Hiring an Amazon Product Photographer – Ultimate Guide 2019

Hiring an Amazon Product Photographer – Ultimate Guide 2019

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or, as in your case, a great product photo says more than a thousand words in your product description. It gives the customer a first impression of your product and, as always with first impressions, it should be perfect. 

To ensure that your product photos are flawless and reflect the characteristics of your product, you can rely on the experience and professionalism of a product photographer for your Amazon listings

There are hundreds of product photographers out there, unfortunately including many bad ones. So how can you be sure you’re choosing the right product photographer?  What do you need to look out for and where can you find the best product photographers? We’ll answer all these questions and more in our ultimate guide.

What is an Amazon Product Photographer?

In the simplest sense, a product photographer is a photographer who specializes in photographing products instead of nature, fashion, animals or else. Product photography, also called commercial photography, is part of promotional photography and is used, as the name indicates, to promote the sale of products. The products of a company or brand are thus presented and photographed in an aesthetic manner for their use on various sales platforms, like on the Amazon marketplace.

An Amazon Product Photographer thus is a product photographer specializing in working with clients that sell on zje Amazon marketplace.

Why do I need good Amazon Product Photos?

Since your customers on Amazon can’t touch, smell, feel and look at your products from different angles, photos are by far the most important tool to communicate these attributes to them. The product photos are the first thing your potential customers look at. When they scroll through the product search results page, they decide within fractions of a second which listings are relevant for their purchase intention. The first thing they look at is the main images of the listings and only then at the prime logo, reviews, titles and more.

It is important that the product photos reflect exactly what makes your product special and that the photos look professional. After all, you wouldn’t enter an ugly, run-down brick and mortar store to buy luxury products, simply because you wouldn’t expect the products to be high quality and luxurious. It’s similar with your Amazon listing. Your product photos need to reflect the quality and benefits of your product. A high product photo quality indicates to the customer that your product is also of high quality.

Take a look at the example above. If you were looking for a waterproof phone pouch and scrolling through the search results page, which one would you rather buy? 

Exactly. 

On the right picture the buyer can directly see which product it is, how to use it (put your phone into the case), its proportions (fits an iPhone 8), in which colors the product is available (pink, blue, orange & black) and what features it has (that it is waterproof and has a cord that allows you to wear the phone around your neck). The pictures are of high quality, the product is beautifully presented in front of a white background with no other distractions on the image and attention was paid to a perfect lighting. 

The image on the left, on the other hand, has almost no positive attributes. The product was photographed in its packaging, it is not clear whether there are other variations of the product in terms of size, colors etc and the lighting is very weak. Moreover, the proportions are confusing. Although a mobile phone is printed on the packaging, the customer can’t know whether the imprint reflects the real size of the phone or whether the case fits it perfectly. In addition, only a closer look reveals that there is also a cord attached to the phone case so that the phone can be carried around the neck. However, customers often decide in milliseconds whether the listing is worth clicking on and in this example, the customer cannot see this handy feature directly – a sales argument that could have been communicated immediately with a professional product photo.

However, not only the main image is crucial for your sales success, but also the other images. The rules for the main image are very strict, whereas you have more leeway with the other images. Here you can add infographics that explain how your product works or what benefits it has. You also have room for lifestyle images that show your product in action. These demonstrate the customer how to use it and how to make their everyday life easier and more enjoyable.

Why do I need to hire an Amazon Product Photographer?

Every form of photography has its own requirements, including product photography. A good product photographer knows exactly which light and which shadows, which background, which colors and contrasts are necessary in order to portray the product perfectly. 

It’s unlikely that you ever sell a product without having competitors at all. In almost all niches, you will have to compete with other Amazon sellers who sell a similar product. They sometimes have a lower price, more variations, or other features your product doesn’t have. But that’s not a problem. All you need to do is communicate the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of your product – in other words, what makes your product special – and convince buyers of the quality of your product. This is how you stand out from your competitors. 

As explained above, one of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve this is to provide your listing with high quality product photos. There are many guides on how to do Amazon product photography that explain how you can create product photos yourself. However, this option is only recommended if you have absolutely no budget available to hire a professional. There are 5 main reasons to hire a professional product photographer.

Time

One of the most important reasons to hire a professional product photographer is time. An expert needs a tiny fraction of the time you would need to produce images of the same quality. Why that is?

A product photographer does nothing but produce photos all day long. It’s his core business, he has devoted and still devotes all his time to learn how to produce perfect photos. You, on the other hand, run a completely different business and have to split your time for different tasks. You can’t spend all your time on product photo shoots because you also have to take care of other things such as advertising, customer service, taxes or other administrative tasks. 

