentive enough to try out student photographers, they'll also more than likely be looking to build up a portfolio they can use to gain more work. Your products could appear on their website as examples of their previous work, which ultimately means more people seeing your items. Don't be afraid to ask if this is the case - it might just mean more advertising for you.

If you'd like to see how the pictures turned out for me, take a look at, or you can email me with your thoughts and tips on small business start-ups at

Source: EzineArticles
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