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The Cost of Product Photography in 2023: How to Budget Your Next Shoot

Author: Jeff Delacruz
Date Created: 2020-03-11
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The price for professional product photography has a huge range—no wonder so many business owners have a hard time budgeting for product shots. And it’s easy to put these on the bottom of your to-do list. 

After all, so many brands invest so much money into their logo, branding, and website design, they often forget to plan for the product photos themselves—the assets that will do the most work when it comes to making a sale.

How much does product photography cost?

Ecommerce photography typically costs between $20–$90 per photo for a standard white background image featuring just the product.

A custom shoot with creative photography will cost more, and it’s easier to budget by the day rather than by the photo. Custom creative shoots cost anywhere from $500 to more than $4,000 for the day.

Product photography studios vs. independent photographers vs. in-house hires

A product photography studio is likely to charge higher rates than a freelance professional photographer in the same market. And your budget is also likely to change drastically if you decide to hire in-house as opposed to outsource your needs. 

When you hire a product photography studio, you gain access to a whole team of experts. Plus, they generally have more availability and resources. A freelance photographer might be more limited, as it’s usually a one-person show that hires freelance support based on the shoot.

If you hire in-house, you have endless access to the individual but you will have to maintain that persons payroll long term. However, you automatically own the rights to all the creative when working with an in-house photographer, whereas a studio or freelancer will have some sort of usage fee added to or baked into their rate. 

Keep in mind: studios also vary. Local independent photography studios are typically more affordable and offer a higher level of customer service. Larger, full-service studios might have more resources and exciting portfolios, so they’re more expensive and better suited for larger commercial shoots.

Product photography pricing structures

Professional photographers and studios use a variety of pricing models to set their rates. Typically, ecommerce photos are charged on a per photo rate while creative photos are based on a day rate. However, every studio and individual does it differently.

Per image product photography pricing

The per photo cost is typically a calculation; the cost of the time (time/cost) it takes to photograph the project divided by the total number of photos. A published cost, like what you see below, is typically an average. Therefore, if a photo takes longer to photograph or if more time and effort is put into the photos, it will cost more because it takes more time.

Some photography services will use the same lighting for every photo, like a light tent and can capture 50-100 photos per day. These services will charge less because the time/cost is far less.

However, a service that charges more may photograph less photos per day, sometimes as low as 15 photos per day resulting in a higher cost per photo. This is typically because they are using custom lighting and retouching each photo that takes more time.

Per day freelance photography pricing

Per day pricing involves a flat fee for a “day” (anywhere from 3–12 hours) of a photographer or studio’s time. Generally speaking, these shoots can range from $500 for the day to as much as $10,000—we’ve seen the average hover around $2,000–$3,000 per day. 

This estimate doesn’t include extras, like assistants, post-production, props, talent, stylists, locations, usage, or other billable fees. Those can add an extra $1,000–$3,000 to the total cost.

Here’s how one estimate looks for a day of shooting white background ecommerce photography of pharmaceutical products. The studio estimated a total of $15,000 for the shoot, licensing fee, styling, studio rental, and even COVID-19 safety protocols. Take a look at how it broke down:

Product Photography Cost 5 - The Cost Of Product Photography In 2023: How To Budget Your Next Shoot -

The per day pricing model is typically used for commercial photography, advertising photography, and lifestyle images. These types of photography involve different scenarios, props, and possibly even models. 

When hiring a photographer with a day rate, get specific about deliverables and scope. Define exactly which photos you need to capture and how you plan to use them. Most creative photoshoots result in just two to five final photos after a whole day on set, depending on the complexity of the request—so $15,000 would be a steep investment. It’s always best to be clear.

Per hour pricing

Some photographers or studios charge hourly rates. According to Fash, most photographers charge $94–$262 per hour. 

Per hour pricing can be difficult to budget when you don’t know how long it takes to capture the number of images you need for each product. Per hour or day pricing are typically a bit more difficult to plan and budget for because you don’t always know exactly how long it will take to capture all the shots you need.

Per product pricing

Per product pricing typically involves a flat fee for images of each product. The trick here is to figure out exactly how many images that gets you, and if it’s the same for every product or if they modify depending on the product type. 

