I am thinking about setting up a small product photography studio in my apartment. I have a majority of the gear needed, really only a product light box and a backdrop for larger products.
My thought is that I would be able to leave it set up most of the time and once it's set up each shoot would need minimal adjustment to crank out photos. I see people are willing to pay a good amount for shots of their products and could see quick turn around time.
It's not the most fun, but we are talking about paying bills.
I have access to all sorts of equipment, but 99% of the product photography I do is done on a couple of pieces of foamcore with two speedlights firing into white lined umbrellas. Macro tubes come in handy. Blow a ton of light in there and control it with aperture, you can almost never shoot too narrow. Once you get the light down It's all in 'dressing' your product and finding the best angles. I've been accused of trying to pass off stock photography as actual product shots I sell lenses or other gear online. It couldn't be farther from the truth, it's just that easy once you get the hang of it.
My best tip is to be OCD about having clean product. Carry duster gas (or a small air compressor and spray nozzle in poorly ventilated areas) and lint free cloths. Every second spent making sure your product is clean and free of lint or fingerprints is a minute (or more) saved in Photoshop, ESPECIALLY when working with reflective materials.
wafflecakee - would you care to provide any tips or information you would have known when you were starting?
reddogphoto - thanks for the advice! were you using foamcore as your back drop? Also, was there a reason you were bouncing off white umbrellas rather than using a product light box? I have two speedlights myself and plan on doing a similar setup.
Good call, keeping the products OCD level clean would help tremendously. My full time job is as a UI/UX Designer so I am very familiar with the CC suite, but would be great to not to have to clean things up very much.
What did you do as far as pricing? I'm leaning towards charging per photo in multiple ranges with a small discount for larger products. I personally don't feel it should matter how long it takes to get great shots, especially as you get better at your trade. You shouldn't end up getting paid less because you're more efficient at your job.
Yes. For smaller stuff I put one sheet down underneath and one behind. This is a $7 solution that works great every time, and should the foamcore get dirty or damaged, I just pitch it and get a couple of new sheets. To me, it beats buying and keeping up with one of those light tents, and if I need to replace/augment it I can pick up more at any Walmart, OfficeMax, or craft store. The seam between sheets is rarely a problem and gives a bit of depth as opposed to a solid white space background.
Cleanliness is everything, especially when shooting with a D810 as I do. Yeah, photoshop will take care of a lot of stuff, but I prefer to knock out my gaps, apply curves and fix the minor stuff in a few minutes per photo rather than spend an hour on each one cloning out >9000 bits of dust.
As for pricing, it depends a lot on how much product I'm shooting and how difficult a job it's going to be based on what the product is. It's really a custom quote every time based on what kind of time and effort I'll have in it and what value that is to me. I'll also ask my client what their budget is, and use that as a starting point for negotiation and to what extent of services I'll provide. Shooting print product samples for another photographer is a cheap and fast job. Setting up multiple lights at 1am on a freezing cold night and photographing a dozen commercial work trucks is on a completely different spectrum.
Once my latest job on foamcore is out of embargo I'll post some of it here if the mods approve. It was for a local boudoir photographer and involves some lingerie/implied nude and I don't know how well that will go over here.
Flagging is in my opinion the most game changing technique you'll learn shooting products. This was the first youtube hit I got searching for tutorials and it's not bad, definitely shows a different way to look at lighting and the benefits of flagging. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFkvwCUiSIw
As far as what to charge... That's something you'll have to figure out on your own. I've been shooting full time for three years and I still do a bad job of it. Partially the market and on the other hand your skill level, overhead, and the amount of work. You'll eventually figure it out (I hope I do too)
Man I hate product stuff, had a few local companies I shot for but the pay was so low it just wasn't worth the 5 hours shooting and 10 hours shooting - clients were real picky and the items were small and highly reflective - jewelry, accessories, sunglasses etc Either way, I highly suggest this route for pure white background studio shots. Really saves a lot of time in post production and is just a good thing.