With the prevalence of smart phones and DSLR cameras these days, it’s easy to think that anyone can take professional photos. Instagram filters, free editing programs and the lovely thrill of having your posts ‘liked’ give us so much encouragement to think that there isn’t much difference anymore between ‘what I can do myself’ versus ‘what I would pay for’.
First impressions matter
As a maker of handmade products that are sold primarily through the internet, I have learned just how important first impressions can be. Most of my customers don’t have the convenience of popping around the corner to a local shop or market to see and touch our candles. They fall in love and buy our candles based on the images found on our website. Those images are our only chance to really show the texture, form and beauty of our candles.
Why I now use a professional photographer
Starting a business from scratch means that you carefully consider every penny that you spend. When I launched my original website in 2005, I photographed each of my candles against a white background, which could be viewed online as a small or large thumbnail. Looking back, it is no surprise that my website generally acted as no more than an online business card. It provided an initial point of contact that generated enquiries, but it was far from being a viable income stream. When I relaunched my website in 2015, with the assistance of a professional photographer and a website developer on my team, my sales immediately increased tenfold. And that was before I did any online marketing or search engine optimisation to get the word out. I believe a big part of this difference is the appeal of the imagery, which really captures the character and beauty of each candle.
Behind the scenes at a photo shoot
Last week I had the pleasure of once again working with Melbourne photographer Alison from Alison Manns Photography. I am lucky, in that Alison now knows and loves my products, and really understands my business. We can really collaborate when we work together on a new project, and I always feel that she brings out the best in my products.
“I love meeting creatives and entrepreneurs and hearing their vision for their business.
It is a real thrill to be able to create images that match that vision.” – Alison O’Meara Manns
I have asked Alison to share a few tips for small business owners wanting to make their products stand out from the crowd.
Q | How would you recommend that I find the right photographer for my business?
A | It can be as simple as asking businesses that you love who they use for their website or social media content. That way you’ve seen the finished work in real world use rather than just a sample on the photographer’s own website. It’s a great start when a photographer’s existing work resonates with you but be sure to have a good chat to establish if they can produce what you have in mind for your own business.
Q | How do you approach each photo shoot with your clients?
A | With new clients, we first chat a lot about their business so they can give me a real feel for what they do and how they want it portrayed to the world. It is so important that they know their business, and are clear about what they want to achieve in our shoot so that together we can create the perfect images. Of course, clients are coming to me because of the creative and styling input I can offer but it’s essential to be sure of big picture things like:
- What’s the personality of your business/product? (vibrant, cheeky, subtle, earthy, natural, contemporary, minimalist, vintage, etc.)
- What is the colour palette and mood of your branding? (light, dark, specific colours etc.)
- What will you be using the images for? (website, social media, printed marketing materials?)
- Who is your audience and what’s your message?
When clients come to me with solid answers to these questions plus a sample of images that really resonate and inspire them we’ve got a great place to start from.
Q |What happens on the day of the photo shoot?
A | It all depends on the kind of shoot really. For example, I offer social media packages where a client would simply drop off products to my studio on a monthly basis and I’d style and create 15-20 images for their Instagram content. For these shoots, it would not be necessary for the client to stay around once we had established the style and tone of the images at the first meeting.
Full website shoots might involve multiple locations (which I would scout for), models (lined up by the client), props (mine and client’s own), and take place over multiple days. Clients tend to be present and assist during the shoot if they have arranged the models (such as kids for a clothing photo shoot) or are supplying their own props.
There are other photographers, specialising in products, who do everything remotely and create images from samples you’d send to them by post.
Q | How much will it cost?
A |My Social Media Content package is $200 per month and studio-based. That includes 15-20 flat-lay or simply styled images, perfect for Instagram etc.
For products that require more detailed styling or a variety of setups, my 3-hour package for $400 is best. That includes 20-30 images.
Bespoke projects such as full websites are quoted on an individual basis. The number of shoots and styling as well as timelines and locations will affect the overall cost.
If you would like to know more about Alison’s work, here are some great links to learn more about her photography and the inspiring woman behind the camera:
Behind the scenes at my recent photo shoot with Alison.