For example, some studios or photographers might shoot interior shots of handbags whereas they might focus on zoomed-in macro shots of fine jewelry. Additional fees may also apply to a specific product category, such as difficult-to-shoot items that are large, reflective, or transparent.

What goes into the cost of product photography

There are tons of factors at play when it comes to the cost of product photography: 

  • Image complexity: White background shots are generally less complex than a full-blown lifestyle product shoot. Image requirements may also impact complexity.
  • Location: Consider things like studio rentals, set prep, and travel expenses.
  • Experience of the photographer: More experience or niche expertise warrants higher rates. 
  • Product type: Different product attributes, such as transparency, size, or color, may also impact rates. 
  • Equipment: This is if additional equipment is required. Most professionals should be able to provide the basics. 
  • External market factors: Economic factors such as inflation, supply and demand, etc. will also impact photographers’ fees. 

Number of images: More images typically cost more. Note sometimes you can get a discount for more images.

You’ll also want to factor other indirect expenses into your total cost, such as time spent managing the project and coordinating with contractors and tools for digital asset management (DAM) and photo editing. 

If you go in-house, you’ll also need to account for workers’ comp insurance, payroll taxes, employee benefits, and the costs of recruiting/hiring/onboarding.

Type of photography

Estimated cost breakdowns for each type of product photography generally go as follows: 

  • Lifestyle photography: lifestyle composites go for $150 each, while full lifestyle shoots can cost as much as $10,000 for the day, resulting in 2–5 photos
  • White background ecommerce photos: $20–$90 per shot; many brands get 2–3 photos per product, investing around $400 in images per product
  • 360 spin photography: Can easily go towards $1200 per 72-frame rotation
  • Apparel product photography: ghost mannequin and flat lay shots of clothing products can vary greatly while rates for model talent or clothing stylists can be anywhere from $100 or $1000 a day.

Additional product photography charges

There are other associated expenses when it comes to professional product photography services. Depending on the route you go—studio, individual, or in-house—these expenses may or may not already be accounted for. Let’s take a look:

  • Photo editing and post-processing. Some outsourced photographers may provide required edits as part of their fee, but you’ll want to confirm.
  • Reshoots. Photos can turn out poorly for a number of reasons. Maybe mistakes were made, or circumstances outside of anyone’s control prevented a successful shoot. Inquire about rates and fees in case of reshoots, including when it’s due to the photographer’s fault and when it’s simply a matter of your taste or preferences.  
  • Photo stylist and props. You might need to hire a stylist as well as purchase or rent any necessary props. 
  • Models and talent. Shoots involving models or other featured talent like influencers or trained animals will also have to account for talent fees. 
  • Food and craft services. If you hire a big team, you’ll likely need to feed them as well—especially if it’s an all-day shoot. A  product photographer will typically any food items back to the client. 
  • Set or studio needs. If a set is required, it’s coming out of your budget. That means you’re paying for rent and any associated deposits. Likewise for any other set or studio needs—cleaning, maintenance, backdrops, lighting, etc. Studio rentals can run anywhere from $400-$600 a day for a run of the mill studio, and can go higher for spaces outfitted with amenities such as rooftops, kitchens, pools, etc.
  • Rush fees. Always find out the standard turnaround time if you’re hiring out for product photos, as well as any rush options.
  • File types. Again, when hiring out for your photos, find out how the files will be delivered. If you have special needs, such as high-res master .TIF files, you might have to pay extra. 

Outsource your product photography needs

Outsourcing your product images to a cost-conscious but professional studio is often the most cost-effective way to get high quality product shots that will convert.

We charge a flat price per image to make it easy to budget your next project, and a ship-and-shoot model that means you never even have to step on foot on set if you don’t want to.

Cost of product photography FAQs

How much should product photography cost?

Product photography should cost $20–$90 per image. It costs up to $10,000 per day for a full commercial photoshoot.

How much does product photography cost in 2023?

Product photography costs $20–$90 per photo in 2022. It costs up to $10,000 per day for a full commercial photoshoot in 2023.

Written by Jeff Delacruz

Jeff is the President & Cofounder of POW Photography. For the last 10 years, he's been working directly with small businesses owners to help them improve their ecommerce listings with better photos.

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