Product Photoshoots - Some Helpful Hints and Recommendations

Intro

There's a lot of useful advice out there for entrepreneurs trying to bring a new product to market. There's even a lot of great advice on how to do so through crowd-funding in particular. But when I was searching for information and tips on how to put together a great photo and video shoot that would produce slick, awesome, on-brand collateral, I came up blank. In an effort to redress that situation I've written this article with some pointers and recommendations that I hope are helpful to any entrepreneur who comes across it. 

Getting Started 

First things first. Images (and video in the case of crowd-funding) are critical to the marketing and therefore to the success of your product. Do not think you can get away without some kind of capital investment in a shoot. The money you spend here is worth it. Expect to spend at least $1000 on a video and probably another $1000 on photography and models. And that is really the skimpiest budget I can imagine. Realistically, you'll likely spend close to $4000 total. That being said, there is no need to wildly overspend either. Know your budget and stick to it. (I'll list some ideas on how to get creative on stretching your budget later in the article.) Additionally, know what you need. For me, it was a video for the Indiegogo campaign, some great shots of pretty people wearing my glasses for marketing materials, and then shots of the glasses themselves to use in selling them. I'll use my experience as a template.

The Video

Without a great video, your product is a non-starter for crowd-funding, so if that is the way you are going, this is a pretty critical step. Here are some basic things you can expect:

  • Expect to be the screenwriter and director of your small film. You're going to need a vision for how you want to explain your product. Make sure to take a look at successful campaigns for products similar to yours to gather good idea. 
  • Unless you've got some professional video-editing skills, don't expect to be able to shoot and edit this thing yourself. Find a videographer to do this for you.
  • Finding a great videographer you can trust isn't always easy, but you can use websites like videobrewery.com to post a description of what you're looking for and a budget and receive back a ton of proposals. Sifting through them can be tricky but the best advice I have there is look at their past work and then go with your gut (or in my case my wife's).

I ended up doing two videos and using two different studios, both of whom I highly recommend. One is Shuffle Box Productions near Allentown, PA. The other is Drive-In Productions, who did a terrific job on a tight budget and is based in NYC.

The Photoshoot

Photos are incredibly important for the marketing of any product, whether you are crowdfunding or not. The first decision you want to make when considering photography is what style of photography fits your brand. Take some time to think about the brands you like and if any of them match the vibe you are going for. That will give you a great jumping off point. Then come the mechanics of actually making this thing happen. 

Choosing the Photographer:

  • There are tons of sites you can use to get matched with a great photographer, but I've found that there are enough good ones out there that it's not difficult to get a recommendation from someone you trust. Try posting a request on Facebook and see what you get. 
  • Try using more than one photographer. I worried initially that this might annoy the photographer I hired, but no one seemed to mind. Make sure if you are doing this that each photographer brings something unique to the table. For me, one was great at portrait work and the other was a photoshop wizard.
  • When choosing a photographer, I've found it to be relatively unimportant whether or not they have done commercial work before. As long as they have an artistic eye and can work with people, it should be fine.  

I worked with two amazing photographers, one Abbie from Abbie Sophia Photography as well as an incredibly talented amateur photographer, Michaela Katz. 

Finding the Models:

  • Believe it or not, modeling is a skill. Your good looking friend may do in a pinch, but someone who has modeled before brings something to the camera that a typical person does not. 
  • Finding a model does not have to be particularly difficult though, especially if you live in a big city. I used a Facebook group called NYC Casting Calls to post a casting call for young models, promising nothing more than breakfast and offers to model came rolling in. 
  • Attitude matters as much as looks to the success of your shoot so make sure to get on the phone with your models as well as some sample pictures of them. 
  • Hire more models than you think you need. People are liable to cancel last minute and you don't want to be stuck with no models on the day of your shoot.

Keeping it in Budget

I do not claim to be the master at finding creative ways to stay under budget but I have come across some useful tips that I have used and are worth sharing:

  • Don't work with established agencies. Freelancers are generally cheaper because their overhead is lower. And negotiation is also usually easier.
  • Negotiate. A freelancer might have a list price, but ultimately they want to make a deal. Pick a number you feel you can afford and don't be a afraid to share that number with a photographer or videographer. If they won't do the shoot for that number, move on. But often enough, people will try and accommodate. 
  • Hire talented students. Especially in the world of photography, I have found that an amateur eager to build a portfolio may have exceptional talent and come at a fraction of the cost of a professional. The risks here are that they are less accountable as they don't have a professional reputation to protect. But you can hedge that risk by hiring more than one. 

That is it for this article. Hopefully you've found some of it helpful. Check back for upcoming articles on launch parties and crowd funding in general! Make sure to check out our upcoming launch party on August 24 at Visana NYC.

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