This article is a beginners guide to pre-production for product photography shoots and the process it involves before starting client projects.
So you’ve got an enquiry from a potential product photography client…..now what?
This was the very question I asked myself when I had an enquiry from my first client…..”now what?”.
My client was engaged and asking all of the relevant questions, and whilst I knew what my pricing would look like, I had no idea of the way in which pre-production, production and post-production would work together to create a streamlined experience for both the client and for me. So, I researched! And I researched some more, and eventually I came up with my own version of what my pre-production, production and post production would look like.
This is in no way a definitive resource for you or your business, but this beginners guide to pre-production is a starting point. Be sure to research and do your due diligence on what you’ll need to create a seamless service for your client, because at the end of the day, that is what will bring the client back to you, and that is what will give your brand a good reputation.
When a client engages with me, there is of course the general back-and-forth emails whereby I ask the client some basic questions so I can formulate a plan and a base pricing strategy.
From there, if I feel like the client and I are a good fit to work together, I’ll send them a questionnaire. This is one of the best things to create immediately if you’re just starting out. By having an in depth questionnaire, you reducing – as much as humanely possible – the chance of any miscommunication between yourself and your client. Some of the things in my questionnaire include:
- How many images do you require?
- What products am I shooting?
- How many products am I shooting?
- Will the images be used for a website, social media, and/or advertising?
- Do you want your images in landscape or portrait orientation?
The reason it is so important to ask these questions is so that you are very clear from the onset exactly what the client requires. This will also form the basis of your final pricing before shooting commences and will also give you the information you will need to put into your contract.
After I’ve received the questionnaire I’ll then go into research mode. I want to make sure that I understand the brand completely. I also want to formulate a creative concept that speaks to the the brands aesthetic and the type of imagery they’re asking you to capture. Research can take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on the size of the shoot and the brand itself. I’ll then go into creative concept mode where I’ll seek out some visual representations of my concept. From there I’ll then create a PDF for the client which contains written and visual cues to ensure a concise and accurate representation of what I will deliver to the client. Having this in written and visual format ensures miscommunication about client expectation is kept to a minimal.
Once the client approves the creative concept, and signs the contract (which includes terms of payment including deposit), I’ll then wait for the client to send me the products. In the interim, I’ll also complete any prop shopping and source anything else I’ll require for the shoot.
So there you have it, my beginners guide to pre-production. There is so much that goes into pre-production, and as a product photographer you should be charging for the time spent in pre-production as well as production, and post-production.
If you liked this post, then please comment below to let me know. Or if you’re a product photographer, is there something else you have in your pre-production checklist that I haven’t covered? Be sure to pop that info in the comments below.
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