Product photography

Sophie CallahanProduct photography is incredibly important for any businesses. In fact, for some, the difference between good and bad product photography can be the difference between success and failure. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. In Michelle Mone’s book ‘My Fight To The Top’, she explains how her photoshoots with famous names (notably Penny Lancaster, and then Rod Stewart’s ex wife Rachel Hunter), propelled her business forward. Here, I have a chat to Sophie Callahan about product photography and what things you need to look out for when you decide to work with a photographer and take the leap.

How did you get into product photography? Do you have any specialisms/particular passions?

I originally began by just photographing horses and their owners, and photographing businesses and products was kind of a natural progression, really. Brands begun contacting me asking if I’d photograph their products or services and that side of the business grew from there. I specialise in working with equestrian and country brands.

Can you share a campaign you’ve worked on and tell us a bit about it?

Product photographyI recently worked with a company called Forelock Books, who publish children’s books about horses and ponies. Michelle, from Forelock Books, wanted to increase her visibility and sales online. She asked me to create images that would strengthen her brand and capture the essence of her product. It was such a fun shoot, involving five children and four ponies, and I believe Michelle is thrilled with the results.

How do you go about organising the shoot?

Every shoot is entirely different. Some clients want a lot of creative input and want to oversee the entire shoot from start to finish, in which case, I will have as much or as little involvement with organising the shoot as they need me to have. Whereas some clients are happy to send me the products and trust me to coordinate everything needed to create beautiful photographs. I am happy to source models, both human and equine, locations and props, and if the client isn’t planning to attend the shoot, I try to keep them as ‘in the loop’ as possible, every step of the way. 

What information can a company give you to help you get the best photography for them?

When I’m shooting for a brand or business, I like to do as much homework about them as possible. I want to know who their target audience is, what colours they use in the branding, what their social media presence is like, what marketing campaigns they have run in the past and plan to run in the future, etc. It all helps me create a picture in my mind of what images will align with their brand. 

Some clients are looking for something very specific, for a particular campaign or website revamp, for example, whereas some are looking to create a bank of stock images, to use on social media over time. Some want both. So I also need to know what they are hoping to use the images for.

Do you offer different levels of shoot? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Yes. I know that photography is a big and scary investment for a lot of small businesses and one-man-bands. So, with this in mind, I offer three different packages. The first package is just the shoot itself. This means that my client doesn’t have to part with any extra money until they have seen and are happy with their images. And if they decide to just buy a few, they can do, or they have the option to purchase all. 

The second option is for those with a specific purpose in mind. As I mentioned, this may be an upcoming advertising campaign, a website revamp or the launch of a particular product. They may only require a handful of images and that is what my second option offers. There is, of course, always the option to purchase extras at a later date. 

And my final option includes the shoot and all image files. This is my most popular option and typically my clients will end up with upwards of 100 images.

All of the above options are guaranteed an interview on my blog and exposure to my 35k social media following.

What advice would you give people thinking of getting their first professional shoot organised?

Firstly I would encourage them that getting professional photographs taken of their product or service is 100% the right thing to do. In an era where social media is so prevalent, imagery is king! And secondly, I would advise them to give their photographer as much information about their brand and their vision as possible. Choose the right photographer, one who you think really ‘gets’ what your business stands for, and be super clear on what you want to achieve, with these images. 

What questions should a business owner ask a photographer to make sure they’re a good fit for them?

Obviously it’s important to see previous work, to ensure you like the style of the images, as every photographer’s style is unique to them. But I think finding the right photographer for you is more about getting a good feeling about someone, than it is about asking specific questions. I’d advise chatting either face to face, via Skype, or on the phone. When you’ve built a business, that business becomes your baby and it’s so important that the person who is responsible for creating the images that will bring your ideas to life and present them to the world, understands exactly what the brand is all about and is as passionate about the shoot as you are.

Find out more about Sophie’s business shoots on her website, here. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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