How to Hire a Freelance Product Photographer

Essential skills to request, key interview questions, and more

How to hire the best possible freelance product photographer for your project is a question we get asked all the time. In this article, we will guide you through every step of the process. 

Did you know that people only retain 20% of what they read but 80% of what they see? Now take a look at your website and ask yourself, how does that impact my sales? Hiring a freelance product photographer can be a game-changer to showcase your products in the best possible light and increase sales. A skilled product photographer will be able to capture the best angles, lighting, and details of your product to make it stand out and appeal to potential customers. 

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According to an IRCE Report, 75% of customers ranked the quality of a product image as the most important feature when shopping online, followed by the ability to see alternative views of the product (66%) and the zoom feature with 61%. 

freelance product photographerSome key factors to consider when hiring a product photographer are their style, experience and skills, their availability and their pricing. It's also important to consider the type of product photography you need, such as packshot, lifestyle, macro or 360-degree photography. To ensure that you end up with the optimal result, it's crucial to list these skills in your brief and find a product photographer who specialises in the type of imagery that is appropriate for your product. 

Researching photographers and looking at their portfolios will give you an idea of their style and skill level. Product photographers also offer a range of styles, from minimalist and crisp to high-concept and avant-garde. In addition to beautiful images that showcase your product, ensure that the photos you use accurately reflect your product as well as your brand.

​​A staggering 22% of returns occur because the product looks different in person than the image on the site. 

If you’re unsure about a product photographer and need more convincing, ask for references from previous clients or check their reviews or testimonials if available. 

Skills to look for when you hire a Freelance Product Photographer

Product photography is a competitive sector and in order to excel in this field a product photographer should acquire a unique set of skills, including a keen eye for composition, attention to detail, and the ability to work with a variety of equipment and lighting setups. This brief rundown should provide you with some things to look out for when you hire a product photographer:

Technical proficiency 

Having a solid understanding of photographic techniques, such as composition, lighting, and exposure is essential for any product photographer. They should be well-versed in the use of studio lighting and equipment and be able to manipulate light to achieve the desired effect. They should also have a good understanding of post-processing software and be able to use it to enhance and retouch images to produce high-quality, professional-looking shots.

Attention to detail

Attention to the small details, like lighting, composition, and background can make or break a shoot. A good product photographer will ensure that the product is lit and positioned in a way that highlights its features and makes it stand out. They will also be mindful of background elements that might detract from the main subject and take care to minimise any reflections or glare that might be present.


Working with someone who’s creative and thinking outside the box is what truly can make your product stand out from the crowd. A product photographer should have a good eye for composition and be able to create visually interesting and engaging images. They should also be able to come up with creative solutions to challenging shots and be able to make the most of difficult lighting conditions.

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Knowledge of product styling and presentation

A fine understanding of product styling and presentation should be another skill up a product photographer's sleeve. They should be able to stage and style products in a way that makes them look their best and showcase their features. They should be familiar with different types of product photography and understand how to shoot products that are reflective, transparent or have intricate details.

Familiarity with different types of product photography 

A product photographer should be familiar with different types of product photography, such as packshot, lifestyle, macro and 360-degree photography. They should understand the specific requirements of each type of photography and be able to deliver high-quality images that are appropriate for the intended use.

Art direction and communication skills 

Good communication skills and being able to effectively work well with art directors, stylists, and clients to produce images that meet their requirements, are essential. A product photographer should be able to understand the client's brief while also being able to provide creative input. 

Time management and punctuality

Managing time productively is another key aspect of any freelancing job, product photography included. A product photographer should be able to plan their schedule so that they can arrive at the shoot location in plenty of time to set up and get ready. They should also be able to work quickly and efficiently during the shoot, in order to get the job done on time and to the client's satisfaction.

Understanding of e-commerce photography 

With the rise of e-commerce, product photography has become crucial for online sales. A good product photographer should have a deep understanding of e-commerce photography and should be able to create images that will look great on a website and will help in the sales process.

Ultimately, when you want to hire a product photographer it is crucial to consider the diversity of their set of skills, so you end up hiring someone who will meet (or even exceed) your expectations. Look for a photographer with technical proficiency, attention to detail, creativity, knowledge of product styling, technical know-how, understanding of different types of product photography, art direction and communication skills, time management, punctuality and understanding of e-commerce photography. All of this will help ensure that your product gets the traction you desire. 

hire product photographerTop questions to ask when hiring a Freelance Product Photographer

It's all about asking the right questions. Diving into a photographer's skills and experience might feel like a friendly interrogation, but it can reveal whether they'll capture your product as 'just another job' or the star of the show.

Can you tell me about your experience and background in photography? 

Make sure that you have an idea of the photographer’s experience level and the types of photography they specialise in. 

Can you show me some examples of your previous work? 

Again, taking a proper look at the photographer's portfolio will make sure you have a clear idea of their sense of style and level of skill. 

How would you describe your shooting and post-processing style? 

Getting an insight into the photographer’s artistic approach may help you determine if it aligns with your vision for the event or occasion.

How do you handle difficult lighting conditions or unexpected challenges during a shoot? 

Try to gauge the photographer's ability to adapt to unexpected situations and handle any challenges that may arise during the event.

Can you provide references or testimonials from previous clients? 

Talking to past clients or reading references and feedback is a great way to gain a better understanding of the experience of working with the photographer.  

product photographer hireHow do you handle image delivery and copyright?

According to a survey conducted by the Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) in 2017, 80% of professional photographers in the United States reported that their copyrighted images had been used without their permission.

It’s important to have a clear understanding of the photographer's process for delivering the final images and their policy on copyright and usage rights before you begin to work together. 

Are you available on the date of the event? 

Although this might seem obvious, in order to avoid any scheduling mishaps it is important to check the photographer’s availability and plan accordingly.

How do you deal with difficult subjects, children, or pets? 

Being able to work under difficult conditions is important for any freelancer. Make sure you know how the photographer handles difficult subjects and will give you an idea of how well they work with children and pets.

Take these steps to heart, and you're not just hiring a photographer, you're recruiting a product glam squad for your project!

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Images: Chris Coote, Chloe Rosser, Roslyn Emma