In the time that you spend learning and doing product photography, you don’t have time to take care of other things. So if you’re not a natural born exceptional talent in photography and Amazon graphic design, leave it to a professional. Because the time you could spend doing things that actively drive your business growth, such as managing advertising campaigns or developing strategies for new markets, creates opportunity costs. And costs always reduce profits. Which brings us to the next point: money.

Money

As we have just seen, you will lose money if you spend your valuable time on photographing your products. And that’s not the only financial factor you should consider.

First of all there is the equipment. Nowadays you can take good photos with your smartphone, but the image quality is still not high enough to produce professional product photos. So what you need is a good camera. And such a camera costs at least around 600 dollars. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it’s worth buying such a camera just to take a couple of product photos from time to time. In addition, you will often need different lenses for different kinds of shots and the cost of these is very high. Furthermore, you will have to pay for proper studio equipment, such as tripods, softboxes, stage elements, etc. 

If you want to shoot lifestyle pictures for your product, you may also have to pay for professional models. The advantage of hiring a product photographer is that these costs are usually already included in their final price. 

Another expensive factor are license fees for the use of image editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. These costs alone can amount to hundreds of dollars per year. Professional product photographers already own these licenses and the costs are spread over hundreds of projects. Suppose you take product photos for your listings 5 times a year and the cost of your license fees is $200. That would mean that you have 40 dollars license costs per shooting alone. A product photographer who may have 200 shoots per year will have only $1 license cost per shooting, so these low costs are hardly reflected in his sales price.

And as if the above mentioned costs weren’t enough, you will have to pay for training courses and seminars in order to become a good photographer. This brings us to the next important reason to hire a professional: skills.

Skills

Let’s assume that you have enough time and enough money to plunge yourself into the art of product photography. Then there’s still one more issue, and that’s your skills. Apart from the fact that it is very expensive and time consuming to learn the art of photography, it also requires a high degree of creativity and talent for producing decent photos. 

professional Amazon product photographer knows exactly how to properly present a product and capture its value on camera. Photographers are by far more creative than other groups of people and have decided to do their job in order to be able to live this creativity to the fullest. The thing with creativity is that it can’t be taught. So if you don’t consider yourself to be overly creative, better leave the photography to an expert. He has the skills to visually communicate the benefits that make your product special.

Experience

Directly associated with the skills is the experience that matters. Product photographers have spent years perfecting their skills and workflows, learning which photos go down well with customers and which don’t. They often have experience with products from different niches, which is a huge advantage, as there is a good chance that the photographer knows your kind of product and how to portray it in a way that will boost your conversion and thus, sales.

Network

Another reason to hire a professional photographer is that you can benefit from his network. 

If you need infographics for your listing, you will probably want to use a graphic designer. Most product photographers have graphic designers in their network that they can refer you to. Often you get their service at a better rate than if you hired a foreign designer. The photographer and the graphic designer can then discuss designs, colors, etc. with each other to get you perfect results.

Are there Product Photographers specialized in shooting for Amazon Listings?

Now that you know all the benefits and why it’s worth hiring a product photographer, the question is which photographers are the best. 

You may already know that Amazon is relatively strict with its rules about what characteristics product photos, especially main images, should have. The specifications can be categorized according to technical requirements and quality standards.

Technical Requirements

There are technical requirements that apply to all images in your listing and requirements that only apply to your main image. The latter are more detailed. 

As you can see below, Amazon requires ALL product images to meet the following requirements:

Infographic Technical Requirements Amazon Product Photography
  • Amazon Product Images Size: Minimum of 1000px or larger in either height or width; Maximum of 10,000px on the longest side, either height oder width
  • Amazon Product Image Zoom Option: To enable the zoom option, your image must at least be 1000px on the longest and 500px on the shortest side
  • Amazon Product Images Color Mode: sRGB or CMYK color mode
  • Amazon Product Images File Format: TIFF, JPEG, GIF or PNG; JPG is Amazon’s preferred format
  • Amazon Product Images File Name: The file names of your product photos must consist of of the product identifier (ASIN, ISBN, EAN, UPC or JAN) followed by a dot and the file format; Example: 0324726573458.png)
  • Amazon Product Images File Size: The images can’t be larger than 10MB/image

IMPORTANT: Dashes, spaces or other additional characters in your photos’ file names will prevent them from going online

Design Requirements for all Product Images

Besides the technical requirements, Amazon also implies strict guidelines regarding the product image design, such as:

  • Image content: 
  1. The picture must portray of or refer to the product to be sold. 
  2. Pornographic and offensive content is strictly prohibited
  • Image quality:
    The image must be professionally lit and photographed or scanned, the product must be in focus and the colors should reflect the true colors of the product
  • Image frame:
    85% or more of the picture frame should be filled out by the product and/or props

Design Requirements for the Main Product Image

There are some additional requirements that apply to your primary or main image. This is the image that is displayed on the search results page.

