If you’re interested in selling your products online, the photos you use to show off your products can greatly impact your sales. Top-of-the-line photos that showcase your products and help consumers imagine them in their ideal environments, like the kitchen, are one of the most important ingredients to your product page.
When hiring a professional product photographer for lifestyle images, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1000 or more per image. The price varies depending on the location, set, props, models, the photographer’s experience, and duration of the photoshoot. Licensing and usage is also a consideration in commercial product photography.
In the rest of this article, we will explore the world of lifestyle product photography and how the pricing changes based on these different factors.
We will also discuss the downsides of using stock imagery to lower the price and give you some tips to hire your first product photographer for your brand.
Lifestyle Product Photography Pricing Factors
When it comes to lifestyle product photography, you can expect to pay more than you would for regular product photography.
One of the main reasons for this is what is needed to make your product come to life. With an experienced product photographer, the right model, props, and even a custom-made set, this style of photography can be a substantial investment for your business.
Even with the best smartphone camera, you still won’t be able to compete with the equipment and expertise of a professional. However, the price you will pay will vary greatly depending on who you choose and the products you are looking to capture.
To give you a better idea of what it might actually cost to get your images, let’s explore the main cost-determining factors.
One of the main factors when it comes to pricing lifestyle photos is the photographer you choose. Your price will fluctuate depending on the education, creativity and experience of the person you are interested in hiring.
Choosing student or hobbyist photographers will give you a much lower price, but they are usually lacking key experience or necessary equipment and software. On the other hand, working with a more experienced product photographer may yield stunning photos but may be more of an upfront investment.
Typically, small business owners seek out professionals at the lower end of the pricing scale. A small business owner can expect pricing to begin around $200 an image. Major companies with large advertising budgets are usually the clients for high-end professional photographers that can charge over a thousand dollars per image plus licensing and usage fees.
In addition to your potential photographer’s education, experience, and equipment, you will also want to know how he or she is working. Photographers may work as freelancers or part of a full service studio.
If working with a studio photographer, the pricing may be fixed as their cost of doing business determines it. If you choose to work with a freelancer, they may be able to customize their pricing to best suit your needs and the photos you are looking for.
For example, the beginning rate of $200 would be acceptable from an experienced professional. However, if you are hiring someone more concerned with gaining experience than making a living, you are likely to pay much less (and your results will vary). If you meet with a talented photography student, you may be able to get quality photos at a lower price while giving them a chance to develop their skills.
The Set, Props, Models
A big part of lifestyle product photography is creating an environment for the product to be used in. This helps the consumer imagine themselves using the product as they see it come to life. It might require real-life models, specific props, or even a custom-built set depending on the product to capture this accurately.
For example, if you have clothes you want to sell, you might need a live model to wear your clothes and be photographed moving in a way that is flattering to your product. The cost of hiring a model is an added expense that someone photographing household goods would not need to worry about.
If you require a custom-made set to convey a whole scene, you are going to need to pay for everything required. This may include specific props and accessories to make your vision come alive. Depending on the intricacies of your idea, this is one area where you can see the price begin to rise dramatically.
To get a sense of what these may cost, let’s look at some pricing by popular photography mills:
- If you need a live hand model for your product, you can expect to pay around $30 for this service.
- Using an invisible mannequin to get the effect of your clothes on the shape of a body will cost you about $75.
- To get a great hero shot, the primary image of your product that really brings it to life, you can expect to pay around $95.
How You Pay for Photos
So far, we have been discussing pricing in terms of each final, edited image. However, this is not the only way to pay for your pictures.
There are several different ways commonly used in this industry. You can pay per finished image, per product, per hour, or by day. Depending on your needs and the size of the project, the best way to structure your payment will vary.
If you want several images of each product, you might choose to pay by product rather than by individual photo. Usually, photographers will decrease the cost of shooting each product when you have more products to photograph. You can ask to see their pricing tier to understand how many products you want to photograph to get the best deal.
Perhaps you want to pay by the image. The range you might expect to pay for the finished, edited image could be anywhere between $200 and $1000.
Depending on how many images you are looking for, it could be better than paying the photographer’s hourly or daily rate. While paying this way could be appealing for some, remember that it can get expensive if your vision is unclear and unexpected challenges arise with endless revision cycles.
Before you talk with your potential product photographer, be sure to do your own preparation. Make a list of what you need photographed and have the specifics of your vision ready to share. This will help you determine which payment plan is best for you and your business.
Stock Lifestyle Images
As you begin your research and start contacting local photographers, you may come across lower prices that use stock photography for their lifestyle images. Some photographers will use stock photos as the background and edit your product’s image into the photo.
The price tag for this kind of lifestyle product photography can seem appealing at first since it appears much cheaper. However, if you are looking to build your business and your brand, it is probably not worth the risk.
Because this kind of photography is not necessarily based in reality, it can create misleading images. The image may inspire the customer, but it is not how they imagined it upon receiving the purchased product. This can lead to returns, negative reviews, and a troubling reputation for your online business.
In fact, stock lifestyle imagery is used so frequently by Chinese sellers that online shoppers are now starting to associate its use with scams and low-quality products.
Licensing and Usage
When you are ready to hire a product photographer, licensing and usage should be discussed.
It is one thing to cover production costs to produce lifestyle images of your product, and a whole other cost to use those images for commercial purposes. You want a photographer who is flexible with what they allow for the images so that your business can continue to grow in different ways over time.
A good lifestyle product photographer will know how important it is to protect their work as well as yours. It’s only natural that they ask for a usage fee or find ways to benefit from the lifestyle product photography they produce. It is their intellectual property, after all.
For small businesses, the usage of a product photographers images isn’t too restrictive and the fees are nominal in comparison to much larger production jobs for bigger companies.
In general, small businesses can expect to pay some multiple of the production costs, if anything at all. But for larger companies, usage is restricted more heavily and licensing can be based on a percentage of the advertising budget.
If you’re hiring a photographer and licensing/usage is not discussed or agreed upon in writing, be warned! In many cases, the photographer may come back later and sue you for damages for using their work commercially once you get your store up and sales coming in.
This can also happen if the models that were hired for a photoshoot did not sign a model release form.
If you are just getting started in the world of e-commerce, this may be your first experience with professional photography. By understanding how lifestyle product photography is priced, you will be better prepared to talk with product photographers and find the best match for you and your brand.
Remember to prepare your vision and list of products ahead of time to communicate clearly with the photographer and have a successful experience with your lifestyle product photography.
If you need high quality product photography, we’re here to help! Contact us today for a quote.