Product Photography Etiquette

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by chrisbennett, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. Hello, first thanks to those that helped on my last question. It really helped to steer me in the right direction to get a MF film camera for portrait work. (turned out my friend had a Mamiya Pro in his closet from film school, one trade later I have the camera, two lenses, and a pelican case!)

    I guess you could say I've fallen into fashion work, mostly edgy shoots for the car and motorcycle fashion industry here in Japan (most are self assignments while I build up my portfolio).

    Well I have contacted a few fashion companies about doing some shoots with them (no paid assignments and really just throwing lines in the water) I've actually had very good response and many are asking me what products I would like to photograph and they are willing to ship the items to me. (I'm in Japan, they are in Japan)

    My question; is there any sort of etiquette involved that I should be concerned with about how long I should keep the products before returning, how much or how little of the products I should request, etc.? Am I over thinking it? (highly possible) I have access to models that are very willing to work for the same reasons I am (portfolio building) but they all have crazy schedules so I don't want to keep someones product for a month if that is bad business.

  2. Why not simply ask the ones who send you their products. They will know and answer how long you can keep it or if you even have to send them back at all (given the fact that you provide them with free photography).
  3. I somewhat disagree with Phil. In my experience, if you ask too many questions, you look like an amateur. When I was getting props, I would keep the stuff for as short a time as possible, pay for return shipping without question if none was provided, and never, ever ask if I could keep something.

    And like most people on these boards (including myself!), you are absolutely overthinking it.
    Charles_Webster likes this.
  4. Like brian, I kept products for as little time as possible, always returning them in person if possible, and at my expense if I could not hand deliver. Since my products were expensive hand-made musical instruments, there was no question of me keeping something.
  5. As opposed to what, looking like a seasoned professional by providing them with free photography? It's simply communication and I'm sure they'll understand a photographer asking basic questions (which only they can answer after all) to make sure that both parties are on the same page when it comes to using their products for the building of a portfolio.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  6. Phil, as opposed to what? You want to look like a professional who can rustle up the right props and wardrobe for great shoots. Production shoots often borrow things and knowing where to find what you need is in itself a sign of professionalism.
  7. The question isn't about rustling props but about using fashion clothes (and asking models) to build a fashion portfolio, presumably in exchange for letting them also use the images. I would consider it as a matter of courtesy to simply ask them when they expect the clothes back if they themselves don't bring it up first (they in turn may be just starting out and not sure how long they're expected to lend the clothes). It's a matter of clear communication and not of some unspoken 'etiquette' when it comes to what is possible and what isn't.
  8. I'm sorry Phil, I thought that "fashion clothes" were props.
  9. In a postmodern way I guess they always are even when they're meant to be the centerpiece. But it's the models, sadly, that are more often than not used as props.
  10. Phil, I may know how to do basic production, but you are at a level of deep thought that I don't dare touch.
  11. Among other things, a "scion" of mine studied product photography at one of the Art Institutes in a large Western city.
    Those students with credit cards commonly "bought" items to photograph at a large department store with liberal return policies. After the shoot, back went the merchandise.

    Ay'm jes' sayin' - ethics not my point.

    Or as Bert Brecht said
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  12. JD, this can work every now and then, but the card companies track this and lower your credit rating for doing this frequently.

    It's a jungle out there!
  13. I'm sure that is right, but the 'borrowing' was, I think, not too frequent...
  14. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    since you are doing the shoot as a freebe, you can work out a "trade for" pictures deal.

    its common practice... but you do have to work it out before the shoot with the designer.

    sometimes designers comp the products anyway.

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