whitney manney vest images
Left: An on-mannequin photo Whitney took herself of the vest. Right: one of the final photos of the vest delivered from the Soona photo shoot.

Product photography can be the Achilles heel of many creativepreneurs. For me, once I’m done designing and stitching a new garment, I’m mentally drained by the time I need to merchandise for my online shop and social media digitally. While I am able to do a decent job shooting my work, I know that my images can be ten times better.

What keeps me from working with a photographer consistently? The number one reason tends to be budget. I worry that I can’t afford a photographer, model, make-up artist, etc. You may be thinking “Well why not barter with other local creatives?” At this point in my career, I’m only interested in ethically paying everyone I work with. Eggs are over $10 a carton and we simply cannot pay bills in exposure these days. Plus, I need quick turnarounds for booking and edits, you can’t have those kinds of demands with no cash in hand.

I’ve seen targeted ads for Soona on my feeds for the last year but just couldn’t wrap my head around the process. The look, branding, and messaging appealed to me as a Millennial business owner. It seems so simple, just send in your product and get a cute on-brand professional photo for $39 and you don’t even have to be on set.

Now I finally have the chance to try them out, let’s get into the details of my Soona experience.

soona booking screen
Soona offers product photography and video services at an affordable rate for small businesses. You work directly with a soona photographer to ensure you’re getting the shots and style you want.

Why I’ve considered Soona:

Clear pricing and packages: not to say Soona is not expensive but I at least have all the price info upfront before reaching out with questions or booking
Turnaround time: the 24-hour turnaround seems wild and impossible, how are they making it happen
The “look”: clean, bold, and minimal, but a lot of add-on options that can bring in your brand’s personality
Availability: Works around my schedule and I don’t have to worry about a photographer having the time to fit in a shoot + editing

What’s stopped me from booking before:

– Sending my work in/not being there in-person
– A million questions filled my mind when I was on the fence about trying Soona including would my work make it to their studios on time, whether would it be damaged, and will they know how to style it.
– I’m not always sure what shots I what and I knew I needed to have a clear vision in time for my booking
– Will I get what I need in one hour? 

whitney manney in wrap
back view of wrap
Photos that Whitney Manney took herself before the Soona experience.

Booking the shoot

Booking the shoot was pretty straightforward, so straightforward forward the best thing I can compare it to is putting in your order at McDonald’s. Look at the photo examples, see what you like with the price clearly labeled, get an add-on or two, and keep it moving. You select options and create short descriptions about what your end goals are for your photos, how many photos/how much time you need, ideal style, and choose pro services like additional steaming, hand models, pets, props, and more. Once you book and pay your deposit + additional services, which covers your first photo, your shipping label is available for purchase and print. I did add the ghost mannequin pro service for an additional $249, this seemed like the best option to see my garment on a form without doing an add-on for a live model and another add-on for hair and makeup. 

soona order screen
Booking your Soona photo shoot is a straightfoward process on their website. You can upload reference photos and include props.

Since this was my first shoot with Soona, I was able to send in my item for free. Once my booking was confirmed, I received a prepaid shipping label for a large USPS Priority Mail box. My jacket went straight to the Soona Studios located in Minneapolis, MN. I’m not sure how they decide which studio your work goes to for the shoot but they also have studios in Denver and Los Angeles. 

The dashboard is incredibly intuitive and easy to follow. It was cool to see the timeline and they also share a photo of your item when it arrives at their studio to make sure it’s the correct package and there are no damages. Setting up your profile is easy and I think helpful to the Soona team to understand you and your business better.

The onboarding process

I had a complimentary meeting with an onboarding specialist before my shoot, this is not standard for every shoot and is only included in your first shoot. If you want a dedicated onboarding specialist, you’ll have to join Soona Pro. My meeting was originally scheduled for January 5th but I had to reschedule for the following day, at this point my jacket was already at the Soona Studio. 

Anna helped me get a few more things set up on my profile, explained the format of the shoot, how I would be involved, and explained how to create my shot list. The shot list really helped me focus and narrow down exactly what I need, what angles/details I wanted to see, if I needed props, and what color backgrounds I wanted. 

soona schedule photo shoot screen
The Soona customer dashboard shows your brand style, photo shoot details and any services you have added on.