  • Amazon Main Image Content: 
  1. The images must be the cover art or a professionally shot photograph of the product. Illustrations or drawings of the product are prohibited
  2. No other objects besides the product are allowed in the main image
  3. If you’re selling books, music and DVD/Video, use the product’s front cover art and fill 100% of the image frame
  4. Don’t add text or graphics to your main image

Important: Amazon doesn’t allow jewel cases, promotional stickers and cellophane to be in the main image

  • Amazon Main Image Frame:
    Your main image must fill out at least 85% of the image; 
  • Amazon Main Image Background:
    Purely white (RGB 255,255,255)

Design Requirements for Additional Product Images

  • The use or scale of the product may be demonstrated by using other products or items in your images
  • Cropped images or close-ups are allowed
  • Backgrounds don’t need to be white
  • Adding Text and infographics are allowed

We compiled a cheat sheet of all product image requirements that Amazon wants you to comply with:

As you can see, the product image requirements Amazon places on its marketplace sellers are enormous. Your images should comply with all these rules, otherwise they will not be approved for upload. So, to make sure that all images are compliant, good-looking, and sales-promoting, you should rely on a professional photographer. 

Luckily for you, there are product photographers specialized in Amazon FBA product photography. They know all technical requirements, which image styles in which categories sell well and thus, how to portray your product perfectly.

How much does a Product Photographer charge?

Now you know the many benefits of hiring a professional Amazon FBA product photographer and how much time (and nerves) it will save you. But how much does a product photographer charge? 

The answer is that there is no universal answer. The cost of your product photos depends on many different factors, such as:

  • The location and type of photographer you hire – freelancer, local studio or professional agency.
  • The images you need – Studio only or Lifestyle too
  • The size and weight of your product – light and small or large and heavy
  • Product Prep – Ready to shoot or requires preparation
  • Set, Equipment & Editing – Special requests or standard requirements

Location & Type of Studio

There are 2 types of product photographers you can hire for shooting your product photos: Local photography freelancers and studios or professional agencies. 

In most cities you will find lots of local studios. However, they usually earn their money with portraits or event photography. Only a few have the skills and the necessary equipment to perform professional product photography. 

These are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a local freelancer or small studio:

Full-service photography studios offer a full range of studio, lifestyle and 360 product photography services. They have the expertise, experience, capacity and equipment to shoot all types of products. These studios are much rarer and harder to find than local photo studios and freelance photographers.

Again, there are both advantages and disadvantages:

In addition, photographers calculate their prices in different ways. Some photographers calculate their prices based on the number of pictures they take, others calculate their prices based on the hours they spend on your project. 

Image Types

How much you have to pay for your product photos also depends on the type of photos you want. Lifestyle photos, i.e. photos in which your product is staged and photographed in everyday life, are a real sales booster. However, these photos are also a lot more expensive than pure studio photos. The reason is that the set design and the editing are more complex and models are often involved who you also need to pay for.

The costs depend on the amount of models and how much styling is needed.

Product Size and Weight

If you sell heavy products, a product weight surcharge may apply. Heavy products are difficult to handle, which often means that the photographer will need additional help to lift and position the product. The whole shooting process can be cumbersome and time-consuming in this case and sometimes requires special equipment such as sturdy hangers or excessively robust photo tables. An example for such a product is a 100 pound punching bag.

Large or bulky products, such as closets, sofas or dinner tables, are also difficult to handle and may require a second person to prepare and position them properly. These products almost always require a large studio or at least a very large photo table and a large camera stand so that the camera can stand high enough above the product to fit it into the picture frame. All these requirements often result in additional charges that are added to the photographer’s standard rate.

Preparation

The photographer could also ask for a surcharge if he has to assemble or clean your product first. The easier it is to simply unpack your product and start shooting, the cheaper the shoot will be for you.

For example, if you sell clothes, they must be ironed before they can be photographed. You will usually be charged for the time needed for preparation.

Set, Equipment & Editing

If special equipment has to be rented, a complex set design has to be developed or a very complex retouching of the pictures is necessary, the costs for your product images are consequently higher.

The rate for the set construction depends on the number of people that are needed to design and prepare the set, your special requirements and additional products that need to be included in the shoot.

