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An effective product photo accurately depicts an item's appearance while also making it look its best. Photographer Konrad Eek has photographed thousands of products of all sizes for retailers large and small, and in this course, he shares his insights on product photography, from styling to lighting to gear.
So you bamboozled a stranger into giving you an opportunity to bid your first job. Start off by very clearly defining exactly what it is they want. So, say client XYZ has decided they want to produce a 16 page catalogue the company makes restaurant equipment. They do table top accessories maybe some china, maybe some back of the house supplies. The 16 pages, you start off with a front page that's a beauty shot showing several of their products and a great deal, lovely, lovely stuff.
Each of the interior pages which would give us 14 pages, has six shots on it and then you've got a back cover which has a shot of the CEO maybe the plant and shipping and ordering instructions on it. So, what you need to do is break that down into how many photographs you gotta take, so let me think, 14 pages, six shots a page, that would be 84 shots that would be fairly simple. Well, we'll just assume all those are drop and pops with a very similar lighting and, maybe one of the six shots on each page is going to be propped, as kind of a lead in for the other shots.
So they're going to feature one on each page with props, which will make that take a little bit longer. You've got a front page beauty shot, and the CEO is, hot to be shot in his own office because he just had it repaneled in zebra mahogany and he's really proud of that. The factory shot is pretty straightforward that's something you're not going to like, you're just going to be aware that you need it. And you're going to scout the factory, and figure out what the best time of day to photograph it is and then, wait for pretty clouds at that time of day. That's that one when you can knock that out at some point during the catalogue shoot figure on the drop and pops.
Practice what you are doing, think about your background, if they are all going on the same background you should be able to knock out four of those an hour. The beauty shots are going to take a little bit longer, allow 30 minutes to an hour for those for the simply propped ones and a lot of that is going to depend on the client. How persnickety are they, how much of a presence do they want to have do they want to bring in a stylist, and if they do want a stylist, are you going to pay the stylist and bill the client or is the stylist going to bill the client directly? is the stuff big enough that you need an assistant help with it? and as far as the beauty shot goes, how complex is that going to be? And just make a list, write this all down, write down the 15 minutes, and the 30 minutes, and the hour, and the hour and a half.
And then once you get all that put together, you need also think about the post production time it's going to take to go through and clean up all the shots, you know get rid of dust spot that you missed. Or where the, the strawberry juice got on the side of the glass and you missed it with your towel while it was going on, know what the client needs as far as files at the end. Do they just want the RGB files? Do they have a bright young college kid that's a wiz at Photoshop, and they just want raw files? Which means you don't have to do any retouching. it's just the whole deal boils down to how many good questions you ask.
And, how clearly you define what the projects is going to be and what your responsibilities are, and then how well you can think through what it's going to take. Because if you come with a bid and you figured it's going to take you three days to do this project plus a half day to capture the portrait. And then I would suggest a flat rate for the architectural shot, and that way you just do it whenever you do it and they won't realize that you've been thinking about it for a while. And you were just waiting for the weather to be right and you ran out and got the shot in five minute and so then you come up with a number and you present it to the client, and you need to make sure that the time involved, you're going to be compensate for, and you need to be careful because if you've got a good relationship with a client.
If you have occasional, explainable overruns, you can sometimes up a bid, but it's rare. So if you woefully underbid the time involved to do a project, you're going to finish the project and you're going to get paid what you bid for it and, then you're going to be smarter next time. And, if you manage to accomplish much more rapidly than you expected, I will typically pass all that savings onto the client because, it is a way to get great repeat business. so that's just one starting place, one possible methodology for creating the bid.
I've mentioned before that simplicity is a great thing in, in most product shots but, often the client either wants something a little bit prettier, or there's sometimes a need to use props in order to indicate exactly what it is a product does. some things we'll all recognize and understand for what they are you know, if you're photographing a mop head you don't really need props, everybody is going to kind of recognize that. but sometimes you need props also for scale to give somebody the idea of how large something is say for example you're doing china, and you only want to show one plate.
but give a sense of scale for how the design size is well, a dinner plate and a salad plate with nothing to relate to them will look quite a bit alike. It's going to be hard to tell the difference, but if you introduce a common flower or you know, a couple of strawberries, something of recognizable scale, it can help define, oh, that's a salad plate rather than, wow that's an oversized dinner plate. the other thing about props too, learning about how to use them successfully, I, I love mail order catalogues because I learn so much from them.
And, there are some beautiful mail order catalogues out there, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel they do wonderful propping, and very creative propping. Things you don't typically see and the more that the more you can sort of build up a visual library of ideas it's just great. And it's not just catalogues you can find things like that that, you know, magazines like Southern Living or, or, Texas Monthly you know, the most communities these days have some sort of local style magazine.
Look to those places for ideas and take advantage of other peoples' creativity and, and just make that a part of your whole style.
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