Photography PricingHow Much Does Product Photography Cost in 2021?

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Author : Yan
Update time : 2021-01-21 20:57:00

Does this describe your business?


  • You sell through e-commerce channels.
  • You want to sell more product.
  • You need high-quality images of all your products.
  • You don’t know much about product photography.
    If you answered yes to these questions then outsourcing your product photography is the right move.
    But how much will this cost?
    There is no simple answer. Your business, your products, and your image requirements all factor into how much you will be charged for product photography.

    How Do Product Photography Service Providers Differ?

    Your first task is to decide which kind of photography service will best fit your needs. When it comes to ecommerce product photos, there are generally two types of photograph studio that will work best for you:

    – Local independent studios
    – Full service studios

    There is no right or wrong choice here: both choices have their pros and cons, which means that you will have to decide which service will fit your overall needs better.

    Local Independent Photography Studios for Ecommerce Product Photography

    If you’ve ever hired a photographer for your wedding or to take a beautiful family portrait, you’ve already worked with an independent photographer. These freelance photographers typically offer a range of services while sharing a studio with others – often while working from home.


    – You’ll be spoiled for choice with plenty of local independent photography options,
    – Negotiating rates can be easier when dealing with just one person,
    – You won’t have any shipping, communication, or travel headaches by hiring locally.


    – Not all independent photographers offer product photography,
    – They may lack the equipment, studio space, or photography software needed to complete the job professionally,
    – Independent photographers are often busy, which may cause delays.

    Full Service Photography Studios for Ecommerce Product Photography

    If you’re looking to work with a professional photography studio, then a full service photography provider may be the right choice for you. Typically, these studios are more of an agency, offering a full range of services while easily handling bigger projects.

    These studios are not as common as local independent photographers – in some cases, you may need to look toward your nearest city to find one.


    – Professional execution with the studio, equipment, and software to match
    – Studios that focus on product photography can offer lower rates
    – Better ability to handle logistics of shipping and storing products
    – Can handle products of all sizes and shapes.


    – If the studio is not local to you, your shipping costs will be higher
    – Visiting the studio will require travel, which could be costly and needs to be worked into your budget
    – Limited choice of local studios may lead to having to compromise on style and shooting.

    Not sure which type of product photography service is best for your business? Asking yourself the following questions can help you to decide when browsing through your options:

    – How important is consistency in your product photography images?
    – Are you OK with waiting around potential limited availability issues?
    – Are your products easy to ship to the studio, and does the studio have space?
    – Are you only looking for photography, or do you want to pursue other services, such as retouching and photo editing, too?
    – Do you need more specialist photography, such as 360 product photography to go with your standard product shots?

    As you can see, none of these questions are concerned with the cost of product photography, but rather your unique needs as a client. No matter whether you prefer to go independent or full service, both types of photography studio will be taking questions like this into consideration when quoting you a rate.

    It’s worth remembering that both independent photographers and photography studios alike have their own running costs and equipment, which is typically not cheap. Cameras, professional lighting, equipment, and professional editing software all need to be kept current to deliver cutting-edge photography results.

    Together with the typical expenses of running a business, it’s important to remember that pricing isn’t just about the end result – but the experience, equipment, and expenses that all lead up to your final, glossy product image.

    Are you still wondering how much you could be charged for the type of product photography you want? Let’s tackle that next!

    How Are Product Photography Services Charged?
    IN A NUTSHELL: Rates for product photography covers a wide range: an amateur photographer can charge anywhere between $25 to $75 an hour, with top professionals charging as much as $200 to $500 an hour or $250 to $1,500 per image. The industry’s very best product photographers have $10,000 day rates!
    With that said, the vast majority of ecommerce product photography is charged using one of the following three methods:

    By the hour or day
    As you would expect, with this method you will be charged a flat hourly or daily rate for the studio’s services. For example, a studio could charge $150 / hour or $1,200 / day for still images and $200 / hour or $1,600 / day for 360 images (because they require more specialized equipment and software).

