Starting a commercial photography business can sound complicated, but with the right tools and ideas, a small business can easily take off into a larger one.
Great retail photography can be a decisive factor when people are choosing a restaurant or catering business, a real estate agent and more. Having great images dotting your client’s marketing materials can be the best references for your work you’ll ever get, if done right.
A well-chosen photo in a home store helps customers envision how a room will look with the featured furniture and accessories. Food photography highlights a restaurant’s best dishes, and that’s an art in itself. Real estate agents can make a mark for themselves with think-outside-the-box photography of home listings. The right lighting on a piece of jewelry will put a sparkle in someone’s eye.
There are some basic steps you should take before launching a commercial photography business. Let’s take a look:
Know the Purpose of the Photos
It is important before you start a project that you understand what the images are to be used for. Print ads? Facebook campaigns? Business cards? Printed menu? Online retail?
There are many uses for photographs in retail photography. Advertising a new business, creating food art for a menu or shooting merchandise for an online store are all different ways that imagery can be used in a retail photography project.
Build Your Portfolio
Have you shot retail photos previously? If you’re looking to market your photography for retail, make sure your existing portfolio contains retail shots. It may mean you have to invest a little money or asking friends to let you take pictures of their work. But having a varied set of photos in your portfolio is important to show potential clients creative ideas for their own projects.
One tip you can start using now: Take your best five pictures in each category that you shoot in and assemble them on a website targeted toward that particular client base. For instance, if you want to do more restaurant photo work, set up a site catering to public relations staff who promote restaurants. These professionals are always looking for creative photographers to work their new and interesting projects. And, if you shoot for a consumer-facing business, you should already be using Instagram for business marketing, notes Modern Retail.
Use the Right Tools
And that leads us into the best tools for commercial photographers. Of course, your business website is the best way to share your portfolio and pricing information and showcase recent work done for clients. Have an email and a phone number listed for contact information. Here are some other key items:
- Use Wi-Fi to upload your on-the-go shots from your camera or Blackberry 10 phone right into a cloud-based account. This way, clients can immediately see your shots and you can access them later for editing.
- Use a clip-on flash to capture images in their businesses setting. Sometimes existing lighting isn’t optimal, and you’ll struggle to keep the images crisp.
- Extra lights, a tripod, tables and more are necessary to set the stage for effective product shots. A lightbox placed near a sunny window, electronic flashes ready at the touch of a button or continuous-lit lighting sources highlight your craft dedication to the business owner and client.
A retail photographer should have imaging software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to edit and fine-tune the images. You can also use photo editing software to add backgrounds digitally to a studio-shot image.
Studio space can be a welcome and useful thing. Having available space means you can recreate an area without having to resort to paying location fees or worrying about the the lighting during a certain part of the day; you have control of the environment. To start, build a mini studio in your home or find studio space to rent locally.
Make effective use of basic backgrounds in your studio space. It can be as simple as a white or neutral backdrop hung from a backdrop stand with clips. Also, having various forms of lighting accessible to you will help you create any images that reflect the needs of the client.
Know the Client
Along with developing your own personal style and skills, it is important to understand the style of the client. Does the client want a modern aesthetic or a more lived-in version? What kind of clientele do they want to appeal to? What are the current trends in advertising, modeling and home decor? This all has an impact on the image you’re trying to capture.
Consider the timing of the photographs as well. Pictures of a business means coming in at off-peak times when there are no customers, so you can take pictures without interrupting service. However, clients who want to show off their busy business will expect you to take photos during peak hours.
Eye Level Shooting
One of the most important techniques when shooting pictures for businesses is to capture the space or model in the most flattering way. Standing up, taking pictures from a taller view of a room means that a lot of the space is taken up with the top of an item, not a good side view of it. It can also lead to distortion of items and people in the images. Keep photos at chest level for any models and consider getting low enough to sit when shooting furniture or room decor in a furnished room. Shooting individual items will mean getting eye level with the product itself, so consider height when creating a lightbox or surrounding for products to be photographed. This should help you take better photos.
Starting a new business can feel complicated and overwhelming, but with these five areas covered you will be on your way to creating a successful business offering commercial retail photography to clients.
Top feature image Photographer Shoots a Business Man via Shutterstock
Megan McClain is a former reporter, photographer and substitute teacher, Megan McClain married her high school sweetheart is now mother to a three year old and a chihuahua. She loves writing and her camera, even though most of her life is captured through her iPhone.