In addition to these factors, there are other costs that you need to consider:

  • Preparing your products for shipment 
  • Shipping the products to the photographer’s studio.
  • Returning your products to you or your fulfillment center
  • Repackaging of products whose packaging was damaged during photography or shipment

Generally speaking, the price you are willing to pay for your pictures is directly reflected in their quality. Especially if you don’t sell a generic run-of-the-mill product that even an amateur with a lot of luck might be able to photograph more or less well, you should budget for a reasonable amount for product photos.

Does a Product Photographer know how to edit Product Photos?

Yes. Most product photographers do not only know which set is the best for taking pictures of products, which light is needed and from which angle you product looks best, but they also know how to best edit the images taken.  

They have excellent software and understand how to use it effectively. For example, some photographers also offer to design infographics that you can include in your product listing. This is especially important for technical products.

How can I find an Amazon Product Photographer near me?

Your first instinct will be to use Google to find a product photographer. The problem with this is that

  1. The result pages are like a big jungle where you can hardly find your way around. You can’t see at first glance whether the photographer has experience with Amazon product photos and where exactly he is located. 
  2. You don’t know if they are doing a good job. You don’t see reviews and experiences from others.
  3. Only those who spend a lot of time optimizing their website rank high in Google search results. This means that on the first pages you will find photographers who don’t necessarily do a good job, but are simply good at SEO (Search Engine Optimization). On the other hand, photographers who may be among the best in their field will be displayed so far behind the others that you won’t find them at all.

So what else can you do? Maybe you’re thinking about asking in Facebook groups or forums for recommendations. However, the big problem here is that the people who recommend certain companies or freelancers to you are often financially involved with them. This means that they either work for the company, participate in its affiliate program, or have agreed other commissions with them. They often recommend service providers who are not good, but simply pay good commissions.

So, the best thing would be to see at a glance where in the world there are product photography studios and read independent reviews from other Amazon sellers. Fortunately, Sermondo, the global directory platform for Amazon FBA service providers, has just that. 

You can search, find, compare and rate service providers specialized in working with Amazon businesses in over 20 categories, including product photography. On a large map, you can immediately see where the service provider is located and can contact them quickly and easily using the contact form on their listing.

Who is the best Amazon Product Photographer for my Products?

So how do you choose the right product photographer for your needs? Similar to the prices for the photos themselves, this strongly depends on the characteristics of your product and your personal specifications. 

If you want lifestyle images, check right at the beginning whether the photographer also offers lifestyle photography. Ask if the studio and equipment are suitable for the size and weight of your product. Another important factor is whether the photographer has experience with similar products from your niche. 

Be very specific when you make your enquiry and ask directly what costs and possible extra costs are involved and how quickly the order can be completed. Ask if they will also take care of the post-editing and in what file formats you will receive your pictures. Be sure to ask anything that’s important to you.

How fast your request will be processed and how well the communication works is already a good indicator of how professional and organized the studio is. If the photographer needs a week to answer you it is best to refrain from working with them, because this is an indicator of poor customer service and a lack of flexibility.

Make sure you get several offers, but not so many that you lose track. It is best to get between 3 and a maximum of 5 offers and then decide.

How do I work with a Product Photographer?

Imagine that you have found the perfect photographer for your job. What does such a collaboration look like?

Ask & Answer Questions

Ideally, you have already specified in your first contact request which requirements you have for the photos, how you imagine the photos to look like, the size and weight of your product and whether the photographer can fit all these requirements.

Now is the time to answer some of his questions. The photographer will want to know what your budget is, what the deadline will be and where will the photos be published. Think about that in advance so you will be prepared to answer.

Communicate your Vision

Especially in creative areas, communicating one’s own ideas about a project can often be difficult. You should therefore try to put your vision on paper. 

For example, you can create so-called mood boards. A mood board is basically a collage that display lifestyle pictures, text and sample photos from competitors that you think would fit for the presentation of your own product. It will give the photographer the general feeling and vibe you have in mind for your images.

Remember that the photographer can’t see into your brain. Describe and show in as much detail as possible what you want and write down any communication with the photographer, preferably by email. This way, any misunderstandings and misconceptions can be easily located and resolved. For example, if you say that you would like to have warm and bright colors and the photographer delivers very dark, cold colored pictures, you have proof that the result does not match the request and a better chance that the photographer will rework the project for free.

Be open to Suggestions

There is a good reason (or several reasons) why you have chosen to hire a professional photographer. So let him do his work. He is the expert, not you. Of course you can and should tell him what you want and how you want to work together, but please – and I can’t stress this enough – be open to suggestions. It’s one thing that YOU think that cool explosions would look good in the background, and another whether it’s suitable for a professional product photo. Trust the photographer and you can be sure that you will get great results

Kristina Mertens

Kristina Mertens

Business Development Manager
5+ years e-commerce industry experience

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