HOW TO BALANCE BUDGET & QUALITY IN CREATIVE PACKSHOT PHOTOGRAPHY
The definition of Packshot photography has developed over the years. Originally, companies required images of their products for use in catalogues and magazines, we’re talking pre-internet here. Those images often included the product inside its packaging, thus the term Packshot was born. This is still the case today, however, there are now millions of companies who require Packshots for the purpose of e-commerce (selling goods online). The use of the term Packshot has also become a little loose. It is now commonly used when referring to imagery which is far more complex than your conventional, white background, Packshot. Wow, that has to be one of the most boring opening paragraphs I have ever written, stick with me, hopefully this article will get a little more interesting.
I WANT ADVERTISING QUALITY IMAGES BUT ONLY HAVE AN E-COMMERCE BUDGET
I get contacted by companies on a regular basis whom, frankly, have unrealistic expectations. They want images which are of global advertising campaign standard but have a shoe string budget. In fact, I’m not sure a shoe string could be purchased using some of their budgets. Joking aside, this is absolutely understandable. While it may seem obvious to a photographer like myself, why should they know how much time, knowledge, and skill is required to produce advertising quality imagery? I had a similar experience myself when deciding to buy a new kitchen, damn they can be expensive!
You may be surprised to hear that it’s not only inexperienced individuals who request crazy prices for high-end Packshots. Sadly, it’s never possible to get the highest quality at the lowest price. The same can be said for most things in life, including kitchens. In todays article, I’ll be covering creative Packshot photography and discussing the various elements that go into the final cost.
HOW MUCH DOES CREATIVE PACKSHOT PHOTOGRAPHY COST?
In today’s economy, cost is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. “How much do you charge?” is always one of the first questions I’m asked; unfortunately, it’s not an easy one to answer. Essentially, how much creative Packshot photography will cost boils down to two things. Firstly, it’s the complexity of the brief, are we making EastEnders, a low (ish) budget tv show, or Avatar, a multi-million-pound film involving complex special effects? Put another way, do you want your product shot on a coloured background with one or two props, or placed within a complex scene which involves set building, special effects photography and so on? The cost factor here, aside from production costs, is time. The more complicated something is, the longer it takes, and therefore the more it costs.
The second factor when it comes to cost is the crew and their experience. The obvious one is the photographer, how experienced and skilled are they? In general, the better the photographer, the more they’ll charge. There are, however, many other crew members who will also charge more depending on their experience; set builder, stylist, food stylist, beverage stylist, DIT, retoucher etc. When we factor in project complexity, budgets can vary wildly.
I recognise that all of this can become pretty confusing for clients, I simplify things by providing a rate card which outlines most of my prices. The rate card covers standard and creative Packshot photography. If you’d like to request a rate card, head over to my Contact page and get in touch, click here.
WHAT ABOUT ADVERTISING PHOTOGRAPHY?
Advertising photography is a whole other kettle of fish. In this realm, clients demand the absolute best. The imagery produced is often used in global campaigns and seen by millions of people. As a result, the crew needs to be at the top of their respective fields. They need to be able to handle the pressure that comes with this level of shoot and have the talent and skills required.
As well as seeing a rise in rates due to this increased expertise, it’s common within advertising photography to charge usage fees. The topic of usage is always a tough one to explain but in its most basic terms, a client pays more based on what they plan to use the image for. The more they plan to do with that image, the more the image is worth. The topic of licensing and usage can easily take up an entire article, if you want to know more check out this article from Fstoppers which provides a great explanation, find it here.
EXAMPLE OF A CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT
The images that you’ve been seeing throughout this article are an example of a creative Packshot project. I was approached by a new watch brand called Tralovie, find their website here. The brand didn’t have any concepts in mind but were keen to produce some high-quality images for their new site. We had to create images which would encapsulate the brand, while balancing budget. This is a balance which we often have to strike and requires some creative thinking.
Here it is. Of all the images created for watch brand @tralovie, this is my favourite. It's a simple yet striking image which plays to the characteristics of the brand and watch. Check out my profile for all the BTS shots. ⠀ ⠀ Find more watches here – @tralovie⠀ ⠀ #watch #watches #watchesofinstagram #watches #productphotographerlondon #luxurystilllifephotographer #advertisingphotographer #luxurystilllifephotographer #studiophotography #commercialphotographer #advertisingphotography #productphotographer #productphotography #stilllifephotographer #rggspotlight
Given everything we’ve covered concerning what impacts cost, I opted to go with a relatively simple concept. The idea was to use white roses which would help produce a visually striking image, were a good representation of the brand, and required no additional crew on set. Aside from my usual photographic fee and retouching, the only other costs were for the roses themselves, and for a florist to create three tightly packed rose beds using an Oasis. Ideally, I would have liked to have a stylist on set but in the end I’m pleased with the images produced.
When trying to balance quality and budget, the most important factor will be the brief. It wouldn’t be possible to produce Avatar in a day, so give yourself a chance and come up with an achievable concept. The longer you’re able to spend on each image, the better they’ll be. If you aim to do too much with your time then the quality of the photography is bound to suffer. Without question it’s a tough thing to do but if you keep these things in mind, you’re on the right track.