Is Your Photo Studio the Real Deal?

In the crowded space of professional photography I wanted address a few points for you to consider before you hire someone to photograph your designs and products.

I had a lot to share on this topic, so I have broken it down into a digestible 3 part blog post.

The 3 topics are:

  • How do you know if the studio you book is the real deal? 

  • Freelancers vs studio: Who is better for my needs and budget? 

  • How do you know if a studio is the right fit for you and your product? 

If you google product photography NYC or LA, there are a ton of choices that come up both paid and organically. If you aren’t a photographer, how are you supposed to know which studio/photographers are the real deal? And what do I mean when I say, “the the real deal”?

Well, anyone can post a pretty picture on-line to showcase their skill, but can they actually take a pretty picture “straight off the camera” and not have to rely on retouching to make it pretty?

When photo studios/freelancers post images on their website to showcase their skills, be aware those images may have received hours of retouching to make them look that good. You aren’t hiring a retoucher, rather, you are hiring a photographer and so should expect a beautiful image “straight off the camera!”

Email blast from a competitor advertising their skills more as retouchers than photographers.

Email blast from a competitor advertising their skills more as retouchers than photographers.

One way to know if you have booked the real deal is to ask to see some examples of their unretouched images (i.e., straight off the camera). In this example below, our photographer captured the beautiful green of the emeralds straight off the camera and the hard light made shadows that added a layer of interest to the images. The final retouched image doesn’t look much different other than a pure white background and some brightness of the white diamonds.

Straight from the camera on the left and retouched on the right.

Straight from the camera on the left and retouched on the right.

If you ask to see examples of their work shooting product like yours (e.g., dainty jewelry, handbags, cell phone cases) and it take a day(s) for them to get back to you with examples, then I would be suspicious. I can reply to potential clients with examples of our work within minutes of their inquiry. Or, if they send you examples back of their unretouched images but they don’t look anything like what is on their site, that should be a red flag. 

Bottom line: the website should showcase their best work and/or their breadth of work so don’t be afraid to ask to see unretouched images and to see more example of products like yours. Another way to see if you are booking “the real deal” is to say you want to attend the shoot. I understand some people shoot out of their homes so that makes it tricky. However, for a photo studio, you want to make sure you are being charged for their photography skill. For example, you might be being charged a lot per-shot to create beautiful images, when in reality they are speeding through your samples with no change to the set up and lighting and outsourcing the “pretty-effect” to a retoucher that then makes your organic piece look like a rendering.

Overly retouched with no organic feel VS A StyleExpo shot, gently retouched.

Overly retouched with no organic feel VS A StyleExpo shot, gently retouched.

Over the years I have heard from our clients that they stopped working with a studio because they were never allowed to attend the shoots. Maybe for efficiency as clients can sometime make shoot go longer with their request to tweak this and that or maybe because their photographer don’t like people. I can’t think of a reason to deny a client to come and be part of the shoot, so you should find out their reason you can can’t go and be ok with their explanation. 

At StyleExpo, we always take the best shot we can, in the timeframe quoted to you at the time you book your shoot. We love it when clients come to the shoot. We want to be your long-term photo partners and building a relationship with you enables us to better understand and execute on what you need.