A Buyers Guide for Product Photographers - 8 Skills to Look for


Is it important to you to have a product photographer who can take excellent high-quality product images quickly? You may be surprised to read what follows - it is not as simple as you may think.


The simple truth is that it is difficult to find a good product photographer. You can trust us on this. We have hired close to 50 product photographers for various projects over the years, some of whom have been excellent hires and others not.


When to hire a product photographer, what skills and experience should you look for?


In addition to their specific product photography and product image editing skills, consider their general professional and managerial abilities.


Here are a few things to look for in each of these areas.


Experience and skills in photography and image editing

If you need to hire a product photographer, first make sure they have the practical skills. You'll notice these skills in their work history and experience.

1. Photographs of tabletop products

A product photographer's experience in tabletop photography is a good place to start when hiring them. There are many photographers who have experience shooting products on a tabletop. If you dig a little deeper, this might not be anything more than a friend shooting some jewelry products. Even though this is a product photography experience, it is, to put it mildly, limited.


The type of product you have depends on its size, shape, color, and features, so you need a photographer who has broad experience. Lighting, positioning, and highlighting all types of products require a deep understanding. As a result of completing numerous tabletop photo projects, one gains these skills over time.


Recruiting Tip: Hire a product photographer who has experience working with a wide variety of product categories - the more extensive their experiences, the better.

2. Lighting for products

Lighting experience is something you'll find in any photographer worth their salt. It is important to find a photographer with experience in tabletop lighting. Photographers' lighting skills are probably the most important factor in image quality and production.


Professional product photographers are able to quickly adjust their lighting for different products based on their size, shape, color, reflectivity, etc. Meanwhile, photographers with limited experience in tabletop lighting will need to make more adjustments from product to product in order to finalize their lighting. The time it takes to photograph each product can be more than doubled by photographers with limited lighting skills.


Recruiting Tip: Hire a product photographer who has many years of experience lighting a range of products.

3. Photographic Production

A product photograph is not always a production photograph. Photographing high-end watches for print will likely require you to spend a great deal of time getting them just right. That's not production photography. Production photography, on the other hand, involves photographing hundreds or thousands of products per day, each requiring multiple images.


A photographer should be able to balance production quality with image quality. Photographers with tabletop and product lighting skills will increase productivity, but determining when an image is ‘good’ but not ‘perfect’ is the key to productivity. 


It can take 50% longer to create a perfect image than a good one, and 99.9% of people won't even notice the difference. Good product photography is not about perfect images. 


Your budget for cost per image will be much higher than you budgeted if your photographer is always striving for the perfect image.


Recruiting Tip: Find a photographer who is NOT a perfectionist but has a track record that can demonstrate the ability to create high-quality images quickly (verify references).

4. Photo editing of products

The majority of photographers are proficient or expert Photoshop and Lightroom users with a lot of experience editing images.

Most often, the photographer does not edit the images, but the image editing team does. 


Despite this, it is vital that the photographer understand the image editing process and capture images with the intention of editing them. 


By adjusting lighting and exposure, you can produce an image with a clean background that can be edited more quickly. You can also use props that are hidden so that the editor will not have to remove them in post-production.


Recruiting Tip: Ensure the photographer you hire has excellent Photoshop (4 to 6 years of experience), Lightroom, and image editing skills.

Experience and skills as a professional and manager

Product photographers should be able to solve problems on the spot, communicate effectively with all project participants, supervise assistants and others involved in the project, and be organized.

5. Solution-finding

The unexpected happens all the time in product photography - software glitches, equipment malfunctions, product issues, etc. 


Since the product photographer is the one in charge at the studio, he or she is the one who needs to solve problems when they arise. This can negatively impact production and requires quick and effective solutions.

Recruiting Tip: Look for product photographers who can demonstrate their ability to solve problems under pressure. Confidence and resourcefulness are crucial.

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