If you're a product photographer or a business shopping around, you may be wondering what is the standard price for product photography. For the last 9 years i've managed the inbound sales for POW! Photography and prior to that I worked as a commercial freelance photographer. Below are some of the lessons I learned regarding photography pricing over the years.
What Should I Charge For Product Photography?
The price of a ecommerce listing product photo should be between $20 - $50 per photo depending on the complexity. A custom creative freelance product photography photoshoot will cost between $500 - $3000 a day + expenses. However, because photography is an art pricing is relative and can fluctuate based on market, photographer reputation & project complexity.
Two Product Photography Pricing Models
Pricing for a product photography project should be based on what the project is & the market rate taking into consideration ability to cover overhead and expenses. There are 2 ways that product photographers can bill their shoots; per shot and by a day rate. Typically ecommerce photos are based on a per photo rate and creative photos are based on a day rate.
Ecommerce Product Photography Pricing
Most mid-size catalog and ecommerce photography studios that focus on white background photos, will bill by the photo. White background product photography ranges from $20 - $50 per photo for most respected ecommerce professional product photography studios. There are usually upcharges for more complex photos. You can see what we charge for white background photography on our pricing page. Most business get between 2 -3 photos per product at least and businesses in general should try and budget at least $300 per product for the different photos needed to create a full product listing.
Large enterprise focused catalog studios are billed based on the project requirements and are usually not transparent about their pricing. You typically need to approach them with at least 10k photos.
Custom Product Photography Pricing
Custom photoshoots, that are unique or creative you'll typically be billed a day rate + production expenses. A professional photography production typically takes multiple days of negotiations, preparations and you will most likely need to be there on the day of the shoot.
A 10 hour day rate with creative product photographer can range based on experience between $500 a day and going as high as $3000 with the average being around $2000. This does not include assistants, post-production, props, buying and returning props, stylist, models, locations, usage or other billable fees that go into the creation of a shoot. For a shoot like this a client should expect to pay between $2000 - $5000 for a day of commercial product photography and perhaps more depending on how complex the request is.
When bidding a project business should be careful with their RFP (request for proposal) and be very specific and strategic about what photos will need to be created and for what placement. This is because most creative photoshoots are only able create 2 - 5 final photos in a day depending on the complexity of the request.
Photography Pricing Strategies For Photographers
The value of photography is abstract and based on perception. Which means that photographers should set their pricing based on what they feel they're worth and what the customer is willing to pay because photography has no set value. You should never bill less than your cost to complete the shoot, but that's just common sense.
For example, it's not unlikely that two photoshoots billed at different rates can result in similar final photos. This is because there are many potential paths to get to that final photo.
In a situation where there are no customer requirements and production is not required, than I could photograph the same photo in my own house that I could using the same techniques that I could employ on a large production shoot with a team of assistants, stylist and art directors. Therefore it is possible to create a similar photo in both environments despite different paths of production.
This brings up a "tree falls in the forest" complex question of value. "If I can create the same photo by myself for free that another photographer bills a premium for what is the value of that photo." The answer is that the photo itself has no inherent value other than the value that the buyer is assigning by hiring you to do it. Therefore, the question of "What should I charge for product photography?" is ultimately about what you want the photography to be worth.
This is important for negotiations and pricing strategies. Your price must reflect what you think it's worth and that must equal what your customer believes that it's worth. If you feel like your not getting paid enough, you'll most likely do a poor job on the project because you will feel its not worth your time. Alternately, if the customer doesn't agree with this value than they will not feel satisfied with the results. Since there is no specific value, beyond the expenses, both parties must be convinced that the perception that creating these photos is worth the spend. In my experience, the best approach is to start with what you believe your rate should be and stick to it. Work with clients that agree to that rate and pass on clients that do not agree to that rate.
For a photographer discovering your rate takes time and experience and this is one of the hard parts of being a professional photographer. Over time you will customers will give you hints as to what you can bill and the market will help guide your pricing strategy.