    If your project has specialized image requirements that change from product to product the studio would find it difficult to estimate daily production. For this reason they would opt for an hourly or daily rate.

    I strongly advise that you do not enter into an hourly or daily rate arrangement with your service provider. It is difficult to budget and there is no ceiling on your costs.
    To avoid hourly or daily arrangements I recommend you spend time refining your image requirements to the point where a photographer can understand exactly what images you need for each product category. This way they will be able to quote your project by the product or by the image.

    By the product
    With this method the service provider will charge by the product. For example, at $30 / product for 200 products, the total project cost would be $6,000.
    With ‘by the product’ projects, the service provider may allow for unlimited images per product. This is definitely an advantage for you but it is also why service providers shy away from this pricing structure – they could end up producing more images than they budgeted for.

    This pricing structure often comes with 2 conditions:

  • The number of images per product has a maximum, images over-and-above the maximum will be charged at a specified rate. This protects the service provider if the customer requests many images per product.
  • Each product category will have its own per product rate. For example, a project for a bike manufacturer, pedals and brake parts could be charged at a different rate than frames and wheels. This protects the service provider if some of the product categories are difficult to photograph.

    By the image
    Similar to by the product, with this method you will be charged a price for each image produced. For example, if the per image rate is $8.00 and you have 100 products requiring a total of 250 images your total project cost would be $2,000.
    This is the preferred pricing structure for service providers because:
  • It matches their cost structure – they incur costs each time they capture, edit, QA, and format an image and therefore it is best that they charge by the image.
  • They get paid for every image they produce for their customer (unlike with a flat rate per product regardless of the number of images produced).
    ‘By the image’ pricing works fine for you as well as long as you invest the time in analyzing your image requirements. This is not a difficult process, here are the steps:
  • Categorize the products you need images for. There are 2 ways to go about this:
  • Put them in standard product categories e.g. a bike manufacturer has brake, gear, frame, and accessory products.
  • Put them in photography categories e.g. a bike manufacturer has small products (brake parts, accessories), medium products (handle bars, seats, brake parts, rail components), and large products (frames, wheels).
    Now that you know all your product or photography categories and the number of images required in each category the service provider can come up with an accurate per image price for each category and therefore the total cost for the project.
    Because ‘by the image’ pricing is fair for both service provider and customer it is the most common method.
    Service providers will tier their ‘by the image’ charges. Here is an example of what this would look like:
  • Total the number of products you have in each product or photography category.
  • Determine the number of images you require for each product or photography category. In the bike example, for wheels you might want 3 images – a front image of the full wheel, a close-up of the tire tread, and a close-up of the spokes.

    What Additional Charges Should You Anticipate?

    Because product photography involves the uniqueness of your products and the specific image requirements you may have the service provider may need to apply additional charges to your project.

    Below are some of the common additional charges you should consider when budgeting your project:

    Product Weight

    If some of your products are heavy a product weight surcharge may be applied. Heavy products are difficult to handle, often requiring both the photographer and the helper to lift and position the product on the table. This can be awkward, time-consuming, and at times require special equipment like heavy-duty photography tables.

    This is a electric scooter, it weighs more than 70 pounds and it takes 2 people to place it on the photography table.

Product Size

Large sized products are also hard to handle and can require a second person to position them on the table. These products almost always require a larger photography table and large camera stand so the camera can get high enough over the table or platform to fit the product in the image frame.

This product is more than 9 feet long and 4 or 5 feet wide. This was photographed with a 9′ camera stands and a 8 feet by 12 feet floor-based photography platform.

