Rock Your Product Photoshoot: 6 Tips

Sell more product by maximizing your photoshoot.

I recently helped a very well-known photographer on a product photoshoot. Personally, I have directed client product photoshoots with a full staff, drones, fancy lighting setups, on-site, off-site, and in studio for a variety of products including clothing, $250k horse trailers, saddles, bits and spurs, equine apparel, sporting goods, cowboy boots, and more. And I take some photos for clients as needed. So I’m not a stranger to product shoots for marketing purposes.

What shocked me is that this client and their marketing person did not maximize their investment for a product photoshoot. It made me wonder: are there others out there that are spending significant money on pro photographers and staff, travel, etc., and not getting the best possible results because of being ill-prepared? Luckily the photographer and myself were able to help with some things, but we couldn’t fix everything that was overlooked by the client, and it definitely made the photographer’s job more difficult and potential results more risky. Here are six tips on making the most of your product photoshoot and selling more using those amazing images!

  1. Get the BEST photographer for your product category. Just because someone is brilliant at shooting weddings or family portraits in a studio doesn’t mean they can handle photographing shiny horse trailers in natural light, action photos, or in our industry, HORSES that need to look appropriate for the customer to take you and your product seriously. Fashion photographers usually do NOT know how to pose horses or people with horses. Your end customer will know. You need to look like you know what you’re doing for them to take you and your product seriously. If you’re shooting horses, bring horse people, especially in a specific discipline.
  2. Scout locations. Your photographer may have some favorite spots, but be sure they are available (public locations often need permits for commercial shoots and are busy, private places may want you to sign liability releases). Think about access with vehicles, trailers, and horses. Is there plenty of room to turn around? Is the ground good? Is someone going to get stuck? Is it a danger to horses? Are you going to need additional horse savvy people there to stay with horses at the trailer (to keep public away) or handle them? Are liability concerns taken care of for models and passersby? Locations often can get quite scary for the horses which equals dangerous for people.
  3. Bring “all the things.” When I run photoshoots, I have a bag of tricks. Clamps, safety pins, duct tape, fly spray for animals, bug spray for people. Sunglasses, chapstick, water, snacks, lint rollers. Extra rain gear. Also, if you have to carry things a long way, some sort of wagon or cart that folds up can be invaluable. A backpack? Racks for clothing or horse apparel to keep it out of the dirt. Coolers for water. A changing area/shade structure if on long shoots. Photoshoots are tiring!
  4. PRODUCT! Your marketing/brand manager and the shoot director should know these products in and out! Make your photog happy by being organized and having the shoot run quickly and orderly. The good light only lasts so long, horses and models only behave for so long. The faster you can get through each product and line out what shots you need, the better! They will appreciate it! Have a list of which products you have to shoot so nothing gets forgotten, and what shots you need of it. Full front? Features? Close-up? Does the shot need to be vertical or horizontal to fit a slot? Do you need space around the image for words? Do you need it to match up with one you did of another person or product? Is it for a website, catalog, etc? What new features are you calling out? Colors? Nothing is more frustrating than having one product that gets missed that isn’t going to match the rest of the campaign. And no one wants to sit around wasting light while you dig through the trunk to find a product.
  5. PREP YOUR PRODUCT. If your product is in a package, it needs to be taken out and ironed, steamed, pressed, etc. ahead of time. You can photoshop out wrinkles, usually, but why create more work and a potential “weird” look? Make sure the product is in great shape. We once steamed 40+ horse blankets and borrowed a cargo trailer, put a hanging bar the entire length, and hung them all to drive 5 hours to a shoot location. All the products stayed wrinkle-free! Shiny fabrics are especially difficult to keep smooth.
  6. Get models that are pros at what you want done. Not just any pretty person or fancy horse will fit your target, and often can distract from the product. Be sure to get releases from horse owners and models. And be sure that the product is going to fit properly.

In order to maximize your product photoshoot, be sure to know what shots you need, what the features are on the products that you need to showcase, and prep your products so they are shown in their best light. Hiring a great photographer and models that know their job and appeal to the target audience is important! A great photo does more for product sales than anything else, so be sure to get the most out of your shoot!