8 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Product Photographer

Professional-quality product photos make you stand out from your competitors. To get the best results, many businesses hire a professional photographer that specializes in product photography. These photos ultimately help build your brand and a strong presence on social media, websites, email campaigns, and print collateral.

But before you sign a contract and hand over your hard-earned money, how can you be sure your product photos will live up to your expectations? It starts with vetting your product photographers. Ask your candidates these eight questions to ensure a match made in heaven:

Photography is a very general term, so it helps to narrow the focus when selecting a photographer. Someone might be talented in shooting family portraits, for example, but could struggle to do your products justice. Specific experience with product photography can help you get the most out of your investment.

However, a lack of experience shouldn’t be an automatic write-off. You may be a blossoming photographer’s chance to grow their portfolio, and they may be willing to give you favorable pricing in return.

Some photographers offer packages that include a certain number of photos for a set rate. Others may prefer to charge an hourly rate. Both of these options carry advantages and potential drawbacks. For example, a set rate tells you upfront how much you’re going to pay. On the other hand, an hourly rate might help you squeeze in more shots for a lower fee. Price might not be the most important factor, but it is a factor that you should consider in your decision-making.

It’s imperative to understand exactly what you’re paying for, as there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to product photography. How many images are in a set? Is a pre-session consultation included? How much time will you spend taking photos and editing them? What’s the overtime rate if you go over the agreed-upon session time? Do you charge travel expenses outside of a certain radius?

A portfolio can be very telling about a photographer’s caliber of work. While it’s not the end-all tool to tip the scales, it’s important to know what quality to expect. Pay attention to the lighting, angles, and clarity of the photos, as well as the actual items in the photos. For example, if you’re selling cars, and your photographer has a lot of cars in their portfolio, they might be better suited to serve you compared to someone who primarily photographs food.

Will the photographer come to you? Do they have a studio set up where you’ll take the products? Depending on the products, going to a studio could mean extra work for you. However, it may also mean less work for the photographer, which might help keep costs low. Also depending on the products, you may be able to ship items to the studio ahead of time to lighten your load.

Delivering images in digital format tends to be the norm these days unless you specify you need prints. Many photographers will set up a shared online drive, such as Dropbox, where you can access your photos. You should ask ahead of time what this file delivery process looks like to make sure it’s a good fit for you. In case something happens to the files, it’s also a good idea to ask if your photographer keeps backups.

Timelines are essential when taking photos of your products. If you’re under a tight deadline to get your products listed on your website or printed in a catalog, you need a photographer who can work within your time constraints. Even the best photographers can’t serve you properly if they take weeks or even months to edit your images.

Being a PPA member is a symbol of quality and professionalism. PPA members abide by a strict code of ethics and take a client-focused approach to lead them through the process of a photo session—before, during, and after the act of taking photos. They do more than snap pictures; they’re also technical artists that capture your products from the very best angles and present them in the best possible way.

With a little vetting and research, you can choose a product photographer that will help you put your best foot forward in every photo. Ready for the next step? Use the Find a Photographer search engine to find a product photographer in your area.