Product Prep
Some products you can take out of their box or packaging and place them right on the table for photography, no prep required. Other products require extensive cleaning or even assembly prior to photography. A helper may be required for this prep. For the most part, basic product prep is built into the price but if extensive prep is required there would be an additional charge.
The image above is an example of the process required to unpack a product for photography

Product Styling

Many products require styling before they can be photographed. There are many examples of products that require styling, here are a few:

  • Clothing that requires ironing, special folding, and / or pairing with other apparel on a manikin.
  • Food products that require special layout on a cutting block or countertop and grouped with other food products. Food products can also require special sprays and other methods to make them look as edible as possible.
  • Products where the packages are reflective or they have inconsistent shapes. In these cases the photographer may need to move the contents around within the package to get the right shape. In extreme cases, the contents of the product will be removed and the package stuffed.
Imagine the effort that it took to layout these plates of food – a fair bit of styling I would think.


Product Layout

If your products take time to lay out on the photography table and this time has not been factored into the initial image price then there may be an additional charge. Here are some examples:

  • Toys that have many components that need to be arranged in a specific way for the image.
  • Industrial products like engine gasket kits that can have as many as 100 pieces that need to be laid out in a particular pattern prior to photography.

This product has over 80 parts that need to be laid out on the table, this process would take more than 20 minutes per product.

Set Construction

Some products cannot be photographed effectively unless they are displayed in a setting. Some sets are basic and some are elaborate. Home décor and furnishing products are great examples of products that require sets e.g. a kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom set. Sets can be time-consuming to build and photographing sets takes much longer than photographing products on a table-top.

Lifestyle Images

These images show a product being used or in action. For example, a person wearing sports apparel and working out, or a vehicle with specialty rims and tires parked or in motion. These images can require special scenarios and people. The cost of lifestyle images depends on the people, sets, and scenes required.

Group Images

You may have products that you want photographed together. For these images the photographer will need to prepare multiple products (unpacking, cleaning etc.) and lay them out on the photography table. Additionally, the photography for group shots can take longer than single shots.

Expect additional charges for group product shots.

What Other Product Photography Project Costs Should You Consider?

Whether you’re shipping your products out to a photography studio in another area of have chosen a local photographer to assist with your photoshoot, you will need to account for the time and money cost of preparing your products.

These costs typically revolve around the preparation, packaging, and shipping of products to and from the studio. In some cases, you may find that there is an additional charge from your photographer for product storage over the course of the shoot, but this is uncommon.

You will also want to account for any potential hours of lost productivity in your own business as either you or one of your employees lists the products that you will send, takes them out of your inventory, and ships them.

Finally, remember that there is risk involved: accidents can happen – and your products can go missing during shipping or get damaged during the photo shoot. Depending on your products, it may be worth looking at insurance policies that can protect you in such situations, if only for your peace of mind.

Once you have tallied up all these different costs, you should have a firm answer to the question, “how much will I be charged for product photography?” with a reasonable budget to achieve your goals.

Conclusion – and What Ecommerce Businesses Should Do Next

In this post, we’ve given you all the information you need to make an informed decision about budgeting for ecommerce product photography and the various charges to take into consideration. You should now have a good idea of how much you can expect to be charged, which kind of photography service provider best fits your needs, and which additional charges and project costs you can expect – if any.

This photography pricing guide has been designed to help you make an informed decision and pick the best ecommerce photography service for your needs.

With this knowledge, you don’t just know how much photographers charge for product photography on average. You also know what to consider when setting out a product photography budget that will deliver an impressive return on your investment.

All that’s left is to decide which ecommerce photography studio you want to work with!

Hire A Professional Ecommerce Photographer Today

Coolbang Stuido specializes in professional ecommerce photography, and we have extensive experience in creating high quality product photography that connects with your customers to give you increased sales and higher profits.

Whether you’re looking for sophisticated white background photography, compelling lifestyle shots, or something else, our talented team is ready to work with you.

Work with us, and we’ll help you to develop a gorgeous set of ecommerce product photographs that gives your ecommerce store an edge over competitors in this cut-throat industry!

As a bonus, we’ve also got a crystal-clear product photography charging model that makes costing your ecommerce product photography project a piece of cake.

Why not check out some of Coolbang Studio ecommerce photography projects, or fill out the form below to tell us about your ecommerce photography project, kickstart a free initial consultation, and get your free, no-obligations custom quote?


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