Sellers have a lot of explaining to do. There’s no sales rep on the floor guiding customers through available inventory. Your buyers can’t touch or feel the quality of your product through a virtual storefront. In ecommerce, what you see is what you get – which makes contracting a professional product photographer absolutely essential to your success.
Beautiful, clear images sell. It is that simple. Photos add personality, context, and value to your brand, even if what you’re selling inside your subscription box is always changing. While there are many tools and resources for DIY photography, hiring a professional is your best bet. They understand what works and can help plan shoots, scout locations and select props.
We caught up with Gerry Flynn, Cratejoy seller and owner of Austin’s Paleo food service Fixed Foods. He gave us an inside look at how he hired a photographer to bring his brand and products to life for his online shop.
What made you realize the importance of hiring a photographer even before you launched?
When we started Fixed Foods, we knew that in order to succeed, we’d have to strive for perfection in all areas of the business. This desire for an attractive brand and perfection is what led us to hire a photographer. Hiring a professional helped us create our brand’s story with photos and demonstrate the quality of our product.
What steps did you take to find a photographer?
One word: networking. I can’t stress the importance of establishing a strong and diverse network of professionals in your town that you can call on as a resource. We found our photographer through a mutual contact in our network that had great experiences with him in the past.
Another great resource is Thumbtack, an internet marketplace for local services. You can post exactly what you’re looking for and photographers in your area will reach out with their information and rates. It’s a quick way to cut through search engine noise and find local people who are interested in your project.
How did you vet the photographer?
Most photographers have a personal website with a portfolio of their work. If their website doesn’t impress you or doesn’t match your aesthetic, they may not be the right person for the project. You’ll want to make sure that the person you’re hiring has experience in the particular shooting style that you need. Just because someone is a great portrait and wedding photographer doesn’t mean they know anything about product photography. Always research and vet the person you are hiring before signing a contract.
Image by Caleb Kerr
Are freelance fees and terms negotiable?
Depending on your company, bartering may be a great way to cut down the cash you need to lay out. Most freelancers have high fees due to their skill-sets and unpredictable work schedule, which means there’s some wiggle room in that pricing. If you can offer them something of value in addition to cash, it could be beneficial for both of you.
How do you plan on using the photography?
We plan on using it all over the site. As a food delivery company with no storefront, it is important for our users to see the product they will be receiving when they order. The high-quality photographs allow the customer to see the care and consideration we put into creating each meal, and that’s something that puts us ahead of our competitors.
Did you do any research in preparation for your shoot?
This is another area of the shoot where we opted to outsource for expertise. Photographers are masters of their craft but we found it to be incredibly helpful to hire an art director for the shoot for creative assistance. The director was key to translating our vision and collaborating with our photographer to create the best possible staging and lighting to minimize any post-processing that may have been needed. The art director was great as an additional trained set of eyes and also assisted with processing the photos after the shoot.
Image by Caleb Kerr
Did you find the space for photoshoot locations? If so, how?
We left this up to the professionals. After providing guidance regarding what we needed in the photos (houses, kitchen, people, etc.), the photographer and director found the perfect locations and props for the shoot.
What would you suggest to other subscription box companies?
Know your strengths and delegate your weaknesses. I’m not the most creative guy in the world and outsourcing to professionals who are masters of their craft allowed us, as a company, to create a premium product. In addition, the small investment to contract experts will have a much better ROI than the stick figures I would have drawn for the site.
Image by Caleb Kerr