Shoot Day

My shoot was on January 10th at 10 AM CST. I logged into the dashboard at 9:50 AM, waiting for the photographer Aaron to join, and drop the Google Meet link in the chat for our pre-meeting. From 9:58-10:05, we had our pre-meeting via video on Google Meet. We discussed the shot list, additional angles, how to belt my jacket, and how the ghost mannequin edits work. 

Once we are ready to start shooting, we move communication to chat. I am able to quickly make notes, and say if I do or don’t like something, and Aaron is good at asking me questions as well. The images auto-populate in the gallery and we are both able to favorite images we like simultaneously. 

soona chat screen
You are able to chat with the photographer during your shoot in order to make any adjustments to photos.

By 10:14, there were 15 images in the gallery. These are all of the images needed for the ghost mannequin edits. By 10:26, we move on to flat images of the garment on the hot pink background. The shoot concludes with a wrap-up meeting back on Google Meet to discuss favorite images and how to checkout, the shoot is wrapped by 10:55 AM

They really push for you to purchase your images within 24 hours after your shoot so the editors can support the fast turnaround. My best guess is that editors are working virtually all over the world. I submitted my order at 8:04 AM on January 11th, and my edits were ready and in my gallery at 3:16 PM the same day. 

soona video conference screen
A screen shot of the image gallery that populates during the Soona photo shoot. 

The edits are clean, to the point, and what I needed in a good product-only photo. When I looked at my dashboard after viewing my images, it noted that my item would be ready to send back within two business days. My gallery is available to me forever, so if I wanted to get more photos of the jacket a couple of months from now I can still purchase them and they will be edited. Anna sent a follow-up email with instructions on how to communicate via email going forward. 

Ordering your photos

Soona has definitely perfected the a la carte system for product/commercial photography. At $39/basic photo, this method can add up quickly especially if you want to shoot multiple products. Let’s say I wanted to send in two jackets. I would need to schedule two separate bookings, which means two deposits and two $249 payments for the ghost mannequin service. I can’t say that Soona is more equitable for me in the finance department but it does give me more options. I am considering the benefits of using Soona for something like my wholesale collection which is a controlled number of styles vs. one-of-a-kind garments and made-to-order. It would be nice to have my wholesale collection shot with the ghost mannequin method and I’m not quite sure I have that option available to me locally right now.

Whitney’s shopping cart for purchasing her final photos from Soona after the shoot.

The total cost for my shoot including the ghost mannequin service technically came to $444 for a one-of-a-kind garment that retails for $168 on my website (3 ghost mannequin images + 2 flat color background images). Was it worth the investment? I think it could be since this is a silhouette that I replicate in other fabrics and can still use the Soona photos to demonstrate fit. But I think in the long run the best thing for my studio practice will be to schedule my releases better to allow time for me to schedule a shoot, invest in my lighting for quick last-minute shoots for small goods, and build a better relationship with my favorite photographers at home. It can be scary to know what to invest in for your business but photography is simply something I can’t afford to shortcut any longer.

A few of the final product photos delivered to Whitney Manney from her Soona photo shoot.


Will you give Soona a try? I definitely think you should, Soona seems perfect for jewelry artists especially! Take advantage of the special code for CIA members, the code will cover your deposit/first photo.

Whitney Manney

Whitney Manney


A Kansas City, Missouri native, Whitney Manney graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2012 with a BFA in Fibers. With a desire to create art in a wearable format, Manney creates garments and textile designs under her independent label WHITNEYMANNEY. Manney’s work has been featured in major press outlets and numerous art and fashion blogs. She is featured in the PBS show Make48 & My World Too and has work featured in the new Peacock series Bel-Air. Manney is a member of the 2021 American Craft Council Emerging Artists Cohort and recipient of the 2020 JOANN Minority Creative Grant along with numerous other grants. Her collections have been retailed at boutiques including Halls Kansas City, and showcased in more than a dozen runway and gallery shows. Creating a narrative between color and pattern is a signature of Manney’s work. She believes her job isn’t done until everybody in the world believes fashion is art.”

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