• James Morris

Packshot Photography

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

What is the process and how does quality effect pricing?

I wanted to write this post to help clients get a better understanding of my process for when I create packshot photography, there is a feeling amongst a number of industries that packshot work is a quick and cheap type of photography that serves a simple purpose, and in some respects that is true, packshot photography is not as time intensive or as expensive as full blown fashion or lifestyle photography, but a lot of clients will know that you can't cut too many corners when it comes to packshot or product photography, especially if they want the packshot photography to be actively driving sales rather limiting them. 

When looking for a packshot photographer it is incredibly important to have a realistic view of what your budget is, as well as how far that will stretch when it comes to the shoot and retouching of your product photography, so when it comes to creating packshot photography there is one aspect that determines the total cost, this one key aspect is time, the more time the better the quality, when I talk of quality I am not referring to the quality of the camera or the resolution whilst this is important and is a key consideration it is not usually a big factor to the cost as is more about which equipment to select for the job, I am talking about the quality of the lighting, the quality of the styling and the overall retouched and realistic quality of the finished image, these are the aspects that will determine if your packshot photography helps to sell your products quicker and to achieve the best margins. Getting the packshot photography right first time is so key to driving sales and ensuring that stock is sold as soon as possible as I'm sure most people have noticed at some stage that a bad set of images on their site usually corresponds to their levels of unsold stock at the end of the season.

With packshot photography to create quality images require time, the higher the quality the more time is needed. Sadly, it is not just a case of putting the product in front of the camera and firing the shutter and repeat, there is quite a lot of other aspects that need to be taken into account before the photograph can be taken. Below I’ve put a brief run down on the usual aspects and actions that are needed for every product, hopefully this will give you an idea of the various stages that each product will go though, some products will have some other points to contend with but this list would cover the majority of products and what is required for their packshot photography, this starts from the moment of the shoot, therefore does not contain the pre-shoot time, this would be any consultation period or meetings to ascertain what is required.

Please note, I purposefully haven’t included the time each aspect takes as this is variable from shoot to shoot and product to product.

  • Shoot briefing - taking the clients requirements into a account and drafting a brief that ensures products are shot to spec.

  • Organise shoot schedule - Check products for defects and create the order of products to which they will be shot.

  • Setup shooting space - setting up the required space to shoot for the specific product.

  • *Establish shot 1angle- setting up the camera on tripod and selecting the correct lens and correct angle as according to the brief.

  • *Lighting setup - setting the lights, modifiers, shoot throughs and flags to create the ideal lighting setup.

  • *Clean up - Clean the product of as much dust, dirt or fingerprints as possible and polish if metallic. 

  • *Take first shot - now the camera and lights setup take the first test shot.

  • *Adjust - check the test shoot against the brief and adjust lighting and camera settings as necessary till correct.

  • *Final shot - Take the final shot - 

  • *Source shot - Take any additional images required for retouching purposes.

  • *Post shoot check - check all images for any errors against brief and re-shoot if needed.

  • Select final images and make any adjustments. 

  • Output final RAW images ready for retouch in Photoshop.

  • Retouch all images in Photoshop to spec.

  • Output edited images to spec size and resolution.

  • Post Retouch - check all edited images for errors against the brief and re-edit if needed.

  • Deliver the images to the client via WeTransfer.

  • Check products and package for return.

  • Post products items back to client.

*When more than one image is required or there is multiple product types with the same shoot, then a repeat of *steps is required for each additional shot or product type.

How much time to achieve the above is variable, the majority of packshot is created for web use such as in e-commerce websites, Google Adwords or small sized print runs like PR pieces in magazines. For this type of work on average it would be around 15-20 minutes per image but can be as little as 5 minutes. Whilst it would usually be a bit excessive to spend a whole day creating a single packshot image some products really do require this, especially if the images are to be used in high print run marketing or advertisement campaigns. 

No matter your budget it is important to place the emphasis on quality over quantity, a lot of people consider 3 images of the same product to be almost the same work as 1 image a product, unfortunately this is rarely the case as it requires a completely different setup of the camera & lighting equipment to obtain the right quality, some products this is less of a problem than others, but with products like jewellery to control the reflections and ensure the jewellery has the three important aspects required to show its true shininess and clarity, requires moving pretty much everything. That’s why I advise clients who are on a tight budget to lower the number of images per product to allow for fewer but better quality images that have more of an impact at the POS.

As a summary, the more time spent on each image means better quality, there will ultimately be a point of diminishing returns, hence why an average of around 15-20 minutes per image is normally suitable to achieve a good level of quality whilst keeping the price affordable. If you are looking to keep budgets down, it is best to shoot fewer images per product to have a better overall quality.

If you have any questions or would like to know how much a packshot photography shoot would cost for your products, then please do drop me an email at james@jmp-studio.com  

To see examples of my previous product photography or jewellery photography please do check out my product photography portfolio or jewellery photography portfolio.